The Danube Cycle Path is one of the most beautiful cycle routes in Europe. Enchanting river landscapes, unique natural spectacles, impressive sights, a lot of culture and legendary history can be found on the cycle path through Germany's south, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.
The Danube Cycle Path begins at the source in Donaueschingen and winds from there for about 1,260 kilometres to Budapest. Most of the time, the cycle path runs directly along the banks of the Danube. Almost without gradients you cycle past picturesque natural landscapes, sun-drenched vineyards, mighty fortresses or romantic monasteries and pass through such beautiful cities as Ulm, Passau, Linz, Vienna and Bratislava.
We have divided the cycle path into 27 stages, each about 50 kilometres long. Thanks to the well-developed paths and the easy route, the individual stages are really suitable for anyone who is looking for cycling pleasure. The good infrastructure along the Danube cycle path is also pure pleasure. Accommodation is available everywhere, so you can choose from guesthouses, beautiful hotels or inns to suit your taste. Even youth hostels and camping sites can often be found close to the stage destinations. The cycle path is also well developed in terms of gastronomy and you can look forward to a tasty meal in one of the numerous restaurants and cafés after each section of the route.
No matter if spring, summer or autumn, the Danube cycle path is always beautiful to ride and a very special experience in every season.
The part of the Danube Cycle Path that leads through Germany is recommended in the brochure "Deutschland per Rad entdecken" by the ADFC (German Cyclist's Association) and is ranked as a quality cycle route with four stars. More information (in German): adfc.de/artikel/radurlaub-als-sternstunde
Start of the Danube cycle tour is in Donaueschingen. As the second largest city of the Black Forest Baar district, it is easily accessible by train and thus a perfect starting point. In the midst of the unique landscape between the Swabian Alb and the Black Forest, you cycle on predominantly paved paths almost 47 kilometers towards Mühlheim. Highlights on this first stage are the source of the Danube and the Danube infiltration.
The second stage takes you from Mühlheim to Sigmaringen. Despite the gradients, you can cross the narrow valley by bike quite comfortably. Highlights of this approximately 47 km long route are Schloss Gutenstein and Sigmaringen Castle as well as the steeply rising cliffs along the Danube.
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The third stage of the Danube Cycle Path, which takes you from Sigmaringen to Obermarchtal, is all about history. On the way you should visit the Heuneburgmuseum in Hundersingen, where you will find numerous testimonies from the Celtic period. A few kilometers further, a romantic moated castle awaits you in Zwiefaltendorf. At the stage destination in Obermarchtal there is still a pretty Baroque monastery to see.
On the fourth stage from Obermarchtal to Ulm, you cycle straight ahead of the Danube. The 53 kilometers are good to drive. At the finish you should spend some time for the former imperial city with its many historical sights. Above all, the famous Gothic Ulmer Münster with the highest church tower in the world is an absolute must-see. For the total of 768 steps that lead up to a viewing platform, you should still have enough strength in the legs.
The fifth stage is quite comfortable to drive. Without significant gradients, Ulm is about 54 kilometers to Dillingen. Worth seeing on the route are the monastery church in Oberelchingen and the Frauenkirche in Günzburg. A break is recommended at the "Radler gas station" insert. This is where the whole cycling world meets.
From Dillingen the tour continues to Donauwörth. The shortest and lightest section of the entire route gives time and again the view of the picturesque Danube meadows. Arriving at the finish of the sixth stage, the Käthe Kruse Doll Museum is worth a visit. His collection does not just make children's eyes shine. In the evening you should do a little walk through the streets of the old town. Here are well-preserved Renaissance town houses, which conjure up a very special atmosphere in the dark.
At just over 60 kilometers, the seventh stage, which starts in Donauwörth, is the longest of the route. There are a lot of historic castles (including Schloss Steppberg and the New Castle in Ingolstadt) waiting for you. Take time to visit one or the other from inside or outside. It is worth it .. The last few miles to Ingolstadt then run through small, idyllic forests.
On the eighth stage the route is mainly paved from Ingolstadt to Kelheim. Several times you now cross the Danube. Shortly after Bad Gögging you reach the monastery Weltenburg. In the midst of the historic scenery, you can stop in the beer garden and order one of the self-brewed beers of the monastery brewery and a hearty Bavarian snack. Then comes the next highlight - the Danube Gorge. Here the stream flows between steep limestone formations. Really impressive.
Before you go on the ninth stage from Kelheim to Regensburg, you should take a short hike to the Liberation Hall on the Michelsberg. The antique-looking building was built by King Ludwig I in memory of the battles won against Napoleon during the Wars of Liberation. From up here you have a wonderful view of the Danube valley. After the 40-kilometer drive Regensburg awaits you, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The charming city on the Danube has many highlights to offer, including: the cathedral or the stone bridge. Let yourself be impressed by the historic buildings.
The tenth day's stage comprises about 55 relaxed kilometers to go from Regensburg to Straubing. You can take a break at the marble-clad Walhalla memorial, where well-known German personalities are immortalized. Continue to Schloss Wörth, one of the largest castles in Bavaria. Last but not least, in Straubing, the destination, you can admire a striking building: the 68-meter-high city tower. He can boast of having the second largest tower clock in Germany.
From Straubing you cycle on the eleventh stage to Deggendorf. On the way there is the Bogenberg, a destination of many pilgrims, and the monastery of Metten, furnished with classical baroque elements. Especially recommended is a visit to the famous monastery library. From here it is not far to Deggendorf, which calls itself "Gateway to the Bavarian Forest". In the city you will discover some pretty sights, such as the old town hall or parts of the former city wall.
Only about 60 kilometers are on the twelfth and last leg from Deggendorf to Passau. The three-river city is a worthwhile destination. The picturesque cityscape is characterized by baroque buildings and narrow streets. Matching Passau is also referred to as the Bavarian Venice. Among the special cultural monuments counts u.a. St. Stephen's Cathedral with the largest cathedral organ in the world. Tip: At the end of the tour, make a nice round trip on the Danube, which has accompanied you for so long.
After Passau you leave Lower Bavaria behind you and cross on the first stage the border with Austria. It goes on partly steep paths along the Danube towards Engelhartszell with its pretty Trappist monastery and its impressive Rococo style collegiate church. On your way through the nature reserve Donauleiten you will pass the Schlögener Schlinge - a real natural spectacle. Here the Danube makes almost a 180 degree turn. After about 60 kilometers you reach your destination. Overnight stays are available for example in St. Agatha or Haibach.
On this stage you leave the Upper Danube Valley and cycle about 50 kilometers to Linz. On the way you should look at the castle in Aschach and the place Ottensheim with its traditional market place. Both offer a great backdrop for a breather. At the end of the tour Linz waits for you - the third largest city in Austria. There are nice, small street cafes, pretty Danube beaches and great sights, such as the cathedral.
The third stage in Austria leads to Linz from about 63 kilometers to Grein. The first stopover is the KZ Gusen memorial. This is followed by the open air museum Mitterkirchen, where you can immerse yourself in the world of the Celts. You should take a break at the bicycle station Mitterkirchen, where you will also be helped in the event of a breakdown. The Danube cycle path continues past meadows and through shady forests to the pretty baroque town of Grein. The nostalgic charm of the narrow streets and the lovely Greinburg Castle is best enjoyed on foot.
Today's stage is one of the most scenic sections on the Danube. Here you drive on easy trails about 48 kilometers from Grein to Emmersdorf, while the river flows picturesquely through the valleys of the Strudengau. Short detours are worth the Stillensteinklamm as well as the castles Persenbeug and Luberegg. At the roadside, shortly after Marbach, you should take a break at the imposing pilgrimage church Maria Taferl, before you head to Emmersdorf.
Today you cycle about 55 kilometers from Emmerdorf to Wachau. The first highlight is the Wachauer Nase - a skiff sculpture made of concrete, which stands directly on the Danube. Continue to the old town of Krems, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. Historical sights await you here. Krems is also the right place to taste the wine of local winemakers. You can spend the night in the city or in Traismauer.
There are still 70 kilometers to go before you reach the Austrian capital on the sixth and last leg as the grand finale. You drive past the city of roses Tulln, the castle Greifenstein and the imposing monastery Klosterneuburg. Arriving at the destination, you should take your time for the sights of Vienna and definitely visit the St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Hundertwasser House and the Schönbrunn Palace. The day in the imperial city can be well spent in a beautiful restaurant with typical Viennese specialties (such as Schnitzel, Tafelspitz or pancakes).
Through the Donau-Auen National Park, a true natural paradise, you cycle on the first leg from Vienna to Bad Deutsch-Altenburg. The approximately 75-kilometer route leads you on predominantly solidified paths without great gradients to two castles that are worth a visit: the Renaissance castle in Orth and the castle Eckartsau, in which the last emperor of Austria lived. Once you have arrived in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg, a health resort awaits you with one of the strongest iodine sulfur springs in Europe.Tip: In the thermal bath of the city, tired cyclist's legs will quickly get better again.
The aim of the second stage of the day is the Slovak capital, which is only about 22 kilometers from the starting point Bad Deutsch-Altenburg and can be reached on well-developed, mostly paved and car-free paths. The first stop you should insert in Hainburg. On a city tour you can visit the largest medieval city gate in Europe. The route will take you to the Slovak border and soon to Bratislava. Take some time for sightseeing and climb the hill that leads to the imposing Bratislava Castle high above the Danube. The reward is a breathtaking view of the historic city center with its small, narrow streets.
From Bratislava it is about 82 kilometers on the Hungarian side of the Danube to Györ. On the third stage, enjoy the enchanting riparian landscape that forms the tributaries of the Danube. Manageable slopes lead you through small dreamy villages to the Slovak-Hungarian border area to Györ, the sixth largest city in Hungary. It has a beautiful baroque old town with all sorts of sights to offer.
On the fourth stage you drive on mostly paved roads about 45 kilometers to Komárom, a Slovak-Hungarian twin city. From time to time sections are not paved and therefore a bit bumpy. Worth seeing in Komárom are especially the Fort Monostor (a gigantic fortress), the Europa-Platz and the old city gates. If you like, you can make a detour to the National Stud of Bálbona, where Arabs have been bred for centuries and the imperial aura of the Danube monarchy can still be felt today.
From Komárom, the fifth stage takes about 56 kilometers along the Danube to Esztergom, with a short section on the Slovak side. A first stop is worthwhile in the village of Iža, which leads to a slightly bumpy road. Here you can explore the Kalemantia Castle, a former Roman military camp. Continue to the oldest city in Hungary. In Esztergom is the largest cathedral in the country, which you should definitely visit. Small drawback: A few kilometers you have to cycle again and again on busy roads.
The sixth and final leg will take you from Esztergom to Budapest. On the approximately 81 kilometers you come along the Danube bend, a beautiful loop of the river, over which once a royal palace was enthroned. From here, you cycle on mainly paved bike paths in the artist town of Szentendre with its many museums and small shops until the destination of Budapest is approaching. Plan for the wonderful cosmopolitan city with its numerous highlights, such as the historic Chain Bridge and the magnificent Burgpalast, enough time for sightseeing.Tip: At the end of the tour, treat yourself to a traditional goulash dish, called pörkölt, paprikás or tokány in Budapest, followed by a dobos torta (famous pie made from six sponge cakes, chocolate butter cream and caramel icing). Calories or not - you deserve it!