The Drau cycle path accompanies the Drau on its journey from the Dobbiaco field at the foot of the Sesto Dolomites to Varaždin in the Croatian Drava plain. On the approximately 460 kilometre long route, breathtaking alpine panoramas await you. The river meanders along the Carnic main ridge and the Gailtal Alps. It passes the Villgrater Alps, flows through the Klagenfurt basin and streams along the slopes of the Karawanken. After crossing the Slovenian Bacher Mountains, the Draufeld opens up and you cycle along the banks of the river as far as Croatia. On your way from the Dolomites and across Carinthia you glide on cycle paths off the road and every meter of the tour you will be spoiled with magnificent views. In addition there are comfortable accommodations in the stage destinations. Along the way, the villages, towns and hosts have adapted perfectly to cyclists – there are rest areas with tools, experienced bike repair shops and in Villach even a guarded bicycle parking garage. Taken together, this makes this international long-distance cycle route through the most beautiful part of the Southern Alps a cycling tour of the highest class - and rightly so, the Drau Cycle Path was awarded the highest distinction of five stars by the ADFC.
The 460 kilometre long Drau cycle route consists of seven daily stages. The first five stages take you from Dobbiaco in South Tyrol via the sunny town of Lienz and once across Carinthia to Lavamünd, just before the Austrian-Slovenian border. This section leads most of the time downhill and runs for long stretches on perfectly constructed and signposted cycle paths off the road. Only in a few places you cycle on quiet side roads through small villages and along fields. That's why this section in Italy and Austria is also perfect for pleasure cyclists and sporty families. Due to the beauty of the landscape and the excellent cycle paths, most cyclists only ride these first five stages - especially as five days is perfect for your holiday calendar. The last two stages through Slovenia and Croatia are more than 80 kilometres longer and are especially suitable for experienced touring cyclists. Alternatively, both stages can each be easily divided into two days.
An advantage of the first five stages: The destinations in East Tyrol and Carinthia have excellent rail connections. You can also react to changing weather forecasts or even plan individual stages as day trips. Maribor in Slovenia and Varaždin in Croatia also have a railway station, so you can comfortably travel home from your tour destination by train. Timetable information is available at bahn.de, oebb.at, sii.bz.it/de and slo-zeleznice.si/en.
The first stage of the Drauradweg takes you on perfectly maintained paths from Dobbiaco at the foot of the Sesto Dolomites through the picturesque Puster Valley to the sunny city of Lienz. Especially nice: the bike path leads downhill all the time. So the stage is also perfect for families and leisure cyclists.Starting point of today's bike tour is the station Dobbiaco, which is served by regional trains from Lienz and Franzenfeste. On a wide, paved bike path you leave the city and cycle leisurely across wide fields - and above you rise majestically the Dolomites.This incredible panorama accompanies you even to the small town San Candido, in Italian San Candido. Then you leave the Dolomites behind you and in front of you rise on the right side of the Drautals the Carnic Alps and on the left the Villgrater Alps. Continuing along the Drau you roll through this picturesque landscape.Shortly after Winnebach you cross the border to Austria. Across idyllic fields, you reach Sillian, which offers perfect for a rest with its cozy old town and many restaurants. Strengthened you continue cycling. Immediately behind Sillian you can see the rugged peaks of the Lienz Dolomites in the distance.The valley is getting narrower and the Drava winds rapidly downhill. Without any effort, you roll along the bike path until you finally reach the stage destination Lienz. At the end of the day, a walk through the city, which enchants with its Mediterranean flair and the dramatic mountain panorama, is worthwhile.From Lienz a regional train goes back to Dobbiaco. Therefore, you can plan the first stage well as a single day tour.
On the second stage the Drauradweg leads you along the river bank below the summits of the Kreuzeckgruppe in the north and the Gailtal Alps in the south - stunning views of the mountains are guaranteed. Except for a few climbs, you continue to cycle slowly, just like the day before. So you can enjoy this fantastic alpine idyll with little effort.The starting point of the second stage is located just a few meters from the train station Lienz directly on the banks of the Drava. A perfect bike path takes you out of the city and then along the river for many kilometers. Away from the road, the nature experience is perfect and the views of the mighty mountain peaks accompany your way.After about 20 kilometers you reach the tranquil Oberdrauburg. Thanks to a cozy old town and several cafes a worthwhile place for a first break. After the short stop, it continues directly. Time on asphalt, sometimes on solid gravel you can roll your bike further downhill and admire the view of the Drava and the mountains.At Dellach you change the riverbank and then cycle for a while above the river through a light forest landscape. You pass through small villages until you reach the bank of the river Drau near Bruggen. Below the steep slopes of the Gailtal Alps, the Drauradweg runs through the valley. Dirt roads, bike paths and quiet roads alternate. The valley narrows until the Drava flows around the foothills of the Goldeck in a narrow loop and the landscape widens abruptly.In this broad valley landscape, the Möll flows into the Drau and a little later you reach today's stage destination Spittal an der Drau.From Spittal an der Drau there is a direct regional train connection to the starting point Lienz. This allows you to flexibly adjust your tour schedule if the weather gets worse.
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At 40 kilometers, the third stage is the shortest section of the Drauradweg and at the same time one of the most scenic: north of the valley, the Gurktaler Alps accompany you today, and in the south the forested slopes of the Gailtal Alps continue to stretch. Today's route runs almost the entire route on good bike paths directly on the banks of the Drava.From Spittal, the starting point of the stage, you first cycle over some fields and then for a short distance through a forest parallel to the Tauern motorway. However, this section is soon behind you and the bike path on the banks of the Drau leads you along fields and meadows.Dreamlike alpine views spoil you on every meter of the bike path, which today runs without significant height differences to the stage finish. A nice stop on today's stage is Freistritz an der Drau. The small old town is a bit off the bike path, but thanks to numerous cafes and restaurants worth the short detour.On the edge of fields you continue cycling. Just before the final destination, the wooded slopes come together again, but after a final bend in the river, the incredible width of the Klagenfurt basin opens up before you. In the southeast you can already see the rocky peaks of the Karawanken, which await you on the stage of tomorrow.From Villach, the ÖBB regional train S1 goes to Spittal and on to Lienz.
In a wide riverbed meandering the Drau on the fourth stage through the vast hilly landscape of the Klagenfurt basin. South of the Wörthersee, the river approaches the Karawanken, whose summits mark the border between Austria and Slovenia. Over some hills today you cycle along the river and some reservoirs and follow the Drava River from Villach to Ferlach.In Villach your bike tour begins on the banks of the Drava. Away from the traffic you cycle out of the city on the riverbank. The Klagenfurt basin is more densely populated than other regions in Carinthia and so you pass again and again small, decent villages on the banks of the Drava.At Wudmath you leave the riverbank and cross a flat wooded ridge. A little later, the river divides and flows around a sprawling island on which the village of Rosegg is located. The Drau Cycle Path will take you across the island and through Rosegg back to the riverbank.Over fields and pastures you follow the river, which continues to approach the steep slopes of the Karawanken. Soon you cycle along the free-stream reservoir and the Ferlacher reservoir. If you feel like jumping into the cold, you'll have to wait a bit longer. The two reservoirs are not suitable for swimming, but behind Strau is just a short distance from the riverside the cozy lake Ressnigteich.From here it is only a few minutes to the final destination Ferlach.If you want to end your tour after this stage, this is easily possible. Although Ferlach does not have its own train station, Weizelsdorf train station is only six kilometers away. From here you can take a regional train back to Villach.
The fifth stage takes you out of the Klagenfurt basin, following the course of the river Drava. Today, between the slopes of the Lavanttal Alps and the Karawanken mountains, it takes a few meters to negotiate. Thus, the tour is a little more exhausting than the four previous stages. The stage destination Lavamünd is very close to the Slovenian border and marks the end of the Austrian section of the Drauradweg. Until then, you will once again be able to enjoy excellently maintained cycle paths, which are also suitable for sporty families.But before it gets mountainous, you cycle on almost flat bike paths from Ferlach on the banks of the Drava. On both sides of the river rise wooded slopes: to the right the Karawanken tower into the sky, on the left hand stretch the flat but steep ridge of the Sattnitz mountains.Shortly after the Annabrück hydroelectric power plant, the Drava leaves the narrow valley to the northeast and flows through the eastern edge of the Klagenfurt basin. Here you cycle along the banks of the long-drawn-out Völkermarkt Reservoir before reaching the town of Völkermarkt. The city is located almost exactly in the middle of the tour, making it a perfect place for a long break.Afterwards it gets more and more hilly. The Drava flows here into the narrow Jauntal. The slopes on the edge of the valley here are sometimes so steep that the bike path can not run along the shore. Therefore, it goes through meadows and through small forest over the hills and mountains on the edge of the river. Bike paths and quiet roads alternate. In many places you can enjoy great views of the Drava and the surrounding mountains.Just before the final destination, a very special highlight awaits you - in the truest sense of the word. On the Jauntal bridge - at 96 meters, after all, the highest railway bridge in Central Europe - you cross the Drau. From the bridge you have an incredible view of the deep under you flowing water. The daredevils can also jump from the bridge on the bungee rope.From the Jauntalbrücke, it is only a few kilometers to the stage destination Lavamünd.If you want to end your cycling tour after this stage, you should stop by the way at the Jauntalbrücke and drive from here about two kilometers to the north to the station Eis-Ruden. From Eis-Ruden there is a regional train connection to Klagenfurt, where you can easily change to local and long-distance trains of ÖBB. If you want to drive through to the stage destination Lavamünd, you have to go from here first by post bus to the next station, as Lavamünd does not have its own train connection. Note that you can not take your bike with you on all Postbus lines.
The sixth stage takes you out of Austria and into the picturesque mountain landscape of the Bach Mountains. Due to three factors, this tour is aimed primarily at experienced touring cyclists: It is a distance of 80 kilometers, it is in each case about 1,000 meters in altitude on the slope and in the downhill to master and also you cycle alongside some bike paths on some busy and partly rustic roads. Especially for persistent professionals this stage with the sleepy Slovenian villages, the demanding mountain sections and the impressive nature is a real dream tour. If you are interested in this stage, but respect the track, then you can divide it into two days: in the small villages and towns along the route you will find various pensions and smaller hotels.From the starting point Lavamünd it goes along the banks of the Drau for a few kilometers until you finally change to the border town of Völbl in Slovenia. Here, the marked bike path runs parallel to the road for a while to Dravograd. You cross the river and continue on the other shore on a quiet, but partly bumpy road. The Drauradweg runs a few meters above the shore through dense forest, but between the trees you can always discover the river below you.You pass the village Trbonje and then cycle on a winding road over a wooded ridge. Soon the bike path takes you to Vuzenica and Vuhred, where various restaurants invite you to take a rest.From Vuhred, the cycle path runs a few kilometers directly on the banks of the Drava, which runs through a narrow valley at this point. At Podvelka you leave the Drau valley. Instead, you will cycle along a road upstream on the banks of the Velka. The path through the narrow side valley leads steadily uphill until you reach the highest point of today's stage in the forest above fiefs. As a reward for the increase, it goes from here only downhill.Through the forest you can roll your bike on a road to the valley and finally follow the course of the river Drava to the stage destination Maribor.Maribor has a train station with trains to Ljubljana and Sevnica. There you can change trains to Austria, Italy or Germany.
On the seventh and last leg of the Drauradweg, you will leave behind the foothills of the Bach Mountains and cycle out of Maribor into the vastness of the Draufeld. Gentle hills characterize the landscape here and along the river Drau you cycle steadily downhill to the stage destination Varaždin shortly after the Slovenian-Croatian border. The partly rustic road conditions and the long distance make also from this stage a tour for advanced cyclists. This stage can be easily divided into two days. Especially suitable as a stopover is Ptuj, the oldest city in Slovenia.Starting from Maribor, you cycle on side roads through the quiet suburbs and out into the wide meadows and fields of the Draufeld. With a beautiful view, the Drauradweg leads you over quiet roads and easy to drive dirt roads. Alternately you drive along the Drava River and sometimes along the Zlatoličje Channel, which runs roughly parallel to each other between Maribor and Ptuj.Arrived in Ptuj, you can take a little time to explore the old town and the castle or to relax on the bank of the reservoir. Rested it goes on towards the Croatian border. Starting at the Ptuj Reservoir, the Drauradweg runs a bit off the riverbank through picturesque fields and pastures and along vineyards. You cycle on a well-developed road and pass tiny, friendly villages.In the small town of Ormož, you will meet again on the Drau riverbank. Anyway, here's a short stop, because in the old town is the wine cellar Jeruzalem, the largest wine cellar in the region. Only a few more miles and you leave Slovenia behind you. It goes one last time on the banks of the Drava until you reach your destination Varaždin. Satisfied, you get off the bike, sit down in one of the cafes on the Town Hall Square and enjoy a Mediterranean drink with a cup of coffee and cold water.From Varaždin you can take the train home via the Croatian capital Zagreb. From Zagreb there are direct train connections to Germany and Austria.