Are you looking for a limitless bike adventure, impressive mountain panoramas and lively small towns combined with a diverse river landscape? Then make your way to the south of Austria and discover the Drava Cycle Path. There is a lot to discover along the Carinthian Aorta. From rugged rock faces to wide floodplain landscapes, pasta and delicious wines, historic castles and modern bridges. And four countries at once: Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.
We have divided the 280 miles (450 kilometer) tour into seven stages and all of them are absolutely varied. Sometimes you drive comfortably along the rippling river bank, sometimes you climb promising hills. And whenever you start to sweat, an idyllic swimming lake, a romantic river loop or even a wellness temple awaits you. And maybe you don't want to complete the tour in seven days, because you can't get enough of the cultural highlights and the great leisure activities on the way. Especially the part from Toblach in South Tyrol to Lavamünd on the border from Carinthia to Slovenia is excellently developed and it leads downhill most of the time. The first five stages are therefore also perfect for families with sporty children. On the way through Slovenia it gets more mountainous and here bike paths alternate with passages on roads with little traffic - here touring cyclists with great fitness get their money's worth.
Since 2016, the Drau Cycle Path has been run by the ADFC as a 5-star quality bike tour. That means you can look forward to an excellent infrastructure. This also includes an excellent bike rental system. Within Carinthia, you can rent and return a bike at 60 stations and do not have to worry about anything else. Are you curious? Then have a look here: kaernten-rent-ebike.at.
You will find a variety of accommodation options along the route. Especially in summer we recommend that you reserve your accommodation well in advance. And if you don't feel like cycling, you can spend a day in a relaxing thermal bath or an exciting museum and cover a bit by train. Because almost all starting and finishing points have their own rail connection - this enables you to plan your tours particularly flexibly. So nothing stands in the way of your adventure from the Dolomites into the vastness of Pannonia without borders: ohne Grenzen, brez meja, senza confini, bez granica.
Your adventure on the Drau Cycle Path begins in Toblach, a small town in South Tyrol and thus in Italy. Italy is one of four countries that you will get to know by bike on your way along the Drava. The backdrop of your start could hardly be more spectacular: in the middle of the Dolomites, not far from the world-famous Drei Zinnen, you roll on fabulously developed bike paths through the Puster Valley.The aorta of your entire journey, the Drau, is still very original on the first stage. Torrents soon allow the Drau to grow into a stately body of water and there are alluvial forests, gravel banks and islands on the banks.The first stage is also full of cultural highlights. A detour to the towns along which the Drau Cycle Path leads is always worthwhile. In Toblach, Innichen, Sillian and Lienz, Mediterranean flair meets alpine culture, not least culinary.After almost 50 kilometers you have reached your destination Lienz. The city with the medieval center is the capital of East Tyrol and an excellent place to relax after the first stage.
On today's stage you can work out and recharge your batteries. After about 77 kilometers and a few small climbs, you will feel your legs at the end of the day, but due to the surrounding, wonderful landscape, you have gained a lot of strength at the same time.Between Lienz and Spittal, the Drau Valley is slowly becoming wider and although the river still flows freely in many places, there are more and more cultural landscapes to the left and right of the Drau. The lush meadows together with the small churches and the high mountains create a unique postcard panorama.Historic town centers, such as in Oberdrauburg and Sachsenburg, loosen up the landscape culturally. In addition there is the highest bathing lake in the Alps in Greifenburg, where you can cool off. Your destination in Spittal is at the confluence of the Lieser and Drau, not far from Lake Millstatt.
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On today's stage you drive through the lower Drau Valley from Spittal to Villach. The leisurely route takes you through small villages and past many small cultural highlights, such as the Carantana Museum, in which the history of Carinthia is shown.With almost no gradients, you always cycle along the Drau, which has now reached a considerable size. Another specialty awaits you in Gummern: a marble quarry that the Romans already used.At the end of your tour, Villach, the secret capital of the Drau Cycle Path, awaits you. The city with its Mediterranean flair lends itself to a day's stay. The many bathing lakes and warm springs around Villach invite you to relax.
In front of you is the most varied stage on the Drau Cycle Path and it is all about the water. In addition to the Drau, you will discover interesting old arms, exciting biotopes and a variety of lakes right on the bike route or a stone's throw away.You leave the lively town of Villach and as soon as you dive into the Rosental you feel like in the Garden of Eden. The idyllic landscape is framed by deciduous forests and in the distance the peaks of the Karawanks rise.Small, tranquil villages and proud castles line your path. Among them the Rosegg Castle with its zoo. The last 15 kilometers you glide along the dammed Drau with your bike until you reach your destination Ferlach.
Today you cycle on a varied route through southern Carinthia, the core area of the Carinthian Slovenes. Here you will find both cultural and scenic diversity, all connected by the Drau, which is particularly multifaceted here.At the beginning, the Drau is very wide because it is dammed up for the generation of electricity. Particularly impressive mountains with impressive rock formations are reflected in the blue-green water. In the further course the Drau Valley becomes narrower again and the forested slopes drop steeply towards the river. That's why you sometimes drive a little further away from the river. The hilly bike paths through the tiny villages are a refreshing change in the idyllic landscape.This stage is also particularly diverse when it comes to river crossings. Sometimes it is a futuristic railway bridge that hovers over the Seidendorfer Au, sometimes it is a weir on the river. Shortly before the end of the stage you cross the Drau on a 100 meter high railway bridge and immediately afterwards the Feistritz on a suspension bridge. To top it all off, drive to the destination in Lavamünd on the city bridge.
The penultimate stage on the Drau Cycle Path leads you to Slovenia. Not far from Lavamünd you cross the border and reach the pretty town of Dravograd. From there, the Drau winds through a narrow, forest-lined valley.Here and there you leave the shore and drive through the legendary Pohorje, the most water-rich mountain in Slovenia. There are many springs in this nature park, the streams of which flow into the Drau.After a good 80 kilometers you have reached the vibrant university town of Maribor. The second largest city in Slovenia is a lively city full of culinary and cultural highlights, such as the oldest vine in the world or the romantic waterfront.If the stage is too strenuous for you, you can also take a train between Dvravograd and Maribor.
As soon as the Drau has left Maribor, it flows in its natural form over the top field. The landscape has completely changed again, the river is no longer forced into the narrow gorge corset, but is looking for its way freely. The meanders, old arms and lakes are romantic on the one hand, on the other hand they also invite you to cool off in the cool water.After around 30 kilometers you will reach Ptuj, the oldest city in Slovenia. If the entire stage is almost 90 kilometers too long for you, you can best divide it here. Because on and in the lake of Ptuj various sports and recreational opportunities await you and you can relax in the thermal baths or enjoy a glass of wine in one of the many wine cellars.In Varaždin, which is already in Croatia, the last stage ends and with it the official Drau cycle path. The city is affectionately known as "Little Vienna" by the locals and offers a well-preserved, lively city center, a castle and beautiful parks as well as Baroque jewelery.