Donau Niederösterreich

Hiking along the Danube in the Nibelungengau – Where legends come alive

© Robert Herbst

Hiking along the Danube in the Nibelungengau – Where legends come alive

Hiking Collection by Donau Niederösterreich

The mighty water of the Danube River is shrouded in legends, told in stories and songs. Before flowing through the Wachau Valley in Austria, the river crosses the Nibelungengau, the region where the hero Rüdiger von Bechelaren is said to have once been seated. Following the Nibelungengau long-distance hiking trail, you walk in the footsteps of Hagen von Tronje, a legendary warrior, and King Etzel as you hike through the wooded hilly landscape back to the Middle Ages.

The hiking trail leads you through the Nibelungengau in eight stages. Over 68 miles (110 km), you walk along the blue waters of the Danube, through quiet forests, historical villages, and traditional farms. On the way, you can visit the Maria Taferl pilgrimage basilica, Artstetten Castle, and the oldest Austrian power station on the Danube in Ybbs-Persenbeug.

The trail is well signposted and can be walked in both directions. In addition, the first stage connects the Nibelungengau with the Danube Trail in Upper Austria, and on the fifth stage you can join the World Heritage Trail Wachau in the city of Melk. If you would like to hike a loop through the Nibelungengau without having to walk individual stages twice, we recommend skipping stages 1 and 5. As you can see, there are countless possibilities to explore this beautiful region.

The Nibelungengau long-distance hiking trail is a mixture of relaxed and demanding hiking. The paths are easy to walk and as long as you have a reasonable fitness level, you don't need to be an experienced hiker. You can reach the starting point in Sarmingstein by bus from Amstetten train station. Along the trail, you will also find public transport connections. For example, there is a train station in Ybbs an der Donau and Pöchlarn.

Lush green hills and views over the Danube are waiting for you on the Nibelungengau Trail.

With support from the state and the European Union (LEADER): ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/key-policies/common-agricultural-policy/rural-development

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Difficult
    06:46
    14.2 mi
    2.1 mph
    2,150 ft
    2,200 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The Nibelungengau long-distance hiking trail starts in Sarmingstein and the first is the most demanding stage. It also connects the Donausteig in Upper Austria with the Nibelungengau long-distance hiking trail over 21 kilometers. From the Gasthaus Strudengauhof you hike uphill to Nöchling and always enjoy fantastic views of the Danube.On partly steep paths it goes through the forest and past traditional farms. If you need to cool off after the ascent, you can hop into the bathing pond at the leisure facility in Nöchling. Refreshed, you march down Mitterndorf into the Yspertal to climb a hill on the other side of the valley. The long-distance hiking trail leads you high above the Danube through a hilly and green landscape.After 19 kilometers you will reach a wonderful viewpoint at the Friedenskreuz, which rises 18 meters. The last part of today's stage descends into the Danube valley to Persenbeug. The Danube region, from which you can enjoy a wonderful view of the power plant and the castle, is definitely worth a visit.

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    Intermediate
    04:47
    10.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,175 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The second stage starts in Persenbeug and leads you directly along the Danube downstream. You can look forward to impressive views of the Danube power plant Ybbs-Persenbeug and the city of Ybbs on the Danube. At Metzling you leave the river bank and hike up to the Naturfreundestein. There you have a wide view of the Danube Valley and the Nibelungengau.After a well-deserved rest, you continue to Rottenhof, where you dive into the forest. Surrounded by fresh forest air, you follow the route to the quarry - beware of the steep abyss. Along the route you will find quiet places to rest in the untouched nature.Arrived at the Hirschensprung, the highest point of this stage, the route descends to Kracking. On the descent back to the banks of the Danube, you can enjoy wonderful panoramic views towards Maria Taferl and the forests of the Nibelungengau. In Granz you can fortify yourself in the "Zur alten Fähre" restaurant before you reach today's destination in Marbach.

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  • Intermediate
    02:49
    5.53 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,425 ft
    675 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    On the third day you start in Marbach and initially you follow the Steinbachstraße to the Winklermühle. A wonderful section through untouched nature begins there: On shady forest trails you hike through the mystical Steinbachklamm. Accompanied by the splashing of the water, the route continues uphill to Hilmanger, where you step out of the forest. The gently undulating landscape of the Nibelungengau and the beautiful Danube Valley spread out in front of you.You then hike past the towns of Obererla and Untererla to the banks of the Marbach, which you follow for a while through a forest. The last section of this stage runs up the mountain trail number 11 to Maria Taferl, the most important place of pilgrimage in Lower Austria and the second largest in Austria. Once at the top, not only the impressive basilica, but also unique views of the shimmering blue Danube await you.

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    Intermediate
    03:58
    8.75 mi
    2.2 mph
    750 ft
    1,325 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today's stage starts with a magnificent view over the Danube valley to the Alpine chain at the pilgrimage basilica Maria Taferl. With a view of the mighty Alpine peaks such as the Traunstein, you first hike along the golf course until the path branches off to the right towards Artstetten. From here you walk on the Jakobsweg in a gentle up and down to Artstetten.From a distance you can see the stately Artstetten Castle with its seven characteristic onion domes. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, once lived in the fairytale-like building, which is why an exhibition in the castle is dedicated to his life.After you have explored the beautiful complex, you continue your way eastwards: through forests, small towns and past colorful fields, you will reach the branch church of Holy Corona, which is just outside of Leiben. Then you walk relaxed the last meters down to Leiben, where castle number two of today's stage awaits you. Finally, you can visit the agricultural engineering museum in the stately castle of Leiben.

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    Intermediate
    03:15
    7.13 mi
    2.2 mph
    700 ft
    925 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    At the around 800-year-old Leiben Castle, which marks the transition from the rough Waldviertel to the picturesque Danube Valley, you can enjoy a fantastic view at the beginning of this stage. You walk through Weinzierl and over the "Henzing" down to Urfahr, where you cross the main road. Then you immerse yourself in beautiful nature and hike along the Danube Cycle Path along the Donausee Weitenegg.

    With a view of the water and countless ships, you come to the Melk power station, where the Nibelungengau long-distance hiking trail and the Wachau World Heritage Trail meet. You enjoy a great view of the gigantic Melk Abbey on the other bank. At the eastern end of the Danube lake, you will pass the Emmersdorf marina and there is also the Luberegg castle.

    After a short stop, the path leads up to a forested hill. Via Rantenberg you will reach your destination in Emmersdorf after a good ten kilometers. In the pretty village you can end the day in the inn "Zum schwarzen Bären".

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    Intermediate
    03:16
    7.46 mi
    2.3 mph
    525 ft
    700 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    At the Danube power plant in Melk, the Nibelungengau long-distance hiking trail connects to the Wachau World Heritage Trail - an attractive and ambitious alternative for motivated hikers. The sixth stage starts at the mighty Europa Castle in Leiben. Through Weinzierl and over the Kaumberg you walk down to the Danube valley and cross Ebersdorf there. In the village you can look forward to an impressive view of the Melk Abbey and the Ötscher.Then the path leads you along the edge of the forest, which is flanked by rare plant species. You can also enjoy changing views of the Danube and Pöchlarn from the hill. On the northern bank of the Danube you walk through Klein-Pöchlarn, where Austria's first bee park is located directly on the Danube Cycle Path.After a short detour, you will cross the Danube Bridge, where you will become aware of the strength and extent of the second longest river in Europe. On the other bank, you hike the last stretch upstream to Pöchlarn, your destination. Incidentally, one of the best-known Austrian artists was born in Pöchlarn: The Kokoschka Documentation Center in the painter's birthplace shows around 100 works by the great expressionist.

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    Intermediate
    03:23
    8.02 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today's stage is the most relaxed of the entire Nibelungengau long-distance hiking trail with only 100 meters of altitude - so you can sleep a little longer. So you leave the picturesque Pöchlarn to the west and reach the banks of the Erlauf. The path runs along the bike path. With a view of the shimmering water and small boats you reach the village of Erlauf, where you can take a break in one of the inns.Strengthened it goes over the bridge to the other bank of the river and on to Hinterleiten. From there you march up a hill and find yourself in a colorful hilly landscape with beautiful viewpoints. The Maria Taferl basilica and Artstetten Castle stand out majestically from the surroundings. After a good twelve kilometers you will reach your destination Krummnußbaum, which is picturesquely located on the Danube.

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    Intermediate
    04:29
    10.5 mi
    2.3 mph
    575 ft
    575 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The last stage of your hiking adventure starts in Krummnußbaum. At the beginning, the path climbs slightly and leads you up to an impressive viewpoint. You look back towards Pöchlarn and over to the pilgrimage church Maria Taferl. We continue along the Wallenbach through the forest and after a short time you reach the idyllically situated chapel Maria Steinbründl. Next to it is the cozy Waldgasthof Steinbründl, which is known for its delicious fried chicken.

    After a break at the inn, you follow the route through quiet forests and hilly fields peppered with traditional courtyards. In Sarling you hike a bit along the Danube, then cross the river Ybbs and then reach the city of Ybbs. The historic center with its colorful town houses is surrounded by a green moat and is worth a stop.

    Then you walk upriver and you can take an interesting tour at the oldest Danube power plant, Ybbs-Persenbeug. The cycle path takes you across the Danube to Persenbeug, where the long-distance trail ends. At Persenbeug the Strudengau turns into the Nibelungengau and you can end the day on the beautiful Danube region.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    72.0 mi
  • Duration
    32:43 h
  • Elevation
    7,625 ft

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Donau Niederösterreich

Hiking along the Danube in the Nibelungengau – Where legends come alive