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Danube Explorer

Austria's great river & its castles
 
Combine culture, cycling and swimming on this self-guided cycling holiday for families. While your luggage is transported ahead to the next high-quality, family-friendly hotel, you head along scenic trails, with plenty of time to visit the fortresses and abbeys and to swim in the river and at waterparks.
 

Holiday information

 

A family cycling holiday in Austria

Once fiercely contested because of its importance as a corridor between east and west, the Danube Valley today is gloriously tranquil. The glut of imposing fortresses – great for exploring – as well as many monasteries and abbeys, is testimony to those ancient struggles and is concentrated to most dramatic effect in the Wachau region. Along this winding, 40-kilometre stretch of the river, considered by many to be the most picturesque section of the Danube, you find villages of distinctive, pastel-coloured houses clinging to hills clad with vineyards, forests and apricot orchards.
Featuring three 4-star hotels, this idyllic cycling route concentrates on the most alluring section of the Danube, between the historic town of Grein and the wine town of Krems, some 80 kilometres to the east. With bicycle tracks running along both banks and the best scenery within easy reach of the river, cycling is by far and away the best means of taking it all in. The wines of the Wachau, little-known outside of Austria, will delight and surprise you, while children will love the fabulous outdoor waterpark at Melk and the chance to enjoy a leisurely boat ride along the river.

Is this the world's most relaxing cycling holiday?
Ben Ross from The Telegraph certainly thinks so, as he and his family take to two wheels to enjoy our cycling holiday along the Danube. Read his article >
 

Book now for summer 2021

Our flexible booking arrangements, commitment to safety and financial protection mean that you can book with confidence. We are also keeping our prices the same next year, so you can book for summer 2021 at 2020 prices.

What we’re doing so you can book and travel with confidence >

This holiday is not available in 2020.
 
Gallery
 

Itinerary

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.
Pay locally for all cultural visits.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 2 4 10 16 20 23 26 25 21 15 8 3
    mm 31 32 45 43 62 72 68 61 42 37 46 36
  • Arrival in Maria Taferl
    Night 1: at Hotel Schachner (the first of two nights here). Your bikes will be delivered to the hotel.
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of cycling.
  • Choice of routes around Maria Taferl: 38km or 49km

    Circular route: 38km; longer option via Pöchlarn: 49km
    The day begins with a transfer upstream (pay locally) either by bus (Jul-Sep) or taxi, to Baroque Grein. Here, take time to explore the Old Town before boarding the small ferry with your bikes for the short crossing of the river to Wiesen (pay locally). After stopping for refreshments and to admire the 15th-century castle, you cycle back through the wooded Strudengau on the opposite bank of the Danube to reach Ybbs (there's a bike museum here) before crossing to Marbach – or you can extend your ride south of the river from Ybbs to Pöchlarn. After 'hitching' a pre-arranged ride back uphill to the hotel in Marbach, take time to relax in the whirlpool and swimming pools, or simply drink in the views from the sun terrace. While in Maria Taferl, take time to visit the village's Wallfahrtskirche (pilgrims' church), a splendid example of Baroque architecture with an ornate interior, two onion-domed steeples and marvellous views over the Danube. Next to the church, look out for the circular stone where sacrifices were once made!
  • Maria Taferl to Melk: 24km
    Leaving the Hotel Schachner-Krone, you cycle to the Habsburg castle at Artstetten. This was one of the homes of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and became his final resting place following his assassination in 1914, the event which sparked the First World War. Surrounded by English-style gardens, the castle now houses an extensive exhibition about his life, giving you an interesting insight into this keen huntsman and his marriage to Sophie Chotek, deemed an unsuitable alliance for the heir to the throne (her father was only a Count, after all, and not from one of the reigning dynasties of Europe). After visiting the castle, you wind back to the river and into the town of Melk, western gateway to the Wachau, where you spend two nights at the Hotel-Restaurant zur Post.
    Maria Taferl to Melk: 24km
    Cycling through open farmland to Melk
  • Circular route from Melk: 18km
    We suggest just a short cycling circuit today so that you can spend the rest of your time exploring Melk. As you cycle – there are a couple of hills but the ascents are short – you can see for yourself how the views for miles around are dominated by Melk's Benedictine abbey, a huge, custard-coloured celebration of Baroque architecture which stands on a granite bluff. The centrepiece of the abbey is its large, frescoed church with symmetrical spires and high octagonal dome. After visiting the abbey – its nooks and crannies beg to be explored and are perfect for a game of hide-and-seek in the immense gardens – take a stroll through Melk's Old Town following its coloured themed walking trails, and seek out the Altes Posthaus, whose ornate stucco relief depicts horses' heads and eagles.

    Here, you can enjoy the lovely park with play area; a game of indoor bowling; or the large waterpark with water slides. Otherwise head over the river to spend an afternoon at the outdoor riverside pool in Weitenegg, where you can swim, sail or surf.
    Circular route from Melk: 18km
    Pedal through landscapes framed by forested hills
  • Melk to Dürnstein: 29km
    Enjoy a superb riverside route through the Wachau, passing peach and apricot orchards as well as the seas of vines which yield the noble and versatile Riesling grape. You catch glimpses of the onion-domed castle of Schönbühel and, as the valley continues to narrow, you pass through the typical Wachau town of Aggsbach, beyond which are the impressive ruins and famous rose gardens of the castle at Aggstein. A good place to pause for lunch is Spitz, a wine-producing village with cobbled streets, a Gothic church with 14th-century sculptures of Christ and the Apostles, and a museum devoted to how villagers used to make their living from the Danube. Setting off once more, visit the vine-covered Tausendeimerberg, a hill named for its reputed ability to yield a thousand buckets of wine per season! One last village before Dürnstein is charming Weissenkirchen, renowned for its wines and its church, which appears more like a fortress than a place of worship. In Dürnstein, you stay two nights at the Gartenhotel Pfeffel.
    Melk to Dürnstein: 29km
    Pass peach and apricot orchards en route
  • Choice of routes from Dürnstein: 30km or 37km

    Circular route via Krems: 30km; longer option via Göttweig: 37km
    Your first target on this circular route is Krems, surrounded by vine-clad hills. The sloping, cobbled streets of the Altstadt (Old Town) showcase a range of architectural styles dating from between the 13th and 17th centuries, a time of great prosperity for the town, including the Renaissance town hall, a Gothic church and a Baroque church with trompe-l'oeil masonry. It is also worth exploring the town's Stein district, with its Renaissance buildings (many with arcaded courtyards), handsome medieval squares and museum of modern art. There is also an indoor swimming pool and miniature golf course here.

    Once you have explored, you can choose to continue by bike to the exceptional Benedictine abbey at Göttweig, seated imperiously on a hill in the Dunkelsteiner Forest. Admire the abbey’s ornate Baroque interior, including the elaborate Imperial staircase, before cycling back to Rossatzbach to hop aboard the ferry (pay locally) to Dürnstein. Boasting an idyllic location on the riverbank, Dürnstein itself is well worth exploring. The two main sights are the blue and white tower overlooking the water, and the castle in which Richard 'the Lionheart' was held for ransom for two years. Legend has it that he was eventually tracked down by a minstrel identified as Jean II of Nesle, who was nicknamed 'Blondel' for his long blond hair.
    Circular route from Dürnstein: 30km
    Fertile landscapes
  • Dürnstein to Maria Taferl: 34km
    Start the day by taking a river cruise to Spitz (included), a great way to enjoy a different perspective of the valley. At Spitz you pick up a leisurely route along the sheer-sided valley back to Marbach, where a taxi will collect you for the short journey to Maria Taferl for a final dinner in the fabulous Hotel Schachner’s panoramic restaurant.
 

Accommodation

You stay in high-quality, yet family-friendly, four-star hotels.

Please note: most beds in Austrian hotels are normally one large base with two mattresses/duvets. We refer to these as 'Austrian Twins' and they are locally regarded to serve requests for both double and twin bedded rooms. Separate twin beds or traditional double beds with one large mattress are rare and cannot be guaranteed.
 

Extend your stay

 

Summer 2021

We are keeping our prices the same, so you can book for summer 2021 at 2020 prices.
 

Prices

All prices are in £ sterling (GBP), based on 2 sharing, with a 3rd/4th bed as required.

 
Prices in £ per person
2 May - 4 October 2020
Add £120 per car if travelling self-drive – includes P&O Ferries Dover-Calais (weekend supplements apply during school holidays)

Adult / Child (up to 17yrs), sharing a room for 2 people*
2 - 21 May: £1165 / £920
22 May - 27 Sep: £1195 / £945
*For a single room, add £195, all dates

For family rooms, add the following:

Child (15-17yrs), in 3rd/4th bed
All dates: £835

Child (10-14yrs), in 3rd/4th bed
All dates: £585

Child
(5-9yrs), in 3rd/4th bed
All dates: £470

Child
(2-4yrs), in 3rd/4th bed
All dates: £290

All child prices include child's bike or tag-along; deduct £95 for a child seat on an adult bike
Electric bikes available: add £95 per person (adult size bikes only)

Connecting travel from Vienna:
• return rail/taxi from Vienna Hauptbahnhof (out/home 1h50) rail £56 per adult, £28 per child (6-14) plus taxi £68 for family of up to 4, £128 for a family of 5+;
• return taxi from Vienna (out/home 1h30) £330 for family of up to 3; £390 for family of 4+.

Connecting travel from Linz:
• return rail/taxi (out/home 1h50) rail £56 per adult, £28 per child (6-14) plus taxi £68 for a family of up to 4, £128 for a family of 5+
 
 
Currency converter
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  • RECOMMENDED AIRPORT(S):
    Linz or Vienna (latest flight arrival time: Linz 1700 / Vienna 1700; earliest flight departure time: Linz 1300 / Vienna 1230)
    As an alternative to flying, we can arrange rail travel from London.

     

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Vienna or Munich.  To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Vienna Austrian Airlines,  Eurowings 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Vienna easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Vienna easyJet,  jet2 
    Edinburgh - Vienna (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Vienna British Airways,  easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Vienna Austrian Airlines,  British Airways 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Vienna easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Vienna Eurowings,  Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Vienna Austrian Airlines,  easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Vienna (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Vienna or Munich.  To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service (£60 for India and Nepal). Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

What is included
  • 7 nights
  • 5 dinners
    7 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • high-quality bicycle
  • river cruise Dürnstein to Spitz
 
Reviews

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help.
  • We sincerely hope that your holiday experience will be as enjoyable as it would have been before the pandemic – cycling holidays are ideal in these times of social distancing, and we’re not operating holidays if the key highlights can no longer be delivered – but, naturally, there will be some changes to ensure your and other people’s safety.
    Your holiday experience: what to expect >
    Safety measures being taken by hoteliers & others >
  • No, we don't set age limits. You are best placed to judge if your child(ren) can cope with the demands of the holiday and be confident on roads next to traffic on occasions.
  • For adults, our chosen bike rental shop will provide you with a city trekking bike with 21 gears; a waterproof map case on handlebars; panniers/saddlebags; puncture-resistant tyres; and a lock. Electric bikes are available as an upgrade (see price panel), subject to limited availability, and must be requested at the time of booking.
    For children, we will be happy to arrange hire of children’s bikes (20” or 24”), a tag-along or child seats (the latter are available free of charge). Please bring your own helmets (use of which is obligatory for under 12s in Austria).
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. On mornings when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation so that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.
  • Yes, we will provide GPX tracks for this holiday prior to departure so that you can follow your route on your smartphone or dedicated GPS device if you wish. (We also provide maps and our tried-and-tested route notes.)
  • You do need to make sure you’re covered, because it’s you who is responsible for any damage to or loss of the bike during the holiday. You should always lock it (preferably to an immovable object) and remove any easy-to-steal accessories when leaving it unattended. The travel insurance policy that we offer covers you for loss and damage (provided you’ve locked or stored it appropriately). If you are arranging your own insurance, but it doesn’t cover bikes, we can provide bike-only cover. See the FAQs section of the main cycling holidays page for more details.
  • We can book a wide range of airlines and routes from the UK. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe and Morocco, there’s a £35 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £60 per person. More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to buy our travel insurance policy (if you live outside Europe you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK and EU residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    We'll ask you for the details of your alternative policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Austria, but not a visa. If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). UK citizens should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) by applying at a Post Office or at www.ehic.org.uk. The EHIC allows reciprocal health care but should not be seen as a substitute for travel insurance.
  • (Austrian) German is the most commonly spoken language. The currency is the Euro. Austrian time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • At Inntravel we work in close partnership with our hoteliers, taxi drivers and other local suppliers to provide our self-guided holidays directly to you. We are entirely confident that you will continue to receive the usual warm welcome from them, regardless of what is happening in the European political sphere.

    When the UK withdrew from the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, it entered an 11-month transition period that will last until the end of December 2020. During this transition period there will be absolutely no changes to current arrangements for UK citizens travelling to an EU destination, so you can book your 2020 holiday certain that there will be no disruptions or complications caused by Brexit.
  • The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
Last fetch time is : 9/18/2020 8:05:05 AM