Day 1 on the Danube Bike Trail: Passau-Eferding

Self-Guided Trip from Passau-Vienna is Ideal for Family

by Karen Rubin, Eric Leiberman and Dave E. Leiberman

The breakfast room at Am Jesuitenschlossl-Passau © 2012 Karen Rubin/

We arrived in Passau, Germany yesterday, but today is our first day on the Danube Bike Trail. Over the next six days, we will ride about 210 miles, ending in Vienna, Austria.

Our trip, booked through BikeToursDirect, is self-guided trip, which means my two adult sons and I ride on our own, but many of the comforts of having an organized tour are taken care of – our nightly accommodations with breakfast are pre-booked, and ferrying our luggage to the next hotel.

The historic border marker into Germany © 2012 Karen Rubin/

We get our bags down to the lobby of the guesthouse, AmJesuitenschlossl-Passau, by 9 am but have a leisurely morning, rationalizing that we are giving the German groups time to get out ahead of us on the trail.

David takes advantage of the fitness room to stretch before biking, and then we enjoy breakfast together in a charming dining room where there is a marvelous buffet of eggs, cheeses, meats, breads, fresh fruits, yogurts, juices and coffee.

It’s 10:30 am by the time we depart and begin our adventure on the Danube Bike Trail.

Our itinerary tells us exactly how to leave the hotel in order to get on the bike trail.

Dave and Eric starting out our adventure on the Danube Bike Trail from Passau: Welcome to Austria! © 2012 Karen Rubin/

Before we know it – just as Justin, the bike tour company representative told us when he brought us our hotel vouchers, bike rentals and maps – we reach the border between Germany and Austria. Not too long ago, before the European Union, there would have been a gatehouse and you would have had to show papers to travel from one country to another. We look for the signs and pose for pictures.

We take our first ferry ride from the north shore to the south shore. It is right across from where the local bike tour company, DonauRadFreunde Travel Agency, that BikeToursDirect uses, has its offices, and where we have arranged to pick up train tickets. We stop in, and it puts faces on the people who have organized the trip.

It’s a perfect day – warm but there are breezes from the river.

The beautiful architecture of Austria © 2012 Karen Rubin/

Justin has told us to look for a place along the Danube Bike Trail where you climb up to see that most famous bend in the Danube River, a geological marvel where the river is turned back on itself, 270-degrees. We have overshot, and, after a pleasant picnic lunch, ride back to the Schlogner Schlinge ferry to get to the north shore.

This is a real popular tourist center and we readily see why – it is so beautiful. There are excellent facilities here.

We leave our bikes and hike through the woods on a fairly steep trail for about 30 minutes, climbing higher and higher – we see mountain bikers using the steep sections to practice.

The Danube Bike Trail passes by beautiful architecture of © 2012 Karen Rubin/

The view is lives up to the promise of being spectacular.

We continue our way through an absolutely stunning part of the trail with trees and camping or guest houses on one side, the Danube on the other.

A family we met at the scenic overlook passes me in the car, extending greetings, as they pull up to their guesthouse, Gasthof Reisinger (gorgeous, right on the Danube).

Biking the Danube Bike Trail © 2012 Karen Rubin/

I had thought the Danube Bike Trail is closed to motor vehicles, but that is not the case. Though there is not a lot of traffic, there are cars that come to the houses and farm houses, to the ferry, to the guesthouses and beaches, so you have to be watchful. Still, there is proper respect for the cyclists.

The sun is going down – making for a gorgeous glowing color, we are loving the trail along the river, woods on one side and the water on the other, so peaceful… even a WC on the trail.

Hydroelectric power harnessed from the Danube © 2012 Karen Rubin/

We stop at Aschach where there is a promenade of restaurants and cafes. We are hungry and think we will just have a quick snack of coffee and strudel to tide us over until we get to our destination, but we wind up having dinner as the sun fades altogether, turning everything a deep golden then orange, then pinkish color – and we haven’t reached the guesthouse. I am nervous to be riding at night, but the fellows assure me now to worry – and I see on the map that we do not have that much further to go to the guesthouse, and that the trail follows along the river.

So we relax at Gasthof Sonne, in a garden setting beside the Danube.

Here is another aspect of our adventure: the menus are in German and the waiters have little or no understanding of English. It is fun to figure out ways to communicate, or just resolve to take what comes.

The lovely scenery along the Danube Bike Trail © 2012 Karen Rubin/

We figure out the “specialty”: deer with pear and dumpling (the boys love to try new things and want to try what is typical and what is the specialty of the house); Eric tries the pumpkin soup and I have noodles with mushrooms and sauce. Fabulous.

They don’t take a credit card, so I walk across the road to a bank ATM to get Euros.

A cruiseboat on the Danube © 2012 Karen Rubin/

Everything is an adventure – the way the bathrooms work, what the signs mean when they say “Verboten.”

I think we’ve done 80 km today – plus we got lost a couple of times – but I am not tired or aching at all.

Biking along the Danube Bike Trail takes you into villages © 2012 Karen Rubin/

From the start of the trip, I had every expectation of being able to do the daily distance – I routinely ride 15 miles a day, and have done the New York City Five-Boro Ride, putting on some 50 miles, several times. I actually expected the daily mileage to be around 30-35 miles, and it seems to turn out more, more like 40-60 miles in a day, but it never seems overwhelming. There is something absolutely wonderful about knowing you have to get to where you are going on your own power (though in the worst case scenario, you could probably catch a train).

We bike the last few miles in the dark – delighted with the way the lights on the bike work.

The view of the Danube from Aschach at sunset, along the Danube Bike Trail © 2012 Karen Rubin/

Before long, we arrive at theLanguesthouse Dieplinger, a family-run inn, with a lovely courtyard and charming guest rooms, situated right on the Danube Bike Trail and along the River. You couldn’t dream a more perfect place.

Aschach at night © 2012 Karen Rubin/

What a thrill to see our bags are waiting for us. Our rooms are so pleasant -with all the creature comforts – private bathroom, TV with remote control (make sure you bring adapters to charge your cell phone and computer). I am in heaven. The guesthouse is exactly as I would have hoped in my mind. There is also a brewery here in some buildings in the back.

There are tables set up along the river – what a view, the guesthouse itself inside a charming courtyard with cobblestone.

We learn that the chef specializes in the distillation of hard liquor, which was awarded with numerous awards at international competitions, and it is a kind of theme in the guesthouse (the next morning, we peek into the distillery in the back).

BikeToursDirect serves as a central resource for bicycle tours around the world, representing nearly 60 tour companies that offer almost 300 tours in 40 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North America. BikeToursDirect offers a variety of resources to help travelers choose tours and handles the entire booking and payment process. For more information,, call 877-462-2423 or 423-756-8907, email:

Relaxing on the ferry crossing © 2012 Karen Rubin/

The famous Schlogen Bend in the Danube River, seen from the top of a hill, an enjoyable 30-minute hike from the Danube Bike Trail below, is a highlight of our first day's ride © 2012 Karen Rubin/

Hiking the trail to the overlook of the famous Schlogen Bend © 2012 Karen Rubin/

Pumpkin soup © 2012 Karen Rubin/

David and Eric enjoy dinner on the Danube © 2012 Karen Rubin/

My room at the Dieplinger guesthouse © 2012 Karen Rubin/


Lights of the Dieplinger guesthouse reflected in the Danube are a welcome sight after a day of biking © 2012 Karen Rubin/

A woman in traditional costume along the Danube at sunset © 2012 Karen Rubin/

The biergarten at the Dieplinger at night © 2012 Karen Rubin/

On the Danube Bike Trail, Day 2: Eferding-Linz-Au

See also:
Danube Bike Trail Ride is Trip of a Lifetime
On the Danube Bike Trail, Day 3: Au/Donau-Mauthausen-Enns-Persenbeug
On the Danube Bike Trail, Day 4: Persenbeug-Durnstein-Krems
On the Danube Bike Trail, Days 5-6: Krems-Tulln-Vienna
On the Danube Bike Trail: Seeing Vienna by Bike

Thursday, 10 May, 2012


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Karen Rubin is an eclectic travel writer who has been spanning the globe for more than 30 years reporting on interesting, intriguing people and places to explore for magazines, newspapers and online. She publishes Travel Features Syndicate in newspapers and online including, Huffington Post and and blogs at "Travel is a life-changing and an interactive experience that mutually benefits travelers and community." Contact Karen at 'Like' us at

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  1. Pingback: Seeing Vienna by Bike | TravelWritersMagazine

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