Brought to you in association with the Austrian National Tourist Office
When you think of Austria, what do you picture? If the answer is lederhosen, waltzes and schnitzel, you’re not entirely wrong – but you’re not exactly right either.
The real Austria is a cosmopolitan and lively nation, possessed of a brilliant culture, gourmet cuisine and a vast array of sights and sounds. It’s an excellent destination in its own right; but it also happens to be something of a paradise for cyclists, blessed as it is with some of the planet’s most spectacular scenery and an excellent biking infrastructure.
Take a trip through the landlocked country and you’ll benefit from an extensive network of well-developed, well-marked tracks and cycle routes which run alongside rivers, through valleys and, for the adventurous, over mountains.
On top of that, bicycle-friendly accommodation, bike and e-bike rental services and facilities make the country an incredibly accessible choice for a biking holiday.
A haven for cyclists
Rock up pretty much anywhere in Austria and you’ll find good cycle routes and stunning scenery. But two locations in particular are well worth a visit.
Zell am See-Kaprun and the Danube Cycle Path are both popular, forward-thinking yet totally different biking destinations. Zell am See-Kaprun boasts a 240km-long biking network with routes to suit all – from challenging mountain bike rides to quiet pedals along picturesque biking infrastructure. It means you can cycle for pleasure for as little or as far as you like, while getting to know and experience the scenery, people, culture and cuisine along the way.
On and off the track in Zell am See-Kaprun
The Zell am See-Kaprun region sits in Salzburg state, around 80 km from Salzburg airport. It’s one of the largest e-bike regions in Austria with 23 rental stations, but also boasts a breathtaking natural arena of glaciers, mountains and lakes. You’ll have a choice of difficult graded cycle routes, flat touring, or you could take a more leisurely pace through the well-signposted network of paths.
Experienced mountain bikers in search of demanding terrain and new challenges can, depending on snow conditions, choose from three designated freeride trails on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier from June to September. Starting or finishing at the Alpincenter (altitude 2,450m), three variety-packed stages serve up 12km of downhill fun, spanning 1,500 vertical metres and three climate zones along the way.
If you’re looking for something more thrilling, Maiskogel mountain is home to a 2,000m² bike park with drops, banked turns and kickers.
Road bikers, on the other hand, may want to cover some distance on the Ironman 70.3 World Championship racetrack, set against stunning alpine scenery. The region also hosts Schmidolin’s ‘Chair of Fire’, an e-motocross park for kids aged 6-14, which has a race course stretching over 280m.
One of Europe’s iconic cycle routes
The Danube Cycle Path is a dream for explorers. Europe’s second longest river spans the continent. Once used by emperors and kings as a travel route, today it not only offers a cruising waterway, but also hosts the Danube Cycle Path. There are loads of bike rental partners along the route, and a range of comfortable bike-friendly accommodation.
There are 12 stages in total, stretching from the baroque city of Passau through the stunning landscape of the Upper-Danube Valley and around Schlögener Schlinge – a spectacular bend in the river.
The city of Linz is hosting a year-long celebration of media arts in 2016
Linz is a highlight; a bustling hub of creativity and industry on the banks of the Danube. It’s a great time to visit; 2016 sees the UNESCO City of Arts throw a year-long celebration of media arts. Check out the Ars Electronica Centre, where there are some great exhibitions examining art, technology and society, or head to the Musiktheater am Volksgarten opera house for a more traditional experience.
There’s plenty of culture and historical sites to take in along the way. The trail winds past former Roman towns, baroque monasteries and churches, stunning ruins and castles and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wachau, where your path is bordered by ruins, castles and vineyards.
And, in the unlikely event that the biking gets too much, take a boat trip from Linz down the Danube. Sit back, relax and take in Austria from a different perspective. It’s easy to tie in your finish with a few days in Vienna, Austria’s thrillingly vibrant capital.
Whether you decide on the Danube or Zell am See-Kaprun, you’ll find a wide range of accessible information to help visitors plan a cycling holiday. Detailed cycling maps and suggestions for all levels of cycling proficiency and fitness graded by difficulty and age, information on bike huts, bike rentals and bike-friendly accommodation, are all readily available online or via apps.
To find out more or to book, head to austria.info/bike.