River Danube: Highlights Along Europe's Second Largest River
8 days / 7 nights | MS CARISSIMA | Self guided bike tours
Accompanied by a comfortable new cruise ship you cycle along Europe's second largest river Danube from the charming Bavarian “three river city” of Passau straight into the heart of the once glorious Imperial and Royal Monarchy. Enjoy three of the most enchanting European capitals: the lively Vienna, the Slovak coronation city of Bratislava at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains and Budapest, the "Hungarian Danube Queen"! By bicycle you discover the stunning natural spectacle of the Schlögener Donauschlinge ("Great Loop"), the legendary Wachau with romantic towns and mighty castles amidst lovely vineyards, the untouched alluvial forests of the Danube National Park, as well as the picturesque Hungarian Danube bend where the important cupola of the basilica in Esztergom salutes from the distance. On board your "floating hotels" during this trip you will enjoy the comfort of a cruise ship and delicious regional specialties! Short routings for leisure cyclists available!
Ability level: Level 1 - the cycle route is completely flat, at times on a gentle downhill slope, and is ideal for bikers with less experience, leisure cyclists and children.
Travel Information available in English or German.
Day 1 (Sun): Arrival and embarkation in Passau
Arrival in the "Three River City" with boarding starting at 4:30 p.m. Passau attracts many with the world's greatest church organ at the Stephansdom and it’s charming Old Town. Departure will be at 6 p.m. Enjoy your first dinner on board and an evening sail to Engelhartszell.
Day 2: Great Loop – Aschach (Cycling 42 km / 26 miles)
The day starts in Engelhartszell (the only Trappist monastery in Austria), where we head towards the "Great Loop" - one of the most beautiful and original sectors of the Danube. Your cycling will encounter small villages and cozy must-see taverns (relaxing 15-km-roundtrip for leisure cyclists available). You'll board again in the charming village Brandstatt. Then, you "sail into the night" towards Devin.
Day 3: Devin – Bratislava (Cycling 43 km / 27 miles)
The cycle tour takes you from Devin through Austria’s „vegetable garden“ to the imposing Imperial Palace of Hof beautifully terraced gardens and idyllic manor farm. After crossing the green line you cycle along the former “Iron Curtain” towards the coronation city of Bratislava at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. During a bus tour and walkabout in the evening (optional) you can discover hidden alleys of Bratislava, places and all the sights of this ambitious metropolis.
Day 4: Budapest | roundtrip to Szentendre (Cycling 54 km / 34 miles)
In the morning, you enjoy the panoramic view of the Danube's gorgeous landscape on the Sundeck. The gateway to Budapest is overwhelming, as many of the famous tourist features are situated directly next to the river bank. Nearby, you find the Margaretheninsel which is outstandingly qualified for small bike tours or the charming town of Szentendre with Mediterranean atmosphere and lively art life. A very close experience of Hungarian culture you will get at an evening show with traditional music and dances (optional).
Day 5: Danube Bend – Esztergom (Cycling 43 km / 27 miles)
The Danube bend is definitely one of most delightful and attractive parts and is called the Hungarian Wachau. Today's bike leg starts at Visegrad with its famous fortress and the ruins of the former palace. You can choose from 2 different routes: the longer one includes a side trip to the island of Szentendre and the baroque village of Vác which has been influenced by the architects of the Austrian empress Maria Theresia. The other route leads you directly to the bishop-town of Esztergom with its gorgeous basilica – Hungary's largest Catholic Church – overlooking the village.
Day 6: Vienna (day of rest), Sightseeing tour by bike or bus – Evening Waltz concert (optional)
You should be sure to see the most famous places of interest like the Prater, the St. Stephens Cathedral and the Hofburg. You can take a city tour by bike or bus (optional, not included). The gorgeous boulevard "Ringstraβe" with the Burgtheater, the State Opera House and the town hall takes you back to the past. The evening ends impressively with a Waltz and Operetta concert and a glass of wine at a Viennese wine tavern or at the Castle Schönbrunn (optional, not included).
Day 7: Wachau | Krems – Melk (C ycling 37 km / 23 miles)
Your last biking day is a special highlight! Amidst small dreamy villages, apricot trees, vineyards, castles, monasteries and ruins, this gentle hilly landscape enchants everybody. You'll be biking on cloud nine! A powerful ruin looms above the small Baroque town of Dürnstein, while the blue tower of the monastery church is a landmark of Wachau. In Weißenkirchen (possibility for a wine-tasting – optional) you will find comfy wine taverns right along the bike path. You owe it to yourself to take a break! After a ceremonial gala dinner, lots of fun and entertainment can be experienced during a crew show.
Day 8: Passau
Every journey draws to an end. Once again you enjoy on deck the first sunbeams and the peaceful silence of the Danube Valley. Take a last sight at the Schlögener Schlinge ("Great Loop") before you arrive relaxed at Passau. Arrival: approx 10 a.m., disembarkation half an hour later. We recommend to arrange connecting trips from 11:30 a.m. onwards.
Please note: All cycling distances stated above are approximate only.