Virtual Cycling Along Austria’s Danube Bike Path

From BikeTours.com president and founder, Jim Johnson

When I had the opportunity to bring a friend on her first trip to Europe and her first bike tour, the Danube Bike Path was an easy choice.

The Danube route has been one of my favorites since I first rode it in the late 1990s, and with all its variations it’s been a runaway client favorite since I established BikeTours.com in 2003.

It’s nearly entirely flat, away from traffic, well-marked, and has an extensive tourism infrastructure–including a great range of bike-friendly hotels and wonderful restaurants. And, of course, the scenery is often quite breathtaking. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve ridden it.

Joined by a video team and with a GoPro camera on my handlebars, we spent most of our time along or near my favorite section, in the Wachau wine region. In the video, you’ll see some wonderful highlights: castle ruins, villages and small towns, terraced vineyards, the magnificent Melk Abbey, and the hilltop pilgrimage town of Maria Taferl. You’ll share one of my favorite views: the Danube Bend as seen from atop an adjacent plateau, which is accessible by an easy hike. From there, we could look down on the two 180-degree turns in the river and see the riverboats and bike ferries traveling along.

In the “it’s a small world” category, we had taken a detour to work on some scenes for the video, so we weren’t actually on the bike path. As we stood chatting, two couples passed us on their bikes. I heard one of them say, “I wonder if that’s the video team Jim wrote us about.” I quickly responded, “Hey! I’m Jim!” I’d emailed clients who were going to be in the area while we were there, and I was delighted to bump into four of them–by total coincidence and well off the normal route. We rode together for the rest of the day–a total surprise and joy! We also stopped for a private wine tasting I hastily set up–an even more joyous event than if I had planned it!

By the time we finished our ride along the Danube, my friend turned to me and called her experience “life-changing.” Definitely not the first time I’ve heard those words used to describe a European bicycle tour.

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