Bicycle touring in Austria is in a country with a great bike culture with both easy and challenging routes including the famous Danube River Bike Route. You will find numerous well signed national and regional bike routes that range from easy to challenging that are well used by visitors and local citizens alike.
Four of the most popular bicycle touring routes of Austria
Danube Bicycle route – actually starts in Passau, Germany and continues to Vienna and beyond to Hainsburg on the border with Slovakia. Flat to gently rolling terrain and paved for the entire distance of 326 km to Vienna. In many sections the route can be found on both sides of the river. Handy bike ferries plus bridges for easy access to both sides of river and bike friendly hotels for accommodation.
Tauern Bicycle route – not as well known but you can start from the Krimml waterfalls, the highest in central Europe or Bad Reichenhall in Germany and take a circular loop into Salzburg, continuing to the Danube. You will be surrounded by the Alps for much of this route. Mostly well signed and paved but there are a few gravel sections which I rode on a loaded road or touring bike. A few hills to climb but nothing serious.
Salzkammergut Bicycle route – the very scenic lakes district of Austria starting from Salzburg and heads inland passing numerous lakes. Rolling terrain along the way as you visit Hallstadt and St. Wolfgang along with places you might recognize from the Sound of Music. Well signed this is really a series of loops on paved bike paths and quiet local roads so distances will vary depending on which route you take. The ride down the gentle hill into Salzburg with the castle in sight is still one of my most magical moments ever while bicycle touring.
Inn Bicycle route – actually starts in Switzerland near St. Mortiz and continues for 209 km to Innsbruck following the river mostly downhill with a few gently hills. From the famous ski resort of Innsbruck, although you are surrounded by mountains you continue for 318 km gently downhill and into Germany along along this well signed route until reachin the Danube River at Passau.
Five things you must see when bicycle touring in Austria
- Salzburg Old Town – Salzkammergut, Tauern or Mozart Bicycle routes
- Wachau wine region – Danube bicycle route
- Hallstatt World Heritage site – Salzkammergut Bicycle route
- Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna – Danube and regional bicycle routes
- Melk Benedictine Abbey – Danube bicycle route
When is the best time to bike Austria?
The months of May or June in the spring and September or October in the fall are the best times. Attractions are not as busy and accommodation is easier to find.
Travel companies offer guided and self guided tours along the Danube from Passau to Vienna or Vienna to Budapest. Some companies also offer tours in the lakes district.
You require at least two independently operating brakes, a clear headlight and a red taillight, yellow reflectors on the pedals, at least one white or yellow reflector in the spokes of each wheel and a clear sounding bell as a warning signal.
There is no helmet law for bicycles but we highly recommend the use of a helmet, especially if you travel on roads shared by other vehicles.
Where do I stay along the way?
Most hotels along the major bike routes offer an area to lock your bicycle overnight and are used to and welcome cyclists. Even in Vienna there are bike hotels which cater to people bicycle touring. Particularly along the Danube route there is accommodation marketed specifically to cyclists. See my resources section for ideas.
Should I rent or bring my own bike?
Bikes can be rented in practically every village, many hotels as well as 170 train stations throughout Austria. Except for the Vienna area and Danube Bike Routes the quality of the bikes varies a lot so if is best to bring your own.
This is a country with numerous scenic and well signed cycle routes which makes bicycle touring in Austria so easy to plan and so enjoyable while you are there.