One of the great ways to explore Europe is by bicycle. You can add this pursuit to your bucket list of activities by focusing on one of Europe’s four geographic regions when trip planning. For example, make a plan to cycle through northern Europe by scheduling travel at separate times to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Maybe you would rather see Western Europe. If so, include the countries of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland or Switzerland in your travel plans.
An Eastern European biking holiday covers the countries of the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia, while Southern European adventures skirt through the countries of Croatia, Italy, Greece, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. At least by dividing Europe into geographic sections, you can focus on one area or short-list your choice of countries.
One of the great river biking trips to take in Europe is along the great Danube River in Austria. In fact, you could plan a series of cycling trips that meander close to or near the major riparian bikeways. The five major rivers in Europe include the following:
The Danube River
The blue Danube, as celebrated in song, flows through the countries of Germany, Austria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. The Danube, which is the longest river in Europe, is approximately 1,780 miles in length. Some cruise companies offer river cruises along the long waterway, all of which enables travellers to sample the various cultures and scenery of each of the aforementioned countries.
You can learn more about biking along the Danube on sites like www.hookedoncycling.co.uk. Some companies also offer bike and cruise excursions besides cycling. Cyclers who travel along the Danube typically pedal over the riparian bikeway in the fairytale like country of Austria. You will also find tour companies that provide walking trips along various waterways.
The Elbe River
The Elbe River flows through the Czech Republic and Germany. At one time, the river comprised a portion of the boundary between East and West Germany. An important commercial waterway, the Elbe links the major European cities of Prague, Dresden and Berlin, Germany. Barges are regularly seen carrying cargo on the river, and dams along the waterway assist in flood control.
The Rhine River
Starting out in Switzerland, the Rhine River flows just over 775 miles to its end destination in the Netherlands. At that point, the river concludes the journey by flowing into the North Sea. The river passes though the countries of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands. A major waterway for both tourism and commerce, the river serves as a popular waterway for cruise operator companies. At one time the river water was extremely polluted. However, today the stream is the source of a potable water supply.
Known as France’s longest river, the Loire bisects the country’s midsection from east to west. Used for irrigation, the waterway aids the growth of the grapes, vegetables and fruits in the Loire Valley. It is not surprising then that cyclers who travel along the river’s banks visit the region’s charming chateaus and savour the locally grown produce at river cafes and restaurants.
Streaming over the Russian landscape, the Volga River is almost 3695 miles long. Approximately 40% of the Russian populace lives close to the river or one of its tributaries. The river is used for irrigation and fishing and as a commercial waterway. Some travel operators feature a cruise on the famous river that originates in Moscow and heads southwest to the Caspian Sea.
A Danube Bike Tour
As noted, a Danube bicycle tour is a great way to become acquainted with Europe. Whether you are a beginning cycler or have taken a tour route before, you will see why visitors to Europe like to bike ride along the Danube. For example, self-guided tours, offered by one tour company, take approximately seven to nine days, and are offered from the 25th of April to the 11th of October annually.
Passau – The Beginning Point
The cycling begins in Passau, a town in Lower Bavaria, Germany. The town is also called Dreiflüssestadt – the “City of Three Rivers.” The Danube meets the Inn River, which originates in the South, and the Ilz River, which begins in the north in the Lower Bavarian town. Therefore, it only seems fitting that the river also meets visitors and cyclers at this point as well. Just over 50,000 people live in the college town which is home to the University of Passau. The college, which was established in the late 1970s, is an extension of the Institute for Catholic Studies.
A Relaxing Bike Ride
While the tour is rated at a difficulty level of only one or two, it is a good idea for well-seasoned bike riders to take the tour, especially if their goal is to relax on holiday. You don’t have to strain yourself at all but simply enjoy the scenery. Therefore, untrained cyclists, experienced bike riders and families can all partake in this riparian adventure. The tour, which typically lasts for a week or nine days, moves from hotel to hotel. Around 90% of the course is flat, with a small part of the excursion taking place on a ferry or boat.
A Short Trip Preview
Bikes Are Rented on Day One
As noted, the itinerary for the excursion begins, on day one, in the lower Bavarian town of Passau. If you are renting a bike, you will do so in Passau. Some cyclers also bring their own bikes. Generally, touring companies give you a list of items to bring and pack. Cyclers generally buy their own helmets for reasons of hygiene and health.
A Glimpse at Day Two
Day two takes cyclers 26 miles or 45 km from Passau to Schlogen. During the excursion, bike riders will ride past Bavarian woodlands, castles and villages. The major part of the trip bypasses the Donouleiten Nature Preserve, which lies adjacent to the Danube’s left bank. At the end of the trip, cyclers will take their bike by ferry to their night’s accommodations.