Monday, 6 August 2012 9:44 AM
The Danube is Europe's second largest river and it passes through some stunning scenery as it flows towards the Black Sea. If you're keen to explore a picturesque section of the waterway, head to Austria and discover the route from Passau to Vienna.
Thanks to the river's importance as a trade route many towns, cities and villages line its banks, giving you plenty to discover as you cycle through the beautiful countryside. Another reason to choose a cycling break along the Danube in Austria, as opposed to elsewhere, is that many of the trails are flat, which makes the pedalling relatively easy and relaxed.
Cycling from Passau to Vienna takes around 11 days, although there are plenty of stops in between where you'll be completely free to explore some of the most fascinating destinations on the route. Here are just a few of the highlights you can look forward to.
Linz is the ideal destination for culture vultures, with everything from old architecture to modern art museums just waiting to be discovered. The city sits on the banks of the Danube in stunning surroundings, which will no doubt be apparent as you cycle towards it from Schlogen.
The Old Town is a myriad of cobbled streets and alleys lined by some wonderful buildings, with the most notable landmarks including the Old Cathedral, Linz Castle and the Main Square - which is among the largest in Europe.
For a spot of contemporary culture, head to the Lentos Museum of Art, where works from the 19th and 20th centuries are on show. Artists such as JB Reiter, Corinth, Bayer, Warhol and Cragg are among those whose pieces adorn the walls here, while there is also a good collection of Austrian art for you to peruse.
The next town you will have a full day to wander around is Melk, which is home to an amazing Benedictine abbey that is considered to be one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Europe. No stop in Melk would be complete without taking a tour of the place of worship, which was rebuilt in 1683.
If you'd like to hop back on your bike, you can enjoy a lovely ride to the nearby Schloss Schallaburg, a Renaissance castle with a history dating back around 900 years.
Krems has a fascinating history and rich culinary traditions, which certainly make it a worthy addition to any cycling holiday in Austria. In fact, the town is the oldest one in Austria to be mentioned in a document, as its name appeared in writing in 995. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses the Wachau region.
There are numerous museums and historic buildings in the town, so you'll find something exciting around every corner as you explore. In addition to delving into Krems's culture and history, you should sample some of its cuisine. There are numerous restaurants that serve up local dishes and, as Krems is surrounded by vineyards, you should wash down your meal with a glass or two of the regional tipple.
Vienna is the final stop on your cycling tour along the Danube and it's an amazing place to round off your holiday. The city centre is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with some of its most famous landmarks including Schottenkloster (Austria's oldest monastery) and St Stephen's Cathedral, which dates from the 15th and 16th centuries.
There are also several palaces in and around Vienna, such as the Hofburg, which is the official residence of the country's president, and Schoenbrunn Palace, a stunning Baroque structure with vast grounds that are home to the world's oldest zoo, a maze and a labyrinth where you can have a go at all manner of puzzles.