Austria has an extensive network of more than 10,000 km of well developed and mostly paved cycling trails, and many Bed and Breakfast providers are cycle friendly. Here's our pick of nine of the most scenic and exciting bike rides.
1. Vorarlberg Trail and Lake Constance Loop
Surrounded by a majestic mountain backdrop and and nestled between five valleys, the medieval Alpine town of Bludenz is the perfect starting point for this adventure. Bludenz can easily be reached via train (the closest airport is Zurich) and besides cycling offers great hiking and fishing. The bike trail follows the Ill river to Feldkirch with its medieval town centre and Schattenburg castle. Following the Rhine river north, you will eventually reach Bregenz, known for its summer music festival on a floating stage on Lake Constance. From Bregenz you will connect to the international Lake Constance Loop, allowing you to visit Germany and Switzerland as well. If your legs are tired, you can take a shortcut on the ferry to Konstanz. The loop will bring you back to Bregenz on the south shore of the lake.
Distance: Total of 322 km, including Lake Constance Loop. Features: Paved bike paths or roads with very little traffic. Mostly flat
2. The Tauernradweg along the Salzach and Saalach River
This includes scenic beauty, Europe's highest waterfalls, a visit to Salzburg and countless attractions along the way. The starting point of this bike trip is the small village of Krimml, in the Hohe-Tauern National Park region. The bike trail follows the Salzach River through charming villages to Zell am See, a picturesque summer and winter resort. Here you have two options to get to Salzburg, either continue along the Salzach River with a chance to visit the world's largest ice caves in Werfen or the salt mines in Hallein. Or take the (even more scenic) route along the Saalach river, visiting places like Maria Alm and Lofer and taking a shortcut through Bavaria to Salzburg. From Salzburg the bike trail will lead north through Oberndorf to the German border town of Passau where you can connect and continue on the Danube bike trail towards Vienna.
Distance:327 km, 177 km from Krimml to Salzburg. Features: slightly downhill with some minor climbs, mostly on paved trails and minor roads with local traffic. Some gravel or mountain trails are used (not recommended for racing bikes).
3. The Salzkammergut Lake District Tour
This bike trip will lead you past 13 lakes, offering ample opportunity to break up your cycling with swimming, fishing, sailing and hiking. This tour is a loop which allows you to start your adventure anywhere along the route. The official starting point is Salzburg from where the route goes southeast to St. Gilgen on Lake Wolfgang, further along to St. Wolfgang and Bad Ischl, the former Emperor Franz Joseph's favorite holiday spot. Further south the trail will lead you into the picturesque town of Hallstatt. Take a small boat out on the lake and enjoy one of Austria’s best photo ops. Stop at the ice caves near Obertraun. It goes via Traunsee, Attersee and Mondsee, all of which offer great water activities.
Distance: 309 km loop with start and finish in Salzburg. Features: mostly bike paths and side roads with little traffic, for short distances where highways are used, trains or bus lines offer an alternative.
4. The Danube Bike Trail from Passau to Vienna (or on to Hainburg)
This tour will take you via some of Austria's most impressive cultural sites. Starting at the historic German border town of Passau the trail follows the Danube River into Vienna. The city of Linz, the baroque abbey of St. Florian and many castles feature along the way, as well as the famous Wachau region with its charming villages, vineyards and orchards. Don't miss a visit to the baroque abbey of Melk overlooking the Danube. Dürnstein, with its ruins where King Richard the Lionhearted was captured on his way back from the crusades, and the 1,000 year old town of Krems are other must-see stops on the tour. For those wishing to cycle further along past Vienna, the Hainburg area close to the border with Slovakia is the end of the marked bike trail.
Distance: 317 km. Features: 90% traffic free bike trails along the Danube River, practically flat or slightly downhill, with a few uphill battles for sightseeing.
Photo: Stephan Schütz/In velo veritas
5. In Velo Veritas – a vintage bike tour
Explore Austria’s stunning scenery on classic road bikes. This usually takes place during the last weekend in May and three distances are available – the “epic” 212 km stretch which starts at 6:00 am, a “demanding” 140 km route and an “enjoyable” 70 km loop – all requiring a decent level of fitness. There’s also a family route of 20 km. The rules are simple – you need an old-school steel road bike complete with old-fashioned brake levers and leather pedal clips, and ideally a woollen cycling jersey. This year the route went through the Weinviertel in Lower Austria, and up into the Czech Republic. The event has grown to accommodate 500 riders.
6. Kamp-Thaya-March trail
This trail leads you through Lower Austria’s north-eastern corner, following the three river valleys. You start in Krems on the Danube, head up the Kamp valley into the Waldviertel region and continue to the Czech border. There you connect with the Thaya, turn eastwards and soon enter the more gentle Weinviertel region. When you reach the banks of the March river, you take another turn, this time southwards. From here you follow the Slovak border until you end up in Marchegg across the river from the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.
The whole 420 km route takes at least a week. The individual legs are 30-55 km and generally are along quiet lanes and farm paths, taking in unspoiled nature, sleepy villages, medieval castles and expansive wine country. The first stages are steeper but when you reach the Weinviertel region you can practically coast along.
7. Mozart bike tour
This tour takes you through Salzburgerland and Bavaria. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart left numerous traces throughout Salzburg. Now a mosaic of historically documented “Mozart Milestones” are interconnected via the Mozart Bike Tour. This border-straddling tour leads through some of the most magnificent lake country of Salzburg and Bavaria. It’s divided into 16 stages, each no longer than 50 km.
Distance: 450 km. There are also connecting stages between St. Lorenz and Köstendorf, Laufen and Kössen, as well as Bad Reichenhall and Salzburg.
8. Alpe Adria bike trail
From Salzburg to Grado – this is one for real explorers, taking you to the Mediterranean. The Alpe Adria Bike Tour makes it possible for virtually every ambitious cyclist to cross the Alps. You begin by riding alongside the River Salzach and the Gasteiner Ache as far as the Tauernschleuse motorail terminal in Böckstein-Mallnitz. A train ride of around 11 minutes takes you through the tunnel into Carinthia. Here, the route follows the banks of the Möll, Drava and Gail rivers to the Italian border and Tarvisio. The journey continues along the tracks of the former Pontebbana rail line to Resiutta, and then finally to Grado on Italy's Adriatic coast. Distance: 410 km
9. Mur bike path
The Mur Bike Tour sets out from Hohe Tauern National Park (starting point at the Sticklerhütte), following the River Mur into the wine and spa country of Styria. In the north, mountains and alpine pastures accompany the river, in the south, you'll cycle past fields of pumpkin, water meadows and vineyards.
Length: 345 km (from Muhr) or 359 km (from the Sticklerhütte)