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Cycling along the Danube in Germany: from the source to Passau

Contributed by Franco e Paola Comai (Amici della Bicicletta) - Via Solteri,35 38100 Trento (Italy). Translated into English by Andreas Caranti. You may also access the original Versione Italiana.



We used the booklet published by Esterbauer und Weinfurter : "Radwanderfaehrer, Donauradweg - Teil 1: Donaueschingen - Passau" (first part of the cycling path along the Danube), to be found in Germany or Austria at bookstores, Tourist Offices, or bike shops. Includes maps on a 1 : 100 000 scale with the main path, and alternative itineraries. Includes also useful hotel information, and acts as a small guidebook. It's written in German, though.


Touring Club Italiano guide: "Germania - Repubblica Federale" (It's in Italian, though.)

Attending cyclists

Franco e Paola Comai - Via Solteri,35 - 38100 Trento A.d.B. TRENTO

Getting there

We drove to the sources of the danube, and left the car at the parking lot of Hotel Ochsen. This is a relatively cheap, very comfortable hotel, with a great breakfast. Once in Passau, we took the train back to Donaueschingen. This takes a whole day, and involves changing trains.

Total distance

About 700 km

The path

The path is very clearly marked. It runs on secondary roads, mostly paved, or with good road-bed, and with very little traffic.

When to go there

Late spring or early autumn. No height difference being involved, you can do it in summer too, if you don't mind the heat!

Useful hints

We chose to stop at pensions (Gasthaus) or bed and breakfast (Zimmer). We spent from 25DM to 55DM per person, including a substantial breakfast. In bigger towns (Uml, regensburg), prices are higher, and bed and breakfast are not available. We left in the morning after breakfast, at around 9:00, and started looking for accommodation at around 16:00. Later you may have trouble getting a sensibly priced accommodation. Keep in mind that Tourist Offices close around 17:00.

We took some time off during the day for stopovers, snacks, taking photos, sightseeing, etc. Fueled by powerful breakfasts, we had only light snack during the day, such as yogurt, fruit, and sweets (just pick your own at the local Baeckerei or Konditorei!). A good evening meal can be had from 25DM up.

Managing a bit of German is useful, especially when going for bed and breakfast, but English is also widely spoken.

Please note that distances shown in the various stages include diversions, and riding around looking for accommodation. From the sources to Ulm, and barring diversions, the path has modest ups and downs. Later it is flat and not terribly varied.


First stage: from Donaueschingen to Maehlheim: 55 km

Don't miss a visit to the Donauquelle. The cycling path starts from the park surrounding the sources, and runs in the countryside. Near Tuttlingen the river disappears underground (Donauversickerung), resurfacing a few kms later. In Maehlheim it's advisable to look for accommodation in the old part of the town (Oberdorf), if you don't mind a slight ascent. The small town is really beautiful.

Second stage: from Maehlheim to Inzigkofen: 46 km

This is probably the most varied stage. It's all along the river, through thick woods, with white calcareous rocks, and on more open terrain. There are some manageable off-road parts. Inzigkofen is very nicely located, but doesn't offer too much as far as accommodation is concerned.

Third stage: from Inzigkofen to Reichenstein: 63 km

Still some ups and downs. Be careful when crossing a *very* narrow bridge along the railway, especially if you have bif panniers! Reichenstein did not seem to us worth its fame. Only two pensions in town.

Fourth stage: from Reichenstein to Ulm: 66 km

You cross several nice towns to get to Ulm, a magnificent city which well derves a visit. Have a look at the Cathedral, the palaces and the beautiful street corners. Don't miss the fishermen's village (Fischerviertel): spend some time walking its small lanes.

Fifth stage: from Ulm to Dillingen: 71 km

One runs through the countryside, woods and nice towns. Stop in Gaenzburg, see high street, Marktplatz and the small lanes. After Donauwoerth, the train station of Rennertshofen offers the chance of a ride on a steam engine train (bikes allowed!).

Sixth stage: from Dillingen to Neuburg an der Donau: 75 km

One is forced to follow a main, trafficked road, before getting back to the path proper. Neuburg is surrounded by '300 walls. Try and stay at the bed and breakfast of Ms Luise Reissner - Maehlenweg 25 1/ 2 - tel 08431/44067. A nice house, great hospitality, and a lavish breakfast!

Seventh stage: from Neuburg to Neustadt: 70 km

After a souvenir photo with Frau Reissner, we resume riding along the Danube, going through woods. After the not-so-enjoyable crossing of Ingolstadt, we got to Vohburg and Neustadt.

Eighth stage: from Neustadt to Regensburg: 70 km

We took one of the many options to cross the Danube, going from the Weltenburg Abbey to Stausacker, on a wooden boat help by a rope, which exploits just the energy of the current. From the Abbey, one may take a short trip on the Danube on one of sightseeing boats, which land here if the water level is high enough. We chose a diversion that requires some climbing to get to the Befreiungshalle, with a very nice view of the valley. We rode down to Kelheim and Regensburg, which deserves a visit. There's a beautiful Bike Shop (Stadler - Kirchmeierstrasse, 20 - Regensburg - tel. 0941/37880) that stores about everything related to bicycles.

Ninth stage: from Regensburg to Straubing: 58 km

We chose another diversion to the Hill of Walhalla, a slightly controversial XIX century mythological temple. Nice view, though. Back down to the river, until Straubing.

Tenth stage: from Straubing to Deggendorf: 50 km

Starubing is surrounded by a beautiful countryside. The pretty town has a very lively main square. Visit the church of St. Peter, with its cemetery, and have a look at the frescoes inside. We did have a nice stop at the Metten Abbey. We crossed the river again to get to Deggendorf.

Eleventh stage: from Deggendorf to Passau: 63 km

Only the small town of Vilshofen offers some interest here. Passau, the end of or trip, lies on the Austrian border; at the confluence of Inn and Ilz into the Danube. Sort of a crowded tourist place. Plenty of options for navigating along the Danube.