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The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria

The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria - Header

After arriving in Czech Republic, we had to decide whether to continue to Hungary or to take a train to Linz, Austria and ride through the Alps. As Oregonians, we pined for alpine views and crisp mountain air. Despite tough hills ahead, we choose to take the train and see the Alps.

Austria did not disappoint. We fell hard for the beautiful country with abundant vegan food options, the turquoise Salzach River guiding our way, and of course the Alps dominating the skyline.

The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria - Sunrise

Our venture began in Linz, where we followed the Danube Cycle Path to Passau, Germany, a delightful little town on the Austrian border. We then zigged and zagged between Germany and Austria along the Inn River Cycle Path, where we had separate adventures one afternoon. After spending a few days in Salzburg, we made our way towards the Alpe Adria Radweg, by far our favorite and most well-designed cycle path of our journey so far.

It was tough to think of lows for Austria, as our visit was dominated by plentiful highs and sleepers. We anticipate a future return to explore more of this beautiful, friendly country.

The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria - Night Village

The Best:

Well-Labeled Cycle Paths

Our tablet, which served as our sole map for our travels, suffered an unfortunate face plant not long after our arrival in Austria. This left us to our ancient iPhones and good old maps. Luckily, Austria’s cycle paths are so well-labeled with distances to the next towns, that we hardly needed to check our route. Further, the tourism board created wonderful booklets and maps of the route, indicating suggested daily distances, pointing out campgrounds, restaurants, and lodging along the way.

The paths were all paved and nearly 100% separated from traffic. The Alpe Adria was well-planned, with tunnels prescribed solely for cyclists, and along a route intended to show off the beauty of the Alps without impossible climbs.

The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria - Sunset

The Scenery

I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.

Grocery Stores

Austria had some of the best grocery stores we’ve found to date, namely Spar. Spar carried all sorts of my hippie-dippie-food-snob-vegan-and-organic items like tofu, organic vegan nutella, fresh berries, chia and hemp seeds at an incredibly reasonable price, and my new favorite snack, dark chocolate covered rice cakes. I would purchase two six-packs of these babies each day, devouring them immediately before the hot sun melted them in the bag. I never worried about finding food to suit my palate throughout Austria.

The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria - Long Haul Trekkers Family Photo

The Austrians!

Like the Germans, we found the Austrians to be just delightful individuals. People came over to offer help countless times when they noticed us stopped with our maps and phones out. While riding through the Alps, the call of nature knocked and a kind woman (and her sweet Border Collie) opened her bathroom door to me without expectation of anything in return. We relied upon the friendliness of the Austrians on many occasions during our our journey.

The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria - Alpe Adria Radweg Signs

The Worst:

Paying for Nature?

The one and only low we encountered during our visit entailed a fee to visit a the Gollinger Wasserfall near a campground we stayed in Golling. Luckily, we’re smart and refuse to pay for the gifts nature provides.

After declining the waterfall fee, we took a path down a trail that led right to the waterfall. There were no other tourists, and we had a close up view that those who paid could not access. We also gained access to the paid section of the falls by simply waiting until the waterfall guard ended her post for the day.

Silly Austrians thinking they can charge to see a waterfall.

Surprises:

Water Stations

Throughout our tour of Austria, we discovered the most wonderful thing possible for a cycle tourist cycling in hot weather: Water stations. Just when we had sipped our last drop of water and thought we couldn’t possibly feel any hotter in the 90-degree temps, a magical water station would appear.

These whimsical water stations appeared nearly two or three times per day. Some provided wading pools, others hoses, and every single stop included a water filling station with delicious Alpine water. We would drench ourselves and Sora to cool off and hang out in the foot ponds to rest during breaks. Without a doubt, these water stations significantly aided our travels through the hot weather.

The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria -Water Fountain

Bier!

After leaving Germany, we assumed our adventures in high quality beer had ended, however, we quickly learned that Austrians take their malted barley seriously. In Salzburg, we visited Augustiner Brau, where we met up with Matt and Heather of Travelationship. There, you purchase a giant mug, wash it out, then proceed to the bar where the tender is sliding up to 20 mugs back and forth as he fills them with beer. There’s also the quiet biergarten at Die Weisse, a small craft brewery just outside of downtown, where we enjoyed the beer, but not so much the service. Stiegl, the national beer of Austria satisfied our Oregon beer palates, and Edelweiss made us very happy beer drinkers.

The Best and Worst of Cycle Touring Austria - Gorgeous Water

Jen Sotolongo

Jen is the Chief Storyteller and Photographer for the Long Haul Trekkers. Born with the travel bug, she has lived in Spain, Chile, and New Zealand. When she’s not galavanting around the world by bicycle, she is running long distances in the woods, exploring nature, or whipping up delicious vegan meals. She is always planning her next adventure.

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