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Danube Trails

Danube trails - the joys of hiking

Diverse landscapes, historical city centers, and culinary delights - that is what the major hiking trails along the Danube in Upper and Lower Austria have to offer in every respect: the Donausteig, the Wachau World Heritage Trail and the Nibelungengau Hiking Trail. Comfortable accommodations and bookable packages combined with excellent signage and extensive maps and information materials make these hiking trails holiday destinations of choice for bon vivant hikers as well as long-distance hikers.

Forested river banks and romantic gorges, cultural rural landscapes and impressive cities - these are the diverse impressions the Donausteig leaves on visitors. And whereas long-distance hikers cover large parts or even the entire 450 km main route, bon vivant hikers can choose from 49 loop routes branching off from the main one. The Donausteig starts in Passau, the City of Three Rivers, proceeds over the forested ridge along the Upper Danube Valley with the imposing Schlögener Schlinge, the famous meander in the Danube. Next it goes into the Eferding Basin and beyond to Linz. Then the trail passes through the riverside forests into the Strudengau near Grein.

Along the way there are 165 lookout, resting and panorama points to take in the fascinating scenery. 36 innkeepers certified as "Donausteig-Wirte" have bookable packages. Overview signs present regional legends from along this trail, which is fabulous in both senses of the word. Geocaching fans can look forward to 400 caches along the Donausteig. An interactive hiking map and a hiker's journal on the Web add to the perfect hiking experience, as do a smart phone app, regular hiking maps, brochures and a book of Donausteig legends.

The Wachau World Heritage Trail leaves big impressions as well. Its 14 stages cover 180 km and pass through this stunning UNESCO World Heritage landscape on the Danube. Hikers delight in picturesque wine villages like Weissenkirchen and historical towns like Spitz, lovely historical city centers like the ones in Dürnstein and Krems as well as the sun-drenched vineyards and mysterious fortress ruins. Heurige taverns and inns along the wayside bid passers-by to stop and rest. Award-winning restaurants add culinary delights to the joys of hiking and at the end of the day, there is a comfortable room at a winery or top hotel in which to stay the night.

On a ship ride from Krems to Melk through the Wachau, a world heritage landscape, part of the hike can be explored from on deck. And a ride on the Wachaubahn rail line is a good way to get an impression of the hike ahead. Three ferries link the north and south banks. Public buses return hikers comfortably to the departure point of the tour. Combination tickets for ferry and bus or for train and ship make car-free travel as convenient as can be. Hard-core hikers might want to supplement their hiking of the World Heritage Trail with the 90 km circuit hike around Jauerling-Wachau Nature Park (7 stages).

The Nibelungengau Hiking Trail links the Donausteig with the Wachau World Heritage Trail. Its main route between Sarmingstein and Emmersdorf is 110 km long (8 stages). And 34 loop routes branch off from it, letting hikers conveniently explore the ten municipalities in the Nibelungengau on both sides of the Danube. Informative panorama signs offer help in doing so. The Danube is the common denominator of the Nibelungengau tours in terms of landscape, whether you are hiking on the towpath next to the water or on the range of hills accompanying the river. And you encounter all kinds of sights along the way as is the object of a cultural tour, for instance, the pilgrimage town of Maria Taferl or Artstetten Castle, home of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the imperial throne, or Ybbs-Persenbeug, the oldest Danube power station in Austria.

Facts about the Donausteig:

  • in existence since 2010
  • 450 km main route plus 49 Donausteig loop routes
  • 165 starting, resting and panorama spots
  • 36 certified Donausteig innkeepers
  • Donausteig hiking map and Donausteig folder on hiking tours
  • www.donausteig.com 

Facts about the Wachau World Heritage Trail

  • in existence since 2010
  • 180 jm in 14 stages plus Jauerling Circuit: 90 km in 7 stages
  • 350 lodging businesses
  • Hiking map of the Wachau: Wachau World Heritage Trail, Jauerling Circuit, Way of St. James
  • www.welterbesteig.at

Facts about the Nibelungengau Hiking Trail:

  • in existence since May 2014
  • direct connection to the Wachau World Heritage Trail: about 110 km
  • 8 stages and 34 loop routes
  • 50 lodging businesses
  • Nibelungengau hiking map
  • www.nibelungengau.at

Hiking in Vienna

  • 11 Vienna city hiking trails - between 5 and 7 km length
  • Rundumadum, a hiking trail all around Vienna: 120 km in 24 stages
  • Wiener Wasserweg (Vienna Water Trail)
  • Annual Vienna Wine Hiking Day in fall
  • 12.000 ha "green belt"