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The Danube and Its Valleys

Rediscover the Lifeline of Europe
Cyclist looks out over the Schlögener Schlinge

The Danube Cycle Path is a classic among river cycle routes, attracting thousands of cyclists annually. Its popularity stems from several factors. One major appeal is its lack of significant gradients, making it an ideal starting point for cycling tours.

The ever-changing landscape adds to its charm. As the Danube winds through Europe, it showcases a variety of scenes—from wild, romantic nature to bustling urban centers, and from enchanted riverside forests to modern civilization.

Join the Danube on your journey and let its diversity captivate you.

Cyclist looks out over the Schlögener Schlinge

The Danube - Europe's lifeline

The Danube is one of the most formative rivers in Europe and full of contrasts. On its 2857-kilometre journey from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, it crosses 10 European countries and changes its appearance time and again. Wild nature alternates with modern civilization, romantic meadows with bustling cities. It connects people of different cultures, languages and traditions.

Unlike most other rivers, the Danube has no clear source. It originates in the Black Forest near Donaueschingen. This is where the Breg and Brigach rivers join to form the Danube. This has led to local residents repeatedly arguing about where exactly the mighty river originates. Today, the opinion has prevailed that the confluence is the beginning, although some consider the source in Donaueschingen Castle Park to be the true origin.

The Upper Danube Valley in Germany: Exploring the Danube Sinkhole Phenomenon

The Danube spans a total of 663 kilometers within Germany, transforming from a modest river into a powerful stream. Along its course, it is fed by several significant tributaries, including the Lech, Altmühl, Isar, and Inn rivers.

The Upper Danube in Baden-Württemberg, often referred to as the “Swabian Grand Canyon,” has preserved its original character as it flows quietly and remains unnavigable. The region has a rich history, having been settled by the Celts, Romans, and numerous princes and kings, all of whom have left their mark. The landscape is adorned with numerous castles, palaces, and ruins perched on the rocks of the Danube Gorge Valley and the mountains of the Großer Heuberg, serving as enduring witnesses to its storied past.

The Danube sinkhole, located between Immendingen and Fridingen, is a fascinating natural phenomenon. A large proportion of the river's water seeps into the limestone rock and resurfaces at the Aachtopf spring, eventually feeding into the Rhine. Meanwhile, the remaining water continues to flow above ground. This spectacle is most impressive in summer after heavy rainfall, showcasing the unique and dynamic nature of the Danube.

Danube Valley near Beuron

The Danube in Bavaria - now a real river

From Bavaria onwards, the Danube transforms into a true river, becoming wider and navigable starting from Ulm. This transformation involved the construction of the first barrages and regulation of its natural course. Large ships can navigate the Danube from Kelheim, located about 20 kilometers before Regensburg. Additionally, the Main-Danube Canal, which links the North Sea with the Black Sea, begins in this area, enhancing the river's role as a vital waterway.

However, there are still untouched stretches of the Danube in Bavaria. Between Straubing and Vilshofen, the river flows freely without barrages, meandering through idyllic alluvial forests. The flora and fauna in this area remain intact, with kingfishers and curlews breeding in the damp meadows, and marsh gladioli and water irises adorning the banks. This section of the Danube is often referred to as the “Amazon of Bavaria” because it is one of the last large alluvial forests in Central Europe, featuring branching tributaries and unique biodiversity.



Along the Blue Danube through Austria

The waltz king Johann Strauss (son) immortalized the river with his masterpiece "The Blue Danube," also known as the Danube Waltz. Even though the Habsburg Danube Monarchy has long since fallen, the Danube remains one of Europe's most significant trade routes.

In Austria, narrow gorges alternate with wide valley landscapes. The Upper Danube Valley between Passau and Aschach, also known as the Upper Austrian Danube Gorge, boasts exceptional beauty. The highlight of this stretch is undoubtedly the Schlögener Schlinge. This unique feature was formed when the Danube carved its path through the soft subsoil, encountering the hard granite of the Bohemian Massif. As a result, the river formed a loop, nearly 300 meters deep, due to the subsequent uplift of the landmass.

In Lower Austria, the Danube winds its way through the enchanting Wachau region,which is not only worth a visit when the apricots are in bloom. Renowned as one of Europe's most picturesque river valleys, it has held UNESCO World Heritage status since 2000. The hillsides are adorned with endless vineyards, while ancient ruins and castles perch atop, bestowing a sense of tranquility and grace upon the landscape. The inviting wine taverns beckon visitors to pause and indulge in the region's flavors.

In Austria's capital city, Vienna, many names reflect the connection to the Danube: The 22nd district of Vienna is called Donaustadt, where you'll also find the Danube City, a new and modern district. Additionally, locals enjoy indulging in "Donauwellen," a delicious dessert named after the river.

Cyclists on the Danube

Discover the Eastern Danube Cities

After approximately 350 kilometers, the Danube flows out of Austria towards Slovakia. The stunning merge of the Danube and Morava rivers, shaping the natural border, offers the most breathtaking view from the 212-meter-high remnants of Theben Castle. Throughout the Cold War, the border remained heavily guarded.

In uncertain times, the Danube provided protection for Bratislava as well. That's why Bratislava, known as Pressburg in German, became the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary.

At the base of Bratislava Castle, offering a unique vista of the city, lies the Slovakian Danube lowlands. Despite its seemingly brief main flow, the region is defined by its extensively branching tributaries, enriching the fertile landscape.

In Hungary, the Danube Bend between Esztergom and Szendtendre stands out as the most picturesque stretch of this Danube section. Majestic castles, ruins, and charming villages define this magnificent valley. It once served as the seat of Hungarian kings.

In Budapest, the Danube separates the two districts of Buda and Pest. Along the river, you'll find some of the most stunning buildings, including the Parliament, the Fishermen's Bastion, and the Castle District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Budapest Parliament

The Long Journey to the Black Sea

The Danube embarks on its longest journey through Romania. The "Iron Gate," a gorge on the Serbian border, was once deemed the most treacherous stretch of the river. Since its taming, even sizable vessels can now traverse it.

In Eastern Romania, the river fans out into the expansive Danube Delta. Celebrated for its distinctive flora and fauna, it earned UNESCO World Heritage status in 1991.

Further cycle tours along the Danube

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