Before we went to Switzerland together a few weeks ago, my dad came to visit me in Passau. This was around the time when the weather could still be called late summer rather than autumn and we had a week of lovely warm weather while he was here.
Now one thing you have to know about my dad is that he loves the outdoors. Biking, tramping, walking, kayaking – he does it all. So naturally he was keen to do something of this sort while he was here and we decided to rent bikes for two days and go cycling across the border from Passau into Austria.
The first day, we decided to bike along the river Inn on the Innradweg to an Austrian town called Schärding. Our plan was to bike up one side of the river on the Inn cycleway, have lunch in Schärding and then bike back down the other side of the river.
The Inn cycleway was super easy to follow, with an unsealed path through the forest right along the river for most of the way. The beauty of travelling by bike is that you can stop anywhere you want to; to take photos, have a rest or explore interesting churches you pass by – like this one. I loved the harmony of light pinks, blues, white and ornate gold in this church. So pretty!
The forest, countryside and villages we passed was just beautiful…except for the swarms of midges having their last summer fling that we biked through more than once! Lessons of the day: don’t bike with your mouth open and always wear sunglasses.
After about three hours of cycling up the Inn, we finally made it to Schärding!
Schärding is an Austrian town with a population of less than 5,000 and it used to be a port of trade for things like salt, timber and livestock. It is most famous for its central square with its row of colourful gabled roof houses and looming St. George Church.
The township was so cute with its pastel box houses and cobblestone streets and was such a nice place to bike to for a one day trip.
On the way back to Passau down the other side of the river, we passed Wernstein and stopped at the famous Mostausschank, which is an apple cider farm that sells fresh apple cider by the pint. It’s a popular spot for passing cyclists to rest and quench their thirst and I can tell you, the sweet apple cider there is SO GOOD – probably the best I’ve ever tasted.
The next day my Dad and I decided to bike down the Donau (Danube) river this time, down the Donauradweg. This cycleway went inland as well as being next to the river and most of the time the path was sealed, which made it easier for me and my sore backside, which was the result of these long cycling journeys I wasn’t used to.
We didn’t stop as many times along the way as we did the day before, but we did pass a lot of onion-topped churches and tiny hillside villages.
We were aiming for a town called Engelhartzell which was about 25km away from Passau and our plan was to bike there one way and then catch the 3:30 pm sightseeing ferry back up the river home. (I was really looking forward to that part!)
The Donau has a lot more boat traffic on the river than the Inn, so we used that to our advantage for this trip. We also passed the Austrian town called Obernzell which was on the other side of the river; a town that my Schnucki and I had once taken the bus to in search of Dirndl outlet shops.
I could definitely see the charm of living out there in some of these houses – everything was so peaceful and nature-oriented.
What I really loved about the cycleways was that it was always separate from roads with huge trucks and cars hurtling by. There were also bike check points where there was bike tools and air pumps attached with wire that anyone could use for free.
Once we reached the dam which cut across the Donau, we knew we were close to our destination.
And we made it! The Engelhartzell township was even tinier than Schärding, but it was packed full of charm all the same.
We had lunch at the yellow ferry house next to the river and we could see the tiny ferry going across the river every time somebody that wanted to catch it rang a hand bell from the other side. In our age of super technology, it was so cute to see simple systems like this still being used.
In no time at all, it was time to catch our ferry back home up the river. This was the part I was most looking forward to and it was just as relaxing as I was anticipating!
When we reached the dam, the boat was lead into a lagoon where gates closed in after us and water was let in until we rose to the same height as the river on the other side.
A few hours of chillaxing on the boat and we were back in Passau. My dad and I really enjoyed our two days of biking together – it was nice to have some dad-daughter time again! And of course my dad fell in love with Passau too…but how could you not? Look at that view!
So did you like our two day cycling adventure in Austria?
Is it something you would like to do too?