Austria is well known for its impressive architecture, mountainous landscapes and rich cultural legacy, which is enjoyed by millions of tourists every year. Situated in Central Europe, and home to the popular capital city of Vienna, Austria is packed full of exciting attractions and historical intrigue.
The home of Mozart, Sigmund Freud and celebrated painter Gustav Klimt, Austria has served as a point of creative innovation and artistic wonder for centuries. Tourists can pay a visit to the Schönbrunn Palace, a summer residence of the Habsburgs, where the Vienna Opera House, Salzburg Cathedral and the Hofburg also make for popular site-seeing destinations.
But Austria is also recognised as an ideal cycling destination, where competitive, leisurely and everyday bike riding is supported throughout the country. The capital Vienna has recently improved its cycling infrastructure to reduce road congestion, where an increase in rental services and bike zones have made the city more attractive to tourists experiencing the area on two wheels.
The country’s Alpine landscape also provides stunning mountainous and lakeside views for cyclists of all abilities, where a wide variety of available routes make Austria a top cycling holiday destination.
Read on for an in-depth look at why Austrian cycling holidays are so popular, with an insight into the country’s best routes, its popular sporting events and an overview of everything you’ll need to prepare for your trip.
Some of the best cycling routes in Austria are courtesy of the country’s mountainous landscape, namely the Eastern Alps. Popular routes include the Semmering Pass, which connects Lower Austria and Styria.
The country also includes hilly areas, woodlands and plains, where its rolling green hills are famously featured in The Sound of Music. Notable areas include the Alpine Foreland, the Pannonian Plain and the Danube Valley.
Although Austria is a landlocked country, it does feature some impressive lakes and rivers that you can visit on your cycling tour. These include Lake Constance on the German-Austrian-Swiss border, as well as Lake Neusiedl, Lake Wallersee and the Danube river.
Competitive Biking In Austria
The country hosts several impressive cycling events, including the annual Tour of Austria, a professional stage cycling race usually held in July. Another big event for Austrian cycling is the Ötztaler Radmarathon, a challenging race consisting of a 5500 metre climb through the country’s mountainous regions. Austria was also the host country for the 2018 UCI Road World Championships, which has helped to attract more cyclists to the area.
Over the years, Austria’s cyclists have become well-known sporting names. Max Bulla is one of the best known Austrian cyclists, recognised for his successes in the Tour de France in the 1930s. More recently, Anna Kiesenhofer has risen to fame as a professional Austrian cyclist after winning gold in the 2020 Olympics for the women’s individual road race.
Austria’s Best Cycling Routes
If you’re looking for a cycling challenge then you’ll find no shortage of options in Austria’s alpine regions. For a steep climb combined with stunning views, you may wish to try out the Timmelsjoch, known for being the last major incline in the Ötztaler Radmarathon, where this Austrian route starts from the village of Sölden. The Großglockner High Alpine Road is another challenging route, which is known for being included in the Tour of Austria. This consists of a mountain pass of around 50 km, where the highest point is more than 2500 metres above sea level. The Höttinger Höll route near the city of Innsbruck has an average gradient of 11%, where this steep climb was included in the 2018 World Championships.
For a more comfortable cycling experience there are plenty of less mountainous, but still scenic, routes to choose from throughout Austria. The Danube cycle path takes you along the country’s long river, where cyclists usually travel the section from Passau to Vienna. A Lake Constance bike tour is a great way to take in this impressive body of water on two wheels, whilst the Tauern cycle path leads you through the Hohe Tauern National Park and the city of Salzburg. A cycle route from Salzburg to Vienna is an especially flat journey if you plan to avoid Austria’s hilly regions whilst taking in two of its best known cities.
Cycling Holiday Essentials
It is always important to plan ahead with your packing for any holiday, but this is particularly so when you’re going on a cycling trip. You have to pack for being on-the-go, whilst also preparing for potentially hazardous weather and long periods of exertion. Some things to consider may include:
If you are bringing your own bike on the trip then you need to consider transportation costs and regulations. Alternatively, if you’re hiring a bike when you arrive then you may wish to bring your own saddle or pedals to create a comfortable experience.
Essential bike accessories include a helmet, sunglasses and appropriate bike shoes with cleats for secure pedalling. You should ensure your bike is kitted out with front and rear lights, where it is sensible to bring along spare batteries, especially if you’re planning a road cycling tour. A secure saddle bag can hold lots of essential items, whilst compression bags can keep things compact whilst on the move.
It is recommended that you bring along some essential bike maintenance equipment, especially if you’re planning for a particularly challenging tour. Pumps, inner tubes, chain lubricants, pedal spanners and tyre levers can all be invaluable when you’re miles away from a bike repair shop. A handy bike multi-tool can be a great space saver to combine some of these items, which can all be fitted into your saddle bag.
Cycling clothing is purpose-made to be lightweight and weather resistant, where padded shorts, light base layers and long protective sleeves are all essential. Weather can be unpredictable in mountainous areas, so a light jacket as well as water and windproof layers should be considered. Cycling gloves are also a necessity both for warmth and sun protection. Additional clothing for when you dismount can be useful if needed, such as casual shoes or flip flops and swimwear.
It is important to stay safe and connected during your cycling tour, where a phone and portable charger should always be packed. A head torch, bike camera and waterproof gadget pouch can also all help to make your journey easier.
Food, Water & Medication
One of the most vital cycling necessities is your water supply, where it is recommended to have two large bottles per bike, complete with clip-on cages that attach to your bike frame. Sustenance for on the go such as energy bars and hydration tablets can help during steep climbs, whilst suncream and a small first aid kit are also essential.
Hooked on Cycling & Walking: Exciting Austrian Cycling Tours
At Hooked on Cycling & Walking, we provide a range of bike rides and routes across Austria, which are designed to appeal to a range of skill levels. Our tours can cater to young families, groups with active teenagers or experienced road cyclists, where we also offer an array of e-bike holiday options.
Austrian cycling lends itself to mountainous routes, where you can opt for a challenging and hilly tour or a more leisurely scenic trail. Some of our options include:
- Danube Cycle Way: Passau to Vienna
- River Danube: Sport Tour
- Prague to Vienna
- Salzburg by Road Bike
- Sound of Music Cycling Tour
- Lake Constance by Road Bike
These tours are generally self-guided, where they tend to vary in terms of duration and difficulty level. Browse our Austrian cycling tour page for more details about individual routes.
We also offer tours across a range of other European countries, including holidays across the UK and bike tours in Italy. Like Austria, cycling in Italy encompasses a range of attractive topographical landscapes combined with ancient cities and architecture.
In addition to cycling, we offer a comprehensive selection of walking and hiking holiday tours, ranging from leisurely to challenging routes. Contact us today to find out more about our exciting holiday packages.