From the Bavarian Venice to the Giant of the Danube
Passau is known as the THREE RIVER CITY or the “Bavarian Venice”, situated as it is at the confluence of Danube, Inn and Ilz. It is a grand kick-off for this wonderful bicycle tour. Take your time and discover the sights of this Bavarian Venice. Explore the Baroque old town, on which Italian master builders left a definite Mediterranean mark. Or visit the residence of the prince-bishop, which houses the Cathedral Treasure Museum. Passau’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral is also definitely worth a visit and is right along the route you are taking. It contains the largest organ ever made for a cathedral, consisting of nearly 18,000 pipes. And you will likewise find the glass museum along your route, featuring an exhibition of 13,000 objects made out of Bohemian glass.
All this is only the start of this highly varied stage. The view of Krämpelstein Castle (also called the “Tailor’s Little Castle”), perched on a rock high above the Danube, is more than thrilling. The second name comes from a legend that says a tailor fell to his death from this castle just as he was about to bury his dead goat in the Danube.
Just as exhilarating are the Gothic mural paintings in St. Peter’s Church in Pyrawang. Though made in the 14th c, the paintings seem quite modern.
For little cyclists, the mini-Danube water park in the charming town of Engelhartszell is recommended. A themed playground and the “Giant of the Danube”, a nearly two meters long beluga in the big aquarium, make it definitely worth a visit. You might also find time to visit magnificent Engelszell Abbey with its beautiful Rococo church and picturesque garden.
When approaching Schlögen, you have a beautiful view of the ruins of medieval Haichenbach Fortress on the other side of the Danube. It is located on the ridge of the mountain around which the Danube wraps itself, creating the famous meander known as the Schlögener Donauschlinge.
Point of arrival
Follow the E56 to the exit Passau-Mitte (116) and continue on the B12 in the direction of Fürstenzell/Donau. At the Danube turn right onto the B8/Regensburger Strasse and follow signs to the train station (Bahnhof).
The stage begins right at the Passau train station. To go directly to the Danube, follow the signs “zum Donauradweg”. You catch your first glimpse of the river a few moments later. It will be your constant companion. You follow the Danube downstream and cross it over the Luitpoldbrücke (bridge). Already from here you can see the Veste Upper and Lower House, a center of power, residence,, administration building and fortress in one.
After crossing the Ilz bridge, you bear right and from this point onward, follow the sign-posted path along the Danube. Soon you reach the nature reserve Donauleiten, whose steep slopes mark the southern edge of the Bavarian Forest. The slopes are densely forested, so you catch only occasional glimpses of the bizarre rock formations located there. Due to the steep terrain and the south-facing orientation, nature in this area is largely untouched and has an impressive variety of flora and fauna.
In Erlau, you cross the creek of the same name and follow the bike path to Obernzell. The imposing 12th c Vichtenstein Castle comes into view on the opposite river bank along with the 895 m high Haugstein, a slightly offset rise regarded as the highest point in the Alpine foothills. A few kilometers downstream you come upon a hotel whose architecture is reminiscent of the shape of a wave (“Haus am Strom”). With its many fountains, an exhibition and beer garden with regional cuisine, the hotel is an inviting destination for a break. As an alternative to Weiterweg (path) with views of Engelszell Abbey, you can also cross the Danube over the Jochenstein power station and then take the Engelhartszell ferry back to the north bank.
Zillenverleih Witti in Niederranna is one of the last builders of zillen, flat-bottomed boats common to the region. Shortly after the Haichenbach ruins, the famous Schlögener meander begins, where the Danube forms a picturesque 180 ° curve. This stage ends here in Schlögen with a short ferry ride.