A water elevator and green lizards
The north route or the south route? This is the first question you need to answer when starting your first stage, as you can approach your destination for today on both banks of the Danube. No matter what choice you make, before you start, you have a lot of time to visit Passau’s sights such as the old town, the residence and St. Stephen’s Cathedral (q.v. E1-S). As soon as you cross the Ilz on the Luitpold Bridge, two fortresses, Oberhaus and Niederhaus, bid you farewell from the Three River City. Oberhaus, which used to be the residence of the bishop of Passau, now houses a city museum and a medieval museum.
Soon thereafter you can already enjoy views of the sunny and impressive south-facing hillsides of the nature reserve Donauleiten, home to cyclamens, gorgeous Turk’s cap lilies and shimmering green lizards. Through the village of Erlau you continue the journey to Obernzell, where you can visit a pottery museum in the massive castle right at the river. As you continue your journey you are accompanied by the view of the enormous castle keep of the 12th c Vichtenstein Fortress on the other side of the river. On that side you can also see the Haugstein (895m) looming out of the Sauwald (forest), the highest elevation in the area.
The “Haus am Strom” Nature Adventure Centre is shaped by an architect’s hand like “wave and pebble stone“ and has a special water elevator in store for you, among other things. A variety of interesting and fun nature tours help familiarize you with the local flora and fauna. Afterwards, if the sight of Engelszell Abbey on the opposite bank piques your curiosity, you can cross the Danube via the power station Jochenstein. On the north bank, you soon reach Niederanna (Danube bridge), where a builder of zillen (flat-bottomed boats common to the region) offers zillen rides on the Danube. It is not at all far from here to the ferry that will take you to Schlögen.
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 the signs to the train station (Bahnhof).
From the Passau main train station (Hauptbahnhof) you first head north until you hit the Danube. There, you turn right and follow the street up to the glass museum, where you turn right onto Schrottgasse. It would definitely be worthwhile at this juncture to visit St. Stephen's Cathedral, which has had the largest cathedral organ in the world since 1928. After crossing the Inn River, you continue downstream on narrow winding paths till you arrive at two small wooded islands.
At Erlau - a village on the other side of the river - the Danube takes a striking left turn. Krämpelstein Castle, also often called the “Schneiderschlössel” (literally: “Tailor’s Little Castle”), is located here. It consists of a keep and an adjoining palace. The walls are still partially preserved. Here you can already marvel at the nature reserve Donauleiten on the other shore. It marks the southern edge of the Bavarian Forest and boasts enormous biodiversity and impressive plant life. In Pyrawang a quick visit to the small St. Peter’s Church is worthwhile, as 14th c Gothic murals were discovered there during restoration work.
The Trappist monastery and the mini-Danube park (includes a large aquarium) are really worth seeing in Engelhartszell. Since 2018 it is possible to stay on the new Danube-cycle-path on the south bank and cycle in direction of Oberranna. Visit the Römerburgus Oberranna - the best preserved Roman building in Upper Austria and part of the provincial exhibition 2018.
You pass through Wesenufer, a small town which is next to the Danube, and cycle on the newly expanded Danube-cycle-path to Schlögen. Soon you will have a first look at the ruins of Haichenbach and reach the first milestone: Schlögen