The Iron Curtain bike trail runs for 6,800 kilometers through the “green-belt” (no man’s land) from the border between Norway and Russia, dividing an entire continent, to the border between Bulgaria and Turkey on the Black Sea. Whether you are interested in the history or not, this bike trail has something for everyone. The area (green-belt) through which the walls and fences were built has been untouched for over 50 years creating a haven for flora and fauna alike. Is there a lesson to be learned from this “wall”? If so, maybe it is that “walls” do not work... The part that we would like to introduce you to begins where Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic come together near Passau, and ends in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The bike trail weaves along the borders of Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, allowing you to enjoy three rich cultures at the same time. A useful advantage of this route is that you can do as much as you have time for and can be back in Vienna in a few hours by taking a train. Perfect for those whose time is limited.
The entire route along the Austrian, Czech and Slovakian borders is about 500km and can be done in 6 to 9 days depending on the number of daily kilometers you want to do.
Practicalities Definitely buy the bikeline Iron Curtain Trail Part 3 (It should be available on amazon - Esterbauer Publishing Company) or borrow it from us. This is invaluable with its maps, route descriptions and list of places to stay. The Iron Curtain bike trail is an ongoing project. As of this writing the Part 3 English version is from 2010. The trail has changed considerably since then. Many of the bike paths through the green-belt have been completed and are now in use. The German version is from 2014 and its maps show the new trails. So you can get the German version(Eiserner Vorhang von Hof nach Szeged ISBN: 978-3-85000-623-1) and use those maps or use this link to get updates: http://www.ironcurtaintrail.eu/
Depending on how much time you have, you can take the morning train to Passau (about 4 hrs) or to Gmünd (2 ¼ hrs) to start your adventure. From Passau, you have about a 4 to 5 hour bike ride to where you meet up with the Iron Curtain bike trail. Gmünd is on the bike trail and is about 380km from Bratislava. We can help you make train reservations for the bikes - they are absolutely necessary! If you do the entire trail to Bratislava, the best way to get back to Vienna is to ride your bike across the Austrian border (30 to 40 minutes) and take the commuter train from Wolfsthal back to Vienna. Don’t underestimate the energy needed to ride up and down the rolling hills! Rain is always possible - bring rain gear.
Slow-biking suggestions our philosophy for successful vacation Passau is a very interesting city where 3 rivers converge and is worth a look.
From Vyssi Brod in the Czech Republic it is about 35km following the Moldau River to Cesky Krumlov. It is a beautiful ride and the town is definitely worth a visit especially if you are a fan of Egon Schiele.
Gmünd has a very interesting town square, good brewery – Schremser beer, a beautiful Nature Park with weird rock formations that have spawned many local myths, and a very nice thermal spa.
Kautzen also has interesting rock formations with local myths and some are thought to be pre-Christian places of worship.
Litschau - play golf? This is the place to do it. There are a number of golf courses nearby.
Hardegg has a nice castle, a National Park along the Thaya River, and a small but interesting museum in the castle dedicated to Maximilian from the house of Habsburg, who was, for a short while, Emperor of Mexico.
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