Austrian Landscape

Salzburg to Prague by Bike: A Testimonial by Dan Krieger

Salzburg to Prague Bike Tour – September 16-26, 2018

My name is Dan Krieger and I am an avid road cyclist and photographer. I bike throughout the state of Vermont, USA, and specialize in landscape photography. During the second half of September, along with five other cyclists, I enjoyed a fantastic self-guided tour from Salzburg to Prague hosted by Pure Adventures. This was my first bike tour in Europe, but the other five veterans said this route was in their top one or two in terms of scenic landscapes and city sights.

We set out from Salzburg after a well-presented orientation by Pure Adventures at the Mozart Hotel. The bikes were like new, and we received detailed maps, step by step guidebooks, Garmin GPS devices, and many cycle-related gifts for both safety and comfort.  We were given local support phone numbers, and when these were needed, the response could not have been better. 

Since the tour was self-guided, Pure Adventures transported our luggage from city to city while we had the freedom to cycle on our own schedule and customize the tour to stay an extra day in some cities such as Cesky Krumlov, Prague, Linz, and Salzburg, which allowed us to tour the Danube River and sightsee in these fairytale cities. 

Gardens in Salzburg

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Setting out in Salzburg in mid-September, the temperatures were in the 70s, and the skies were clear for the entire first week. The history, castles, and friendly people were remarkable. Once in Salzburg, I left my hat on a bench while shooting pictures and a local man tracked me down 50 yards from where I had left it and returned it to me. I didn’t even know I had forgotten it, and was floored! Everyone agreed the Austrian landscape was among the most beautiful of all their tours. Using our step by step guide mileage/landmark books, maps and Garmin GPS devices, it was always easy staying on the route. 

I felt one would never see the things we did if not for biking. “Roads” through farmland, woods, villages and hamlets were often little wider than a bike path, offering unbelievable vistas. Also, more than 80% of the trip was set up on backcountry narrow roads with almost no traffic. 

Lake Wolfgang

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Next, as we arrived in St. Gilgen, Austria set on Lake Wolfgang, we found we were in a town from a storybook or a vintage Pink Panther movie. That evening it rained and riding the next morning along Lake Wofgang’s aquamarine water we were surrounded by low level mist and clouds imparting a mystical element to our trip. Riding from St. Gilgen to Linz also had breathtaking lake and mountain vistas and villages.

We spent an extra day in Linz, which is set on the Danube. It allowed us to take a 35 mile ride along the river and tour small villages along the way. Be prepared for great food, with an emphasis on venison, pork, and other meats prepared in novel ways. All the friendly waiters and waitresses took so much time to get to know us and tell us about their towns. In the small village of Kirschschlag we met with the local farmers and took in a tractor parade!

There were so many historical and beautiful villages along the way — too many to mention, but when we arrived in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, it took my breath away. This city escaped the bombings from the world wars and you could only take a car to the outskirts of the city. The local Pure Adventure support people wheeled and carried out luggage to our hotel! Surrounded on three sides by a river, the entire city is comprised of narrow cobblestone walkways, and the centerpiece is the Cesky Krumlov Castle. A true fairy-tale city and my favorite of all due to its romantic, charming, and intimate nature.

Traveling from Cesky Krumlov to Prague we stayed in a few cities along the way and the temperatures got colder. Be prepared with the proper attire as we often began the day in the 40’s and warmed up into the low 60’s but were fine since we packed the proper gear. One day we had rain, but thankfully we had rain gear and enjoyed an original Budweiser Budvar beer in the original Budweiser Czech city of České Budějovice.

Cesky Krumlov 1

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I should have photographed the exemplary local support people who worked with Pure Adventures. Virtually all of the trip I would rate as moderate difficulty, but during this part of the trip we had a “challenge day” with extreme hills and being 63 years old it wore me out a bit. I simply called the staff and rode in the luggage van with another of our cyclists for the next leg of the trip the next day. So easy to do, and they couldn’t do enough to make sure we were taken care of. A smart decision on my part! 

In Prague at the end of the trip, we stayed just up the road from the U.S. embassy and a short walk from the St. Charles Bridge, which connects to the “old city” of Prague. This must have been a 4 or 5 star hotel. We all stayed extra days and the weather cooperated, allowing us to experience the rich history and fantastic food of this beautiful city. There are so many tour books about Prague, but don’t miss it for the world!

I should mention a few other things about when we were not biking… all the accommodations were first rate, with breakfasts included. The breakfasts offered a huge and healthy buffet and after biking 250 miles I thought I would have gained weight! Also, the responsiveness we received from Pure Adventures before and during the trip was unsurpassed, always there to answer any questions at all times. If you are looking for a bike tour with breathtaking scenery and cities, I would put this at the top of your list! 

Dan Krieger lives in South Burlington, Vermont, USA. He is a landscape photographer and his work has been featured in several magazines, websites and other media. Photos from this tour can be found on his website along with his other work.