Tête-à-tête of culture and nature
On this seventh stage of the Danube Bike Path, long-distance cyclists pedal along the lovely Danube bank promenade in Vienna. Then the path runs along the north bank through the idyllic Danube Wetlands National Park. At Haslau, you cross the Danube and the route takes you to the south bank to Petronell.
Make sure to take time for a tour of Klosterneuburg Abbey, which was founded in the 12th century. At least take a look at its treasury, which holds the altar of Verdun from 1181 and is definitely worth seeing, or visit the four-story cellars of the abbey, which is Austria’s oldest winemaker. Klosterneuburg Opera is also well worth a visit. Vienna is only a stone’s throw away from the abbey.
If you choose not to circumvent Vienna via the Nordbrücke (bridge), you soon reach the so-called “Danube Canal” on the south bank, which takes you straight into the center of the city. After freshening up in a bicycle-friendly hotel of your choice (q.v. www.wien.info), you are free to explore this grand city.
You can visit a vast variety of attractions such as Schönbrunn with its palace, zoo, palace grounds and Gloriette, Vienna’s historical center with St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg (the imperial apartments, Sisi museum, treasury, Spanish Riding School), the Art History Museum, the graphic collection Albertina and the MuseumsQuartier. Other great sights awaiting you are Belvedere Palace, the Prater with its Giant Ferris Wheel, Jugendstil, cafés and heurige…
If you leave the city along the north bank, you reach Lobau – a part of the Danube Wetlands National Park. These wetlands form a unique natural habitat for beavers, kingfishers and even gray sea eagles and extend to the Austrian-Slovak border. It is one of the biggest intact areas of wetlands in Central Europe. You can find out details at Orth Castle, which is just beyond Schönau. The schlossORTH National Park-Centre is housed in this pretty castle (field trips, boat tours, local museum). The castle island has an interactive wetlands exhibition complete with underwater observation station.
After a ferry ride over the Danube you arrive in Petronell-Carnuntum. Before reaching this town, you pass Austria’s largest Roman landmark, the “Heidentor” (“Heathen’s Gate”), the ruin of a 4th c triumphal monument. The Roman city of Carnuntum is well worth a visit with its authentic reconstruction of part of a Roman city.