To the pages for Europe, Austria and Germany of the Trento Bike Pages

Trip to Germany and Austria

Davis Bike Club, Davis, California, USA
Summer 1995

By Linda Bernheim (


This report details a van-supported, mostly camping, bicycle tour of Germany and Austria taken by 29 members of the Davis Bike Club (Davis, California) during 3 weeks in 1995. We were a varied group, aged from 9 to 70ish, and included families, couples, and singles, riding 7 tandems and 22 single bicycles. Part I gives information about our route, and where we stayed each day. Part II gives a glimpse into how this group went about the co-operative planning the trip.

The distances given are from my cycle computer. The total is about 980 km, slightly less than we had originally planned due to some rainy day train riding. Our large group split up each day to ride as we chose, so the sights I mention are those my family visited. The route we followed is primarily taken from:

EUROPE BY BICYCLE by Karen & Terry Whitehall
Published 1993 in the U.S.A. by The Mountaineers, 1011 SW Klickitat Way
Seattle, Washingto 98134
Published in Canada by Douglas & McIntyre, Ltd
1615 Venables St. Vancouver B.C. V5L 2H1
Published in Great Britain by Cordee 3a DeMontfort St.
Leicester, England LE1 7HD
We owe a large debt of gratitude to them, and I highly recommend their book to anyone thinking of a European bicycle trip. I refer to the book as "Whitehall" in the text below. I have given the addresses and phone numbers of the places we stayed, with rates for summer 1995. Because of our group size, we often received a discount from these rates.

Part I - Day by Day

Sat 7/29 Davis - San Francisco - Frankfurt

We left Davis about 2 am Saturday morning for the 1 1/2 hour drive to the airport by chartered bus. We watched helplessly as our boxed bikes were thrown around by careless baggage handlers during airport check-in, and wondered if they would arrive safely.

Sun-Mon, 7/30-31 Frankfurt - Heidelberg (13 km local riding)

After our arrival at the Frankfurt airport, we loaded our bicycles in the rental van, then took the tram from the International Arrivals Terminal to the airport train station, a "local" train from the airport to the Frankfurt main train station, a train to Heidelberg, and a bus nearly to the campground. We walked the last kilometer to the campground. This procedure had lots of problems, mostly related to the fact that our van was not ready on our arrival. Riding away from the airport sounds ideal compared to our troubles that day!

We spent Sunday afternoon assembling our bicycles (all had survived the trip), and had all day Monday for sightseeing, then departed on Tuesday.

There is at least one campground closer than this one to Heidelberg, but they did not want to accept a reservation for a group of our size.

Camping Haide Heidelberg
69151 Neckargemund
Phone: 06223-2111
FAX: 6223-7 19 59
7.50 per person
6 DM for Van

Tues, 8/1 Heidelberg - Gundelsheim (71 km)

The day's ride along the Neckar River from Heidelberg to Gundelsheim gave us our introduction to the bone-jarring gravel bike paths, which some quickly learned to avoid! At least six castles could be seen from the paths. At first we found the bike path signs small and hard to find, but soon got used to looking for them. Don't miss the side trip to the medieval museum and eagle show at Berg Guttenberg. It's up a steep hill, but well worth the effort. The town of Gundelsheim is an easy walk from the campground, and we found several restaurant choices there for dinner. Many of us enjoyed a long walk around the town after dinner.

This campground was quite nice; a good walk (though not as long as some others) to the bathrooms & showers from the tent camping area.

Campingplatz Burgenblick
74831 Gundelsheim
Phone: 0 62 69/14 45
6 DM per person
10 DM per tent

Wed, 8/2 Gundelsheim - Bad Mergentheim (93 km)

One group of us headed UP (10% grade, as I recall) to Bad Wimpfen after leaving Gundelsheim, enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the courtyard of a bakery, and toured the church, and Red and Blue Towers, and had a spectacular view out over the river. We never did find the "ruined palace" mentioned in Whitehall.

Riding through the Jagst Valley was peaceful and beautiful. Lunched in the town of Mochmuhl. Some toured Gotzenburg Castle near Jagsthausen, and raved about it. My group toured the Kloster Schontal - the first of many gorgeous restorations we enjoyed on this trip. We shared our first (and last) Schneeball at the bakery here.

As usual, this campground is at the top of a hill, and is several kilometers from Bad Mergentheim. We were disappointed by the lack of promised washer-and-dryer facilities - by now we had exhausted our supplies of clean clothing! The food in their restaurant was delicious, though our numbers overwhelmed the kitchen.

Campingplatz Willinger Tal
97980 Bad Mergentheim
Phone: (0 74 31) 2177
6 DM per person
9 DM per tent/car

Thurs, 8/3 Bad Mergentheim - Rothenburg ob der Tauber (57 km)

My family got up early and headed straight for our campground at Detwang, in order to make the 13:30 tour of Rothenburg and be first in line for the washing machines at camp. We never managed to obtain the bike map of this route mentioned in Whitehall, and found ourselves stopping at nearly every corner to find the Taubertal Radweg (the Bike Route) signs.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber was the favorite town of our trip for many of our riders. (Hint: Don't bother to ride your bike up the path - it's a short, extremely steep walk, and you will be better off walking around the town). Most took either the night watchman's tour or the afternoon tour of the town. Did lots of shopping, especially in the impressive Kathy Wolfart Christmas Stores (go in to look, even if you aren't shopping!). I had expected to be overwhelmed by the crowds in Rothenburg, but didn't find that at all. The intermittent rain, and the fact that the town walls were closed due to damage from earlier storms, may have had something to do with that. My daughter and I enjoyed the doll museum, as well as the Criminal Museum. This has much, much more than the instruments of torture that it advertises - the collection of old manuscripts, some with a dozen large wax seals attached particularly caught my eye.

There are two campgrounds at Detwang, at the bottom of the hill that Rothenburg sits on. This one was willing to reserve for our large group.

Camping Tauber-Romantik
91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber-Detwang
Phone: (09861) 6191
FAX: (09861) 6160
7.5 DM per person
8 DM per tent

Fri, 8/4 Rothenburg - Dinkelsbuhl (57 km)

Leaving Rothenburg, we stopped to admire the Topplerschosschen (a summer castle) and the Doppelbrucke (double decker bridge.). Mostly followed Road 25 today, headed for Wornitz. We ate our picnic lunch, including delicious liverwurst in a shiny gold can, in a shady, little gazebo in Wornitz. Whitehall doesn't mention the Bicycle Museum at Zumhaus, but the route took us right past. We enjoyed the exhibits, and got to try out some of the old bicycles (including a high-wheeler), and rested in the outdoor Beer Garden.

This campground is as nice as Whitehall describes, with great facilities, including hair dryers in the bathrooms. We didn't try their restaurant, preferring to head into town, a short ride away. We had another Italian meal - delicious and filling.

DCC Campingpark Romantische Strasse
Kobeltsmuhle 2
91550 Dinkelsbuhl
Phone & FAX: (09851) 7817
7.5 DM per person
11.50 DM per tent

Sat, 8/5 Dinkelsbuhl - Donauworth (83 km)

We stopped for breakfast at a bakery in Dinkelsbuhl, and learned that we should always check the prices before we go in somewhere. This one was extremely expensive. The directions and bike route were easy to follow today, as we travelled through Wassertrudingen and Oettingen, where we bought fruit at the market on the square. We followed the Wornitz River into Harburg, parked our bikes and walked up to the castle. We'd have liked to eat lunch in the town first, as it was 12:15, but for some reason the cafes were closed. Instead we had a wonderful lunch on the castle patio while waiting for the tour. This one is a smallish, privately owned castle, that was absolutely charming. We skirted the city of Donauworth, and headed on to our campground at Egglestetten, asking directions often. Two riders had stopped at a fire station to ask directions, and the firemen, sure that they would never find it, drove them to camp, after giving them a beer!

After a relaxing swim in the small lake, we had an outdoor group dinner at this campground, all arranged ahead of time. We were photographed for a local newspaper, but the promised copy of the photo never arrived back in the US.

Donau-Lech Camping
Campingweg 1
86898 Oberndorf OT Eggelstetten
Phone: 0 90 02/40 44
FAX: 0 90 02/40 46
6.7 DM per person
8 DM per tent

Sun-Mon, 8/6-7 Egglestetten - Augsburg (55 km; 21 km in Munich)

Today's ride took us from Egglestetten to Augsburg where we hopped on a train for Munich. The short morning in Augsburg gave us just time to see the Fuggerri - a 16th Century public housing project. Fascinating! Our two nights and one full day in Munich were spent on a variety of the usual sightseeing activities.

The travel agent arranged for this modern high-rise hotel, which was fairly convenient to the train station, if a little noisy.

Best Western Atrium Hotel
Landwehrstrasse 59
Phone: 89-514-190

Tues, 8/8 Munich - Prien (6 km to/from train station)

The ride from Munich to Salzburg is not given in the Whitehall book, and we did some agonizing in advance about what the best way to go would be. In the end, it was raining so hard each of the two days that all of us ended up taking the train. Some bought tickets (and tickets for their bikes) individually, others formed up into a group to take advantage of the group fares, which are significantly cheaper.

We toured Ludwig's castle on Herrenchiemsee, which was fascinating, and a few of us got to the quieter, Frauenchiemsee, with craft shops and summer homes. These islands are visited by ferry, and bikes must be left behind at the ferry dock on the mainland.

This campground was extremely overcrowded, and even though we had a reservation, our allotted patch of ground was not nearly big enough for all our tents. Definitely the worst camping situation we encountered! The food in the restaurant was good, though.

Panorama-Camping Harras
83209 Prien-Harras
Harrasser Str. 135
Phone: (0 80 51) 25 15
FAX: (0 80 51) 9046-16
7.3 DM per person
5.5 DM per tent
9 DM for Van

Wed-Thurs, 8/9-10 Prien - Salzburg

As I mentioned, we again took the train on this day due to the pouring rain. Even without reservations, all 29 of us were loaded onto one train, with our bikes in the baggage car. On arrival in Salzburg, we biked to our hotel, and then were each free to enjoy whatever sights we chose. Even though the Music Festival was on, the city did not seem overcrowded, and was a joy to tour. One of our cyclists found that we could get tickets for a musical performance at Mirabell gardens, and that was a highlight of our visit. I can't wait to go back.

The Institut St. Sebastian was a pleasant place to stay. Newly remodeled, it has lovely modern facilities. We had two dormitories, and several smaller rooms. The adjoining chuchyard is fascinating, with the graves of Mozart's wife and father, among others. This is just a short walk across the bridge from the downtown section.

Institut St. Sebastian
Linzer Gasse 41
A-5010 Salzburg Austria
Phone: 0662/871386 or 883606
210 AS per person

Fri, 8/11 Salzburg - Braunau (83 km)

Quite an easy day of riding between Salzburg and Braunau. The highlight of our day was Burghausen Castle - the longest castle in Germany, at 1 km long. After buying picnic supplies in town, we walked up the path to the castle, picnicked on the grass, the toured their museum. This was rather like the "attic" of an entire town, and lots of fun.

The campground at Braunau was a pleasure after Prien - a big green lawn to spread out on. The only drawback was a group of noisy singers in the campground bar who kept us awake - but they did add atmosphere.

Camping Braunau
(also listed as Campingplatz Freizeitzentrum)
A-5280 Braunau am Inn Austria
Phone: 07722/7357
55 AS per person
15 AS per tent
30 AS for Van

Sat, 8/12 Braunau - Passau (85 km)

Here we started working hard at finding roads instead of the gravel bike paths - tired of that jarring! Mostly pleasant countryside riding with the towns of Obernberg and Sharding.

Today's problem was realizing that when we got to Passau, the campground was another 10 km away. And, of course, at the top of a hill! Fortunately the young men driving our van were out along the road to meet us or we would never have found this place. The campground in the center of Passau is definitely a better choice, but, again, they hadn't wanted a group.

Drei-Flusse Camping
D-94113 Irring 23
Passau/Donautal Germany
Phone: 08546/ 6 33 FAX: 08546/2686
7.5 DM per person
7.5 DM per tent

Sun, 8/13 Passau - Aschach (68 km)

Today, some took Danube ferries part of the way, others of us followed the flat and easy cycle path to Aschach. Along here we started to see many German and Austrian tourists, ladden with every sort of pannier, plastic bag, homemade trailer, backpack...

Bathrooms at this campground about are 1 km from the group campsite - plan ahead! Several got tick bites here - evidently they carry a fever peculiar to this region, and they had to decide whether to get the shots recommended.

Camping Kaiserhof
Kaiserau 1
A-4082 Aschach Austria
Phone: 07273/6221
35 per person
30-40 AS per tent
35 AS for Van
5 AS per bicycle

Mon, 8/14 Aschach - Grein (103 km)

This was our longest riding day - and it rained all day long. Some opted for the train, but that meant skipping Mauthausen Concentration Camp. We meant to make only a quick stop at the camp, but it was so gripping that we ended up spending several hours in the buildings and exhibits, and seeing the movie (in English). Be warned that it's a 14% grade up to Mauthausen, but well worth the climb.

Many found rooms in the small town of Grein, since it was still raining, and we were pretty sick of rain. The city campground was spacious, but hard to find anyone to buy a shower token from!

Camping Grein
Stadtamt Grein
4360 Grein
Rathhausgasse Austria
Phone: 07268/255
20 AS per person
10 AS per tent
30 AS for Van

Tues, 8/15 Grein - Krems (90 km)

August 15 is a holiday in Austria, Assumption Day, but we had been forewarned and knew the banks would be closed. Found the Melk Abbey complex to be absolutely exquisite. The church itself was especially beautiful. Outdoor cafes in town conveniently had awnings to protect us from the rain. Next stop, Durnstein. A busy tourist filled walking town, but worth going up the million (well, almost) steps to the castle ruin, where Henry the Lionhearted is said to have been imprisoned. From the top there is a gorgeous view of the Danube, and the towns in every direction..

Pleasant campground with a covered snack-bar (which quickly became our headquarters during the continuing rain.)

OAMTC-Donaupark Camping
Wiedengasse 7
A-3500 Krems/Donau Austria
Phone: 0 27 32/ 8 44 55
40 AS per person
30 AS per tent
70 AS for Van
10.50 AS local tax per person

Wed, 8/16 Krems - Tulln (50 km)

Pleasant cycling along riverside paths from Krems to Tulln. A short day, but it gave us time to explore Tulln, which we found an easy place to shop, and a lovely town. Time to start re-arranging our belongings for packing in Vienna.

This is the only campground where we had a campfire - wood provided.

OCC Donaupark Camping
A-3430 Tulln Austria:
Phone: 02272/5200
FAX: 02272/5201
60 AS per person
30 AS per tent
70 AS for Van (estimated)
10.50 AS local tax per person

Thurs-Fri, 8/17-18 Tulln - Vienna (45 km)

Again a short day, to give us more time in Vienna. On arrival in Vienna, we immediately retrieved our flattened bike boxes from the van, and packed our bikes. All the bicycles would be driven back to Frankfurt in the van by two group members, while the rest of us took the train. Once the boxing was out of the way, we set out to see Vienna. The 24 hour transit passes were ideal for us, and we learned to use the underground as well as the wonderful red trams.

The Hotel Academia is one of several student hotels in Vienna. Individual tourists and athletic teams, as well as students, were staying there. Our rooms were very small doubles, with private baths. Simple, but clean and very adequate, with a location quite near the old parts of the city.

Hotel Academia
Pfeilgasse 4
A-1080 Vienna Austria
Phone: 011-43-1-40174
doubles: 320 per person

Sat., Sun. 8/19-20 Vienna-Frankfurt-San Francisco-Davis

Leaving Vienna by train on Saturday afternoon, we arrived about 7 hours later in Frankfurt. We were met by our drivers, who had already found our hotel, and figured out how we could get there by public transportation and foot. By far the most luxurious place we stayed, this one was arranged by the travel agent. Another stormy evening with torrential rain, thunder and lightening.

Sunday morning, the hotel van took us to the airport in several trips, where some of our hard working crew had already unloaded our boxed bikes, and returned our rental van. The flight home is a blank for some of us - I even slept through the meal! Our charter bus met us at the San Francisco airport, and in another hour and half we were home in Davis.

Part II Planning the Trip

This trip was a cooperative venture of the cyclists participating. We did our own planning and arranging of most details, but a professional travel agent arranged the airline tickets, hotels in Munich and Frankfurt, and purchased some of our group train tickets. He also arranged for the van rental. All members of the group were expected to help in various ways, but about 6 of the members were most active in arranging the details of the trip.

Beginning early in 1993, more than two years ahead of our departure, members of the Davis Bike Club interested in a trip to Europe began to meet. First we had to choose a destination, then figure out how to raise money and complete plans for the trip. Our club has a history of very affordable trips for its members and this was to be no exception. Sample itineraries were planned for England/Scotland/Wales, for Scandinavia, and for Germany/Austria. For reasons of rider interest, cost, and terrain, the group voted for Germany/Austria. And the work began.

Group Membership

Because we started planning so early, it was hard to get firm commitments from those interested. At one time our ranks swelled to over 40. As the person trying to make reservations, I was quite concerned about having an exact number of people. I also felt strongly about limiting the group to no more than 24 people. Those who had done this before felt that to limit it from the start would mean too few people to qualify for group airfare by the time we left. In the end, we benefitted financially from the hard work on fundraising done by those who ended up not going, and had a workable 29 people along. Throughout the two years we usually met monthly.

Money & Fund Raising

Our club provided some financial support for this tour, and we raised money in a variety of ways. Because the Davis Bike Club was sponsoring a two-year series of qualifying Brevets for the Paris-Brest-Paris Ride in 1995, we were asked to provide the rest-stops and SAG support for all of these rides, in exchange for additional financial support. This was a large commitment of time and effort over two-years. We also sold bags of locally grown oranges at Christmas time, and "Entertainment Books" of coupons which are popular here, and are often sold by groups raising money. We also put on a Century Ride (a 100 mile bike ride) in May 1994 and May 1995.

In addition to participation in our own fundraising activities, tour participants were required to help with club events. This is required of participants in any of the many club trips throughout the year.

Each person was required to pay deposits of a hundred dollars at several points during the planning. These were ultimately returned to those who did not go on the trip. Our group opened its own bank account, and we had one member as treasurer, who provided us statements every month or so.


The group member arranging for our tickets contacted a travel agent early in the planning and the agent began negotiations with Lufthansa for group tickets from San Francisco to Frankfurt, and Vienna to San Francisco. In the end, this did not work out, and just a few months before our departure, final arrangements were made for us to fly Continental Airlines, roundtrip from San Francisco to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to San Francisco. This was quite a bit cheaper than the "open jaws" plan, but necessitated a train trip all the way back to the start, and. An additional small van was required to carry some of the bikes that wouldn't fit. Fortunately we knew this ahead of time, due to the careful calculations of our planners. In determining the van and bus capacities, they computed box dimensions and cargo area sizes.

Book, Maps and Information

In choosing campgrounds, my primary resource was an ADAC camping directory, in German, that my sister had brought me from Germany. I wrote to the Tourist Office in every town we planned to stay in (whether I knew they had one or not!), and to the German and Austrian tour offices in the U.S. Each provided a list of campgrounds in their country. As previously mentioned, the primary resource for our route planning was the Whitehall's book, Europe by Bike. I also had many other guidebooks, including "Let's Go!", "The Berkeley Guides", "2 to 22 Days in Germany, Austria and Switzerland" by Rick Steves (which I especially liked). I also got every book I could find on cycling in Germany. I found something of value in every book I purchased. In all, I spent around $100 on books; a small investment for a trip for 29 people. I tore out the relevant sections of each book, and left the unneeded parts at home to cut down on weight.

We were fortunate enough to have a set of German "ADFC Radtourenkarte" (bike maps) for the areas we planned to visit sent to us by one of our German friends. These maps are wonderful for cycling and well worth their cost in the information they provide. I was never able to find them for sale in the U.S. I also had a German road atlas in approximately the same scale, which was interesting for comparison (again, I brought only the relevant pages along on the trip). Maps of the bike path along the Danube had been provided by the Austrian tourist office.


Once we determined the basic route we would follow (from Europe by Bicycle), I began to try to locate camp grounds along the way, using the books and maps mentioned above. I wrote (in German, with assistance) to every place we were considering. I requested replies in English if possible, and about half responded in English, half in German. By the time I started receiving replies, I was enrolled in a night-school German class, and could bring things I didn't understand to class - a great help! Problems encountered were places which would not take reservations and places not able or not wanting to accommodate a group of our size. We ended up with one campground which did not take reservations (at Grein) because there was no alternative. I spent some uneasy moments worrying, but it worked out fine.

About 3 weeks before we left, I sent a postcard to each campground reminding them of our arrival date, and the size of our group. I had good intentions of calling ahead each day, but never did. I communicated by FAX with a number of the campgrounds - a method much faster than the mails, and seemingly preferred by some places. I put my FAX number on all correspondence. As the departure date drew near, I still hadn't heard from several campgrounds, so my daughter used her college German to telephone them, and confirm our reservations.


In Munich, Salzburg and Vienna, we did not camp. In each of these cities, we stayed 2 nights in some sort of indoor accommodations. Our Munich hotel was a large, high-rise, with all the amenities, arranged by the travel agent. I had written to a number of hotels listed in my guide books, but none could accommodate a group our size. In Salzburg we stayed in the memorable and beautiful Institut St. Sebastian. We had several small rooms, and 2 10-person dormitories, all newly refurbished, and lovely. In Vienna, we had "student" accommodations at the Hotel Academia: tiny rooms, in a large, convenient high rise near the center of town. A good bargain.


We connected two tours from Europe by Bike, by Karen & Terry Whitehall: Tour 10 from Heidelberg to Munich and Tour 11 from Salzburg to Vienna. Their book and directions were indispensable for our trip and I highly recommend purchasing it if you are planning a European bike trip. We found the route very pleasant and varied; I would choose the same way again. Having been warned about the crowds in August, I was quite apprehensive, but the Danube Cycle Track was the only place we really saw crowds of cyclists. They, and their bicycles, were so interesting, that we didn't mind at all. Rainy days kept the less hardy at home, too. The route was not always easy for everyone to follow. EVERY WORD of the directions in the Whitehall's book is important, but signs get moved, paths are re-routed, and sometimes you blink at a critical turn. Despite their meandering, all the members of our group always got where they were going! And sometimes the "detours" are the best part. There were quite a few gravel paths, especially early in the trip, which those with really skinny tires learned to avoid. The phenomenon of the disappearing path was something we never really understood: one minute you are on a well-marked bike path, and the next, it stops dead in a farmer's field. The only time cyclists encountered trouble with traffic was when they had strayed from the planned route. In general, we found the roads we were on very lightly travelled, the automobile traffic very friendly.

Van support

We rented a bright green Mercedes van, arranged ahead of time for pickup at the Frankfurt airport. After long delays obtaining the van, it served us well for the entire trip. The plan was for most members of the group to take their turn driving on a rotating basis, as is usual on our club trips. The two sons of one family became our "official" driver and navigator, by their own choice, however. They drove nearly every day, but would often cycle back out the route to direct us into camp. Those of us who would MUCH rather be biking than driving really appreciated their preference for driving.

A Few of the Things We Learned

You CANNOT plan too much for a group. Campgrounds which provided the least information on their location were invariably located in the most obscure locations. Get all the details you can about everything!

What wonderful people we were travelling with. Despite the ups & downs (RAIN!), everyone always got to camp, and always made the best of everything.

What helpful, kind people live in the regions we were travelling in.

Automatic bank-tellers are not too dependable in small towns. Those relying on these machines for cash were sometimes seen borrowing money from their friends. Bring some travellers checks or cash if you'll be staying in small towns.

Learn at least a little of the language - you'll enjoy your trip and learn a whole lot more!

Don't forget a bell for your bicycle. It's essential on German and Austrian bikepaths!

Bring the barest minimum of clothing. We found automatic washers (and dryers especially) very small and hard to come by. And the sun not-to-dependable.

Expect to have a wonderful time, and plan to come back to see everything you didn't get to the first time!