Bikes and Vienna fit together like chain links in a sprocket (sorry – bike nerd joke). The many bicycle lanes make Vienna a dream city for cyclists. There are dozens of clubs, hundreds of bike shops, and countless wonderful steel horses whizzing through the streets.
Our bike fanatic in the team has put together five Viennese bike routes that will have you seeing some of the best sides of the city on two wheels:
Length: 22.2km (60–90 mins) Difficulty: Easy/moderate, depending on your mood (the route is beloved by both Wiggins wannabes and those pesky Sunday cyclists).
Directions: This is one of the rougher routes in Vienna and if you play your cards right, you can do it entirely traffic-free. Start at the beginning of the Prater Hauptallee amidst the runners and revellers, and watch out for the stray children (the bane of many cyclist’s life). The part is great to power those riding muscles and blow away the cobwebs, although of course, you can take a more leisurely approach. At the 3km mark, turn left under the A23 highway bridge and follow the signs to the Lobau national park, over the footbridge, down the spiral ramp, and over the Danube island.
Why the hell would you want to do this bike path? The many trees lining the route provide ample shade making this a great ride for a sunny day and, as long as you remember to pack the insect repellent, the abundance of water along the path make for an idyllic lakeside picnic. The Lobau itself is a wonderful national park with loads of interesting hidden walkways. If you’re rocking a vintage road bike, try to avoid the less well-trodden routes, or else you’ll be in danger of getting stuck carrying your steed. It’s also a great one for beginners, as there are no hills and no need to share the road with cars! But don’t forget on this one – you’ve got to ride all the way back!
Length: 17km (60 mins) Difficulty: Easy/Moderate (one nasty climb at the end)
Directions: Turning left on the far bank of the new Danube, follow the Euro Velo 6 towards Stammersdorf, turning right after about 3km (there are signposts for the March canal). From there, you’ll see Vienna through different eyes. The excellent Marchkanalradweg is curiously under-used, but it’s wild and beautiful. It probably suits trekking and mountain bikes more than road bikes as the route is not sealed for the whole length.
Keep your eyes peeled for Stammersdorfer Straße as it’s not very well signposted. Miss it, and there’s a very real chance you’ll follow the canal all the way to Bratislava – we speak from experience. The last little optional bit is the cobbled Stammersdorfer Kellergasse, which I highly recommend climbing, as you’ll find a small field for a cheeky little picnic with some wonderful views of the city.
Why the hell would you want to do this bike path? Ah, the wine capital of capital wines! What could be better than a ride through the vineyards on the city’s slopes? Starting in Grinzing – after the obligatory g’spritzt – this route meanders downhill through the idyllic cobbled streets of Döbling, down towards the canal. The route is very well sign posted and takes in a lovely bike-only bridge over the Danube, affording wonderful views of the Kahlenberg and the upper tip of the Danube island.
Length: 24.1km (90–120 mins) Difficulty: Difficult/Intense; involves a long, steep hill that will make your calves scream abuse at you.
Direction: This is one of our personal favourites, as it takes you out of Vienna and into the surrounding forests. Well, relatively speaking. Start opposite the U4 Hietzing station by taking the ramp onto the brilliant walkway next to the Wienfluss (be aware – there’s always a headwind!). Follow the track all the way to Hütteldorf station, crossing the barriers and continuing along next to the stream. You will come to a stairway. Walk your bike up this, follow the road to the left and turn right onto the Mauerbachstraße. You will reach the extremities of Vienna. Just before you veer off into Lower Austria, turn right onto the Sophienalpenstraße.
Why the hell would you want to do this bike path? A warning: this route is not for the faint of heart. The surroundings are exquisite no matter what the season and you’ll have a severe case of villa-jealousy as you’re puffing and panting your way up the hill. The climb itself takes in about 250 vertical metres – you’ll certainly be sweating. However, it’s all worth it when you turn right onto the Exelbergstraße and descend back towards Vienna. The view is astonishing. And the speeds on the way down make up for the effort expended on the way up. A quick note: the extended version is about 80km long and takes in Tulln and the Danube – a regular training route for the ever-increasing population of MAMILS (middle-aged men in lycra).
The hundred waters way: Hundertwasser Kunst Haus to his golden ball at Spittelau
Length: 4.8km (20–30 mins) Difficulty: Easy-peasy, perfect for a lazy lunchy Sunday
Directions: This route is basically an extended jaunt, along the waterside on the Donaukanal. Start at the café out the back of Hundertwasser’s Kunst Haus. Be generous to yourself and take a cake, if you please – you’re about to burn it off, anyway! From there, follow the road to the traffic lights, cross, and turn left onto the path by the canal. Stick to the city center side: it’s a much more interesting ride. Once you cross the road at Urania, you won’t have to worry about cars anymore and you can ride safely alongside the canal all the way to Spittelau. Here, take a sloping left and ride up towards the Spittelau station, and swing a hard left towards the golden ball of Vienna’s sexiest rubbish dump. You’re in the 9th district now. You can ride a bit further for a slap-up meal at the Highlander at Sobieskiplatz for a well-earned beer.
Why the hell would you want to do this bike path? Because of the influx of bars on the canal near to the city, this ride is a great one for meeting with friends along the way. Also, if you still have the urge, you can extend your bike tour beyond that glinting golden ball. Just stay on the path by the water, and ride on and on to where the canal meets the Danube river, and beyond. You won’t work up much of a sweat gliding between the pedestrians, but riding slowly will allow you to take in the interesting graffiti, cool bars and, of course, the lovely bums of runners, along the way.
The blessed bike path: Franz von Assisi Jubiläumskirche to Wotrubakirche
Length: 27km (120 mins: much longer if you actually look inside the churches) Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult: Two naughty climbs to get through, but mostly ok.
Directions: Starting at the Franz-von-Assisi on the banks of the Danube, head south on one of Vienna’s most heavily frequented bike paths until you reach Schwedenplatz. A little way up Rotenturmstraße and onto the Fleischmarkt, one of Vienna’s more underrated gems (in terms of one of God’s religious cribs) will be revealed – the splendidly gold adorned Greek Orthodox church. From there, head through the city center towards the ring so you’ll pop out the other side at Resselpark. Take in the Karlskirche with its awe-inspiring copper-green domes and minarets. Next, head towards the Wienflussradweg and turn right at the Gürtel, and head towards Rudolfheim’s most incredible landmark, the Maria von Sieg. Here’s where it gets a little more challenging. From here, you have to climb onto the Schmelzbrücke, turn left towards Hütteldorf and climb steadily to Otto Wagner’s piece de résistance, the Kirche am Steinhof. From here, swing down across Hietzing and deep into Liesing to the Wotrubakirche, which looks a bit like Stonehenge after a heavy night of LSD.
Why the hell would you want to do this bike path? In centuries to come, this Wurstelstand biker pilgrimage, which takes in some of central Europe’s most inspiring and wonderful churches, might become as famous as the St. James’s Way. Or perhaps not. What can be guaranteed though, is that it will be a soul-cleansing biker’s experience. You won’t so much have seen the light as be blinded by it if you complete this challenging course.