Cruising down the Danube, what could be nicer?  Cycling along the Danube cycle path maybe?  How about a cycle cruise down the Danube? Spending the days cycling along the Danube cycle path and the evenings on a river cruise boat?  Perfect.  We like cycling from place to place whilst somebody takes our bags from hotel to hotel.  The constant packing and unpacking can get a bit dull.  So when we saw a cycling holiday that promised four countries, three capital cities and only one lot of unpacking we were sold.

Cycle Cruise Danube

Passau was our starting and finishing point.  It sits at the confluence of three rivers; the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz.  Germany is on one bank and Austria on the other.   We flew into Munich and then caught the train down to Passau to join the MS My Story.  The captain and crew welcomed us on board with offers of drinks and chocolates as we checked in and were given the keys to our cabin.  We had interconnecting cabins that contained two bench-type sofas during the day that miraculously changed into beds at night.  The cabins were small but as we spent little time lounging in them that didn’t matter.  Once everybody was on board the MS My Story set sail for Austria as we sat down for dinner.


Next morning we woke up at Enghartzell in Austria and after a hearty breakfast were introduced to our bikes.  Before we had gone more than a few hundred yards we boarded the first of many small ferries across the Danube.  Many of the ferries that we took were hauled across the Danube by means of submerged chains, most only took cyclists or pedestrians but the one pictured above was the biggest we came across with room for a small lorry!  Once back on dry land we pedalled off on small roads and cycle paths round the Danube Loop, so called because the river almost goes round in a full circle.  Steep tree-covered slopes encased the river but we had very few ups and downs as the Danube cycle path largely hugs the banks of the river.  Just before we got to Aschach where we were to meet the MS My Story she came floating past us, so at least we knew we were heading in the right direction and we had not been left behind!


Our bikes came equipped with panniers and a map holder to hold details of our daily route.  As we were following the Danube cycle path it wasn’t necessary to stop at every junction to puzzle out which way to go as it was clearly signposted.  Day two saw us cycling along the route of the old Iron Curtain before arriving at Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.  Bratislava (a more detailed post will follow) is chocolate box pretty, it also has more cafes than I have ever seen in one place before, most of them packed.  From Bratislava we cruised down to Budapest which we arrived at whilst eating breakfast, one of the more stunning breakfast views that I have had.


We had a whole day in Budapest only leaving as dusk fell enabling us to see this beautiful river city both in the sparkling morning light and dramatically floodlit in the evening.  Sitting on deck with a glass in hand watching the view was everything I imagined a cruise to be.

Cycle Cruise Danube

Every day started with a briefing about our route from the cruise director, even in Budapest and Vienna we had the option of cycling.  We could have chosen to stay on board and watch the world float by if the previous day’s cycling had worn us out, not an option we took but useful if you are travelling with small children.

In the evenings before dinner watching the banks glide by and sun set. What nicer way to end an energetic day’s cycling than by sitting down with a glass in hand watching the sun set over Slovakia.

Sunset over Slovakia

 Each day we cycled between 10 and 27 miles mostly along small roads and dedicated cycle paths with only a very short distance on a larger road.  One advantage of travelling to Passau and Budapest and back by boat was that we only cycled the most beautiful parts of the path, the more industrial bits were bypassed in the night.  Packed lunches were supplied, if we had opted for staying on board then a full lunch would have been served.  All food was included in the price of the cruise and we also opted for a one-off drinks payment that meant the children could order drinks whenever they wanted without us having to be there to sign for them.

Cycle Cruise Danube

Vienna was our third capital city.  As with the other two, we opted to leave our bikes behind and bought travel cards instead.  The combination of city days and rural days worked well for us.  The MS My Story has Wi-Fi, but only by reception and even then it is very weak, which has the advantage of keeping the teens off their phones, but we were glad that they had downloaded some things beforehand so that the protests were not too loud.

Cruising was new to the Cultural Wednesday family but we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, for us the combination of cruise and cycle worked well.  We booked our package with Freedom Treks who supplies the holiday in the UK.

Whilst we were cycling and cruising we spent two hours in Bratislava.




  1. October 26, 2016 / 8:05 pm

    What a brilliant way to combine river cruising with cycling! We tried a traditional river cruise from Amsterdam to Nuremberg last summer and loved it – but this is a fantastic twist and I am very tempted.

  2. October 27, 2016 / 10:40 am

    I had no idea you could do a bike cruise trip to Budapest! I’m SOLD. Soo cool. Thank you for sharing – fantastic post for #FarawayFiles. Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    • October 27, 2016 / 11:30 am

      This year they are offering Passau to Serbia …… unfortunately Scout camp rules out all possible dates grrr!

  3. October 27, 2016 / 8:23 pm

    Hope this isn’t too controversial but I always thought the river cruises were for retirees! It’s always put me off going actually. Consider my mind changed – looks amazing fun with the bikes. Absolutely the type of holiday we would enjoy – thanks again for sharing on #FarawayFiles Catherine

    • October 27, 2016 / 8:30 pm

      Same here, we were not the only ones with children. Probably for tweens and teens rather than teenies

  4. October 28, 2016 / 2:36 pm

    I’m not a fan of sea cruises (to say the least…) but river cruising / cycling is something that I would absolutely consider doing with the family. Smaller boats, healthy exercise, no seasickness and, all round, a slower and richer form of tourism. Thanks for enlightening me. #FarawayFiles

    • October 28, 2016 / 3:38 pm

      I’m keen see if similar holidays exist on the Rhine and the Elbe

  5. Clare Thomson
    October 28, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    Such a great idea for a family holiday with older kids and a brilliant way to see the countryside. I love the idea of combining so many different types of holiday – cruising, cycling, cities and the rural areas. Great post for #FarawayFiles

  6. October 29, 2016 / 2:53 pm

    This sounds like a fantastic way to travel through Europe. I do like the flexibility of choosing whether to cycle or stay aboard – and that you don’t have to carry all your luggage with you. Thanks for sharing – I’d never heard of this type of trip before. All those beautiful cities – what a treat. #FarawayFiles

    • pigeonpairandme
      June 8, 2017 / 11:23 am

      Lovely to revisit this via #MondayEscapes!

  7. October 30, 2016 / 1:50 am

    Cycling and Cruising – not the usual combination, but sounds just right for a holiday with family and where there are clear cycle routes that guarantee that you won’t get lost. I agree packing and repacking becomes a torture, when you have to do them every few days or so.

    • February 1, 2017 / 1:03 pm

      It was a great holiday, still searching for the summers cycle adventure!

  8. February 1, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    Wow this looks great! I’ve never been on a river cruise and wasn’t sure about it but you have me sold! Love the look of cruising Budapest by night

    Thanks for linking to #fearlessfamtrav

    • February 1, 2017 / 4:54 pm

      We had our doubts but are sold on the idea now!

  9. February 1, 2017 / 9:19 pm

    I’ve never heard of this and baulked slightly at booking a river cruise with teens as I thought they’d be bored, but this is a brilliant idea! I’m definitely lookking into this for future reference. #fearlessfamtrav

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:39 pm

      And so many countries too add to the visited list!

  10. February 2, 2017 / 3:24 pm

    This looks like a brilliant way to tour around! I’ve been recently thinking that I don’t bike enough when traveling, and it’s such a great way to explore. That combined with a cruise sounds so relaxing. #fearlessfamtrav

    • February 2, 2017 / 3:31 pm

      We’ve found that cycling is perfect with teen boys

  11. February 3, 2017 / 8:33 am

    What an interesting way to explore the Danube! I would love to explore this option when my boys are older! #FearlessFamTrav

  12. February 5, 2017 / 5:13 pm

    What a great holiday. We are cycling the Danube in July with our 2 boys, however not doing the Bike and Boat. Looks great fun though :-) #fearlessfamtrav

    • February 5, 2017 / 5:15 pm

      You will have a ball. Friends of ours did just the cycling from Vienna to Budapest with their children last summer and loved it!

  13. Lisa (Travel Loving Family)
    June 5, 2017 / 2:41 pm

    What a fabulous idea for a family holiday. 10 – 27 miles a day sounds fairly manageable too. I also love the fact that you do not have to cycle everyday and instead stay onboard. My boys are a little too young for this just yet (3&6) but I will definitely keep in mind for the future as it sounds perfect for us. Thanks for linking to #MondayEscapes

    • June 5, 2017 / 2:49 pm

      We’ve found that cycling holidays followed on naturally from beach holidays as the boys grew older.

  14. June 6, 2017 / 11:13 am

    what an awesome adventure!!! #MondayEscapes

  15. mymeenalife
    June 6, 2017 / 2:31 pm

    This really sounds like a fantastic way to travel! Cycling through beautiful locations if you feel up to it and cruising if you don’t (or the weather doesn’t agree) – and not having to worry about luggage. It looks beautiful! #MondayEscapes

  16. June 6, 2017 / 6:34 pm

    I would’ve never thought about doing that! That just sounds so fun to combine both of those things! How fun! I’m needing to try that next trip I make!

  17. January 27, 2020 / 9:34 am

    That is quite a nice way of covering 3 cities by water. The ferry looks massive for traveling in a water body which is hundreds of kilometres from the nearest coast.
    Great article and looks like a must have experience for travelers..!!

  18. ASA | Marilyn
    October 31, 2020 / 3:32 pm

    This is certainly a trip that I’d love to experience. Days spent cycling and sightseeing, nights spent cruising on water, and diffidently no daily packing/unpacking.

    • November 4, 2020 / 10:48 am

      We loved it and can’t wait to do something similar

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