Austria/Germany: Salzach and Inn Rivers

Dates: June 20 – 30, 2015
Land Cost: $2100
Single Supplement: $450
Difficulty Level: Easy
What’s Included: 9 nights, daily breakfast and dinner, group transfer from and to the airport; English-speaking guide, bicycle rental, all entrance fees and our famous t-shirt.

You will fly into Innsbruck Airport…

… in Austria and nine days later leave from the Munich Airport in Germany; in between you’ll be bicycling through some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe. People ski these hills and mountains; we will bicycle along the rivers, through the pretty towns, with a full share of eye-filling vistas.

Our first two nights are spent in the village of Krimml, handily located for an awesome start to scenery appreciation. The Krimmler Waterfalls, the highest waterfalls in Europe and undeniably beautiful, are within walking distance from Krimml along the Wasserfallweg (waterfall path), which we will follow (on foot) to see the three-step drop of the Falls, formed by a brimming glacier stream.

The next day finds us on our bicycles, looking up at mountains from the bicycle path that rims the river. We’re in an area called the Pinzgau, Alpine mountains to the north and the Hohe Tauern National Park to the south. Villages of great age and considerable charm are spaced along the river, cultivated but often flowery fields between them.

Mountains in this part of the world mean glaciers; glaciers present the possibility of producing electrical power, a possibility realized in the Tauernkraft Power Plant which we visit the following day. On that same day, weather permitting, we’ll observe the narrow depths of a handsome gorge, the Sigmund Thun Klamm, from the wooden walkway at its upper level. All this before lunch. Lunch will take place in Zell am See, founded by 8th-century monks who had no idea it would become a popular lake-side resort. Old buildings add atmosphere and the lake retains the uncorrupted blue the monks knew. Admirable riverside bike trails along the Salzach and Saalach Rivers will bring us to Leogang for the night.

The word is that the following day’s route is all downhill. Along these downhill roads are villages that retain the appeal of other times and scenery that is timeless. Our destination is Lofer, a market town that has long been a destination for the countryside. Like those visitors, we will take pleasure in the onion-domed church, the painted facades of many buildings, the frequent oriel windows. And the good shopping, dirndls a specialty.

At Bad Reichenhall (read “Bad” as “Spa” when it’s in front of a place name) the salt mine has meant people have lived in its vicinity for a couple of thousand years. For the last couple of hundred years people have come for its health spas. It’s a town that knows how to treat visitors; while there, we will tour the Alte Saline Saltworks. The Salzach River moves on to Salzburg, and so do we; it’s not far. After a good night’s rest we venture out for a guided tour of the city where Mozart was born and where as a precocious teenager he was musician at the court. There’s time to explore on your own. It’s an inviting town to wander in, complete with fortress, cathedral, palace and Benedictine abbey, to say nothing of winding streets and interesting shops.

We’ll follow the river again the next day, stopping at the village of Oberndorf where “Silent Night, Holy Night” was composed to learn about the local priest who wrote the poem and the composer who put it to music. That night we bed down in Burghausen, on the German side of the Salzach, where the castle looms high and is visible for miles around. We will visit the castle the following morning, before heading off along a different river, the Inn.

The final day on the bicycle brings us to Kirchdorf, literally translated as “church village” and one of the many villages in Germany that bears this name. We spend the last night of our journey here before setting out by coach the next morning to the Munich airport, with memories of rivers and villages and pleasurable towns.