Taking a break after cycling © Österreich Werbung
The past few years we have been asked questions about biking in Austria. In this segment we try to answer a lot of them and hope to make your bike-tour even more enjoyable.
When should I go?
Anytime from May to October is perfect for cycling. Be prepared for hot days during the month of July and August.
How about planning a bike trip to Austria?
The first choice you have to make is already the most essential one: whether to take an organized bike tour and leave the planning up to the pros or whether you feel comfortable enough to freewheel on your own.
An organized tour offers some advantages: you will be supplied with a bike, all your overnight reservations will be taken care of and most of the time a "sag wagon" will carry your luggage, tools and offer a cushy passenger seat to rest your sore knee. Most organized bike trips are run on a more leisurely pace with plenty of time for sightseeing and exploring.
Many experienced cyclists however take matters into their own hands, pack a few t-shirts, bike shorts and a tool kit and travel whereever there feet will get them to. You have complete freedom to make your touring as leisurely or challenging as you like and with a little bit of research and a good touring map you're off to a wonderful vacation. A rudimentary understanding of German will certainly be an advantage since you will most likely travel through some rural areas.
Should I rent or bring my own bike?
For day trips and shorter tours, bikes can be rented in practically every village, many hotels as well as 170 train stations throughout Austria. As you can imagine, the quality of the bicyles available varies greatly. If you are serious about your cycling and are not joining an organized and a pre-arranged bike tour, you may want to take your own bike with you overseas. Most airlines are prepared to handle your bicycle and any bike store will be helpful in partially dissasembling and packaging the bike for the flight. If you've never re-assembled your bike before we recommend a dry run and some practice, after all we don't want you spending your first day on the trip adjusting your breaks and seat.
Mountain bikes or touring bikes are the most suitable for a bike trip in Austria, since most scenic bike trails are not paved all the way.
How can I transport my bike while in Austria?
The Austrian Federal Railways offer substantial services for cyclists. Practically all local trains will carry your bikes in the baggage car. For long-distance trains (IC or EC trains) carefully check the timetable for a bicycle symbol next to the train number. You will need to purchase a ticket for your bike and personally bring it to the baggage car for loading. This will make sure that your bike will be on the same train with you.
Where do I stay along the way?
Along most major bike routes many hotels and inns have adapted to cyclists and welcome you with open arms. Many of them offer simple bike services such as lockable bike racks, tools etc. Be aware that most pensions and inns along the major bike routes tend to be of the simpler variety but charming and personal.
What do I need to watch out for?
Austrian law sets specific requirements for bicycle equipment: at least two independently operating brakes, a clear headlight and a red taillight, yellow reflectors on the pedals, at least one white or yellow reflector in the spokes of each wheel and a clear sounding bell as a warning signal.
There is no helmet law for bicycles but we highly recommend the use of a helmet, especially if you travel on roads shared by other vehicles.