The increased popularity of cycling tours among the over 50s is bringing a tourism boost to Alpine areas traditionally popular as stay-put ‘Lakes & Mountains’ destinations a generation ago. Cycling offers the ability to see much more of a destination at a leisurely pace, with the Alpine climate and fresh mountain air allowing for comfortable riding conditions along the way. Add to this high quality, value for money accommodation and it is clear to see why thrifty travellers are heading for Austria, Germany and Italy this summer.
As the older holiday market gravitates towards more active holidays and adopts a healthier lifestyle, the shift also adds credence to the Government’s Chief Medical Officer latest advice that regular cycling can help prevent or manage over 20 long-term conditions.
Here Freedom Treks has selected five of the best Alpine cycling tours in Europe.
10 Lakes – Sound of Music in Austria
Austria’s Lake District or ‘Salzkammergut’ is breathtakingly beautiful with blue lakes, imposing mountains, green meadows and forests and the landscape so instantly recognisable from the opening scenes of the iconic film ‘Sound of Music’. The tour starts along the River Salzach, where the Celts laid the foundations for the city’s future wealth with the trade of salt or ‘white gold’ along the river, before heading into Trumer lake country. From here it is a 31 mile cycle to Mondsee, where the Mondsee Cathedral has become one of the most photographed churches in the world, thanks to the wedding scene in the Sound of Music. A boat trip to Weyregg is followed by a ride through the picturesque valley of Aurachtal and on to Lake Traunsee. The tour includes a trip to the picturesque village of Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a route along Lake Wolfgang and through St Gilgen. And with the headquarters of energy drink Red Bull, located in the next village of Fuschl, it might just be worth stopping to recharge.
St. Moritz to Innsbruck from Switzerland to Austria
Better known as an exclusive ski resort, St Moritz in the Engadine Valley, is the starting point for this cycling tour with the final destination Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian Tirol. Leading through outstanding countryside, the wide plateau of Upper Engadine merges into the large forests of the Swiss National Park with stops along the way in old mountain villages. After passing the border into Austria, the classic Inn Cycle Route winds its way through the Tirol province, from Landeck down to Innsbruck. Tracing the River Inn, along flat riverside trails, cyclists can appreciate how the river has shaped the valley’s topography and the varied alpine landscape. With cultural and culinary detours along the way this tour is an adventure for all your senses.
Mozart Cycle Path in Austria/Germany
Renowned for its beautiful natural setting, this 7 day tour starts in Salzburg, a city influenced by Italian architecture with great baroque buildings and large open squares and where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born along the now-famous shopping street of Getreidegasse. This tour takes you on one of his many European journeys into Germany to the shores of Lake Chiemsee, stopping en-route at the famous chapel in Oberndorf where the popular Christmas carol Silent Night was composed. From Chiemsee a visit to the monastery of Seeon, where Mozart created some of his compositions, is followed by an overnight stop in Wasserburg. The following day takes a leisurely route down to Kufstein, accompanied all the way by the River Inn. Once in the Austrian Tirol, cycle further to Waidring and Lofer, two villages where Mozart stopped on his journeys to the South, before making the final journey back to Salzburg passing back through Germany and the spa town of Berchtesgaden.
Lakes of Southern Bavaria in Southern Germany
Taking in the best of Bavaria, this tour starts and finishes in the city of Munich, before exploring the landscape of quiet valleys, passing along fresh water lakes and the stunning turquoise waters of the unspoilt River Isar. Enjoy the city sights, before crossing the Forstenrieder Park to Lake Starnberger and through ancient Bavarian villages to Murnau and on to Lake Staffelsee. The following day moves on to Garmisch Partenkirchen, where you can take the cable car up to Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze (2,962m) with wonderful views of the Alps. From Garmisch take the train to Scharnitz, to the source of the River Isar and from where you can cycle down through the sunny valley with views to the Karwendel and Wetterstein mountain ranges. After reaching Wallgau, cycle further through lovely rural countryside to Bad Tölz, with a branch off to the shores of Lake Tegernsee before continuing along the Isar cycle path back to the city of Munich. And with seven major breweries in the city a refreshing beer is well-deserved.
Dolomites to Trieste in Italy
Three countries in one week may sound like a challenge but this 7 night tour carefully selects the best of Italy, Austria and Slovenia’s unique mountain scenery, untouched natural landscapes and crystal clear lakes at a leisurely pace. Starting in Toblach ride along the River Drau through Italy’s South Tyrol with the impressive Dolomites lining the route before entering Austria’s East Tyrol and the town of Lienz. The following day is dedicated to comfortable cycling through the flat, wide and sheltered Gail Valley. After Feistritz the cycling route heads back into Italy before travelling on to Slovenia, past the famous ski area of Kranjska Gora, and reaching the shores of romantic Lake Bled. Head along the Soča Valley, a popular river for canoeists and historically the stage of major military operations during World War I. The final stage takes you through the Friuli wine growing region, where you will be rewarded with regional culinary delights accompanied by local wines. The Karst accompanies you on the final day before reaching the former Habsburg port of Trieste.
For more information call Freedom Treks on 01273 224066 or visit www.freedomtreks.co.uk