Whether you are drawn to the beauty of bicycling down the Danube through the Wachau valley, are fascinated by the expanse and history of the Holy Roman Empire, marvel at Baroque architecture, or are drawn to the beauty and intrigue of the Czech Republic, there are many reasons to join ExperiencePlus! on its 14-day bicycle tour from Passau, Germany, to Prague, Czech Republic.
For 2024, ExperiencePlus! overhauled the second leg of this must-do, two-part tour. While the updated 14-day Bicycle the Danube and the Czech Republic tour starts and ends in the same location, we re-imagined the second leg between Vienna and Prague to offer a deeper exploration of the former Kingdom of Bohemia, located west of our original itinerary.
However, if you are short on time and prefer to experience the Danube, either leg offers a unique and encapsulated experience. The first 8-days from Passau to Vienna feature one of the Danube’s most-regarded stretches. But, if Bohemia calls and you’ve yet to visit Prague, you may start in Vienna and spend the next 9 days discovering the beautiful landscapes and hidden gems of this often-overlooked, yet deeply relevant region.
Justin Wuyceck, ExperiencePlus! tour leader and Czech Republic resident, worked closely with EP’s route manager Michele Boglioni to develop the new route.
“I wanted to share some of the relatively unknown corners of the Czech Republic,” says Justin, who moved from Michigan to Europe in 2004 and has called the Czech Republic home for more than a decade. He began leading tours with ExperiencePlus! in 2019. “The Czech Republic is under-appreciated in terms of its influence on the ebb and flow of greater European history.” (See Highlights below for some examples!).
To understand how the itinerary has changed, perhaps sidle up to a map. In 2024, we’ll still shuttle out of Vienna and cross the border into the Czech Republic to begin riding 17 kilometers west of Gmünd from the small town of Nové Hrady en route to Cesky Krumlov where we stay the night. The next day we continue to Ceske Budejovice.
From Ceske Budejovice we bike northwest by northeast into the “City of a Hundred Spires,” as Prague is often called, with overnight stays in the towns of Strakonice, Plzeň, and Beroun.
This change in itinerary increases the riding difficulty between Vienna and Prague by just a bit. The overall tour level from Passau to Prague remains a 2.0 while the second leg groms from a 2.0 to a 2.5, thanks to an abundance of gently rolling hills.
Justin uses the Czech word “puzvolny,” meaning beautiful, but in an elegant way, to describe the rolling Bohemian landscape. There’s always something beautiful to appreciate, he says, particularly farmland and roads lined with fruit trees. “Starting in July you’ll find cherries, then yellow plums, then apples, then pears, and finally walnuts,” he says.
The trees were intentionally planted in the mid-1700s during the reign of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa. Following years of war with the Prussians, crops were sparse because there weren’t enough men around to work the fields. As a result, Maria Theresa ordered that roads and public spaces throughout the whole Czech Republic be lined with fruit trees so that people had food throughout the growing season.
This is just one of countless stories that will expand your understanding and appreciation of the Czech Republic beyond your knowledge of how World War I shaped the geopolitical boundaries of Europe. And history aside, there’s no better way to get to know and appreciate the Czech Republic’s people, culture, and beauty than on a bicycle tour.
Ready to learn more? Here are a few highlights from the itinerary:
- Gain a deeper understanding of the Czech Republic’s role in influencing and framing the history of Central Europe – and even the Boston Tea Party!
- Experience beautiful riding through verdant fields and hills and alongside a vast network of ponds connected to centuries-old aquaculture practices
- Revel in a visit to one of the oldest surviving hammermills still working in Europe
- Travel through the hometown on St. John of Nepomuk, a patron saint of bridges who appears in statues in every major city we visit including Passau, Vienna, and Prague. His story of martyrdom has become legend.
- Immerse yourself in the vibrant city of Plzen, home to the world-famous Pilsner Urquell brewery
- Savor a special farm-to-table dinner at one of the top restaurants in the Czech Republic. The chef was trained in Italy and brings a passionate, hyper-local focus to his cuisine.