Instead of simply admiring the Danube River from a cruise ship, why don’t you actually get out on it and have fun with this river? After all, there’s way more to do on the river than sight seeing in the Danube towns.
I prefer to be active when I travel and the best area to be active on the Danube is at its origins in Germany. Germany’s Young Danube is a recreational river before it turns into an industrial river further downstream in its other countries.
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5 Danube River Adventures
During my travels along the river, I found 5 of the best Danube River adventure activities along its young shores in Germany.
1. Hiking Along the Danube
Some of the best hiking along the Danube River is in an area called Donaubergland or the ‘Swabian Grand Canyon’. This is where the young Danube carves its way through a steep limestone gorge offering stunning views and plenty of hiking trails. There are 5 main hiking trails called DonauWelle (Danube Wave) in the area, and each can be completed in a day. These trails traverse up and down the Danube Gorge and through the Danube Nature Reserve.
While in the area, I walked along a few of them to get a taste of what they were like. I traversed through meadows with sunflowers, enjoying both sides, and top and bottom of the canyon. The green valley was gorgeous with limestone rock face jutting out. It was interesting to see life from above and below; farming lands and villages spread out around the canyon. The well marked and maintained trails I went on provided fantastic views and challenging climbs.
If you want something more challenging, there’s also a longer distance 4 day hike, Donauberglandweg (Danube Peaks Trail). The long distance trail winds you around the Swabian Jura Mountains to the Swabian Grand Canyon. The 37 mile trail starts in Lviv and ends in Beuron.
If you are looking for soft adventure (so soft it’s bubbly), then check out the Beer themed hike in Ehinger, the Beer Culture city. This 8.5 mile trail starts in city center, walks you by the city breweries, weaves you though countryside, riverside, and breweries outside of Ehinger. It’s an easy trail to hike and expect lots of stops along the way for pictures as well as beer tasting and tours. I stopped in the little village of Berg for a brewery tour and tasting of beer and local food.
Plan Your Hike Along the Danube
DonauWelle Trail information (5 Trails: Danube Rock Tour, Klippeneck Climb, Eich Rock Panorama, Power Stone Round, Danube Sinkhole)
4 Day Donauberglandweb Trail Information
Beer Trail & Ehinger Information
2. Canoeing and Kayaking in Donaubergland
If you want a real adventure on the Danube, then why not paddle down it? You can kayak or canoe in many areas of Germany’s Young Danube, however one of the most scenic is in the twisting waters of Donaubergland.
Paddle your way through the limestone canyon walls in this shallow portion of the Danube. You can rent a kayak or canoe, life vest and go any distance down river from 4 to 13 miles and then leave the kayak to be picked up.
I canoed the river with with friends paddling from Hausen Im Tal to Thiergaren, and it was a highlight of my time traveling the Danube. It’s such a quiet and peaceful way to enjoy the river and nature. However, be prepared to portage around a few dams, and know that there is a limit of canoes/kayaks that can be on that section of the river at once.
And as a sidenote, this is an area that is also known for rock climbing the cliffs around the river…yet another adventure to take for those not afraid of heights like me!
Plan Your Kayak/Canoe Rental
Rent kayak, canoes, and life jackets from Donautal Touristik for the day.
3. Biking The Danube
Danube Cycle Path
This is the granddaddy of the all – a 3,400 mile cycle path from the Danube Spring in Donaueshingen Germany to the Black Sea. However, since I traveled only in Germany along the Danube – I’ll simply highlight the 370 mile German section of this bike route. The path has few climbs and is actually asphalt in many places. The route is well marked and traveled. You can easily bike from village to village throughout the Danube in Germany and stay in hotels along the way or camp!
Ulm Cycle Path
If you are looking for something a little less strenuous than 370 miles, then just enjoy an afternoon of biking in Ulm along the river trail. This well traveled and scenic trail runs right along the Danube through the fisherman’s quarter and out to Friedrichsau Parc. You can stop along the way to have a beer, take in the river sights, or take a nap along the riverside. This was a highlight for me, just meandering along the riverbank, people watching and admiring the old city wall. Sure, it helped that I had a picture perfect day to be out biking, but it really was fun to see how lively the city was.
Plan Your Biking Along the Danube
4. Driving the Young Danube
Driving absolutely can be an adventure especially in Donaubergland’s twisting roads. Take the L277 highway between Bergsteig and Sigmaringen in the Danube valley. The road skirts the river with surprising twists and turns. A road with no centerline is always an indication of an adventurous time. The road itself is quite narrow and becomes single lane at times. You’ll also find tunnels that look like they were hastily carved into the limestone for some added excitement. Motorcyclists drive this road; thanks to the adrenaline factor, you do need to be very alert and share the road.
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5. Stair Climbing in Ulm
If you are looking for a heart pounding adventure with gargoyles, then stop in the city of Ulm along the Danube and climb the 768 stairs to the top of the World’s tallest church steeple at 530 feet. It will take about an hour to get up and down without stopping and catching your breath. It took me an hour to just get to the top! It was one of the most beautiful steeple climbs I’ve done. The last section funneled everyone together though the most narrow section; this was not a place to be claustrophobic as you spend a lot of time squeezing past people because traffic goes both ways in the last section. But once you get to the top you are treated to amazing views of the city, the Danube, and the people that look like little ants below in the square.
Ulm Minster Steeple Climb
Ulm Minster Information – Buy a ticket for 5 Euros inside the church and go up at your own pace. Stay as long as you’d like to enjoy the view!
I was a guest of Germany Tourism on this Young Danube trip, however all opinions expressed here area my own.
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