Top Bicycle Trails

Iron Curtain Trail - EuroVelo 13

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Elevation profile

405,89 km length

Tour dates

  • Route: 405,89 km
  • Ascent: 2.387 egm
  • Descent: 2.777 egm
  • Duration: 21:00 h
  • Lowest point: 133 m
  • Highest point:667 m

Features

  • Stage tour

Details for: Iron Curtain Trail - EuroVelo 13

Brief description

The cycle route is well signposted over its entire length. You will see various types of signs as you pass through Lower Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The European flag with the number ‘13’ is the route's consistent identifying symbol. View illustrations of the different signs in use here.

Description

New signs have been put up all along the route, both on the Lower Austrian side (Wald- und Weinviertel) and on the Czech side. By 2019, the cycle route will be made even more attractive to visitors, with all kinds of ways of experiencing stories, nature and culture, all connected with the theme of the Iron Curtain.

Starting point of the tour

Gmünd

Destination point of the tour

Bratislava

Route description

Stage 1 - České Velenice/Gmünd – Litschau, 38 km

Gmünd-Eibenstein-Steinbach-Alt Nagelberg-Groß Nagelberg-Brand Nagelberg-Finsternau-Litschau

From Gmünd, the route leads off in a northerly direction. The first stage is just right for the beginning, leading along a pleasantly level trail towards Brand - Nagelberg. As you progress along the route, the narrow-gauge railway comes and goes en route to Litschau; in summer, diesel locomotives travel the route between Altnagelberg and Heidenreichstein. The cycle trail leads through Finsternau, along a delightfully diverse route of woodland and scenic views, to Austria’s northernmost town of Litschau, which offers a perfect opportunity to relax from the day’s cycling at the natural swimming pool of the Herrensee.
Tip: The first stage of the Iron Curtain Trail, from Gmünd to Litschau, can also form part of a rally tour.

More information on bicycle rally tours is available from: https://www.lower-austria.info/bike-rallies

Stage 2 - Litschau - Slavonice, 35 km

Litschau-Schandachen-Leopoldsdorf-Parten-Návary-Veolov-Landstejn-Stare Mesto pod Landstejnem-Kadolec-Slavonice

From Litschau, the route continues via Schandachen, Leopoldsdorf and Parten bei Reingers to the Czech Republic.

Tip! The rustic top inn – Gasthaus Perzy in Rottal! Once in the Czech Republic, the cycle route first takes you through the ‘Bohemian Canada’ region.

‘Bohemian Canada’ Slavonice.

The wonderful Renaissance-style houses in the old city of Slavonice resemble fine lace sculpted out of precious stone. This picturesque town is one of the most beautiful in the country!

Stage 3 - Slavonice - Drosendorf, 39 km

Slavonice-Fratres-Rappolz-Neuriegers-Piesecne-Zupanovice-Desna-Schaditz-Nonndorf-Autendorf-Drosendorf an der Thaya

After crossing three borders, the trail takes you past the golf and horse riding village of Autendorf and into the medieval Drosendorf. The town is situated on a high-lying promontory, surrounded on three sides by the Thaya, as it flows past. This is the only town in Austria whose city walls have been fully preserved. The main square is framed by baroque façades and old burgher houses.

Tip! In the main season, you can take the Reblaus Express adventure train from Retz to Drosendorf and back. You can take your bicycle with you free of charge.

Stage 4 - Drosendorf - Hardegg, 35.5 km

Drosendorf-Unterthürnau-Oberthürnau-Vrantenin-Uhercice-Stalky-Safov-Ruegers-Felling-Hardegg

From Drosendorf, the route now takes you to Oberthürnau, from where you continue straight ahead over the border to Vratenin. En route towards Uhercice, you will notice - besides the crosses and saintly figures lining the edges of the route - a small concrete bunker on a field, which was made before the Second World War. After Uhercice, you go downhill through the forest to the deeply carved Thaya valley, and from there back up to the picturesque municipality of Stalky. The way to Felling now takes you between the fields and through a lightly undulating, sparsely populated landscape. Before reaching Felling, you plunge down into the dense forests of the Thayatal national park, from where you continue along a steep downhill stretch to the bottom of the Thaya valley, where the town of Hardegg and its magnificent castle suddenly come into view ahead of you. This is the smallest town in Austria, on the border between Austria and Moravia! You should also be sure not to miss the modern visitor centre of the national park, even though getting there means climbing up the road that takes you out of the forest on its way to Merkersdorf.

Stage 5 (for sport cyclists and mountain bikers) - Hardegg - Znaim, 25 km

Hardegg-Cizov-Lukov-Podmoli-Masovice-Znojmo

From Hardegg, you now go over the Thaya bridge and into the Podyji national park in the Czech Republic. A steep upward incline takes you out of the forest, only to swing back down again towards Cizov. It is well worth taking a detour to the Hardegg viewpoint, with its wonderful vista of the small town of Hardegg. After descending to the Cizov pond, the tarmac road gives way to a forest trail, and after a short while you reach the former patrol road leading to Lukov and follow the fruit grove through Podmoli and Masovice. The route continues via the terraces from Hradiste, with their wonderful panoramic view of the town of Znaim, to Znaim itself. Following the Granicky potok stream, the trail takes you to the bottom of the valley, from where you can enjoy the view of the town of Znaim from below on its rocky outcrop above the Thaya.

Stage 6 - Znaim - Retz, 26 km

Znaim-Konice-Popice-Havraniky-Satov-Mitterretzbach-Oberretzbach-Retz

A bridge leads from the valley bottom to the other side of the river, where the rise to the peak of the Kravi hora immediately begins, passing through a weekend estate and a heathland area. As you go through Konice and Popice to Havraniky, the road is lined not only with vineyards but also with innumerable crucifixes, wayside crosses, and chapels. In Satov, the final stop before the Austrian border, you will find three infantry bunkers and an educational memorial path, along with remains of the Iron Curtain border, consisting of wire fence fields, watchtowers and concrete vehicle access blocks. From there, the route is characterised by wine culture, with a vineyard vista now coming into view. You will get to know charming wine villages like Mitterretzbach and Oberretzbach, where you can watch winemakers at work. You are now entering the wine district or ‘Weinviertel’, which is inseparably linked with the tradition of wine making. The wine villages are adorned not only with beautiful churches but also picturesque ‘kellergassen’ or cellar lanes. In the Weinviertel, these kellergassen are seen as a special facet of the area’s cultural history that has shaped the wine district and its characteristic landscape for many years. Another worthwhile sight along the route is the Heiliger Stein viewpoint, where there is a pitted stone that presumably served as a gathering place in prehistoric times. After a brief up and down stretch, you reach the town of Retz. The wealth that the town acquired in the Middle Ages through wine trading activities is reflected in the splendid Renaissance houses on the main square and the underground labyrinth - the biggest historical wine cellar in Austria. The Retz windmill, the only operational flour mill in Austria driven by natural wind power, and the symbol of Retz, is also worth a visit!

Stage 7 - Retz - Laa, 50 km

Retz-Ragelsdorf-Jetzelsdorf-Auggenthal-Haugsdorf-Alberndorf-Untermarkersdorf-Hadres-Seefeld Kadolz-Jaroslavice-Hrádek-Dyjákovice-Hevlín-Laa an der Thaya

From Retz you can look forward to a flat and undemanding section through the expansive Pulkautal valley, known for its kellergassen or cellar lanes and also as the setting for the Inspector Polt thrillers by Alfred Komarek. Hadres has the longest enclosed cellar lane in the country. From the municipality of Seefeld-Kadolz with its Baroque castle, the trail now rises up to the border and then falls again as it leads to the village of Jaroslavice. A Renaissance palace of considerable dimensions that is somewhat in need of renovation looks down on the village. A detour of four kilometres takes you from Jaroslavice to the neighbouring village of Slup, the location of the biggest water mill in Southern Moravia from the late Renaissance period. It has four operational water wheels and a mill stream. Jaroslavice is followed by the Jaroslavice ponds, one of the biggest water expanses in Moravia. They were designated as the Natura 2000 bird sanctuary. Between Dyjákovice and Hevlín, the route largely runs along former patrol roads. From here, the trail goes in a straight line to Laa an der Thaya. Here you can not only visit the Therme Laa health, wellness and beauty centre, but you can also enjoy the historical town centre with its old town hall, public hospital, watchtower and Laa Castle.

Tip! Find out more about the Inspector Polt thrillers and discover the filming locations by bicycle.

Stage 8 - Laa - Valtice, 42 km  

Laa an der Thaya-Neudorf bei Staatz-Wildendürnbach-Pottenhofen-Mikulov-Sedlec-Uvaly-Valtice

At this point, the cycle paths are lined by delightful avenues. After Wildendürnbach, the path goes uphill and downhill until you reach Kellerberg on the Galgenberg – designated the most beautiful cellar lane in Lower Austria in 2013. A total of 184 picturesque wine cellars surround the Galgenberg, while a church tower with no church looks down from the summit. On your way to Mikulov, however, you really should find time for a stop at the most attractive rest area in Southern Moravia. It has the form of a wine press and yet it is at the same time a sundial and the perfect place to enjoy the view of the impressive baroque Mikulov Palace, located on the brow of the hill above the town. The fairy-tale town of Mikulov is located in the midst of the vineyards. On the way from Mikulov to Uvaly, you will go along a former patrol road, where information panels installed between Mikulov and Sedlec explain a number of methods used for escaping from and overcoming the Iron Curtain. From Uvaly, you continue uphill to the Reista colonnades - a monumental classicist colonnade, decorated with figures from ancient mythology - with an atmospheric view of the town of Valtice and its splendid Baroque castle and of the Lednice-Valtice cultural landscape. Now the road takes you downhill to Valtice. The palace of Valtice (Feldsberg) was in the possession of the Liechtenstein family for centuries. The palace site is part of the UNESCO cultural landscape of Lednice-Valtice and is a unique park set with romantic buildings and ponds, set between the palaces of Valtice and Lednice.

Stage 9 - Valtice – Mannersdorf/March, approx. 64.5 km (31 km bicycle and train)

Valtice-Reintal-Altlichtenwarth-Hausbrunn-Hohenau-SK-Suchohrad-Záhorska Ves-Ferry Crossing-Angern an der March-Mannersdorf an der March

From Valtice you pass through the border crossing at Reinthal back onto the Austrian side. En route to Altlichtenwarth you can enjoy the view of the three country border. The Kellergasse Silberberg in Altlichtenwarth is also worth seeing. Passing through the elongated town of Hausbrunn, you come to Hohenau an der March. This is the location of the Morava Thaya Wetlands, one of the most fascinating wetland areas in Central Europe! You then go via the Marchstraße eastwards to the bridge over the Morava and into Slovakia. You go along the road towards Moravský Svätý Ján, after which the route takes you through fields and peaceful scenery. In this section and as far as the Malé Leváre junction, it is not uncommon for herons and storks to fly overhead. After Malé Levare, the way swings back towards the Morava, and then follows the straightened course of the Rudava river. You then go past Suchohrad to Záhorska Ves. The ferry connection with Angern an der March in Austria has only existed since 2001. After crossing the Morava, you return to the Austrian side. From Angern it is a short ride to Mannersdorf an der March.

Stage 10 - Mannersdorf - Bratislava, 51 km

Mannersdorf an der March-Angern an der March-Ferry Crossing-Záhorska Ves-Vysoká pri Morave-Devinske Jazero-Devínska Nová Ves-Devín-Bratislava

From Mannersdorf an der March you return to Slovakia at Záhorska Ves. The route then continues through fields to Vysoká pri Morave, which back then, was actually divided by the boundary of the Iron Curtain. Further south, you cycle close to the bank of the Morava, and at the small settlement of Devinske Jazero, there is a snack bar. From here you can see the Volkswagen Slovakia plant on the left and an impressive arched bridge on the right, which supports the railway line between Bratislava and Vienna. At the level of Devínska Nová Ves, the ‘Bicycle Bridge of Freedom’ has since 2012 formed the connection between the EuroVelo 13 on the Slovakian side and the Kamp-Thaya-Morava cycle path as well as the Marchfeld canal cycle path on the Austrian side by Schlosshof. The steel construction was erected in a cross-border cooperation between Austria and Slovakia, also as a symbol of good neighbourliness. It is also worth making a detour at this point to Schlosshof. The route continues further southwards along the Morava to Devín. On the road it then goes on to Bratislava. Cyclists then take the bridge to the other side of the Danube, where the view of the majestic river and the capital, Bratislava, is quite splendid.

IMPORTANT INORMATION! The EuroVelo 13 cycle route runs on the Slovakian side on the section Theben – Bratislava on the ‘Devínska cesta’. This section is a main traffic artery used by many lorries and buses and where speed limits are frequently ignored. The road is very narrow and in many places there is no hard shoulder. There is also a lot of dust due to a nearby refuse dump and stone quarry. For this reason, we recommend going back about 5 km from Theben to Devínska Nová Ves and taking the train from here to Bratislava!

More info/links

There are over 100 bicycle-friendly businesses throughout the wine district (Waldviertel) all geared to the needs of cyclists. You can find a list of all of these on our website.

You will also find a range of bicycle-friendly accommodation and catering in the Waldviertel, all specially equipped to cope with cyclists’ needs.