The Drau Cycle Path runs from the source of the Drau River in Toblach Field, Italy’s South Tirol, for 366 km along the eponymous river, through the Austrian Provinces of East Tirol and Carinthia to Maribor in Slovenia. The 45 kilometers of the route in East Tirol stretch from the Italian border via Sillian and Thal-Assling to Lienz and past Lavant and Nikolsdorf to the border of the Province of Carinthia.
Day 1: Sillian - Lienz
Distance: 35 Kilometers | Difficulty: Easy
The first East Tirolean section of the Drau Cycle Path offers uninterrupted panoramic views and scenic landscapes of awe-inspiring beauty. Trailhead is Sillian, located at a few kilometers from the source of the Drau River and the Italian border area. For families and children, Sillian already boasts the first highlight of this ride: The Wichtel Park (literally ‘Gnome Park’) offers a natural playground for family adventure with bumper cars and a great adventure playground. With a spectacular 30-meter long tunnel slide, swings and climbing wall, kids can climb, swoop, and fly to their heart’s content. The playground also has water play facilities and an 18-hole miniature golf course—it’ll be hard to prise any child out of this playscape. The Park is freely accessible, daily from May through October. The cycle route continues across scenic Pustertal Valley and travels towards Lienz, the capital of East Tirol. This easy section winds through sceneries of awesome natural beauty with worthwhile sights and attractions en route. Located in the small mountain town of Abfaltersbach, for example, Aigner Bath is a small intimate natural mineral spring resort, surrounded by luxuriant forest and majestic mountains. The pinnacle of rustic charm, Aigner Bath is a listed bathhouse that has welcomed visitors since 1772. The naturally effervescent, mineral waters that bubble out from the sources here are rich in calcium and sulphate and are particularly favourable with rheumatism, gout and sciatica. Immerse yourself in romantic secluded pools filled with mineral-rich waters, where you can soothe sore muscles after a long day of cycling. In Leisach you can take a walk like no other, along a well maintained boardwalk at the very edge of the wild stretches of Galitzen River’s whitewater. Marvel at the relentless power and beauty of nature, and see how the deep and narrow Galitzen Gorge was created. Little ones will love the adventure playground, a one of a kind play area that allows kids to create their own play adventure. The creative formula includes stone, wood and water. Lienz is the destination end of this day ride. The historical center is a masterpiece of architecture with arcaded homes of painted facades and lovely squares.
Day 2: Lienz – Nikolsdorf
Distance: 15 Kilometers | Difficulty: Easy
On the right bank of the Drau River you follow the cycleway downstream. To the right you will pass the popular Pilgrimage Church of St. Ulrich in Lavant. Archaeological excavations in the late 20th century proved the existence of an early Christian church dating back to the 5th century. Heading past the Dolomites Golf Course and several fish ponds, you will reach another cultural highlight known in all Austria: the archaeological excavation site of Aguntum, an early Roman settlement which became an independent town under Emperor Claudius. Aguntum is situated some 3.5 kilometers off the cycleway. Proceeding on the right river bank, you will soon leave behind East Tirol and the scenic Dolomite Mountains. Ride to the right river bank at the bus stop in Nikolsdorf and continue pedalling towards the beautiful shady forests in the Carinthian border area.