Photo: (c) Waldviertel Tourismus, NP Thayatal, R. Mirau
Photo: , Daniel Gollner
Photo: , Daniel Gollner
Old borders newly experienced at the Iron Curtain Trail
A particularly beautiful section of the European EuroVelo13 long-distance cycle route runs through unique nature on the border between Lower Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Varied landscapes, towns and villages worth seeing, cultural monuments from several centuries line this section of the "Iron Curtain Trail".
From the Iron Curtain to the Green Belt
Until the early 1990s, the Iron Curtain divided Europe into East and West, from the Barents Sea in northern Russia to the Black Sea. The 10,400 kilometre long route is now accessible by a long-distance cycle path. The EuroVelo 13 leads through 20 countries, including 14 EU member states. Nature could unfold freely along the former border strip. Today, the "Green Belt" is the longest ecological network in the world.
The continuously signposted section of the "Iron Curtain Trail", which leads through the Waldviertel/ South Bohemia and the Weinviertel/ South Moravia, is 329 kilometres long and divided into nine individually navigable stages. From there we continue along the March-Thaya floodplains on the Slovakian border to Bratislava.
It is worthwhile to put on your tour leisurely. First of all, there are many interesting things to see on the way and secondly, one should plan enough time for culinary breaks.
The cycle tour along the Austrian-Czech section of the "Iron Curtain Trail" begins in Gmünd in the northern Waldviertel and ends in "Hohenau an der March". For riding on gravel and forest paths as well as on asphalt, a trekking bike or e-bike is the best choice, 2,061 metres uphill and 2,429 metres downhill. Along the way, boards tell interesting facts and stories from days gone by, from the legendary robber captain Grasl to events during the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago.
Hardly any other cycle path in Austria runs through such unspoilt nature. Forests, meadows and vineyards alternate with pond and river landscapes. How diverse the flora and fauna could develop without human intervention can be seen especially well in the cross-border National Park Thayatal/ Národní park Podyjí. Lined by rocks and untouched deciduous forests, the Thaya makes its way in numerous curves. Black storks, emerald lizards, otters and many other animals have found a refuge here. Castles and ruins rise in the midst of the natural landscape. Legends and myths shape the national park region and its history.
Active holidays along the Iron Curtain
Varied tours along the Iron Curtain Trail at the Czech-Austrian border promise a perfect cycling holiday. Discover the natural surroundings of the former Iron Curtain and feel the history that it holds.
What was it like to live on an almost closed border? Memorials and memorials commemorate the recent past and the Iron Curtain. Stories from earlier centuries tell of buildings worth seeing. In Gmünd, sgraffito facades from the Renaissance period are astonishing. Baroque playfulness can be seen in the town houses in Drosendorf and Vratenin. Idyllic cellar lanes characterise the Weinviertel above all. Architectural splendour and garden art impress during the journey through the UNESCO cultural landscape Lednice-Valtice. The Lednice Castle and Valtice Castle are surrounded by spacious, artistically designed gardens with ponds and small buildings. Both were once owned by the Liechtenstein family and are now among the most visited sights in the Czech Republic.
Cuisine along the Iron Curtain
How does it taste on both sides of the border? What connects the kitchens, what distinguishes them? The "Iron Curtain Trail" leads to numerous addresses for enjoyment and invites you to various tastings. From Waldviertel potatoes to South Bohemian and South Moravian desserts to excellent wines from the Weinviertel and South Moravia. From down-to-earth or contemporary dishes from regional cuisines to Heurigen delicacies.
ACCOMMODATION AND HOTELS
Stay comfortable overnight
Whether hotel or private room: Along the "Iron Curtain Trail" or nearby you will find numerous overnight accommodations and hosts who specialize in cycling guests. These are marked with the quality mark 'Cyklisté vítáni'.