Published on: 3 January 2017 | Last updated: 12 January 2020
At a glance
Easy. The route climbs to ascend but the gradients is gentle you won’t notice it.
Predominantly on traffic-free cycleways.
Mainly on surfaced roads or cycleways. Note that there is a significant stretch of unsurfaced cycleway along the Lech into Augsburg.
The signposting along this section of the route is excellent. However, there are a number of cycle routes in this area and if anything you may face a problem of information overload due to the sheer number of signs for different routes may be a problem. In particular there’s a cycle route (the Via Danubia) that has a very similar logo to the VCA logo.
The first part of the Via Claudia is a gentle cruise south south through Bayern (Bavaria) heading for the Alps. The main highlights are the interesting and pretty towns of Augsburg and Lech am Landsberg.
Map and altitude profile
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|Donauwörth - Augsburg
|Augsburg - Landsberg am Lech
The route starts in Donauwörth on the Danube (Donau) river. Initially it heads through through open countryside before turning east to pick up an unsurfaced bike path along the left (western) bank of the Lech river.
The path along the Lech will take you past Augsburg, but it would be a shame to miss it. The city was heavily bombed during the war but has been carefully restored and is a relaxed and charming place to wander round. It’s also pretty easy to ride around. My favourite bits were the Stadtmarkt and the little streets behind its renaissance Rathaus (town hall).
Meet the Fuggers
Perhaps the most interesting place to visit in Augsburg is the Fuggerei.
The Fuggers were a family of merchants who grew rich trading along the Via Claudia Augusta and the Donau. Jakob Fugger the Younger became banker to the Vatican and the Emperor Maximilian.
The Fuggerei (en.wikipedia.org) is a community of houses built 500 years ago by a charitable foundation established by the Fugger family to provide housing for the less well-off citizens of Augsburg (including Mozart’s great grandfather) . It is the world’s oldest social housing project.
The rents were (and are) fixed at the equivalent of less than one euro —plus three prayers a day.
One intriguing feature is that each doorway has a unique bell pull so that residents could identify their door in the dark.
One of the apartments in the community has been turned into a museum so you can see it as it originally would have been. There’s also an exhibition about the Fuggers and about the reconstruction of the Fuggerei after the bombing of Augsburg in 1944 —70 per cent of it was destroyed but it was rebuilt by the foundation and its residents.
Augsburg towards Landsberg am Lech
The Via Claudia continues along the Lech before crossing the river at the Hochblass barrage. It then parts company with the river and continues on a combination of cycleways and quiet roads.
The official route bypasses Landsberg am Lech completely, but if you want to visit it you can turn off the route at Erpfting and follow a cycleway that takes you pretty much all the way into the centre of Landsberg. Alternatively you could continue on the D9 cycle route south from the Hochblass barrage. The D9 sticks more closely to the river, but is unsurfaced.
Landsberg am Lech
I loved Landsberg am Lech. It’s quite possibly the most attractive town on the whole route (OK, strictly speaking it’s not actually on the route).
Don’t miss the Mariä Himmelfahrt church or the medieval gates.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs etc
Find and book places to stay with Booking.com
Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:
About these links
If you use these links to book accommodation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.
I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirmation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accommodation.
I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the opportunity to let me know if there’s a problem.
Many properties offer free cancellation but it’s a good idea to check the conditions as these vary from property to property.
I stayed in the Jugendherberge Augsburg (which also offers very reasonably-priced rooms). The bike parking facilities weren’t secure so I ended up taking my bike to my room and putting it on the balcony, however they do have a big room in the basement for luggage storage which might have been an alternative.
The only campsite near Donauwörth is the Camping Donau Lech at Eggelstetten.
There are three sites to the northeast of Augsburg but I chose to stay at the hostel which made a convenient base for seeing the city.
There’s a campsite near Landsberg am Lech (the Campingpark Romantik am Lech, but it’s a bit of a way out of the city. I think it would have definitely been worth paying the extra for a to stay the night in Landsberg itself.
On the Lechsee I stayed at the Via Claudia Camping , which is a nice site with places for tents overlooking the lake. There are also a couple of sites on the route on the shore of the Forggensee.
In Reutte I stayed at the Camping Reutte on the outskirts of the town. Further on there’s a campsite a little way off the route beside the Heiterwangsee near, you guessed it, Heiterwang.
Transport and services
- Donauwörth: Top-Bike Brachem | Zweirad Uhl
- Augsburg: Harter Fahrradcenter (Schmiedberg 1) | Gehl Rad-Center | Fahrradzentrale
- Königsbrunn: Bikes and More | Radl-Eck Elias
- Landsberg am Lech: Fahrbar Bikes | Radl-Spaß
If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.
There are a number of stations along the route between Donauwörth and Landsberg am Lech. South of Landsberg there are only two stations: at Schongau and Füssen.
Tourist information sites
- bavaria.by regional site for Bavaria (also bavaria.travel - version for the UK)
- Landsberg Am Lech
- Romantische straße
Articles in this series
- The Via Claudia in Germany and Austria: Overview
- Via Claudia Part 1: Donauwörth to Landsberg Am Lech
- Via Claudia Part 2: Landsberg am Lech to Füssen
- Via Claudia Part 3: Füssen to Imst
- Via Claudia Part 4: Along the valley of the Inn
- The Via Claudia in Italy: Overview
- Via Claudia Part 5: The Vinschgau
- Via Claudia Part 6: Algund to Trento
- Via Claudia Part 7: Trento to the Lago di Caldonazzo
- Via Claudia 8: San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Valsugana
- Via Claudia Part 9: the Valsugana cycleway to Bassano del Grappa
- Via Claudia Part 10: San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Passo Croce d’Aune
- Via Claudia Part 11: Feltre to Treviso
- Via Claudia Part 12: Treviso to Altino (and Venezia)
- Via Claudia Part 13: Trento to Verona and Ostiglia