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Holiday Review: Vienna – Budapest

From St. Stephen’s Cathedral to the Hungarian Parliament

Since I am already very familiar with the tours in the Salzburger Land, Salzkammergut and the Chiemgau region, I decided this year on a classic tour along the river Danube: Vienna – Budapest. Our clients continuously have questions regarding the terrain, nature of the path and the itinerary – that is why I was keen to personally check out the circumstances!  

On this tour I was accompanied by my brother Christian and my nephew Valentin – aged 16 months in the child-transporter. It was lovely to finally spend some time with both gentlemen again.

Day 1: Arrival in Vienna

We especially chose an early train from Salzburg. My sister-in-law took us to the train station, kissed both her men good-bye and off we went the three of us. Arrival at Vienna main train station as early as 11am and then onwards by public transport to our hotel Arcotel Wimberger – the room was already ready for check-in and we were able to drop our suitcases – then we got picked up by our great-uncle and enjoyed a late lunch up in the ‘Donauturm’-tower with a breath-taking view over Vienna. We ate a classic Viennese dish: breaded fried chicken with potato salad.

At 6pm we met up with our head of the tour for Vienna together with other guests for a welcome meeting. Here we got important tips and hints for our cycling tour. Soon we returned to our hotel by tube.

Day 2: Vienna - Bratislava

We already passed numerous sights early in the morning. We cycled along Mariahilfer Straße-road, past the ‘Museumsquartier’ and then along the Ring-Straße-road. Naturally there had to be time for a short photo break at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Jozef previously advised us to bring plenty of water and a packed lunch for this day, since there are only very few restaurants in the nature reserve. Along the river Danube we quickly found our ‘Euro 6’-waymarkings and off we went heading south-east facing the sun. In the ‘Lobau’-area and on the Danube Island, a popular local recreational area, you are likely to come across one or the other person bathing in the nude. 😊

The Lobau-area is already part of the Danube wetlands and - as a National Park – is now a conservation area. The cycle path is nicely asphalted and runs along or on top of the dam. After 28km we reached ‘Hermis Radlertreff’ for a well-earned pit-stop, it is also the final opportunity for a break before Hainburg, situated directly along the cycle path. Alternatively there is always the option to leave the cycle path and visit the surrounding villages. Shortly before Bratislava a short section of the route led along the road. We could already see the castle from afar! After a short stroll through the city we cycled to the Hotel Apollo. To be honest we were quite tired and looking forward to a nice dinner and afterwards off to bed.

Day 3: Bratislava – Mosonagyaróvar

immediately in the morning we bought provisions of biscuits and water (never travel without biscuits!) and were ready for our next stage of the tour. As soon as we left the inner-city area it felt like there were places to stop for cyclists every 500 metres. What a pity it was still so early in the morning and my nephew had fallen asleep again in his child-transporter. Otherwise we would have loved to try one of these places. The well-maintained, asphalted cycle path leads again through the wetlands and runs entirely along the dam. After a cycling period of approx. 1.5 hours we were ripe and ready for a break and just in time did we come across the ‘Radlertreff’-inn en route. After that in hindsight we would have been better off changing onto the side road with very little traffic, since this is also the location of a little lake inviting for a swim. Unfortunately we missed the lake despite the fact that we could have really used a swim to cool off.

Day 4: Mosonmagyaróvar – Györ

We quickly reached the Hungarian border and once we had crossed the Danube-canal, a dense broadleaf forest finally provided some shade. So, protected from the sun we continued our cycling tour to Rajka. Here you probably find the shortest cycling path I have ever come across whilst with Eurobike. We had such a laugh and cycled up and down the cycle path several times. 😊

Then the cycle path continued parallel and separate from the road with views onto corn and sunflower fields all the way to Mosonmagyaróvar, the ‘stronghold’ of Hungarian dentists. We had a booking with the ‘Thermal Hotel’. For a fee of EUR 9.- per person we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon in the public thermal spring situated directly next to the hotel. There are two pools filled with curative water. At the kiosk in the thermal spring I also learned that it is easier to converse in German than in English. Afterwards we enjoyed a very nice dinner in the centre of Mosonmagyaróvar.

Day 4: Mosonmagyaróvar – Györ

Through the town we returned to our route ‘Euro 6’ and then along yesterday’s cycle path along the A-road. Since we passed through numerous villages we were able to buy food and drinks en route. During this day however we could feel the Pannonian climate with some headwind. In Duaszeg we had our well-earned lunch break.

After our break we were able to already see the suburbs of Györ in the distance. In next to nothing we had reached the historic centre of Györ. Since it was early in the afternoon we had a break at the promenade, where in the shade of a tree I even had little nap whilst my brother kept my nephew busy at the playground before we headed to the hotel.

In Györ our accommodation was Hotel Klastrom, a former monastery. The charm of the monastery was preserved and you can take a walk in peace and quiet under the shade of the ancient chestnut trees in the courtyard. The centre of Györ is also only a short walk away and we had our dinner in a restaurant along the Monsoni-Duna. Due to the warm temperatures we enjoyed a very Mediterranean atmosphere.

Day 5: Györ – Komárom

Today again at 9am we started our tour. The cycle path led along the railway lines in a somewhat adventurous fashion, since the street lamps are positioned in the middle of the cycle path here. We simply cycled in a slalom line around them and felt just like being transported into winter and onto the slopes. During our lunch break in Böny we were fascinated by the grandeur of the pub owner. After Böny you pass by an impressive wind turbine field and follow the minor road until Nagyszentjános.

After approx. 3 km along a sandy dirt path you return to riding on asphalted roads. This was the place where we also got to know a young French couple who cycled from Lyon to Budapest with only a few interspersed train journeys. After Ács we recommend choosing the alternative route, since it is better negotiable. Our accommodation in Komàrom was the Hotel Forras featuring a public outdoor swimming pool. This is really great when on a holiday with a child! Afterwards we walked (approx. 30 mins) across the Danube to Komárno for dinner.

Sunflower field

Day 6: Komárom – Visegrád

Finally the cycle path leads along the Danube again. Past fortresses and boatyards the well-developed cycle path runs along the dam. Soon you see Esztergom basilica towering on the hill and you look forward to the boat ride to Visegrád. At the promenade we waited for our departure and enjoyed a cold beer on the Danube during this stage. During our break we also saw the vessel MS Carissima, a river cruise ship enabling Bike & Boat holidays along the river Danube.

The boat ride from Estergom nach Visegrád was an amazing highlight of the cycling tour. It is a great way to enjoy the fantastic view onto the little villages and hills along the Danube as a lovely ending to the tour. It was also a nice change to come off the bike seat for a few kilometres and still progress and move forward. The Hotel Visegrád booked for us offered great evening entertainment. A spa area with various saunas and relaxation cabins, as well as six swimming pools made the evening just fly by. The in-house restaurant was happy to warmly welcome us although it was already later in the evening.

View over the steel bridge to St Adalbert's Cathedral in Esztergom

Day 7: Visegrád – Budapest

Immediately in the morning we took the ferry over to the Slovakian side of the Danube, which only runs once an hour, so it is crucial not to miss it – which we did. 😊 Luckily we are on holiday. We continued along a very nice and most importantly a cycle path in the shade along the Danube and reached Vác in no time. Due to the numerous villages this section of the tour proved to be very diverse. In Vác we took another ferry onto the island of Sziget. We rode across it all the way to Thitótfalu. In Szentendre we felt like we were spending time at Hungary’s Riviera. The ‘Danube Canal’ is lined with a stunning promenade and many restaurants. Along the island of Sziget we realised then, that we were also approaching the outskirts of Budapest. Here too the cycle path was lined with numerous bars and restaurants. The signposting led us along the Danube all the way into the centre of Budapest.

Shortly before entering the city we naturally had to schedule a photo stop: Budapest is not called the city with nine bridges for nothing, of which the chain bridge is only one, making it a stupendous motif for a picture!

The Hotel Atrium Fashion was a hit with us too. It is a very modern city hotel with friendly staff who immediately helped us with our bikes. After a relaxing shower we took the tram back to the Danube and walked into the centre of town. I could have easily spent another few days here, since I really enjoyed the lively atmosphere.

Day 8: Departure from Budapest

Our hotel was situated only a short walk from the train station Budapest-Keleti. Train connections from Budapest to Vienna, Salzburg or Munich are really good. When travelling with luggage and a child you appreciate a direct train connection even more!

Boat landing stage on the Danube in Budapest

I really enjoyed this cycling holiday. Hungarians are a very warm little nation. No matter where we took a break we were always welcomed with open arms and we got talking straight away. The signposting ‘Euro 6’ in Austria and Hungary and the red ‘C’ in Slovakia is great which means you can easily manage nearly the entire tour with the aid of the maps and this signposting. This makes it easier to simply ignore some short sections which were in a less than sound condition. 😊

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