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Danube Tours - Danube - Three Countries Tour Vienna to Budapest

Authentic. Awesome. A real classic. Explore Austria, Slovakia and Hungary on a Danube cycling tour that’s undeniably different. Clock up all those captivating riverside castles and culture-filled capitals like Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, but experience the real flavours of these fascinating countries too, as you pedal through the Donau-Auen Natural Park, by the Danube’s twisting tributaries or backdrop of the Gerecse hills. Discover three languages; river islands, Roman sites and Baroque churches; the 17 bridges of Mosonmagyaróvár; Esztergom’s imposing basilica; the vineyards of Visegrád and hidden gem, Györ, with its bishop’s castle. Super cycling, capital encounters and stunning scenery may be synonymous with the Danube’s great river valley, but on a tour that takes you slightly off the beaten track, there’s so very much more besides.

Tour details

Tour Name
Danube - Three Countries Tour Vienna to Budapest
Tour Reference
ADVB8
Tour Duration
8 days and 7 nights
Start Day
Various
Tour Grade
3
Board Basis
Bed & Breakfast
Price
From £739 to £861 per person
Accommodation

Is in Vienna, Bratislava, Mosonmagyaróvár, Györ, Komárom, Visegrád and Budpest. All properties are 4 star hotels according to local ratings. We are pleased to discuss details on request.

Tour at a Glance

Dip into the authentic culture of three nations each with their own languages as you pedal along the great Danube valley between magical Vienna, bold Bratislava and the naturally fortified ‘city of two halves’ Budapest. Cycle through the natural parks, lowland forests and rural landscapes of Austria, Slovakia and Hungary to discover delightful villages, memorials, Roman sites, Baroque churches, ‘palaces’ and towns which are truly off-the-beaten tourist track.  Cycling is mainly on surfaced cycle paths, although there are some sections of unsurfaced farm track, gravel or broken tarmac and inclusion of some quiet to moderately busy roads. The route explores both sides of the Danube river, with a handful of (pay-as-you-go) ferry crossings along the way.

Availability
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Itinerary

Day One - Arrive & explore
     Arriving at your hotel in Vienna, you’ll be well located to get a real overview of the city – from the famous big wheel nearby – Vienna’s original ‘Prater’. Then it’s off and away, on the U-Bahn metro perhaps, to take in the great cathedral on Stefansplatz, to fall in love with Klimt’s ‘Kiss’ all over again in the museum quarter, visit one of the city’s 27 castles or 150 palaces, gaze at the dozing Danube (Donau) river – or simply to settle down in the home of ‘Sachertorte’ and enjoy the icing on the cake. From art to opera, Baroque to the 20th century barmy world of Hundertwasser’s House where trees grow out of the windows, Vienna has jaw-dropping discoveries around practically every corner! Overnight in central Vienna (Austria).   

Day Two – Bee-Line to Bratislava
     The Donau-Auen National Park is your companion today as you set off from Vienna east along the Danube towards the Slovakian border. Pedaling mainly on cycle paths or quiet roads, you’re surprisingly soon in rural and often gently wooded landscapes, by meadows and river cliffs with diverse flora and fauna. The imposing, solid white castle at Orth-an-der-Donau is firmly en route, so too Schloss Eckartsau near the Hungarian border - the small, but hugely historic hunting lodge where Austria’s last imperial ruler, Emperor Karl stayed on leaving Schonbrunn, before being sent into exile. Crossing to Bad Deutsch-Altenburg on the River’s right bank, there’s a chance to detour and delve into the Danube’s Roman past with a visit to one of Austria’s most important archaeological sites – Carnuntum, home to a reconstructed Roman town and fine archaeology museum. Don’t miss Hainburg-an-der-Donau with its pretty baroque pinnacled church and contrastingly bulky ‘Wienertor’, the largest existing medieval gate in Europe! Finally, enter Bratislava and Slovakia, crossing back across the Danube, admiring views of its mighty and lofty castle from the bridge. Explore this fine city of monuments and memorials, keeping an eye out for the old town hall, the 14th century Michaelertor and 15th century ‘crowned’ church – St Martin’s Cathedral.
Overnight Bratislava (Slovakia)
Miles: 44 Kms: 70

Day Three – Countless tributaries & the ‘City of 17 Bridges’ 
     Set out through Slovakia along the right bank and before you know it, you’re heading into Hungary at Rajká. Gentle, easy agricultural landscapes are dotted with authentic little villages and crisscrossed by Danube tributaries all the way to Mosonmagyaróvár. Known as óvár for short as well as the ‘City of Water’ due to its position at the intersection of the Mosoni-Daube and Lajta rivers, Mosonmagyaróvár is one of those Budapest- type administrative conurbation conjunctions, created in 1939 but now the two separate towns live together as a seamless whole. Look out for the austere castle and pretty main boulevard with its gardens, fountains and pleasant pedestrian area. As you’d expect, the ‘City of Water’ is a thermal resort too, so why not book in for a massage at the hotel spa / wellness area after your day in the saddle? 
Overnight Mosonmagyaróvár (Hungary)
Miles: 27 Kms: 45

Day Four –– Over Little Rye Island to Gyö​r’s great basilica 
    Today you’ll cycle across Hungary’s biggest island – created by the drift of the great River Danube. Szigetköz - aka Little Rye island – is now a natural park and popular with anglers and watersports enthusiasts who enjoy time out in the canoe. Pedal through charming countryside, dipping in and out of river views as you take in the village and castle at Hédérvár en route to Györ, a very genuine and relatively undiscovered town with oodles of history and cultural aspirations – it was even a candidate for European City of Culture 2023. The Káptalandomb (including Györ’s 11th century Basilica and bishop’s castle) complex is a must for its museum and, literally above all, the panoramic views from the ‘Torony’ (Bishops’ castle tower) terrace.
Overnight in Györ (Hungary)
Miles: 24 Kms: 40

Day Five – Rolling hills & rocky backdrops  
   On the edges of the Transdanubian region, limestone and chalky cliff formations associated with the wooded hills and mountains of Komárom-Esztergom County come into view today. There are therefore some small climbs too, so you’ll want to get onto the cycle path early perhaps. There are riverside monuments and memorials along the way to reflect upon and waterside refreshment spots for refueling, but the scenery is ultimately relaxing especially alongside such lazy rivers. Destination for the day is another split personality -   on the confluence of the Danube and Váh, Komárom (formerly a separate village called Újszőny) is on the right bank of the Danube /Hungarian side and/or Komárno, on the left bank / Slovakian side. This is Slovakia’s principal port on the Danube, so look out for its fortresses, the Danube Museum,  and Komárno’s ‘Europe Square’ with its quirky collection of ‘architecture from all around Europe’. The two sides of the city are linked seamlessly by the Elizabeth Bridge – or where better to stay than midway, on Elizabeth Island itself?
Overnight in Komárom (Hungary) / Komárno (Slovakia).
Miles: 34 Kms: 55

Day Six –  Vineyards, vistas ferry-rides & Visegrád
Setting out on the Slovakian side of the Danube today, you leave Komárno for some flat valley cycling accompanied by vineyard backdrops as the hills crescendo to Esztergom’s famous hilltop basilica. If you’re into history then best allow time to see the Roman castle site at Kelemantia - if you can resist the pull of Esztergom, just on the border in Hungary. The great hilltop basilica and episcopal seat is what sees the city often nicknamed ‘Hungarian Rome’, but the imposing domed cathedral on the Danube is only a couple of centuries old – the original 12th  century building was destroyed in the 18th century. Finally, to reach the smaller riverside town of Visegrád at the narrowest section of the Danube, included in the tour price, there’s a boat trip or train ride (if boat not scheduled as not running) to see you arrive at your hotel relaxed and having enjoyed the views - although cycling (an additional 25 kms) is always an option if you wish of course (with pay-as-you-go ferry crossings at Szob and in Visegrád).   
Overnight in Visegrád (Hungary)
Miles: 34 Kms: 55

Day Seven – Palaces, painters & Budapest
     King Bela IV’s 13th century Visegrád citadel is now sadly in ruins, but the views from the top are still mightily impressive. Check out the Royal Palace, castle and open- air museum perhaps before you saddle up and set off along the ‘Danube’s Knee’ – the great river bend and a truly attractive section of the Danube path. The valley becomes narrower and twisting, with ever-steeper banks as you edge along the river towards the natural fortress landscape of Budapest. Heading out to Szentendre (St Andrew), just north of the great river city, there is a pay-as-you-go ferry at Vác to the river island and Tahitófalu.  There is a short section on reasonably busy roads around here before Szentendre (St Andrew), but the village is a real highlight, if rather more touristy than many of the other Hungarian places encountered so far! It’s an old Baroque town full of colour, long-favoured by artists. Today it’s brimful of galleries (as well as souvenir shops!) and has a good crop of churches too. After Szentendre, enjoy cycling through riverside parks on a quieter route for the final miles into Budapest. Nothing beats that moment when a slight detour takes you across the great Chain Bridge over the Danube into the heart of this inspiring city, home to not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – well it is a city of two halves!
Overnight in Budapest (Hungary)
Miles: 34 Kms: 55

Day Eight – Depart after breakfast 
    Take one last look at the great Hungarian Parliament building, or the beautiful gardens on Margaret Island before heading homeward. Although surely there’s so much to explore in Buda and Pest that Hungary’s capital city warrants a few extra days to explore…?

Why not ask us about extra nights in Budapest and / or Vienna to enjoy the big city culture of the spectacular River Danube? 

 

Prefer a shorter tour?

If you feel that more miles per day in the saddle are within your cycling grasp - maybe with the help of an electric bike perhaps? - it is possible to enjoy the Vienna to Budapest route in 6 days / 5 nights. Give us a ring and ask us about Tour ADVB6 which includes overnights in Vienna, Bratislava, Györ, Esztergom and Budapest and has been listed Grade 5 due to it including some longer days rather than any significant climbs (daily mileages from 44-69 miles / 70- 110 kms). 

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