Hungary, Slovakia & Poland:
Budapest to Krakow Bike Tour
Seven nights; seven days. A bicycle tour from the banks of the Danube through the backbone of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Krakow. Visit six UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
“The trip was FANTASTIC, better than I ever could have imagined!” – Dolly R.
Start: Szentendre, Hotel Bukkos, 17:00 day one. Szentendre is easily accessible from Budapest by train, bus or boat on the Danube.
Finish: Krakow, 16:00, day eight.
Introductions in Szentendre
Meet your group and guides just outside of Budapest at your inn in the beautiful town of Szentendre. Szentendre has a unique atmosphere with two dozen museums, seven churches, 13 galleries and countless coffee shops and pubs. The nearby open air museum offers visitors a look at traditional Hungarian village architecture. There may be time to get acquainted with your bicycle with a short ride away from traffic on Szentendre Island before dinner. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfast only)
Hotel Bukkos, Szentendre
Szentendre to Esztergom ~51km
Your destination, Esztergom, lies just around a bend in the river. You will cycle the quiet roads of Szentendre Island then ferry to the mainland where a challenging route through the hills is rewarded with fantastic views of the Danube Valley and a visit to the castle town of Visegrád. The easier route follows the riverbank to Esztergom whose history dates to medieval times. Esztergom is the historic seat of the Hungarian bishops and home to Hungary’s largest church and one of Europe’s grandest pipe organs. BL
Pension Basilica, or
Ria Panzion, or
Alabardos Panzio; Esztergom
Esztergom to Dudince ~58km
Cross the Danube between Esztergom and Sturovo and ride north into Slovakia. The route is fairly easy today following the Ipel River Valley as it passes through a rolling landscape of forests and fields along the border between Hungary and Slovakia. You will experience the true spirit of Socialist Realism in the spa town of Dudince. The healing springs here have been popular since Roman times when Marcus Aureliu’s legions carved bathtubs out of the travertine rock to soothe their battle wounds. BLD
Spa House Rubin, or
Hotel Jantar; Dudince
Dudince to Banska Stiavnica ~39km
Today’s route follows a gorgeous little path through the forest running parallel to the Ipel River. The cycling will become more challenging after lunch as you climb into the silver laced Stiavnica Hills. You will rest in Banska Stiavnica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an extraordinarily well-preserved historical center once key to the Austro-Hungarian Empire thanks in part to the regions abundance of silver ore. If medieval mining techniques interest you, a visit to the open air mining museum is a must. BLD
Hotel Grand Matej, Banska Stiavnica
Banska Stiavnica to Kremnica and Banska Bystrica ~40km
The first leg of today’s tour takes you to Kremnica, another ancient mining and minting town and home to a 13th century castle. You will be surrounded by seven spectacular peaks as you pedal your bike through the Kremnica Hills following an exciting and sometimes very difficult route that includes two long climbs. You can choose to cycle beyond Kremnica but must be prepared for an 11 kilometer climb before transferring by van to Banska Bystrica, stopping to visit the wooden church in Hronsek. An easier alternative is available involving an enchanting train ride. Banska Bystrica is a small sized city and the governmental and cultural center of Central Slovakia. You’ll have time to explore the central plaza and marvellously restored historic buildings before dinner. B
Hotel Arcade, or
Hotel Kuria; Banska Bystrica
Banska Bystrica to Liptovska Osada to Liptovsky Mikulas ~44km
After stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers' market you will be transferred by van 30 minutes to Liptovska Osada bypassing a busy highway through the valley. On the way, there is a quick stop at the UNESCO site village of Vlkolinec, home of the most undisturbed and complete collection of traditional architecture in Slovakia. Climb by bike up from Liptovska Osada into the thrilling terrain of the Low Tatras. The seven mile ascent is well worth it rewarded with spectacular views on the way up and an invigorating descent. This is followed by a fairly flat yet beautiful section by the Liptovska Mara reservoir which is a popular recreation area for locals. By the days’ end, you will arrive in the historical town of Liptovsky Mikulas, known as the stomping ground of the 17th century ‘Slovak Robin Hood,' Juraj Janosik, who stole from the nobles to give to the poor. His is an interesting story about which you may learn more at the local museum. BD
Hotel Steve, Liptovsky Mikulas
Liptovsky Mikulas to Trstena then transfer to Sucha Beskidzka ~55km
Begin today with an easy warm up cycling beside the Liptovska Mara reservoir. The route becomes more challenging as you head into the undulating terrain of the Chocsky and Oravsky Hills. This is considered to be one of the prettiest rides in Slovakia. Bicycling through the rolling hills you’ll experience dramatic vistas which you will not soon forget. This afternoon you will arrive at Trstena then transfer by vehcilce across the Polish border to Sucha Beskidzka. BLD
Hotel Kasper Suski, Sucha Beskidzka
Sucha Beskidzka to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and Krakow
Your final day of cycling will lead you through the picturesque village of Lanckorona. Today’s destination is the famous town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, another UNESCO site, where the Stations of the Cross consisting of 32 chapels and chaplets end at an imposing Bernardine monastery. From here you will be transferred by van for a moving tour of the famous salt mine in Wieliczka, yet another UNESCO site and a memorable highlight of this tour. Final transfers into Krakow will arrive by 16:00. If you plan to visit Auschwitz, plan on an extra day or two in Krakow. BL
Note about the route:
This ride begins fairly easily and becomes considerably more challenging on days 3 to 6. There are level stretches along the Danube then several long mountainous climbs as you approach Poland. More relaxed options are available with van support on guided trips, or train support on both guided and self-guided trips. Ninety percent of the route is paved, but two unpaved sections on forest trails make hybrid bikes the most appropriate choice.
Slovakia – the Czech Republic’s poorer partner in the days of Czechoslovakia - came out of the Velvet Revolution, quiet and mysterious. She removed the Eastern bloc uniform to reveal a refreshingly sincere, kind place, so far unencumbered by many trappings of the Western World. You will begin in Hungary just outside Budapest. After visiting Esztergom’s massive cathedral, the historic seat of the Hungarian church, you will cross the Danube River and enter Slovakia, stopping at Banska Stiavnica to fathom its legacy of mining and minting. You will visit Kremnica, with its castle and seven peaks, and the village of Vlkolinec to see the largest undisturbed collection of traditional architecture in Slovakia. Climb from there into the thrilling terrain of the Low Tatras before an unforgettable descent to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska where the Stations of the Cross end at an imposing Bernardine monastery. The final stop before Krakow is the awe-inspiring salt mine at Wieliczka where an intricately sculptured salt cathedral attests to generations of workers who toiled and worshipped underground. This is a land where folk traditions have survived foreign attempts at dominance, to which a plethora of castles and watchtowers pay testament, but whose people have maintained their welcoming spirit!
We recommend that you consider staying an extra day in Krakow if you want to visit Auschwitz.
Maps & Elevations
Szentendre, Hotel Bukkos, 17:00 day one. Szentendre is easily accessible from Budapest by train, bus or boat on the Danube.
Krakow, 16:00, day eight.
US 3195 C 3795(per person, includes: 8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches, 5 dinners, luggage handling, tour of salt mine at Wieliczka, van and guide support, maps, route notes and GPS*, taxes)
US 2375 C 2795(per person, includes: 8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, relevant van transfers, luggage transfers, maps, route notes and GPS*, cell phone** and taxes)
US 465 C 545
Hybrid: US 190 C 225
*GPS units may be shared*
**Cellular phone will be provided for emergencies**
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice
Custom or Private Tours
Want to go but on different dates?
Want to make a change to the itinerary?
We can adapt for you!
Here are some terms:
Bring your friends. We will run most of these trips for you whenever you want, at the advertised price for a group of four or more on a guided trip, or two if it's self-guided! We reserve the right to make changes if the original inns, etc. are already booked.
If you cannot find others, let us advertise the trip for you! Give us a commitment as far in advance as you can. As long as we have the minimum number of guests at the start, the price will be as advertised. The catch is that if it is just two of you and you want a guided trip, you must be willing to pay a 20% premium in the event that others do not join you. The bright side is that, once reserved, you can count on the trip, whether it remains private or becomes a larger group.
Ask for changes to the itinerary.
We are very flexible, and given enough time, can create a new itinerary to match your desires.