Seven nights; six days. A hiking tour from the banks of the Danube River on the outskirts of Budapest through the back bone of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the royal city of Krakow. Visit five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, experience stunning panoramas from Slovakia’s highest peaks, and enjoy one of the best national trail systems in the world.
“The trip was outstanding. You guys know what you are doing.” – Michael B.
WHY THIS TRIP?
- Panoramic views of the Danube Valley.
- Low Tatras National Park.
- Kvacianska Valley, Chopok Mountain, the Stations of the Cross at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Kraków.
- The open air museum at Szentendre.
- Visit five UNESCO World Heritage sites
Requiring moderate fitness levels, these cover terrain with hills and valleys, and tend to include distances of 50-80km (30-50mi.)/day cycling, or 3-6 hours of walking per day. Most Freewheeling Adventures fall into this category, and are suitable for most ability levels.
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. There are two unpaved sections on forest trails make hybrid bikes the most appropriate choice.
- DAY 1: Introductions
- DAY 2: ~14 km
- DAY 3: ~23 km
- DAY 4: ~16 km
- DAY 5: ~12 km
- DAY 6: ~15 km/li>
- DAY 7: ~5 km
- DAY 8: Farewells
(Click image to enlarge)
Start: Szentendre, Hotel Bukkos, 17:00, day one. Szentendre is easily accessible from Budapest by train, bus or boat on the Danube. Kvacianska Valley, Chopok Mountain, the Stations of the Cross at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Kraków.
Finish: Dresden, 16:00, day eight.
Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.
Szentendre is a small town 12 miles from Budapest and easily accessible by car on highway 11, subway train (Hev), coach (Volan), or by boat on the Danube (Mahart). Guided groups will meet their guides at 18:00, but we recommend arriving earlier so you can explore the town’s two dozen museums, seven churches, 13 galleries, and countless coffee shops and little pubs. Highlights include the Open Air Ethnographic Museum (home to the largest ethnographic collection in Hungary) and the Ferenczy Museum (a permanent collection of Hungary’s most artistic family). Self guided walkers will be greeted and briefed tomorrow morning. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfast only)
Hotel Bukkos, Szentendre
Szentendre to Visegrad to Esztergom 14km
Following a 30-minute transfer to Visegrad, you will begin your hike with wonderful views of the Danube Bend and the hills surrounding Visegrad. Today’s hike is moderately challenging and leads you through beautiful forests and lush meadows. You’ll pass the Solomon Tower, one of Central Europe’s best-preserved Romanesque towers, and the Renaissance-style King Matthias Palace. In the late afternoon, you will be transferred 30 minutes to Esztergom, one of the oldest towns in Hungary, home to an enormous basilica, and the traditional seat of the Hungarian Roman Catholic bishops. Esztergom is renowned for its Hungarian Classicalism architecture and its situation on the meandering Danube River and surrounded by the Pilis Mountains. BL
Pension Basilica, Esztergom
Prencov to Banska Stiavnica 23km
An hour and a half transfer will take you across the Slovakian border into the village of Prencov. You’ll hike to the observation tower atop of Sitno, the highest peak in the Stiavnicke Highlands. Your path will lead you through an area that was settled in the 3rd century by the Huns who began a tradition of extracting silver and gold from the hills that continues today. You will follow an interesting system of lakes and canals to Banska Stiavnica, a UNESCO protected town that lies in the middle of gigantic caldera, created by the collapse of an ancient volcano. BLD
Hotel Grand Matej, Banska Stiavnica
Banska Stiavnica to Mt. Salatin to Ruzomberok 16km
Transfer about an hour from Banska Stiavnica to Liptovska Luzna where you will begin hiking into the Low Tatras and the most difficult part of this adventure. An easy beginning warms you up for a steep climb to the top of Mount Salatin (elevation 1,630M), where you will be rewarded with an exceptional view of the Liptov and the surrounding area. You will spend the day exploring the prettiest foot trails in the Low Tatras National Park, home to species of bear, wolf, lynx and the critically endangered Tatra chamois. BLD
Hotel Kultura, Ruzomberok
Prosiecka and Kvacanska Valley to Liptovsky Mikulas 12km
Your morning transfer from Ruzomberok to Prosiek will take about 30 minutes. From here, you will venture into one of Slovakia’s most beautiful valleys. The Kvacianska Valley is an invigorating hiking circuit, featuring beautiful wilderness, a refreshing waterfall, and a unique restored wooden mill in the hamlet of Oblazy. Along some sections of the trail, you’ll need to use ladders to ascend. After finishing the walking route you are taken by car to Liptovsky Mikulas, made famous as the place where Juraj Janosik, the “Slovak Robin Hood,” was brutally hung from a hook to his death in 1713. BLD
Hotel Steve, Liptovsky Mikulas
Mt. Chopok 15km
Leave your luggage in your room today, as you will be returning to Liptovsky Mikulas this afternoon. A short transfer will take you to the very heart of the Low Tatras where you will hike along the main ridge of the Certovica Pass. You will experience panoramic views of spectacular landscape. Enjoy the atmosphere of two mountain huts on the ridge, or go to the highest peak of the Low Tatras; Mt. Dumbier (2043 m). Your hike ends at the top of Mt. Chopok (2024 m), where you will access a lift to the Demanovska Valley. After a full day of hiking, you’ll transfer back to Liptovsky Mikulas. BL
Kalwaria Zebrzydowska to Krakow 5km
This morning you will transfer into Poland to the village of Lanckorona, where before you begin your final leg of the hike, you will visit an interesting project created to preserve local folk architecture. From here, you will hike to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and the reverential Stations of the Cross, consisting of 32 chapels and chaplets and ending in the monumental Bernadine monastery. At the end of the day, you will be transferred into Krakow, a short distance away. BLD
Hotel Polski, Krakow
Krakow & Farewells
You will need more than one day to experience Kraków properly. Wawel Castle, the Old Market Square, and the Kazimierz Jewish quarter, can each easily take a day; we recommend planning extra time to explore the city’s museums, cafes, pubs, theatres and clubs. You may also want to take a day trip to visit Auschwitz or the salt mines of Wieliczka. On request, we can assist with booking post adventure accommodations on your behalf. Your adventure concludes at noon, following a morning of exploring the cultural, artistic, economic, and academic center of Poland. B
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE COST OF YOUR TRIP?
Guided: C 4745 (per person, double occupancy)
Includes 8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, 6 picnic lunches, 5 dinners, luggage handling, walking tour of Banska Stiavnica and Krakow, van and guide support, maps, route notes, and taxes
Does not include bike rentals & single supplement charges (pricing can be found in next booking step), airfare to/from tour, and guide(s) gratuities.
Self-Guided: C 3695 (per person, double occupancy)
Includes 8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, relevant van transfers, luggage transfers, maps, route notes, and taxes
Does not include bike rentals & single supplement charges (pricing can be found in next booking step), airfare to/from tour, and support driver gratuities.
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
2022 Guided dates:
- May 15-22
- Jun 12-19
- Aug 14-21
- Sep 11-18
2023 Guided dates:
- May 14-21
- Jun 11-18
- Jul 16-23
- Aug 13-20
- Sep 10-17
Self-Guided available any dates, except for those listed above. New dates are also welcomed for guided or private departures.
Interested in custom or private departures?
Please see above for accurate pricing and inclusions, unless we have proposed a customized trip for you and those details are provided in your custom proposal.
1. Choose an advertised date to join a small group, or see our Join a Group page to see where groups are already forming.
2. Pick your own dates. We will confirm quickly, and are happy to talk with you as you make your choice. If you would like a private guided date, price remains the same as advertised if you have at least six. If you prefer self-guided, we usually only require two participants to initiate a new date at the advertised price, and can sometimes reduce prices for you if you have four or more.
This pleasant hike along the ancient amber trail trading route takes you through three countries – Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, and includes five UNESCO world heritage sites. Your journey begins about 20 kilometres north of Budapest in Szentendre; a picturesque little town full of cafes, restaurants, galleries, churches, museums, little shops, and street artists. It is the gateway to the Danube Bend, an often photographed area of Hungary where the river winds between steep hills to Visegrad and the historic town of Ezstergom. The magnificent cathedral at Ezstergom has been the seat of the Hungarian bishops for centuries. Crossing the Danube, you will enter Slovakia and walk onward to the medieval mining town of Banska Stiavnica. The adventure will become more challenging as it progresses and you work your way into the Low Tatras and some of the most dramatic scenery in Slovakia. You will walk through small mountain villages that are rarely visited by tourists. The unique culture and traditions of the hospitable people who live hear create a very special atmosphere amidst the beauty of the mountains. Your walk can also include several visits to majestic medieval castles; the most impressive may be the Oravsky Castle which was built in the 13th century, on a cliff overlooking the Arva River. In Poland you will hike to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and visit its UNESCO protected chapels and churches, including the infamous Stations of the Cross, before a final transfer into Krakow. We recommend you consider staying an extra day or two in Kraków, especially if you care to visit important sites such at the Wieliczka Salt Mines, and Auschwitz.