The section of the Danube Bike Trail from Vienna to Budapest is 340 kilometers (211 miles) and passes through parts of three countries – Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.
The route makes for an easy one week journey with the sections in Austria and Slovakia on well signed paved bicycle trails, while the section in Hungary on mostly quiet roads but a few small parts had some traffic. There were also a few short stretches along a forested dirt lane which were muddy during our travels.
This section of the Danube Bike Trail is not a busy as the German and Austrian parts and you tend to see the same cyclists each day visiting from a variety of countries as you meet each other at dinner. Although I reserved my hotels on my own I found the same people at dinner each evening. I strongly recommend a the Danube Cycleway guide as road signs are lacking in Hungary along the route.
Danube Bike Trail from Vienna to Slovakia
Starting from Vienna the route along the Danube is well signed like all sections in Austria, paved and over fairly flat terrain with a few gentle hills. I recommend cycling to either Bad Deutsch Altenburg or Hainsburg near the Slovakia border the first day. For sightseeing there is an early Roman settlement nearby.
Danube Bike Trail in Slovakia
On the next day cycle to the Slovakia border where you have to line up in the car lane to pass through customs. The bicycle trail starts again right at the border and continues all the way to the Hungarian border about 30 km away.
Along the way you pass the capital of Bratislava on the north bank of the Danube and numerous cafes that just cater to cyclists. We were cycling on a Saturday and it seemed the entire city of Bratislava was cycling on the bicycle path, it was very crowded.
Danube Bike Trail in Hungary
Near the Hungarian border you have two Danube routes to choose from with one along the river. Instead I recommend the inland route which passes through more interesting cities and terrain. The bike route signs in Hungary are lacking so use a guide. Also on the Hungarian section it seemed we met the same Dutch, German, Canadian and other cyclists who were following the same route and we all seemed to stay in the same hotels so we helped each other.
The local people, although they did not speak English, knew where the bicycle tour route went and would point out directions as we cycled along. In one spot we stopped to view our map on a quiet country road and a guy stopped his car in the middle of the road and walked over and pointed us in the right direction. I didn’t tell him that we were just taking a break and were not lost, I appreciated his effort.
The Hungarian section is on mostly paved country roads with a few busy sections, a short dirt trail and a paved bicycle trail leaving Mosonmagyarovar. All the hotels offered places for us to lock up our bicycles at night as they catered to cyclists and we had advised in advance that we were cyclists.
Danube Bike Trail from Slovakia to Esztergom
Our first stop on the Hungarian bicycle tour was in Mosonmagyarovar, a small city ringed with canals where we stayed at the Hotel Panorama, a lovely hotel overlooking the canals. Leaving town the next day we were on bicycle trails for most of the first part of the day.
Our second stop in Hungary was in Gyor where we stayed at the Hotel Klastrom which was a former Carmleite Monastery converted into a hotel with the main courtyard a garden with bar. The hotel is right in the center of the city and you can easily walk along the pedestrian only streets nearby.
We then continued through Babalna, an area known for its horse farms on some gently rolling terrain and low hills just before reaching Tata located on a large lake surrounded by museums and an old castle. Accommodation was difficult to locate so I was glad we had reserved rooms and the hotel had a swimming pool as well.
Our next day began as we climbed a few major hills into the Hungarian wine region which provided some great views of the surrounding countryside. Which was followed by a long winding descent.
We cycled on to Esztergom which is a busy little city known as the Rome of Hungary. Crowning the nearby hill is a famous hilltop cathedral which you must visit and a adjoining castle, both overlooking the Danube.
I only difficulty we encountered on this section of the route was if we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in a small town. The staff did not speak English and the menus were in Hungarian so we had some interesting dishes served to us.
Danube Bike Trail in Budapest
Departing Eszterom you are riding along what is known as the Daube Bend. First you reach Visegrad (means high castle). Continue to Szentendre which can be busy on weekends. Do spend some time exploring the cobblestone alleys with the interesting building.
The road into Budapest is partly on quiet roads, partly on a bicycle route and with a section of the route on edge a very busy and dangerous highway.
Budapest itself was easy to cycle with bicycle trails along the Danube River. A great stop for a few days to explore, in particular the castle district at the top of a hill with a castle, museums, restaurants.
You can return to Vienna via the bicycle route along the Danube taking about 5 days, or like we did the hydrofoil along the Danube or by train.
You also might want to read about our experiences on the Danube Bike route from Passau to Vienna. Danube Bike Trail Hungary section is tougher to follow than the Austrian section but offered us vineyards, historic castles, elegant cathedrals, interesting cities and very scenic countryside and I recommend it.
The most popular section of the Danube Bike Route is an easy one week cycle which is a relatively flat, 326 km (203 mile) scenic journey from Passau, Germany to Vienna. You travel along a bike trail or quiet roads with no traffic which makes it one of the most popular bicycle touring routes in Europe.
It is almost impossible to get lost with route signs or maps posted at frequent intervals at all the turns. Best of all this Austrian cycling route is paved for the entire distance, frequently on both sides of the romantic blue Danube.
European Cycling Trips, Danube Bike Route
Starting in Passau
Passau to Schlogen Bend and beyond
On the second day continue along the Danube Bike Route and head back to the north shore so you miss the traffic in the large industrial city of Linz and pass through a park, a great lunch spot with washrooms and restaurants. Back on the south shore continue on to Enns, the oldest town in Austria dating from Roman times, and a slight detour off the official Danube Bike Route by about 7 km but well worth the effort. Plenty of nice restaurants in the main square along with a historic tower.
Day three starts by taking you across the longest wooden bridge in Europe at the edge of Enns, then through the Austrian countryside and past baroque Grein. Our destination today is Persenbeug with the bicycle route going right by the front door of the Gasthof Bohm with a wonderful patio to enjoy a beer and talk with the numerous other cyclists. I mean it seemed every guest was a bike rider.
Scenic Wachau Wine Region
To the gates of Vienna
On the next day continue along the south shore Danube Bike Route to Tulln passing plantations of elderberry trees where we spent the night.
Then is on to Vienna itself with one route heading to the West Bahnhof Train Station and the other heading to the city center. In Vienna be sure to cycle the bike route along the ring road passing many of the cities major sights. Vienna is worth a 2 or 3 night stay with many hotels catering to cyclists.
With guidebook in hand and hotel reservations made our small group had no problems planning this trip but there are many guided cycling tours along this route with all the arrangements made for you.
From Vienna you can continue your European cycling trips route on the Danube Bike Route to Budapest as we did or even to the Black Sea or connect with a route heading to Prague in the Czech Republic.