This bicycle expedition follows 3 rivers and connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea. We'll travel the full length of the Loire River from France, the Danube River from Germany's Black Forest to the delta of the Danube in Romania on the Black Sea coast. We bicycle through some of the great capitals of central and eastern Europe on this ride through history, including Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade and Bucharest, Romania. During the first two weeks our bike ride follows the border of classical Rome in Germany. We follow some of the most important Medieval trade routes from Eastern France to Southern Germany and into the Alps and visit historic Medieval towns such as Ulm, Regensburg, and Linz.
Day 1: June 14 - St. Brevin on the Atlantic at the mouth of the Loire River
Highlights: Bike fitting and welcome dinnerSt. Brevin-les-Pins sits on the south bank of the Loire River at its mouth. Just across from St. Nazaire. We'll gather here today, fit bikes and enjoy introductions and a welcome dinner together.
Day 2: June 15 - Bicycle St. Brevin-les-Pins to Ancenis
Highlights: Nantes, quiet roads along the Loire RiverOur route takes us along the river, across a ferry and through the City of Nantes. Despite its size as the sixth largest cities in France, Nantes is famous for its "liveability" and its historic neighborhoods. A towpath takes us east out of the City as we work our way to the small village of Ancenis for the evening. Ancenis is the site of a "maison des vins" featuring wines of the Loire. Dinner is together. Mileage 101 km (63 miles)
Day 3: June 16 - Bicycle Loire River
Highlights: Bicycle the flat limestone plateau south of the Loire RiverWhere the Loire River flows north near Angers, we pedal south and east across the wheatlands of the Maine et Loire region today to the town of Saumur with its castle perched on the south bank of the Loire. Saumur is famous throughout France for mushroom production. Dinner together. Mileage 110 km (68 miles)
Day 4: June 17 - Pedal from Saumur by abbeys and castles to Chenonceau
Highlights: The Abbey of Fontevraud, castle of Chinon, Sleeping Beauty's castle at Usse, Azay-le-Rideau, and the castle of Chenonceau.Our ride takes us away from the Loire today and through the medieval village created by the famous Abbey of Fontevraud, the largest in France. We continue on up the tributaries of the Loire along the Vienne, the Indre and Cher Rivers with a variety of spectacular castles. Take time to visit the castle of Chenonceau at our destination. Mileage 112 km (69 mi)
Day 5: June 18 - Bicycle Loire River to Amboise and Orleans
Highlights: Amboise (Clos Luce), Blois, the Castle of Chambord, OrleansThis is the heart of the famous Loire River with its castles dating to the opulent era of the 15th and 16th centuries. Amboise is where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life in the service of Frances I, King of France. Da Vinci came in 1516 and died in 1519. We'll bicycle past the castle in Blois and we'll stop at the castle at Chambord, perhaps the most famous castle in the Loire Valley. Take your time to visit this one on your own as it is spectacular. We'll be in Orleans tonight, site of the famous battle in which Joan of Arc defeated the British in 1429. Mileage 117 km (73 miles)
Day 6: June 19 - Bicycle Orleans to Sancerre along the Loire River
Highlights: St. Benoit-sur-Loire and the Aqueduct in BriareWe continue to follow the upper Loire River out of Orleans where we pass by the Abbey of St. Benoit-sur-Loire. Here the remains of St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine order of monks, reside. Be sure to stop and see the 11th century Romanesque basilica. Our route continues on through Briare where a 19th century aqueduct built in part by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) carried the Loire lateral canal across the Loire River. We'll be in Sancerre this evening. Mileage 134 km (84 miles)
Day 7: June 20 - Sancerre to Nevers
Highlights: Late start day and afternoon in NeversRelax and enjoy a late start today as we have a short ride to Nevers where we'll spend the afternoon relaxing. This is our last day along the Loire River. Take time to visit Nevers, home of Look ski bindings, clipless pedals and carbon fiber bicycles. Mileage 58 km (38 miles)
Day 8: June 21 - Nevers to Autun
Highlights: Bicycle through the Morvan Regional Park to AutunWe leave the Loire River behind us today and head east into the Morvan regional park. Our destination is Autun, an important Roman town built by Ceasar Augustus in the first century BC. Because of its location on key trade routes Autun gave rise to the Dukes of Burgundy who dominated medieval trade in central France throughout the middle ages. Mileage 121 km (75 miles)
Day 9: June 22 - Autun to Beaune for lunch and on to Dole
Highlights: Wine town of Beaune and historic DoleWe've left the Loire River behind and will cross the Rhone-Saone river corridor today in Beaune, the famous wine town and medieval trading center. As we continue east to Dole we begin to follow the Doubs River with the Rhine-Rhone canal linking two of Europe's most important rivers. Dole is the birthplace of Louis Pasteur with a delightful medieval town center. Mileage 122 km (76 miles)
Day 10: June 23 - Dole to Montbeliard through Besancon
Highlights: Follow the Rhine-Rhone CanalWe follow the Doubs River and the Rhine-Rhone Canal today as we trace the northwestern edge of the Jura Mountains. This route takes us just north of the Alps and into the heart of central Europe. The Rhine-Rhone canal, which we follow all day, was opened in 1834 to link the North Sea with the Mediterranean. Mileage 146 km (91 miles)
Day 11: June 24 - Montbeliard to Basel
Highlights: The Rhine River and Basel, SwitzerlandOur route today takes us upstream along the Rhine River into the heart of Basel, Switzerland, an international city where France, Switzerland and Germany come together. The Rhine River, which forms the border between Switzerland and Germany, is navigable from Basel all the way to the North Sea to its mouth in Rotterdam. Mileage 80 km (50 miles)
Day 12: June 25 - Rest day in Basel, Switzerland
Highlights: Enjoy Old Town Basel along the RhineThis is a rest day to enjoy Switzerland's second largest city. There are a wealth of museums here and plenty of fine sidewalk cafes for people watching. Enjoy exploring the 12th century cathedral and the famous market square in front of the 16th century Gothic town hall. No cycling today.
Day 13: June 26 - Basel to Donaueschingen
Highlights: Germany's Black Forest and the Headwaters of the DanubeWe follow the Rhine River east from Basel today and then head north through a corner of the beautiful Black Forest. Our destination is the small village of Donaueschingen where a clear spring marks the beginning of the Danube River, Europe's longest. Mileage: 127 km (79.5 miles)
Day 14: June 27 - Bicycle Donaueschingen to Sigmaringen, Germany
Highlights: The Swabian Alps of Middle EuropeThe Danube has carved a sinuous valley through the Schwabian Alps, affording great bicycling in the valley bottom or short, steep climbs for those who wish. We're pedaling though the heartland of the Jurassic limestones of Central Europe. Castle ruins line the bluffs along the Danube and Beuron Abbey, dating to the 11th century, is a major stop along our route. Enjoy wandering the streets of Sigmaringen this afternoon. Distance: about 103 km (64.5 miles).
Day 15: June 28 - Ride Sigmaringen to Ulm
Highlights: Historic Medieval UlmThe city of Ulm dates to the 9th century and is one of southern Germany's most important historic cities. The Ulm cathedral has the tallest steeple in the world so you should plan to hike to the top to view the terrain we just pedaled across! Explore the half-timber houses in the fisherman's neighborhood this afternoon. Ulm's modern university has made this city a leader in alternative energy production. Distance: 95 km (59.5 miles).
Day 16: June 29 - Pedal from Ulm to Ingolstadt in Bavaria
Highlights: Explore the Walled Town of IngolstadtAs we pedal today we are tracing the northern border of the Roman empire in Germany. Gunzburg, for example, still preserves the straight streets of a Roman military outpost dating to 70 BC. Ingolstadt, too, is an historic center with its 12th century Medieval wall well preserved. Distance: 151 km (94 miles).
Day 17: June 30 - Bicycle Ingolstadt to Regensburg
Highlights: Beautiful bicycle rides, Historic RegensburgRegensburg is, perhaps, the most historic city we bicycle through until we get to Vienna. It was a Roman outpost under Marcus Aurelius in 179 AD and marks both the northernmost point of the Roman Empire in Germany and the northernmost extent of the Danube. Its Medieval center is wonderfully preserved. From Regensburg we turn southeast to head towards Austria. Estimated distance: 89 km (55 miles).
Day 18: July 1 - Bicycle Regensburg to Deggendorf
Highlights: Walhalla Temple, and Benedectine Monasteries near MettenMore Roman settlements mark our route today along with Benedictine monasteries, including one near Metten. Bibliophiles will want to stop for a tour of the library in the Abbey of St. Michael of Metten as among the 160,000 volumes in this historic collection is one of the earliest bibles printed in Germany and a 1493 "Nuremberg Chronicle," one of the earliest printed world history books (printed in German and Latin). Distance: 91 km (56 miles)
Day 19: July 2 - Bicycle from Bavaria to Austria along the Danube
Highlights: Benedictine Monastery, Passau and the Inn RiverWe pass another Benedictine Monastery as we leave Deggendorf this morning on our way to Passau, gateway to Austria. In Passau we see the Danube nearly double in size as it is joined by the Inn River, flowing out of Austria and Germany. Our destination today is Schlogen, on a meander of the Danube - a small town with a view. Estimated distance: 98 km (61 miles).
Day 20: July 3 - Schlogen to Grein en Donau, Austria
Highlights: The Famous Danube Valley of AustriaThe Danube River and the valley it has formed shape the central transportation artery of Austria. Today and tomorrow we ride through the heartland of Austria. Castles perch above the river and after Linz we begin to see more agriculture on alluvial farmland washed out of the Alps far to the south. We'll suggest a detour to Mauthausen Concentration Camp, just 5 km off of our route. 121 km (75 miles)
Day 21: July 4 - Bicycle the Danube Valley to Duernstein
Highlights: Vineyards of the Danube; Abbey in Melk,We continue through farmland, including vineyards on our way to Melk, where you'll want to stop and photograph the spectacular baroque Abbey of Melk. We'll be in Durnstein tonight. Distance: 78 km (45 miles)
Day 22: July 5 - Bicycle to Vienna along the Danube
Highlights: ViennaWe'll have an easy day, but full of bicycle traffic along the Danube today though not without bicycle traffic since this stretch of the Danube Bicycle Path is one of the busiest in the world. Estimated distance: 98 km (61 miles)
Day 23: July 6 - Rest day in Vienna
Highlights: Vienna, former capital of the Austro-Hungarian EmpireThis is a rest day in Vienna, one of the great imperial cities of Europe. You've earned a rest after nine cycling days. There is so much to see here we'll provide a briefing this morning, then you are free to wander and explore at your leisure. Be sure to explore the Hofburg imperial palace, home to the ruling Habsuburg family for over six centuries. The rest of the day you can go on a quest for the best Viennese pastries!
Day 24: July 7 - Pedal Vienna, Austria to Bratislava, Slovakia
Highlights: Vineyards along the Danube and SlovakiaAn easy ride today takes us to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Czechoslovakia was formed from parts of the historic Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918 and came under Soviet domination in 1948. Not until 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, was the country freed from the Soviets. Bratislava became capital of Slovakia when it separated from the Czech Republic during the "velvet divorce" in 1993. Estimated mileage: 83 km (51 miles)
Day 25: July 8 - Bratislava, Slovakia to Gyor, Hungary
Highlights: Bicycling along the Danube to HungaryWhile Gyor was a border town early in its history under the Romans, it was an imperial city under the Austro-Hungarian empire. It was also right in the way of barbarian invasions through the centuries. Much of the present city was built by Italian architects after the retreat of the Ottoman empire in the 17th century. Distance: 84 km (52 miles).
Day 26: July 9 - Gyor to Esztergom
Highlights: EsztergomThe region we bicycle through was so much of a frontier region that the towns here were destroyed and rebuilt repeatedly. The bridge over the Danube in Esztergom, for example, was first built in 1895, destroyed by the Germans in 1944 and only rebuilt in 2001. Esztergom was the capital of Hungary for two and a half centuries until mid 13th century, was occupied by the Ottoman Turks for 150 years and enjoyed a period of rebirth with lots of baroque architecture after 1700. Estimated mileage: 105 km (65 miles)
Day 27: July 10 - Esztergom to Budapest
Highlights: Bicycling along the Danube into BudapestWe have a fairly short ride into Budapest today so you'll have most of the afternoon to explore and tomorrow is a rest day, as well. Our hotel is near the center of Pest so you'll be close to most of the sights. We have a special dinner tonight including a cruise on the Danube. Estimated distance: 85 km (53 miles)
Day 28: July 11 - Rest day in Budapest
Highlights: No packing today; enjoy BudapestSplit in two by the Danube, Buda Castle sits on the west bank high above the river and Pest (say "Pesht") is on the lowland across the river. You'll want to visit the castle, the parliament, and just wander the banks of the Danube which so dominates this city. Enjoy a relaxing day and give your legs a rest!
Day 29: July 12 - Bicycle down the Danube to Kalocsa
Highlights: Cycling an island of the DanubeThe Danube divides into two channels south of Budapest, forming an island nearly 30 miles long. We bicycle this island to Rackeve, once a part of Serbia and site of a beautiful Greek orthodox church - historic evidence that we are nearly in the Balkans! We are in Kalocsa tonight, the paprika capital of Hungary. Estimated mileage: 143 km (87 miles).
Day 30: July 13 - Kalocsa to Mohacs
Highlights: Szekszard wines and Danube-Drava National ParkWe pedal through the lowlands north of the confluence of the Drava and Danube Rivers today, a marshy area near the border with Croatia. Szekszard is famous for it strong red wines. Mohacs, where we will be tonight, was the site of an important battle against the Turks in 1526 when the Ottomans defeated the Hungarian army and began a century and a half occupation of the region. Estimated mileage: 118 km (73 miles)
Day 31: July 14 - Mohacs, Hungary to Osijek, Croatia
Highlights: Crossing into CroatiaWe cross the border into Croatia today, a lost corner of the plains of Hungary that have gathered Germans, Greeks, Serbs, and Croatians over the centuries. This is a small wine-producing region centered on Osijek, where we will spend the afternoon and evening. Osijek is situatied on the Drava River. Distance: 78 km (48 miles).
Day 32: July 15 - Osijek, Croatia to Novi Sad, Serbia
Highlights: Bicycling into SerbiaWe continue through this corner of Croatian Slavonia today on our way to Serbia, the core of Marshall Tito's Yugoslavia. Novi Sad is the second largest city in Serbia. Distance: 130 (81 miles)
Day 33: July 16 - Novi Sad to Belgrade, Serbia
Highlights: Belgrade, capital of Serbia and formerly the capital of YugoslaviaA short ride today takes us to Belgrade. You'll have the afternoon to relax and explore this capital city, with its Kalemegdan Fortress overlooking the confluence of the Sava with the Danube, with its relaxed cafes and delicious pastry. Distance: 93 km (58 miles)
Day 34: July 17 - Belgrade to Golubac, Serbia
Highlights: Pedaling to the Iron Gates of the DanubeWe've traced the path of the Danube east, then south through central Hungary. As the river forms the boundary with Hungary and Serbia it turns eastward to push its way through the great mountain chain of the Transylvanian Alps. Here, the famous "Iron Gates" of the Danube formed over millions of years. We follow the river through Serbia today and stay the night right where the Danube enters the "Iron Gates." Distance: 141 km (87 miles)
Day 35: July 18 - Golubac, Serbia to Portile de Fier, Romania
Highlights: Bicycling the Iron Gates of the DanubeThe great backward "S" arch of the Carpathian Mountains (Transylvanian Alps) sweeps through the border lands of Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia forming the only real obstacle as the Danube flows toward the Black Sea. Here a great gorge - the "Iron Gates" has been carved through the mountains. We follow the river through this gorge to our destination across the river in Romania. Distance: 123 km (76 miles)
Day 36: July 19 - Portile de Fier to Calafat, Romania
Highlights: The Plains of Walachia, RomaniaWe are out of the Iron Gates now and the majestic Transylvanian Alps tower above us far to the north. We pedal through densely settled farm lands in Romania on the north side of the Danube. Distance: 134 km (83 miles)
Day 37: July 20 - Calafat to Corabia, Romania
Highlights: Bicycling the plains of Wallachia, RomaniaWe continue through farmlands and small villages on this low-lying plain of the Danube River in Romania. Distance: 172 km (107 miles)
Day 38: July 21 - Corabia to Ruse, Bulgaria
Highlights: Bicycle lowland RomaniaOur route today takes us to Giurgiu on the Romanian border and then across the Romanian-Bulgarian "Friendship Bridge", completed in 1954. We arrive in one of the most famous Bulgarian towns, where we will be for the next two nights. Distance: 137 km (85 miles).
Day 39: July 22 - Rest day in Ruse
Highlights: Ruse, 19th and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architectureWe have a rest day in Ruse today; enjoy a walk around the center of town. Ruse is the most important river port of Bulgaria and is famous for its 19th to 20th century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture. Distance: no biking today
Day 40: July 23 - Ruse, Bulgaria to Calarasi, Romania
Highlights: Bicycling Downhill through WalachiaWe cross the "Friendship Bridge" again this morning and re-enter Romania (keep your passports out!) We'll be in Calarasi this evening. Distance: 158 km (98 miles).
Day 41: July 24 - Calarasi to Braila, Romania
Highlights: Bicycling through the countryside along the DanubeWe follow the river or different branches of the river through numerous farm villages to Braila. This is a long ride today but we'll start early and take our time as the ride is entirely flat. Distance: 170 km (106 miles).
Day 42: July 25 - Braila to Tulcea
Highlights: The Heart of the Danube DeltaOur ride today begins with a ferry crossing of the Danube; we arrive in Tulcea (say "tool-chuh") this afternoon. Not only have we traveled nearly 3,000 kilometers but we have also traveled back in time nearly three thousand years as Tulcea was inhabited by the ancient Greeks who built their settlement on that of earlier settlers dating to the 7th century BC. At various times in history Tulcea was controlled by the Byzantines, the Genoese, and the Ottoman Turks. Distance: about 94 km (58 miles).
Day 43: July 26 - Boat from Tulcea to Sulina
Highlights: Ferry along the Sulina Branch of the DanubeWe say goodbye to our bicycles this morning and catch a boat to complete our last leg down the Danube to Sulina. We'll take a swim in the Black Sea, visit some bird sanctuaries and return to Tulcea this evening.
Day 44: July 27 - Transfer to Bucharest
Highlights: Bucharest, Ceausescu's PalaceWe'll transfer to Bucharest today for a guided walk and our last evening together. Maybe you'll have some extra days to take a walk through this historic capital which has some Ottoman architecture but is also marked by the hand of the authoritarian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.
Day 45: Jul 28 - Tour ends today in Bucharest
Highlights: Tour endsOur journey ends this morning. Perhaps you are headed into the interior of Romania to explore Transylvania, the land of Dracula? Have a great trip!
HighlightsRegensburg, Vienna, Budapest, Black Forest, Ulm, Belgrade, Bucharest and the Black Sea, Loire Valley and its chateaux, Basel, bike paths along major rivers, Beaune wine, Chenonceau castle
Includes"The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 45 days, 44 nights accommodation, about 2/3 of dinners (excluding drinks), all breakfasts, dinner cruise in Budapest, boxed lunches on most days
CountriesBulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France
Begin/EndSt Brevin, France/Bucharest, Romania
Arrive/DepartParis, France/Bucharest, Romania
Total DistanceAbout 4020 km (2510 miles)
Daily Distance55 - 170 km (34 - 108 miles)
What to ExpectThe journey of a lifetime.
ExpeditionPlus! tours are for strong, experienced cyclists. Long daily mileage and some mountainous routes mean minimal van support. Not recommended for casual cyclists.
Please call 1-800-685-4565 or e-mail us for the dates for this tour.
Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.
City (on route)
City (not part of route, provided for reference)
I thought the trip was perfect in every way. Don''t change anything for the next one! Sign me up for the next one NOW!
Mary G., Sarasota, FL
My favorite experiences: Riding through and experiencing so much in all of these countries. I met and talked with so many locals that were so kind, helpful and interesting. Budapest was by far my favorite city. I have told many friends your company name should be Experience Plus, Plus, Plus!
Judy B., Bridgeport, NY
Thanks to Rick (ExperiencePlus''s founder)for providing the long ExpeditionPlus! trips.
Harold M., Centerville, UT
My favorite things: High-fiving the kids along the rural route in Romania and being treated like royalty by a bunch of Romanian men enjoying their morning beer. It was a hot day and they found me a table in the shade, brought me a bag of plums and a handful of pears, and conversed as best they could about their dreams of going to America and making money to bring back to their families.
Susan W., Stillwater, OK