Bicycling the Danube: Vienna to Budapest

Bicycling the Danube: Vienna to Budapest

Selected by National Geographic Traveler magazine as one of "50 Tours of a Lifetime".

Join us on a bicycle tour that follows the Danube River, from Vienna, and then on to Budapest. Enjoy long, leisurely rides along the longest river in Europe and through farm villages, picture-perfect you'll have time to enjoy natural and man-made sights. Visit historic Abbeys and cathedrals in Esztergom, walk through the steep, terraced vineyards of the Wachau, and experience "Hungarian Tuscany". Relish the modern culinary kitchen of three countries.

Extend this tour - check out the 14-day option: Bicycling the Danube from Germany to Budapest tour.

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 8 Days
  • Total Distance / 361-373 km (223-230 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 60-62 km (37-38 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 1.0
  • Countries / Austria, Hungary, Slovakia
  • Begin/End / Vienna / Budapests
  • Price / From USD$3850
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  • Daily Itinerary
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Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Bicycling along Europe's largest river, Vienna, Bratislava, Dinner cruise on the Danube in Budapest, Budapest, The "Hungarian Tuscany"

    Keep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

    Well-maintained bike paths in Austria and Slovakia. In Hungary, bike paths are more rare and secondary roads can often be bumpy. We use charming and modern hotels but A/C or fans may not always be available. Long stretches on bike paths limits van support on a few days.
  • Includes
    Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 8 days, 7 nights' accommodation; 4 dinners (including a dinner cruise on the Danube) with either wine or beer, all breakfasts

    The Usual (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)

    • Superb tour leaders who are fun, bilingual and avid cyclists.
    • Help with flights, trains and pre/post tour hotels.
    • Comfortable lodging in 3-4 star hotels. 
    • All breakfasts and at least half of your dinners.
    • Use of a high quality 27-30 speed bike.
    • Full van support to carry luggage – and tired cyclists, too! 
    • Special events like wine tastings, cultural visits and chocolatiers.
    • All tips and gratuities at tour hotels and group meals.
    • Unique routes, marked with our famous chalk dust arrows.
    • Daily mileage options.
    • Detailed route map and free use of our traveling resource library.

    What's not included:

    • Transportation to and from the bicycling tour including airfare, or train travel
    • Helmets - we ask that you bring your own to ensure the best fit
    • Meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Tour Leader gratuity

    See the complete list of what's included with every ExperiencePlus! Tour.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Vienna / Budapests
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    **Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    Rest day
    3
    85km / 287m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.0
    4
    81km / 200m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.0
    5
    62km / 249m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.5
    6
    59km / 576m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    7
    83km / 320m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.0
    8
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: Mostly flat terrain on bike paths and roads. Most days include mileages of 70 km (44 miles or more). Due to long stretches on bike paths on certain days van support may be more limited than usual, but still attentive.

    **We use Ride With GPS (ridewithgps.com) to calculate elevation and mileage information. Due to variance between mapping technologies, totals may differ slightly across devices and applications

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

DAY 1: Welcome to Vienna

Highlights: Vienna

Meet us today in Vienna, the largest city in Austria and one of Europe's leading musical centers. It was first a Roman and Celtic settlement, but as the Austro-Hungarian Empire rose to prominence, magnificent Medieval and Baroque architecture became especially prevalent.

Test ride today.

DAY 2: Optional ride, guided walk in Vienna

Highlights: Imperial Vienna; Hofburg palace; Viennese pastries

We offer an optional ride today for those who want to stretch their legs, though we'll start the morning with a guided walk of Vienna. Be sure to take time to explore Vienna, one of the great imperial cities of Europe. Take in a concert at a local church, or concert hall.

DAY 3: Vienna to Bratislava, Slovakia

Highlights: Crossing the former "Iron Curtain"

An easy ride today takes you 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. It wasn't until 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, that the country was freed from Soviet control. Bratislava became capital of Slovakia when it separated from the Czech Republic during the "velvet divorce" in 1993. You'll bicycle through the former "Iron Curtain", which would have been prohibited just a few decades ago.

  • Distance: 85 km (53 mi)
  • Gain: 287 m (941 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 4: Bratislava to Györ, Hungary

Highlights: Bicycling along the Danube to Hungary

While Györ was a border town early in its history under the Romans, it was an imperial city under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was directly in the path of barbarian invasions through the centuries, and much of the present day city was built by Italian architects after the retreat of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. Leaving Slovakia road conditions become noticeably worse, but you are rewarded with pristine, simple villages that will make you feel as though you have traveled back in time.

  • Distance: 81 km (51 mi)
  • Gain: 200 m (656 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 5: Bicycle Györ to Tata

Highlights: Babolna and the "Hungarian Tuscany"

Leaving Gyöor you'll pass through important industrial areas before reaching the Pannonian Basin and Babolna, where Hungary's finest riding horses are bred. The landscape changes here and you'll soon be riding the rolling hills of Transdanubia, also known as the "Hungarian Tuscany". Your destination is the small city of Tata which features a beautiful "old lake" and castle from the 15th century.

  • Distance: 62 km (39 mi)
  • Gain: 249 m (817 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 6: Tata to Esztergom

Highlights: Transdanubian hills, Esztergom

You'll ride just south of the Danube today through the Transdanubian hills. A beautiful landscape that leads you to Esztergom which was the capital of Hungary from the 11th to the mid-13th century, was occupied by the Ottoman Turks for 150 years, and enjoyed a rebirth of baroque architecture after 1700.

  • Distance: 59 km (37 mi)
  • Gain: 576 m (1889 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 7: Esztergom to Budapest

Highlights: Bicycling along the Danube into Budapest

We ride into Budapest today and our hotel is at the foot of the Buda Castle Hill, so you'll be close to most of the sights.

  • Distance: 83 km (52 mi)
  • Gain: 320 m (1050 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Bicycle Tour ends in Budapest

Highlights: Budapest

Our tour ends this morning in Budapest. We highly recommend that you take a few days to enjoy all that the city has to offer. Whatever you decide, have a wonderful journey.

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Welcome to Vienna

Lodging: Hotel 25Hours at MuseumsQuartier

Meeting time 2 p.m. - on Day 1, meet your fellow cyclists and Tour Leaders at the Day 1 Hotel specified on your itinerary.

Note:

As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We recommend flying into the Vienna Airport (VIE).

From the Vienna Airport to the Day 1 Hotel

  • Taxi (40 min/EUR 45 regular/EUR 35 pre-booked: http://www.flughafentaxi-wien.at/
  • CAT directly to Wien Mitte (16 min/EUR 11). Continue by metro U3 bound for Ottakring as described in point below (metro cost is separate, around EUR 4/5 min)
  • Commuter train S7 (to Wien Mitte) and Metro U3 bound for Ottakring. Exit at Volkstheater and walk 1 min (40 min/EUR 5).

Day 8: Departure Information

Bicycle Tour ends in Budapest

Your trip ends on the final day after breakfast.

The below information will help you plan your departure. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio

We recommend flying out of the Budapest Airport (BUD)

From the Ending Hotel to the Budapest Airport

  • Taxi. The front desk can arrange your transfer at a discounted rate (45 min/HUF 6500 through hotel/HUF 8000 regular)
  • Shuttle Bus (times and fares vary).

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Keep in Mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

Well-maintained bike paths in Austria and Slovakia. In Hungary, bike paths are more rare and secondary roads can often be bumpy. We use charming and modern hotels but A/C or fans may not always be available. Long stretches on bike paths limits van support on a few days.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/bicycle-tour-training/
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike will be equipped with: a men's or women's saddle, a quick release style seat post adjustment, rear rack and expandable pack, pump, patch kit, spare tube, cable lock, cyclometer, rear lights, a water bottle cage (or two) and a water bottle (or two) and in some cases a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com. Tracks are available upon request approximately three to four weeks prior to the departure.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

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