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Danube Cycle Path: cycling from Vienna to Budapest

The Danube cycle path is the mother of all cycling paths, and after having cycled some Italian cycleways, this year we decided to face the track from Vienna to Budapest by bicycle. The heat and the effort were pretty challenging, but the joy of arriving let us forget all, giving the strength and the desire for another adventure. Here is our trip journal...
Track source: www.everytrail.com

Day 1 - Getting to Danube cycle path

We leave from Lesignano De Bagni on Monday. The alarm wakes us at 4.00 A.M. and it's already hot. Motorway until Tarvisio, regular traffic, at the border we purchase the ticket for the Austrian motorway (8.90 € valid for 10 days). Danube Cycle Way 3The motorway here in Austria is boring, with a speed limit of 80/100 km/h and frequent working teams, slowing the flow to 60 km/h. A couple of stops to grab something to eat and at 4.00 P.M. we reach Vienna. Here the "operation parking" starts: we learn from a guy that the only FREI areas for parking are limited. We unload the bikes, load the panniers and get going to find the hotel. Finally, we find the Hotel Senator, we park our bikes in their garage, we shower and get to the centre, where we stumble upon the Music Festival in the city hall square: it's one of the most known festivals in Vienna during the summer. You can find street food and maxi screen movies from all over the world. We choose our comfort food: cheeseburger, fries and Radler. Not far from here we find the main square, with Stephansdom: beautiful, with the warm light of the sunset, high temperature (38°), we come back to the hotel and... good night!. 

Day 2 - From Vienna to Bratislava

We wake up at 7.00 A:M.: we're very excited. We leave for our adventure cycling the Danube cycle path. But first, we cycle to the centre for breakfast, choosing a beautiful bakery in front of the Rathaus... what a big delusion! Two Austrian breakfast with bread, jam and coffee for 25€!
Towards the Danube! we cannot find any sign to the cycle path, but down a staircase, we end up along the river. Let's go!
We cycle for a few kilometres on the area dedicated to outdoor sports, until the FKK area (for nudists), where many people of different ages enjoy these green spaces. We cross a blue and yellow bridge, my GPS indicates the right, but a completely naked woman shows us the right way to Bratislava, on the left. I don't trust her and I turn right. After some kilometres, the road ends and I finally understand that the nudist lady was right!
Once we find the cycle path, we follow the Eurovelo 6 (the European cycleway from the Atlantic Sea to the Black sea), not on the Danube but along a canal with a terrible heat.
On the way we stop at a cafe for a fresh drink, then we continue towards Bratislava.
The road is boring, and we're like hypnotized by the infinite of this hot road. Around 12 A.M. we reach Hainburg, we cross the walls, but the heat is unbearable, so we jump ina supermarket and buy something to drink and dried fruits. Some pictures and here we are again, towards Bratislava.Towards BratislavaFinally, we meet the Nový Most (New Bridge) of Bratislava and the Danube cycle path goes along a pretty busy road... we're almost there!i. Seeing the Castle gives us strength, my GPS indicates 85km cycled, we cross the bridge and here we are, tired but happy to arrive in a covered alley with some benches.
We pick our hotel for the night: the Petit hotel. From the outside it's nothing special... we check-in, reach the 4th floor, and discover that there's no air conditioning: the night will be hell! After a fresh shower, we feel better, and we jump into the liveliness of the city centre, shocked by the beauty and the energy of this town. It's a young city, full of life, which brings us to the Taverna Assisi: the choice is perfect because we eat very good food, together with the owner, kind and very welcoming. 
The Castle of Bratislava - Danube Cycle Path

Day 3 - From Bratislava to Mosonmagyaróvár

In the morning we say no to the hotel breakfast, opting for a bakery in the city centre. We leave for Mosonmagyaróvár, cycling the Danube path. After a few mistakes caused by some construction works, we're out of the city. We cross small groups of houses: today it will be a short stage, only 40 km. The heat is unbearable, but we reach our destination soon and book a room at the Thermae Hotel, which guarantees us air conditioning (pity, there's a sensor which turns it off when there's no movement...).
The SPA is literally 50 metres from the hotel, 10,5€ per person for some pools with hot water, from 28° to 37°, massages, café...
After a hot bath, we reach a fresh spot under a willow, for a regenerating nap. Mosonmagyaróvár is really beautiful, with its colourful streets, the castle and the unavoidable restaurants. We have dinner at Gaben, welcoming and warm venue, with traditional Hungarian dishes, we take some pictures and go to sleep.
ciclabile del danubio

Day 4 - From Mosonmagyaróvár to Győr

We wake up at 6.30 A.M. and have a great breakfast at the hotel, then off we go, towards Győr. The cycle path today is in the shade, running along some fields of sunflowers and Hungarian villages: it's amazing to see how people are committed to this place, picking up litter, cleaning from the grass... these small villages have the cutest cycle path!
After 45 km we reach Győr, a beautiful city from the very first moment. We stop at a square, book the Ibis hotel and a cool guy helps us finding it. After a quick shower and a stop in the centre for a cold drink Hungarian call Lemonade (water, lemon syrup, lemon slices and ice), we reach the SPA in Raba.
Raba SPA takes its name from the river crossing Győr. It's a modern building with big glass walls and a wooden structure, big pools with water from 27° to 37° C, whirlpools which make you spin in the pool. What we really appreciate is the atmosphere, different from the SPAs at home (sophisticated and rich): here it's all chilled and free, so we can enjoy this time, getting a lot of relaxing.
In the evening we walk through the streets in Győr, we snap some pictures and get some dinner at Romantica (a very good pizza), then we chill in the main square with the last Lemonade of the day before tomorrow's hard stage. 
ciclabile danubio

Day 5 - From Győr to Esztergom

Today we cycle towards Tata to then reach Esztergom, for a total of 114 km. We get out of Gyor, get some water and cycle on a provincial asphalted road.
Once in Tata, we reach the Castle on the Oreg lakeside, and in a cafe built on a secular tree, we try a spectacular yoghurt with berries and decide to continue towards Esztergom. Getting out of Tata is a bit difficult, despite the GPS and some advice from the people we meet, but when we manage to reach a steep road, hard to be cycled, we appreciate the view. Following the Danube is easy until we reach the Basilika n Esztergom, and after this long 114 km leg, we get back our energy in a wonderful hotel.
The city centre is pretty interesting, it was worth it. We walk near the Basilika, watching the columns, then the Danube, then we have dinner at the Nautilus, which is a boat on the river, with the strong wind moving the flags above our heads. Tomorrow it's our last stop, Budapest!
castello di Esztergom

Day 6 - From Esztergom to Budapest

We finally leave towards Budapest, thinking it will be an easy stage, but actually it's a 95 km one.
The Danube cycle path is beautiful today, along the river, we find many beaches where we can dip (but I advise against due to the current and the water not so clean). It's challenging today, but we manage to reach Visegrad, for a Lemonade-stop, then off we go towards Szentendre. Now we're 20 km from our final destination, Budapest, in a cosy village, full of tourists and some typical colourful streets and little shops...
campagne ungheresiWe'd like to stay here, but we have to cycle until the end, reaching the first sign of the city: we're happy but sad at the same time... Following the Danube cycle path we cycle the last 15 km, until the skyline of the city welcomes us, with the Parliament just in front of us. Knowing already the city, we reach the market waling through Vaci Utca, the main street, and sit at a cafe to decide what to do next.
We find out that this weekend the city will host the Formula 1 GP, so this explains the chaos in the city and the hotels fully booked. So we decide to take the train back to Vienna. We cycle Andrássy út reach the train station of Kelety pályaudvar, to get the tickets back to Austria.
budapest parlamento
It's basically impossible: the line is endless! So we try again and finally find a place to stay for the night: Gozsdu Court Aparthotel, which is in a XIX century building, near Deák Ferenc square in the city centre 200 meters from the theatre and Andrassy alley. 
These apartments are in the gallery crossing an entire block, full of people and bars/restaurants, where we finally have dinner and SOME DRINKS, then a long walk to the panoramic wheel and back to the apartment for some sleep.
ciclabile danubio budapest

Days 7, 8 and 9 - Vienna by bicycle 

We wake up, have a great breakfast in one of the Pubs in the gallery, then we have to get a train back to Vienna. So we get back to Keleti pályaudvar, where I head to the ticket office but I figure out that there are no direct trains, but we'll have to change the line in Bratislava and wait four and a half hours.
We get back at 3.30 P.M. in the newest train station in Vienna, we unload the bikes and get to the very same Hotel Senator, to spend there two nights and have the possibility to visit the city on the city ring.
The Museumquartier, the Museum area, the Prater, the panoramic wheel, the KunstHausWien, the Parliament, the Rathaus the Danube with its artists and much more... this is what the most interesting European city is! Now it's time to get back home and find the car exactly where we left it, without any tickets or damage, we load our luggage and the bikes and move back home... unfortunately, it's over! It will be an unforgettable experience, the heat, the stress of each arrival and the many challenges we faced... but we did it! And now we're ready to leave again!

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Francesco G

ITA - Ho 33 anni e sono piemontese, anche se da qualche anno vivo e lavoro in Lombardia. Dopo un inizio da totale inesperto in questo campo, mi sono avvicinato al mondo dei cicloviaggi e della bicicletta sempre più. Oggi posso definirmi "cicloviaggiatore", e assieme all'altra mia passione - il videomaking - non mi fermerei mai! Cyclo ergo sum, pedalo quindi sono, per cercare di capire perché andare in bici sia così bello, terapeutico, ricco... E ogni volta che provo a capirlo, non ce la faccio, e sono costretto a ripartire sui pedali!

ENG - I'm from Piedmont and I'm 33 years old, I have been living and working in Lombardy for a few years. After a start without any competence in this field, I then approached the bicycle world more and more. Today I can call myself a bicycle traveller and videomaker who would never ever stop. Cyclo ergo sum, I cycle therefore I am. I ride my bike trying to understand why it is so beautiful, rich, therapeutic. And every time I try, I do not understand it. So I must leave again...

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