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Hungary & Slovakia: The Best of the Danube

Cycle into the Old World on this unique active vacation where we’ll crisscross the fabled Danube river to pedal amidst undulating farmlands and traditional Hungarian and Slovakian villages and stay at two of the Leading Small Hotels of the World.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 35 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 4 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking
  • Easy
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Hungary & Slovakia: The Best of the Danube

The course of the Danube has shaped some of the richest cultures in Europe. To get a full appreciation of them, we'll cycle along this fabled river through Hungary and Slovakia, where rustic simplicity meets grand vistas. Traditions here are as fertile as the farmland and as stunning as the natural beauty. Meet the people who tend to them all as we picnic in the magnificent outdoors, learn the secrets of Hungarian cuisine, thrill to a horse show, and more. What's more, we experience it in true VBT style from elegant accommodations, including two of the Leading Small Hotels of the World.

Cultural Highlights

  • Enjoy a scenic cruise on the Danube
  • Explore the royal cities of Esztergom and Visegrad
  • Savor a tasting of palinka, Hungarian's national brandy
  • Prepare strudel in a private home
  • Enter into everyday life during a home-hosted lunch
  • Stay at two of the Leading Small Hotels of the World and a country manor house
  • Enjoy a Hungarian picnic of marhaporkolt stew
  • Thrill to a Hungarian horse show over lunch

What to Expect

This tour offers easy terrain throughout the trip and is ideal for beginning cyclists.

Average Daily Mileage: 15 - 35
Average Cycling Time: 2 - 4 hours

Climate Information

Average Daily Temperature (°F) – Budapest
May 70°  Jun 75°  Jul 79°  Aug 79°  Sep 71°  Oct 59°

Average Rainfall (in.) – Budapest
May 2.8  Jun 2.4  Jul 1.6  Aug 2.8  Sep 2.8  Oct 2.4

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

  • 6 nights in a countryside manor house and 3- and 4-star inns
  • 13 meals – 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 8 nights in a countryside manor house and 3-, 4- and 5-star inns
  • 15 meals – 8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Transfers
  • Day pass to the Budapest public transportation system
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Bratislava – 2 nights for only $245 • Post-trip: Budapest – 2 nights for only $295

Both Vacation Options Include

  • FREE use of our custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Service of two bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • FULL VAN SUPPORT
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Welcome reception with local brandy and hors d'oeuvres
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount
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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $345 | Land Only Single Supplement: $195

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2015 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Vienna

Depart from home for Austria. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed in your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive Vienna / Transfer to Bratislava, Slovakia

VBT Air Package guests: Upon arrival at Vienna International Airport, proceed through immigration, claim your luggage, and clear customs. If your luggage is delayed, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area—VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. (Please note: Also make certain that your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you.) After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. They will transfer you by van to your Bratislava hotel (transfer time is approximately 60 minutes depending on traffic).

VBT provides you with City Information that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Bratislava during your stay.

Hotel: Hotel Arcadia

DAY 3: Bratislava, Slovakia / Warm-up ride along the Danube / Pálinka tasting & welcome dinner

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at the Hotel Arcadia in Bratislava at 10 am. (Frantiskanska 3, Bratislava; tel: +421 2 5949 0500). Please contact the hotel to advise of any travel delays or changes so the staff can pass the message on to your VBT Trip Leaders.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at 10:00 a.m. They will be wearing VBT staff garments. Please have your bags out for collection before 9:00 a.m., so they may be picked up for transfer to our next hotel. This morning, join your fellow travelers and VBT Trip Leaders for a brief orientation and a short walk with your bicycles through Bratislava’s historic pedestrian streets. The Danube bike path is just a short walk from our hotel. We begin our tour by cycling across the Danube under Bratislava’s Novy Most (New Bridge), which is famous for its striking UFO Café offering panoramic views from the top of the bridge.

We continue on the bicycle path along the Slovakian (south) shore of the Danube. After a short ride, we arrive in the town of Cunovo, where we find a Danube lock and dam whose wall is perfect for a leisurely ride. At the end of the dam, the unusual Danubiana Meulensteen Modern Art museum (closed on Mondays) juts into the river. Enjoy lunch on your own at one of the restaurants on the dam. Upon returning to the Danube shores, you may notice one of Slovakia’s Olympian rafters practicing in the artificial rafting canal.

We leave Slovakia via small country roads and pedal across the border into our first Hungarian town, Rajka. From Rajka, enjoy a quiet ride on back roads through the beautiful Hungarian countryside before arriving in the town of Dunakiliti-Tejfalusziget. Here we stop at a local distillery to learn about and sample pálinka—Hungary’s national fruit brandy. Afterwards we shuttle to the village of Röjtökmuzsaj and settle into our accommodations in a Hungarian manor house.

In the evening, get to know your fellow travelers and Trip Leaders at our welcome reception, followed by a hearty Hungarian dinner.

Hotel: Szidonia Manor House
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 24 miles (38 km)

DAY 4: Pan-European Memorial Park / Fertod Lake UNESCO World Heritage Site / Sopron

After breakfast, we cycle to the thermal city of Balf where we pass the UNESCO-protected linden tree alley of the Nagycenk Szechenyi castle—once home to the noblest family in Hungary’s history. A scenic ride leads us further into the Fertod lake region, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We pause at the Pan-European Memorial Park for our picnic lunch. This park along the former Iron Curtain commemorates the dramatic year of 1989, when most of the communist regimes collapsed in Europe. Hungary played a major role in this historic period as the country opened its borders to Eastern German tourists who did not want to return to their homeland after their summer holiday in Hungary. On this very spot many East Germans found their freedom on August 19, 1989.

After lunch we cycle to Hungary’s westernmost town of Sopron. Its unique history is reflected in a blend of Roman, medieval, Baroque and modern architecture. After our independent visit of Sopron you may either shuttle back to our hotel or continue riding for the afternoon.

Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own.

Hotel: Szidonia Manor House
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 20 or 41 miles (32 or 66 km)

DAY 5: Esterházy / Esztergom

This morning we ride to the spectacular 18th-century Esterházy Palace—often referred to as “Hungary’s Versailles.” Our tour of the castle includes insight about the famous composer Josef Haydn who worked in the palace as a court musician for the royal family.

Next, we transfer to the small village of Neszmely, where a resident with a love of her country’s hearty cuisine invites us into her home. She will share her secrets for making the perfect strudel during a Hungarian cooking demonstration.

Later in the afternoon, as we approach Esztergom, you’ll be amazed by our distant views of the city’s colossal Basilica. Esztergom was Hungary’s capital for over two centuries, and you’ll have time for a short ride in the area. This evening, explore Esztergom at your leisure from our ideally located accommodation. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Hotel: Bazilika Alatt Panzio
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 6 or 21 miles (10 or 33km)

DAY 6: Slovakian countryside / Danube / Visegrad

Today, we cross the bridge over the Danube from Esztergom to the Slovakian city of Sturovo. Spend the morning reeling through bountiful farmlands before descending back to the shores of the Danube. As we continue along the International Danube Bike Path, enjoy some of the most spectacular vistas of the Danube.

We re-enter Hungary at the town of Nagymaros. Here, we board a ferry for the short ride across the Danube to the historic village of Visegrad. As you view Visegrad Citadel towering above us, you’ll understand how the city got its name—Visegrad is Slavic for “High-Castle.” We bicycle through the lush forests at its base toward our picnic spot and a special lunch. We’ll help our host and chef prepare a typical Hungarian feast over an open fire. While our lunch is cooking, you might stroll along one of the forest paths to view the beautiful streams and waterfalls.

After lunch, we set off on our return ride to Esztergom. Tonight, we dine in a local restaurant.

Hotel: Bazilika Alatt Panzio
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 29 or 47 miles (47 or 76 km)

DAY 7: Danube cruise / Vac / Szentendre Island

Cross back into Slovakia this morning for a relaxing boat ride on the Danube. Arriving in Nagymaros, we cycle around the Danube Bend to the town of Vác. There’ll be time to explore this quaint town before taking a ferry to Szentendre Island, set in the middle of the Danube. With peaceful villages and a pastoral setting, this island is a cyclist’s heaven. We’ll stop at a wonderful horse farm to enjoy lunch and watch a show performed by skilled riders in traditional Hungarian costumes.

After lunch, we wheel around Szentendre Island before crossing back to the mainland and our bike path. Our accommodations for our final two nights are directly on the bike path, overlooking the Danube’s shores. Enjoy a wonderful swim in the hotel’s pool before dining on your own, either on the hotel’s terrace overlooking the Danube or in the town of Szentendre.

Hotel: Holiday Beach Budapest
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 21 or 29 miles (34 or 47 km)

DAY 8: Skanzen / Szentendre

This morning’s spin along the Danube Bike Trail leads to the Skanzen open-air museum. Here, recreated villages reveal the typical architecture and lifestyle of each of the seven regions of Hungary. Enjoy time to explore the museum, then cycle back to the town of Szentendre. Here, you’ll meet a local artist and have time to explore the many stores and art galleries, with time to pause for lunch on your own.

Return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. This evening, gather with your fellow passengers for an unforgettable evening and a farewell dinner.

Hotel: Holiday Beach Budapest
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 12 or 20 miles (19 or 32 km)

DAY 9: Aquincum / Margaret Island / Budapest / VBT No-Air Package ends

After breakfast, we’ll conclude our Danube odyssey with a ride on the Danube Bike Trail, passing the third-century Roman ruins of Aquincum. Continuing toward central Budapest, cycle through Margaret Island, one of the finest parks of Europe, enjoying views of its beautiful rose and Japanese gardens. We arrive at our hotel in Budapest—the Andrassy Mamaison—at about 11 am, and our tour comes to an end.

VBT No-Air Package guests: Our tour concludes at the hotel after this morning’s bicycle ride. The hotel will help you book a taxi at your own expense to the airport. Important: Train or air departures from Budapest prior to 1 pm are not recommended. If you depart earlier, you are responsible for your own transfer arrangements from the last hotel.

VBT Air Package: Spend tonight at the Mamaison Andrassy Hotel, one of the Leading Small Hotels of the World. VBT provides you with City Information that includes recommendations on what to do during your stay in Budapest. Your included day pass for Budapest’s renowned public transportation system makes it easy to explore.

Hotel: Mamaison Andrassy Hotel
Meals: B
Daily Options: 10 miles (16 km)

DAY 10: Depart for home

*After breakfast, transfer to the Budapest airport (approximately 30 minutes) for your departing flight**. Please note: Ensure that you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated time. VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder” or with the hotel’s reception desk the night before your flight.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Accommodations

Szidonia Manor House

Originally constructed in the 16th century – – this simple manor house was later rebuilt in 1750 into a romantic and classical style castle. In 1926 the Hungarian ambassador to the Vatican became the new owner of the castle. He reconstructed the castle to its 20th century comforts. During his ownership a park was developed around the castle along with a swimming pool. The main salon furniture comes from the Amsterdam palace of Louis Bonaparte – brother of Napoleon. The home has played host to royal counts, archbishops and prime ministers throughout the ambassador’s family ownership until their deportation in the 1950’s. One can still sense an atmosphere of old times, yet enjoy all the modern comforts and amenities of this castle hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Holiday Beach Budapest

This unique, boat-shaped hotel was designed with providing recreation for body and soul in mind. Set in a peaceful area on the “Roman Bank” of the Danube River, it offers gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, a bathing house with sun terrace, pool bar, sauna, Jacuzzi and tennis courts. Savor both international and Hungarian cuisine in the restaurant and at the open-air grill-terrace. And enjoy the outdoors in privacy from the balcony or deck of your room.

Arcadia Hotel

Your Bratislava extension will be enhanced by a stay at the Arcadia Hotel, one of the Leading Small Hotels of the World and the first 5-star hotel in the city. Set in the middle of Old Town Bratislava, close to the city’s main attractions such as the Opera House, St. Martin’s Cathedral, Bratislava Castle and Hviezdoslav Square, this lovely, carefully restored 13th-century building exudes a historical ambiance while also providing modern amenities. Admire the arched hallways and painted glass ceiling of the foyer before continuing to one of 34 guest rooms, each furnished in a classic historical style. At the hotel’s Restaurant L’Olive, choose from Slovakian and international delicacies, as well as an excellent wine list. While here, you might also enjoy the 24-hour Library bar with its open fireplace, the Lobby lounge and the Arcadia Spa, featuring a fitness center, whirlpool, sauna, steam bath and private Jacuzzi.
Free WiFi Included

Bazilika alatt Panzio

Set at the base of the hill on which the centuries-old Basilica of Esztergom is located, this intimate, charming inn was totally rebuilt and reopened in December 2007. The location provides easy access to the town’s museums, galleries and restaurants, as well as the Basilica of Esztergom. Enjoy the breakfast restaurant and perhaps take advantage of the spa on site. Your room offers a minibar, satellite TV and Internet connection.

Mamaison Andrassy Hotel

Located in Budapest’s exclusive Embassy neighborhood on the Pest side of the city, the Mamaison Andrassy Hotel was designed and built in a Bauhaus style by Alfred Hajos in 1937 and renovated in 2007 to feature a sleek contemporary interior design. During your stay here, you will discover why it was the first hotel in Hungary to be accepted to the collection of Leading Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Admire the stunning Art Deco style of the hotel’s Baraka Restaurant, which features a sunny terrace overlooking Andrássy Avenue—the Champs-Elysées of Budapest—and creative cuisine that blends East and West. Your spacious room, with its warm and cozy décor includes a satellite TV, direct-dial telephone, minibar and Internet access.
Free WiFi Included
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Reviews

Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With LOw-Cost Trip Extensions

Pre-Trip Extension - Bratislava

2 nights for only $245

Post-Trip Extension - Budapest

2 nights for only $295

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