Follow the romantic Danube through Central Europe along bike paths and quiet country roads between Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest on this gay European bike tour. Savor regional cuisines while taking in the rolling countryside, castles, cathedrals, gracious hospitality, and gay-friendly cities. An optional tour extension takes visitors on a walking tour of beautiful Prague.
Our bike tour links three of the most romantic capital cities in Eastern Europe: Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, on an enchanting ride along the Danube. Pedal on gently rolling terrain through fairytale forests and rural hamlets. From castles to cathedrals, we’ll see a stunning array of architectural styles. We’ll enjoy a variety of food, wine, beer and culture as we bike through three countries (and 2 currencies). We’ll make our way along the river that has inspired artists and musicians for centuries and create our own Danube Dreams. The trip starts in Vienna and ends in Budapest, two gay-friendly and increasingly popular hot spots in Central Europe.
Day 1: Vienna
Our tour starts in Vienna, a majestic city dripping with history. Hapsburgs, Viennese waltzes, architectural excess, angelic choirboys, world-class museums, white stallions, and renowned orchestras are just some of the pleasures Vienna offers the world. Our group will meet in the early evening for an orientation followed by a Welcome Dinner at a popular restaurant in the gay district. For those with the energy, nightlife in Vienna is uber-fun.
Day 2: Vienna to Bratislava, Slovakia (67 km)
After breakfast, we start our first ride of the week. It’s a long cycling day, but the course is pretty flat. There are plenty of interesting things to see along the way: the famous Prater Park of Vienna, with its iconic Reisenrad Ferris Wheel; the lovely, critter-filled marshes of the Lobau, with a nature center/museum just off the route; a massive medieval castle (Schloss Orth); kitchified Roman ruins at Carnuntum; the lovely little town of Hainburg, with its imposing Vienna Gate, and delicious ice cream eating opportunities; and Devin, the most famous castle in Slovakia and a short ferry ride from Hainburg (or a leisurely pedal from Bratislava). Bratislava is a delightful town right on the banks of the Danube with a fabulous castle looming over it. Our accommodations for the night are a bit bohemian to keep us in the Slovakian spirit. We will stay in a comfortable hotel not far from our river path. Tonight we feast on native Slovakian food.
Days 3-4: Bratislava to Gyor, Hungary (78 km)
From Bratislava to Gyor, our route rolls gently through Hungarian villages and towns (after crossing the border near Rajka). This region is known in Hungarian as the Szigetkoz, meaning “thousand islands.” We can stop for lunch in the adorable little town of Moson-Magyarovar. Nearby, the small village of Lipot (on the route) offers thermal baths. From Dunaszeg, cyclists have the option of continuing along the main road into Gyor, or following the meandering Mosoni Duna (“Little Danube”) along an idyllic causeway.
Gyor is impressive, with lots of magnificent Baroque buildings, an extensive pedestrian zone, and a lovely little place to stay on an island right in the middle of town. This will be our home for two nights. Gyor (pronounced jyeur) sits midway between Vienna and Budapest and is at the confluence of the Danube, Rabca and Raba Rivers. It was an ancient Roman city and was made a bishopric (Catholic center) in the 11th century. In the 16th century, a fortress was established to hold back the Turks.
On our second day in Gyor tired riders can take a break and wander the city, but we recommend a fantastic loop option that takes in Pannonhalma Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a world-famous library. The complex of buildings at the site dates from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Highlights include the Romanesque Basilica (1225), Gothic Cloister (1485), and the impressive library with many ancient texts. This is a working monastery and our visit will include an official guide. Tonight you can choose from a variety of restaurants and don’t forget to try the local lagers.
Day 5: Gyor to Tata (61 km)
Today’s ride undulates gently across the western part of Hungary’s Kisalfold (the Little Plain), through typical villages. Midway through the ride is Babolna, home to the National Stud Farm, with horsy attractions, including a horse museum. We’ll stop for lunch and if there’s time, we’ll check out the zoo or a botanical garden. Then it’s on to Tata, a lovely place, on the shores of Old Lake. There’s an atmospheric old castle, a royal residence of the Esterhazy family, and a short pedal away are the archeological excavations at Vertesszolos, home of Europe’s oldest footprint and some interesting displays. Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner overlooking the lake.
Day 6: Tata to Visegrad (78 km with hills)
After several days of nearly pancake flat riding, the early section of today’s route has most of the hills we’ll see all week. Our route rolls vigorously through forests, farmland and vineyards, along delightfully traffic-free roads. We pass through the picturesque hamlets of Tarjan and Bajna before reaching the Danube again at Tat.
Just a little farther is Esztergom, “Hungary’s Rome,” and center for the country’s Catholic Church since the 11th century. This fact is evidenced by the enormous basilica, where all the kings of Hungary were crowned, looming over the banks of the Danube. Climbing up to the dome is a must, and the old part of town along the riverfront is worth a wander.
Today’s last 20 km is along the river, at the base of some bluffs, to the city of Visegrad. We should reach our hotel in time to check out the city and relax before the final ride tomorrow into Budapest.
Day 7: Visegrad to Budapest (50 km)
Today is a great day of riding and sight-seeing, though the excitement of reaching the capital may pull us along. Just past Visegrad is the famously scenic and historic Danube Bend, where the river makes a sharp right turn towards Budapest.
We will start the day with a hike up to Visegrad Castle, then take the ferry over to Szentendre Island, in order to incorporate the much quieter roads and scenery of the long, narrow island in the middle of the Danube. We’ll then take another ferry back across the river to the town of Szentendre. Szentendre is an atmospheric old town with lots of art galleries and restaurants, and a perfect place to stop for lunch. Heading into town we can see Roman ruins at Aquincum and the Margarit Szegit, a sports-oriented island just north of central Budapest. Tonight we enjoy a Farewell Dinner at snazzy restaurant with lots of local color. For those who wish, we may check out the nightlife.
Day 8: Departure or Begin Itinerary Extension to Prague
There’s nothing scheduled after breakfast today, so you can depart whenever you find good connections. We hope your Danube Dreams all come true, and we look forward to seeing you soon on another HE Travel adventure soon!
For anyone who would like to explore Budapest in more depth, we recommend extending your stay for a day or two. There’s plenty to see and do; click below to learn more.
Why not add a visit to the grand city of Prague while you’re “in the neighborhood”? Take a leisurely train ride from Budapest, and the capital city of the Czech Republic awaits your visit. Prague is rich in culture, art, and history and you’ll be swept away by its romantic ambiance and fine cuisine. We will retire our bicycles for a walking and cultural tour of this lovely city.
Day 8: Budapest
The main tour officially ends after breakfast this morning, but you will have the full day today to explore Budapest, then return to the same hotel room.
Day 9: Train ride from Budapest to Prague
Included in the cost of the extension is a relaxing First-Class train ride for the seven-hour journey from Budapest to Prague through the countryside of Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Our professional Czech guide will meet us at the Prague train station in the late afternoon and take us to our centrally-located hotel. After we check-in and freshen up, we’ll have an overview tour of Prague and visit a local restaurant for dinner for our first taste of Czech cuisine. Afterwards, perhaps you’ll want to sample a bit of the nightlife.
Day 10: Walking in Prague
We’ll start our day with a guided walking tour of Prague. After breakfast, our guide will meet us at our hotel, then we’ll walk together to the heart of the city, Wenceslas Square. Nearby we’ll see the well-preserved jewels of historic Prague including Old Town Square, Town Hall, the Astronomical Clock, Powder Gate, Municipal House, and the Royal Way of the Old Town. You’ll be on your own for lunch among the numerous small shops and bakeries in Old Town, then have the afternoon free to explore Prague on your own, with suggestions from our guide.
Day 11: Prague at leisure
This morning we’ll continue our walking tour to see Prague’s historic Castle and the medieval Mala Strana (“Little Quarter”) area. During the Middle Ages, this left-bank district below the castle was home to elaborate palaces of German and Italian residents of Prague, while the Bohemian Czechs mainly lived across the Vlaty River, on the right bank. Our tour will finish in the early afternoon, leaving the rest of the day to linger at historic sites of personal interest.
Day 12: Departure
The Prague extension ends today after breakfast. Since travelers will depart on a variety of flights, airport transfers are on your own.
Price includes: Lodging in comfortable city hotels and local inns; Services of two tour guides; All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 5 dinners with wine included at group dinners; Transportation to get luggage (and tired riders!) to destination; Use of the bike during the main tour; Detailed map and route suggestions. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Transportation to and from start/endpoints; Airport or train transfers in Vienna and Budapest; 4 lunches; 2 dinners; Souvenirs, snacks, admissions; Gratuities for guides and HE tour director; Bicycle rental during the optional itinerary extension to Prague.
Optional Tour Choices:
TBA Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
TBA per person in double occupancy
TBA per person in single occupancy
Price Includes: 1 night lodging in Budapest, 3 nights in Prague, breakfast each day, 1 dinner in Prague, 2 half-day city tours in Prague, a First-Class train ticket for the 7-hour ride from Budapest to Prague.
“All-around terrific biking trip in the countryside of Central Europe. Be sure to stop for gelato!”— Tom Bertrand, Providence, RI
“It was a true adventure with fine accommodations, great food and tons to see and explore while staying in shape, with the perfect amount of “saddle time.””— Richard Tesler, New York, NY
Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself.
For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
This tour starts in Vienna, Austria and ends in Budapest, Hungary
This is a classic bike tour with days of 30 to 50 miles over roads that are largely flat, with about a half day of hills. You can keep a leisurely pace, stop for photo opportunities, and enjoy the beauty of the Danube valley; for those who want more cycling, some days have longer optional routes.
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