My five favorite Hungarian cycling days

This past September I cycled the Hungarian countryside on a 10-day bicycle tour. To say it was amazing is an understatement. It left me wanting to be more of a world explorer on a bike. It was difficult but here are my five favorite days cycling Hungary

#5: Budapest

Words cannot describe the beauty of Budapest. It is obvious why it is becoming an increasingly popular tourist hotspot. It has it all: history, grand public buildings, majestic cathedrals, breathtaking city panoramas, good food and friendly people.

I spent one of my Budapest days on a city bike tour. The Hungarian guide navigated my group through the busy streets of Pest, the flat business side of the city. My group crossed the Danube on the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and climbed the castle hill to Buda, the hilly side of the city.

The Great Market Hall, Hero’s Square, the Hungarian Opera House, the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, the Hungarian Parliament, St. Stephens Basilica, the Buda Castle, the Castle District, and Matthias Church were just a few of the stops on this fun-filled day on the bike.

#4: Western Lake Balaton

I cycled the northern shore of Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest lake, over several days. I particularly enjoyed this day with an overnight stay at Batthyany Kastelyszallo, a Hungarian aristocrat’s castle turned into a spa.

The day started at the impressive eighteenth century Festetics Castle. The estate’s preservation was perfect with manicured gardens and elegantly furnished rooms. Walking out the castle’s main gate, I found myself in the heart of the city alive with shops, cafes, and Hungarian street performers.

After a lunch at a sidewalk café, my tour group took a short trip to Hévíz, home to Lake Hévíz. I experienced a few hours floating on this thermal lake, popular for its warm healing waters. It was a unique experience afloat in a sea of lily pads with a pool noodle floatation device under my arms.

#3: Tihany and Badacsony wine region

Wow! Just wow! There is no better way to describe this day of cycling through the Badacsony wine region along Lake Balaton’s northern shores. I cycled through miles of vineyard strewn hills and small lakeside villages before arriving in the quaint village of Tihany.

My evening’s accommodations was a small inn with a csárda serving a traditional Hungarian breakfast and dinner. I walked through the back streets of the village to the town center where a street festival was in full swing. The day ended with a breathtaking sunset walk to the Benedictine Tihany Abbey along the cliffs overlooking Lake Balaton.

#2: Lake Neusiedl/Lake Fertő

My cycling adventure began 30 miles southwest of Vienna at Neusiedl am See on the northern tip of Lake Nuesiedl. My tour group traveled on cycle paths through vineyards and small Austrian villages before entering Hungary for the last ten miles. The southern portion of the lake in Hungary is called Lake Fertő.

This was a magnificent day of cycling with the vineyards fragrant from the ripe grapes on the vines. The most memorable village was Rust on the Austrian portion of the ride. It is a postcard-worthy lakeside village known for stork nests on chimneys and reed thatched roofs.

My ride ended at Fertorakos where the group was transported to nearby Sopron.  The accommodations for the night was the Sopronbánfalvi Kolostor Hotel, a 1482 Carmelite Monastery. This was my favorite hotel of the tour; rich in history, culture, and beauty with a knockout view of the city and countryside.

#1: Koszeg and Pinka River

This was my favorite cycling day of the tour. Starting the day in Csepreg, our group arrived in Koszeg, known as the jewel box of the foothills of the Alps. Its colorful square is crowned with a large cathedral. Flower boxes were abundant on buildings throughout the village.

Leaving Koszeg, my tour group headed into the Hungarian countryside and lunch at a Hungarian csárda nestled in the vineyards. Cycling along the Pinka River, I climbed to the Iron Curtain Museum. An elderly gentleman who was an Iron Curtain guard operates this rustic museum. My tour group was fortunate to hear his first-hand story as he guided us through the grounds.

Life is good!
Tom Bilcze

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