You will begin near Budapest in Szentendre, home of two dozen museums, 7 churches, 13 galleries, and countless shops. After visiting a massive cathedral in Esztergom - the historic seat of the Hungarian church, you will cross the Danube River to enter Slovakia, stopping at Banska Stiavnica - an extraordinarily well-preserved ancient legacy of mining and minting.
You will visit Kremnica, with its castle and 7 peaks, and the village of Vlkolinec, the most undisturbed and complete collection of traditional architecture in Slovakia. Climb from Liptovska Osada into the thrilling terrain of the Low Tatras – a 7-mile ascent, spectacular views, and an unforgettable descent, then explore Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, where the Stations of the Cross, with 32 chapels and chaplets, end at an imposing Bernardine monastery.
The final stop before Krakow is the awe-inspiring salt mine at Wilitchka, where an unbelievable intricate sculptured salt cathedral attests to generations of workers who toiled and worshipped underground. This is a land of real spirit, where folk traditions have survived the domination of foreign rulers, and a plethora of castles and watchtowers pay testament to untold wars and civil conflicts. And the people have come through it all with their welcoming spirit intact!
We recommend that you consider staying an extra day in Krakow if you want to visit Auschwitz.
Highlights: 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the open air museum at Szentendre, panoramic views of the Danube Valley, Hungary’s largest church, Socialist Spa town of Dudince, Banska Stiavnica, the castle at Kremnica, the pedestrian market at Banska Bystrica, Vlkolinec historic village, Orava Castle, the stations of the cross at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.
Day 1: Szentendre
Meet your group and guides just outside of Budapest at your inn in the beautiful town of Szentendre. Szentendre has a unique atmosphere with two dozen museums, 7 churches, 13 galleries, and countless coffee shops and pubs. The nearby open air museum offers visitors a look at traditional Hungarian village architecture. There may be time to get acquainted with your bicycle with a short ride away from traffic on Szentendre Island before dinner. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfast only)
Centrum Panzion; or
Hotel Kentaur, Szentendre
Day 2: Szentendre to Esztergom 38km/24 miles
Your destination, Esztergom, lies 38 km away, just around a bend in the river. There is a challenging route through the hills rewarded with fantastic views of the Danube valley, and an easier route for those who prefer it. Esztergom is the historic seat of the Hungarian bishops. Its massive castle and Cathedral are the climax of the Hungarian leg of your trip. BL
Pension Basilica; or
Ria Panzion; or
Alabardos Panzio, Esztergom
Day 3: Esztergom/Sturovo to Dudince 58km/36 miles
Cross the Danube between Esztergom and Sturovo and ride into Slovakia. The route follows the Ipel River Valley and the Slovakia Hungary border north. Today’s riding is relatively easy, passing through rolling terrain. The spa town of Dudince as you see it today is a monument to the true spirit of Socialist Realism, a glimpse into times of not so long ago. The healing springs have been popular for centuries; Marcus Aureliu’s legions carved bathtubs out of the travertine rock in the times of the Roman Empire to treat their battle wounds. BLD
Spa House Rubin; or
Hotel Jantar, Dudince
Day 4: Dudince to Banska Stiavnica 39km/25 miles
Today’s route follows a gorgeous little path through the forest, running parallel to a small river. The cycling will get more challenging after lunch as you climb into the Stiavnica Hills. Banska Stiavnica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an extraordinarily well-preserved historical center once key to the Austro-Hungarian Empire with an ancient legacy of mining and minting. BLD
Hotel Grand Matej, Banska Stiavnica
Day 5: Banska Stiavnica to Kremnica and Banska Bystrica 40km/25 miles
Kremnica, with its castle sits in a valley at the centre of the Kremnica Hills, a spectacular setting surrounded by 7 peaks. To get there you will follow an exciting and sometimes difficult route including two long climbs. There is an easier alternative available, involving an enchanting train ride. In the afternoon, you will be transferred by van to your inn, stopping along the way to see the wooden church in Hronsek. Banska Bystrica, the governmental and cultural center of Central Slovakia, has a tremendous central plaza surrounded by marvellously restored historic buildings. BLD
Hotel Arcade; or
Hotel Kuria, Banska Bystrica
Day 6: Banska Bystrica - Liptovska Osada - Liptovsky Mikulas 44km/28 miles
After stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market in front of your inn you will be transferred by van 30 minutes to Liptovska Osada bypassing a busy highway through the valley. On the way, there is a quick stop at the UNESCO site village of Vlkolinec, the most undisturbed and complete collection of traditional architecture in Slovakia. You’ll climb up from Liptovska Osada into the thrilling terrain of the Low Tatras. The 7 mile ascent is well worth it, rewarded with spectacular views on the way up and a relaxing descent. This is followed by a fairly flat section by the Liptovska Mara reservoir which is a very beautiful and popular recreation area. By the days’ end, you will arrive in the historical town of Liptovsky Mikulas, known by locals for the story of the ‘Slovak Robin Hood’, Juraj Janosik, who stole from the nobles to give to the poor. You may choose to check out his story at the local museum tonight. BD
Hotel Steve, Liptovsky Mikulas
Day 7: Dolny Kubin to Trstena and Sucha Beskidzka 55km/35 miles
Begin today with an easy warm up cycling beside the Liptovska Mara water reservoir. The route becomes more challenging as you head into the undulating terrain of the Chocsky and Oravsky Hills. This is considered to be one of the prettiest rides on the Amber Trail. Bicycling through the rolling hills, you’ll experience dramatic vistas which you will not soon forget. This afternoon you’ll transfer to Sucha Beskidzka, Poland.
Hotel Kasper Suski, Sucha Beskidzka
Day 8: Sucha Beskidzka to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and Krakow
The last day of cycling takes you through picturesque village of Lanckorona. Today’s destination is the famous town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, another UNESCO site, where the Stations of the Cross consisting of 32 chapels and chaplets end at an imposing Bernardine monastery. From here you will be taken by van for a moving tour of the famous salt mine in Wieliczka, yet another UNESCO site, and finally into Krakow by 16:00. BL
Start: Szentendre 14:30, day one.
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