Cycling paths in Hungary

Crossing Hungary by bicycle: roads, routes and other tips

By bicycle we crossed Hungary or indeed Transdanubia as we have already shared our impressions about and we didn’t have a clear plan where do we go in advance nor had we an idea how everything is going to go. We just entered it, withdrawn some cash from the ATM at the first village and went on. On the way we made decisions for the next days and so we tried every kind of roads, we learnt the necessary Hungarian words to buy bread or to ask to put our tent in their garden and went through villages to see how Hungarians live at the periphery and not in Budapest.

Crossing into Hungary on Eurovelo 6 path

As we crossed the border from Austria on a Eurovelo cycling path along the Danube the only thing that changed at first was the marking: a painted cyclist on the side tree 🙂
Eurovelo 6 bicycle path marking in Hungary
The paths too… they were marked in yellow and were very narrow, especially in the cities. I always wondered how are we going to cross with the other cyclists-tourers when the come. Well, they didn’t, we were only overtaken by some road cyclists.

Which roads are good for cycling in Hungary

When the Eurovelo path got finished, and that was around Gyor when we turned away from Danube, we chose not to take the main roads, but small village roads in between and were really happy about that as the roads were in good quality. It was way less traffic on them compared to main roads and often both of them have just one lane anyways, and neither enough shoulder for cyclists.
In general we prefer village roads over every other option as we are interested in touring when bicycle touring mostly. So while cycling through the local small roads you got to observe, meet and of course surprise more of locals unless they aren’t there anymore. Indeed villages are empty in Hungary, at least it felt like that. But they still have little shops with bakery goods too, available only early in the morning.
And you can find some pubs-bars that serve food too. Looking something that this:
Lunch break in the village

Once we even had to cycle on a highway too, to connect to a local road and at times there weren’t any shoulder there for us either. The road was busy and fast but at least had two lanes, while main roads often have just one lane full with speeding cars. So on main ways trucks might have a problem overtaking you if the roads are busy. Once we cycled like that in a fog with evening falling, with a truck behind us for like 5-10 minutes. The driver was polite and didn’t overtake us until we reached a city. Luckily it was just a short distance and once reached a city we found bicycle paths, very separated from the street, that was nice.
Very foggy entrance of Vezprem
As you see in the photo, the cycling route just next to the main road entering the city. No shoulders and all in fog. I wouldn’t recommend going on those ways (and of course highways included) as there are other options.
Despite there are every kinds of drivers in Hungary, in general, they seem to respect cyclists on roads and drive around them. They don’t beep or steer at you like what the hell are you doing here.

Cycling routes in Hungary ?

Hungary, if you would look at  , doesn’t have a huge cycling route network as Germany or Austria, but cycling there is getting more and more popular as everybody writes. Well, so basically I would say there is are those famous Eurovelo routes, like Eurovelo 6 with multiple choice along the Danube, then less known Eurovelo 11, crossing the country on the East side and there is one along the west border too, the Eurovelo 13 (!); and there is one very well known national route around the Balaton, which is a bit old and not always at its best.

Other than those marked in open cycle map, are simply cycling routes planned on a village roads. Such we found on a map for cyclists from tourism office in Gyor. There weren’t any special paths for bicycles, sometimes not even well signed. So bicycle routes in Hungary are not always in a way the germans or dutch would expect. So apart from those well known cycling routes, the others, suggested by local tourism offices could often be technically done by car too 🙂

Planning your route

For crossing Hungary there is a famous Eurovelo path 6 with plenty of documentations, maps and tips. There isn’t much to plan if you choose it, in my opinion. Otherwise, well, we did our planning as we mostly do: we used offline maps, asked for paper maps at tourism centres and also asked locals, mostly other travellers at who’s place we have stayed.

We were very lucky with maps, as we got some for free at the Tourism office in Gyor. They had some maps with cycling routes around Gyor available, and also pst.. no word about it, one helped us with sharing some pages from the book about cycling around the Balaton.Tourism office in Gyor

Basics of Hungarian language might help a lot

Unless you are going on Eurovelo and stopping at big cities, not everybody speaks/understands any other language than Hungarian. In areas close to Germany people speak German, in bigger cities younger generations speak English, and of course if you are in the touristic area there will always be someone who can translate. But we did want to visit villages too.

As we stayed with Hungarian guy in Gyor, we took some time to learn some basic vocabulary and asked him to note down some important phrases for us like: ‘Could I put a tent in your garden, please’. Although we stayed at Couchsurfers and Warmshowers guys places a lot, we also did wild camping. And as we crossed some small villages and got stuck searching for a place too late, we decided to use the note and it did help a lot as we were granted a spot:

0215_Sleep_Bakony mountains

After we have built a tent, and we could not make our stove work, Umut tried to ask ‘our host’ for hot water for making an instant soup. For 5 minutes he was explaining all with hands and sounds, but all we got was a tap water. Warm though. Well… we didn’t have that translated in Hungarian, nor we had the internet.
So some words we used and found useful:
szia [sia]– hi, hello
köszönöm [kiosioniom]– thank you
nem – no
igen – yes
mosdo – toilet
etterem – restaurant
pekseg – bakery
egy – one
ketto – two
sator [shator] – a tent
fekete tea – black tea

Hey, and for you, who are planning to travel there: Jó utat!

Gyor mirror

What do you think?