Crossing the border: Hungary-Croatia at Gola

In search for a fast way to reach Zagreb from nearby Balaton

From a small touristic village Zalakaros in Hungary, somewhat 180 km away from Zagreb, we, in short with time, running to meet friends and stay with them before they leave for the weekend, we searched the fastest possible way to get there. Unluckily there were no trains that could carry our bikes over the border from nearby. There weren’t many available connections between Hungary and Croatia for passengers either. Well, although not fighting, it doesn’t look like both countries have a great interest in each other. Neither people, whomever asked, not many have travelled to each others country.

But decided to make a turn from our pre-planed route right there and visit Croatia and cycle along the sea rather than along the river further in Hungary we made a plan. We will cycle Zakaros – Nygykanisza, then will take a train for 30 min Nygykanisza – Gyekenes, then will cycle again over the border till Koprivinica and will take a train again Koprivinica-Zagreb. And so we did, but it took much longer than planned, and only because we decided to take the shortest way possible… As Lithuanian proverb says, never drop the road for a path.

border area hungary-croatia with fieldpaths

Expectations about the EU borders and our planned shortcuts

Our expectations were that we can cross the border wherever since both countries are in the EU, however, there was a little doubt and we googled that a year ago, due to the migrant crisis the border fence was initiated and installed from the side of Hungarians. But there were no recent news about it online and Umut insisted we try to get into Croatia on the field way, the one we could clearly see on a google areal map.

And of course, the fence was there.

Hungary-Croatia fence border we reached

A bit hard to see in the photo, but it was there, all along the border.. which seems to go just in the middle of fields used for agriculture, without any border zone.

As the closest shortcut didn’t work out, we took the second shortcut, the road along the fields with no villages on the way, but on our offline maps – Maps.me – it was marked as a road of no importance, not a path. Same on Google maps. And it was a field way, a very bad old field way. After awhile it turned into a muddy path between fields, the one the tractors use. We started pushing, thinking how long would it last; there was so little left compared to what we already have cycled and we didn’t want to go all the way back. We carried on and on and it just got worse and worse.

Pushing through Hungarian mud 2

Great Hungarian extra sticky mud

At the end, we even had to pull our bikes, as the mud would be stuck under the wheel covers. We tried walking the fields instead of the muddy path as well, sometimes they were better. So we struggled for a half an hour or more, nearly all the way up till the border crossing. Just before reaching the asphalt again we ‘cleaned’ the mud from under the covers to get the wheels turning again. But as there was no water we appeared at the border control quite dirty.

We didn’t meet anyone and saw just one house further from the path and just before the border control we saw a couple of houses under construction and workers that were clearly surprised seeing us appearing from the bushes.

At least the weather was getting better at those days, it was the end of the February and it was smelling like the spring is coming and when we reached bushes just before the mud was over, birds were all joyfully singing. They were so loud, you can clearly hear in the video we made.

Have a look at our struggle with a mud while crossing the border:

And an advice: don’t cycle that road:

Border control process at Gala took us awhile

Although the control point was empty and quiet it tool maybe 5 minutes for Hungarians and 10 for Croats to check just our passports. And both sit nearly back to back. The point was very local, seems no foreigners were ever crossing there: to find a stamp they left to completely other building.
As we got our passports back and cycled out of the control zone, 50 meters further we saw the fence and barb wires around the road. Indeed in wikipedia all is explained in detail about Hungarian border, but somehow we were searching about Croatian border and not the Hungarian one…

Entering Croatia through the wired border

Crossing a border with barbwires was a strange feeling for me. It wasn’t the first time I was crossing borders, but it was indeed the first time crossing EU border with a fence and barb wires around.


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