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The Hungarian Parliament building stands beside the Danube in Budapest
The Hungarian Parliament building stands beside the Danube in Budapest

Cycling the Danube: the Black Forest to Budapest

Rising in the German Black Forest, the Danube River runs for 2,772 km through 10 countries on its way to the Black Sea. In this post, we cover all the key facts you need to know about the first half of the Danube Cycleway. This long-distance cycle route runs parallel to the mighty river, passing through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, you'll encounter dramatic gorges, hilltop castles, vineyards, medieval towns, and the great imperial cities of Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.

The Danube Cycleway Volume 1 - Overview Map
The Danube Cycleway Volume 1 - Overview Map
What?The Danube Cycleway
Where?Between the Black Forest and Budapest
Is that the entire cycleway?Only the first part – the first part runs from Budapest to the Black Sea.
How long?1269km
How many stages?This guide breaks the route down into 29 stages, ranging from 24km to 66.5km.
How many countries does this part include?Four (Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary)
Is the route well signposted?With the exception of Stage 1 above Donaueschingen, which mostly uses the Bregtalweg, the whole route described follows a series of national waymarked cycle routes. These all carry names incorporating some form of words describing Danube cycleway, in the appropriate language. In Germany and Austria, waymarking is almost perfect in its consistency, less so in Slovakia and Hungary, but even here the situation has improved in recent years.
How long to complete?A fit cyclist, covering two stages per day, should be able to complete the trip in a fortnight.
Is the route level?It's downhill (nearly) all the way!
When to go?The route is generally cyclable from April to October. Indeed, much of the route can be cycled at any time of year except for the Black Forest section (Stage 1) where snow can lie until April.
How to travel there and back?The start of the route in the Black Forest (altitude 1094m) is not directly accessible by train. However, Triberg station (617m) is only 12km of fairly easy ascent from the source.
What accommodation is available?For most of the route there is a wide variety of accommodation.
What kind of bike do I need?The most suitable type of cycle is either a touring cycle or a hybrid (a lightweight but strong cross between a touring cycle and a mountain bike with at least 21 gears). There is no advantage in using a mountain bike.
What maps do I need?Freytag & Berndt, Kompass, Public Press and ADFC all publish maps covering most of the route shown in this book. These vary in scale from 1:50,000 to 1:125,000. The only map that includes Stage 1 (Martinskapelle to Donaueschingen) is Kompass RWK 150.
Route highlights?Black Forest, Danube sinkholes, Blue lagoon, Ulm cathedral spire (world's highest), Donaudurchbruch gorge, Regensburg medieval altstadt, King Ludwig's Walhalla, Passau, Melk and Klosterneuburg abbeys, Wachau vineyards, Wien (Hofburg, Schönbrunn and Belvedere Palaces, cathedral, Spanish Riding School), Prater Ferris wheel, Bratislava, Esztergom basilica, Danube bend, Budapest (Fishermen's bastion, St Mathias church, Europe's largest synagogue)
1Martinskapelle, Bregquelle (1094m)Donaueschingen, Donauquelle (678m)39.5km
2Donaueschingen, Donauquelle (678m)Tuttlingen, Rathausbrücke bridge (645m)35.5km
3Tuttlingen, Rathausbrücke bridge (645m)Sigmaringen bridge (571m)54.5km
4Sigmaringen bridge (571m)Riedlingen bridge (528m)33.5km
5Riedlingen bridge (528m)Ehingen station (509m)37.5km
6Ehingen station (509m)Ulm, Metzgerturm tower (471m)41.5km
7Ulm, Metzgerturm tower (471m)Lauingen Marktplatz (441m)47.5km
8Lauingen Marktplatz (441m)Donauwörth town hall (408m)41km
9Donauwörth town hall (408m)Ingolstadt, footbridge (367m)59.5km
10Ingolstadt, footbridge (367m)Kelheim quayside (344m)50km (45.5km cycling; 4.5km ferry)
11Kelheim quayside (344m)Regensburg, Brückturm (340m)37.5km
12Regensburg, Brückturm (340m)Straubing, Theresienplatz (337m)53.5km
13Straubing, Theresienplatz (337m)Deggendorf, Hans-Krämer-Strasse (312m)39km
14Deggendorf, Hans-Krämer-Strasse (312m)Passau Rathausplatz (301m)56.5km
15Passau Rathausplatz (301m)Aschach bridge (264m)65km
16Aschach bridge (264m)Urfahr, Nibelungen bridge (254m)26.5km
17Urfahr, Nibelungen bridge (254m)Mauthausen, Heindlkai (241m)24.5km
18Mauthausen, Heindlkai (241m)Grein ferry ramp (240m)39km
19Grein ferry ramp (240m)Melk, Kremser Strasse (209m)47km
20Melk, Kremser Strasse (209m)Krems, Bahnhofplatz (200m)37.5km
21Krems, Bahnhofplatz (200m)Tulln, Nibelungen monument (175m)44.5km
22Tulln, Nibelungen monument (175m)Vienna, Schwedenplatz (164m)37km
23Vienna, Schwedenplatz (164m)Petržalka, Nový Most bridge (142m)66.5km
24Petržalka, Nový Most bridge (142m)Mosonmagyaróvár, Schloss Óvár castle (122m)37km
25Mosonmagyaróvár, Schloss Óvár castle (122m)Győr, Széchenyi tér (120m)40.5km
26Győr, Széchenyi tér (120m)Komárom roundabout (113m)53km
27Komárom roundabout (113m)Esztergom basilica (109m)52.5km
28Esztergom basilica (109m)Szentendre, promenade (105m)48km
29Szentendre, promenade (105m)Budapest chain bridge (104m)24km
Total km--1269km
The Danube Cycleway Volume 1 - Front Cover

The Danube Cycleway Volume 1

From the source in the Black Forest to Budapest


The first in a two-volume set, this guidebook describes cycling the first 1269km of the Danube river from its source in the Black Forest to Budapest, passing through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Suitable for all levels of cyclist, the route visits the great cities of Vienna and Bratislava before arriving in the Hungarian capital.

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