Week 1: Slovakia – Old castles and romantic forests

Our Great Carpathian Cycle Tour: From Vienna’s Reichsbrücke (Donauinsel) down to the Iron Gate – cycling Europe’s longest mountain and trekking bike trail over a length of 2,300 km.

14 July 2019, 10 a.m. We are setting out on our cycle tour through the Carpathians, determined to cover a breath-taking distance of 2,300 km. Our journey begins at Reichsbrücke in Vienna and takes us through the countries Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania down to Drobeta Turnu Severin, the ancient Roman town on the border between Romania and Serbia. As on all our cycle tours (including our Great Divide tour through the Rocky Mountains), we are traveling on a tandem bicycle with an all-terrain trailer for our luggage. The luggage we are carrying with us weighs 20 kilograms: clothing, of course, but also tools (you never know…) and a tent with sleeping bags and mats, just in case we don’t come across a hotel or pension where we can the stay the night. Our 2,300-km cycle tour comprises 29 stages (with only few days of rest) and will terminate in Drobeta Turnu Severin at the Iron Gate. Each day, we are determined to cover between 60 and 100 kilometers and to gain an altitude of up to 1,700 meters (those meters are the most strenuous ones).

We have done our investigation homework: The cycle route through the Carpathians is Europe’s longest cycle route.

For the very first time, we are cycling the entire length of the Carpathian cycle route – which we have investigated, discovered and developed ourselves – in one go. We are joined by friends – and we are truly excited!

Please consider: – We have developed two cycle routes through the Carpathians: one for mountain bikers (partly sophisticated and running across rugged terrains) and one for trekking bikers (mostly on paved roads, gravel roads, or wide forest trails).

Our guidebook “Cycling The Great Carpathians” will be released in English language this winter, the German version “Auf dem Fahrrad durch die wilden Karpaten” is slated for Easter 2020.

We wish you a great bike adventure – through our Carpathians!

Have Fun!

We are pleased if you follow us on www.radtouren-karpaten.net or www.cycling-carpathians.net.

Our journey back home from Drobeta Turnu Severin takes us along the Danube cycle path.

Day 1: From Vienna’s “Reichsbrücke” to Stupava in Western Slovakia

At first, we cycle along the “Donauinsel”, the long-stretched island that splits the Danube in two, then through the Donauauen National Park and further on to Schloss Orth. Thanks to an unexpected road construction detour, we are guided to the romantic castle of Eckartsau, the last Austrian domicile of Emperor Karl I. and his wife Zita before they were exiled. Our tip: Make sure to cycle through the scenic park extending behind the castle or take a stroll and visit the castle interiors.  What is more, the café located in the inner courtyard of the former hunting lodge serves an exquisite buffet!

Moving on, we come across the imperial hunting lodge of Schloss Niederweiden, which lies in close proximity to our next stop – Schloss Hof, the former country residence of Prince Eugen of Savoy and Empress Maria Theresia, where a heavy shower takes us by surprise.

From here, we finally pass the border to Slovakia via an impressive bridge for cyclists and pedestrians: the “Bridge of Freedom” extending across the Morava River and leading to Devinska Nova Ves.

In the evening, we reach the final destination of our first stage: the town of Stupava, which nestles at the foothills of the Small Carpathians. We are dry, at last.

Day 2: From the park surrounding Stupava castle to Smolenice

Our cycle tour starts at the “English garden” surrounding Stupava castle, which has become a popular place to relax and unwind for both locals and their guests.

We proceed to the Small Carpathians (Malé Karpaty), the mountain range that marks the westernmost extension of the Carpathian Arc. 

After a strenuous four-hour bike ride, the magnificent castle of Cerveny Kamen comes in sight. This castle, which is definitely worth visiting, was first built in the 13th century and has meanwhile reached gigantic dimensions.

Some parts of the castle were designed by the famous painter Albrecht Durer. Our first advice: Why not have a rest in the inner courtyard and enjoy a hearty snack? Our second advice: Take a look at the statues located in the backyard surrounding the castle!

The final destination of this day trip is Smolenice. Smolenice castle, high up on a hill, can also be admired from a distance. Enjoy your dinner at the new restaurant with its exquisite cuisine, which is conveniently located right at the town center. And be sure to pre-book your room (it wasn’t at all easy to find a place to stay…).

Day 3: From Smolenice to Trencin.

A magnificent one-day stage across lush green fields and meadows.

In the evening, we arrive in Trencin, one of Slovakia’s most cultural and scenic towns. Our first advice: Enjoy your dinner at the historical main square. Our second advice: Immediately behind the main square, you will find a nice place to stay the night at pension “Panorama”.

Day 4: From Trencin to Zilina.

Picture: Catching up with Milan on our route to Zilina. Milan is a passionate cyclist and has travelled the entire German-speaking region on his bike.

Day 5: From Zilina to Dolny Kubin.

This is one of the technically most challenging stages so far: we have to push our bikes along a 100-m-long section amidst the high forest.

In the evening, we are rewarded by an exquisite dinner and a romantic stay at the historic Kuria hotel.

Digression 1: Slovakia is a country of beer lovers!

Beer seems to be the number-one beverage in this country. During the day, when we happen to pass by a local pub (and are already deserving a reward), we prefer a refreshing “radler”, a type of shandy where non-alcoholic beer is mixed with a carbonated lime drink. In the evening, when there is time to relax and recover from the strenuous journey, we enjoy one (or two) glasses of the excellent local beer varieties.

Photo: Alexas_Photos / Pixabay

Digression 2: Stork nests in Slovakia and a “candid camera”

Photo: Alexas_Photos / Pixabay

When cycling through Slovakian villages, it is a must to look upward and watch out for the storks and their families. In Bolesov, we even discovered a camera next to a stork nest. And here is a wildlife watching link to observe the storks of Bolesov during their daily routine: http://bociany.kiki.sk

Day 6: From Dolny Kubin to Liptovsky Mikulas

Day 7: To Levoca (Leutschau)

If you haven’t been here already, you have definitely missed something. After a 100-km-long trip, we arrive at Levoca and are welcomed by a thunderstorm. As we reach the main square, we cannot believe our eyes: an impressive array of historical buildings dating from a variety of periods spreads out in front of us, like exhibits of a museum. We now know why the town became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 2009.

Day 8: To Presov

Spisske Hrad – Spis Castle
Friendly Ludmila serving us a cold beer in Kluknava

Day 9: From Presov to Hummene

Today’s cycle route through the forest is a tough but unforgettable experience! We cycle a length of 80 kilometers, largely through the high forest, with an elevation gain of 1,300 kilometers. And we are rewarded by magnificent descents on narrow paved trails through the lush green beech forest.