With autumn soon with us, it’s time to take the bike out before the weather becomes too wet or chilly. Here are six suggestions for attractive cycle rides within easy reach of Budapest – plus rest stops in between.
Although the entire cycle circuit of
Csepel island covers a fair distance, you can opt for a smaller one, which
should provide plenty of exercise. The cycle path follows the banks of the
Danube from south Pest in a straight line to what is District XXI, Csepel. One section
is currently closed but the detour isn’t that onerous. When you reach Csepel,
you can continue your journey right or left. The first leads to Lake Kavicsos.
There are several lakes here, but Kavicsos is the largest and most beautiful.
Turning around the lakes, after a few minutes you reach the end of the 5-km
long riverside promenade, Kolonics György sétány. Near the waterfront, you soon
come back to where you started, where a left turn now takes you to Gubacsi
Bridge, the gateway to Csepel.
Újpest from riverside Moszkva sétány in District XIII, say, you soon the Northern Railway Bridge, but instead of
crossing it, you continue along main Váci út. This brings you smoothly to
Dunakeszi ferry port (2120 Dunakeszi, Rév út 1). It only take a few minutes to
hop over to Szentendre Island, landing at Horány. Arriving ashore, it doesn’t
really matter which way you choose, as Szentendre Island is a small jewellery
box in the Danube Bend. Wherever you head to, make sure to pop into Nemdebárka, for a rewarding drink in familial surroundings. You can
then return Budapest the same way, ferry to Dunakeszi then bike ride down Váci út,
or take a different boat to Szentendre and head back down on the Buda side.
The official name of Lake Naplás is the Szilas-pataki Flood Protection Reservoir, because it was born from the damming of the stream, sometime in the ’70s. The origins of the word Naplás describe a place to relax all day. This is apt, as Lake Naplás and surroundings, a nature reserve since 1997, are an (almost) endless space of tranquillity. The bike path leads here from two directions: either along the Szilas stream or from east Pest transport hub of Örs vezér tere. For the sake of variety, you can come from one direction and then leave in the other. Either way, cycling around the lake provides the ideal getaway.
From Kolonics György sétány on Csepel (see above), you can spy a romantic wilderness on the other side, just as attractive as your immediate surroundings. As you head towards Csepel on the cycle path, the road splits just as you arrive, turning right towards Gubacsi Bridge. Cross over to Pesterzsébet, then turn right. After the bridge, take a right, you come into Vízisport utca, with a beach alongside. From there, you carry straight on, the long road following the riverbank leading you to Molnár Island. This is similar to Szentendre Island (see above) – wherever you turn, there is no wrong direction. After a fair trek, you reach the centre of Soroksár via the bridge, from where you can get back to Budapest along Soroksári út.
This classic route, which runs almost completely along the banks of the
Danube, can be interspersed with rest stops for drinks and Danube views. Starting from Szentlélek tér in Óbuda, you can roll over to the bar-dotted island of Hajógyári-sziget, then past Graphisoft Park and peek over at the towers of the former
gas factory. The section along Római-part, the pretty shore populated in Roman times, encourages
you to stop for a drink at one of the many bars there, after which you can
cycle all the way up to Szentendre at a fair clip. There, you can set down
again at Kacsakő,
before another manageable section awaits as you reach the pretty village of Leányfalu,
the end and turn-around point of the journey. As a bonus, the unspoilt island
of Pap-sziget is an easy hop from Szentendre.
This bike tour around the Danube Bend is a bit of a stretch, not because of any difficult terrain but the sheer length of it. Thankfully, the cycle path is in good condition, and the accompanying scenery amazing. You can either cycle to Dunakeszi just outside Budapest and reach Vác from Sződliget or take your bike on the train to Vác, half-an-hour from Nyugati station. From there, you pass through Verőce, Nagymaros and Zebegény to Szob. It’s a good 30 kilometres, but it’s relatively flat, with attractive rest stops. It’s with heavy heart that you head back to the city.