The Sultanstrail is a long-distance hiking and cycling trail through south-eastern Europe from Vienna to Istanbul.
This region has a long history of migration and resettlement resulting in lots of different cultures living along the Trail each with its own history, language and culture.
The Danube river is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga. This river was once the long-standing northern frontier of the Roman Empire. The trail follows the Danube through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia, where it leaves the river which is left to continue its course east, through Romania unto the Black Sea.
The Sultanstrail turns south from the Danube near Smederevo in Serbia at the mouth of the Big Morava river, roughly following the ancient Roman ‘via Militaris’, the backbone of their communication system on the Balkans, towards Niš and further to Sofia in Bulgaria, Edirne in Turkey and ultimately Istanbul, the ancient capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and later the Ottoman empire.
The route follows the major migration corridor into Europe since Neolithic times. For the Romans, this route was the backbone of their communication system on the Balkans. Invading tribes from the Asian steppes used the route to penetrate into the Balkans from the north and conquer the land from the power of the Byzantine empire, leaving us with Slaves, Bulgarians and Hungarians now living in the area. For the crusaders, it was the road to the Holy land and for the Ottomans, it was the route to Vienna.
- The trail is generally well provided with accommodation facilities, except for a few areas in Bulgaria and Turkey that require a bit more logistical planning.
- Camping is possible all along the way. In Austria, Slovakia and Hungary it is expected that you use official campsites, beyond Hungary rules are more liberal or totally absent. It is advisable however to check with local residents (if any) about the best place to pitch your tent.
- In cities and villages, you can find small shops for replenishment.
Places of Interest
- The trail follows the Roman Limes and Via Militaris so it will not surprise that you will witnesses roman culture surface along the way. Very noticeably in Petronell-Carnuntum in Austria, or Aquincum in Budapest, Naissus (Niš) in Serbia, Serdica present-day Sofia and of course Constantinople Istanbul.
- In the middle ages, various kings ruled the lands. The visual remains of these kingdoms can be seen in Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Székesfehérvár, Belgrade, Kruševac and Edirne, along with mediaeval cities and fortified monasteries.
- The major religions along the way are Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, each with different rites, symbols and architecture. Among Ottoman remains are mosques, cisterns, hammams, caravanserai and clock-towers.
- Not only the distant past but modern history too left its marks, as can be seen at the Red-cross Nazi concentration camp in Niš or during the “communist city tour” in Sofia.
- If you are interested in pre-historic cultures, interesting places are Százhalombatta, in Hungary (bronze age Hallstatt culture), Vinča near Belgrade (Neolithic Vinča culture) and the Thracian city Perperikon in Bulgaria.
- Major cities on the trail are easily accessible by low-cost airliners, such as Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia and Istanbul.
- Good train connections to western Europe exist with Vienna and Budapest.
- Some countries also have a well-functioning train system, like Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.
- Within the region, the primal means of public transportation is by bus.
- It is not always possible to take a bicycle on the bus or train.
Hikers and cyclist follow a slightly different route. Due to these different modes of transportation requirements are different. Cyclist may prefer asphalt, whereas hikers do not. For more details continue reading at hiking trail or cycling trail
When to go
- Best months are March-June and September-October. Weather may be stable until halfway November.
- Voor fietsers en wandelaars hebben wij verschillende routes ontwikkeld, afgestemd op ieders wensen en mogelijkheden. Zo kiezen fietsers vaker voor asfalt dan wandelaars.
- As a rule we tend to avoid being on the trail in July and August, since temperatures are likely to rise above 300C.
- In spring it may rain, which is more of a nuisance for hikers then cyclist as the path may become muddy and slippery. More information use either hiking trail and cycling trail.
- In March and November, it can be cold, depending on the location.
For actual weather conditions check your meteosites.
- The route is not marked, the way other routes are marked. Occasionally you may find a sticker, informing you that you are still on the trail. But these are insufficient for navigation.
The Sultans Trail Digital Information Package contains all GPS-tracks, the full POI-list and addresses of accommodations and more… to be loaded into a navigation device (Garmin, or mobile phone App). Check here
- The cycling route is described in two cycling-guides (Dutch) that are available from our web store, a GPS track for self-navigation goes with the guide. Check here.
- The tracks can also be obtained from Google Playstore as ready-to-use Sultans Trail hiking App, for Android devices. Check here.
- A Sultans Trail Passport will help you to introduce yourself to locals, and collect evidence of your passing there by way of getting it stamped.
- For the ones that have completed the trail we have a certificate ready called Ferman. Just report your trip to us and ask to be inscribed into the Ferman Register.
Stickers and trafic signs
The trail is not marked. But occasionally, you can find these stickers on the trail to remind you that you are on the Sultans Trail.
For navigation on the trail we have GPS-tracks available to be used in Gamin devises of mobile phones. The full Information Package is available from our web store. Android users are recommended to use our Sultans Trail Hiking App, available from Google Play Store.
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