Bratislava – Budapest
Section 2 of the Sultans Trail, from Bratislava to Budapest, is about 225 km long and, for the major part, stays close to the Danube, in Slovakia.
Major cities along the way are Komárno (SVK) and Esztergom (HU).
At this stretch of the Sultans Trail, the course of the Danube is checked by two dams. Both will be used to cross the river. Between these dams, the original flood land is preserved, albeit controlled by permeable dams. The trail meanders through these natural wetlands.
After crossing the second weir, the trail stays close to the Danube in Slovakia until Komárno and Štúrovo. At Štúrovo the Danube is crossed by a bridge, and the trail enters Esztergom, the former capital of the Hungarian kingdom.
From Esztergom to Budapest the trail passes through the wooded hills of the Pilis mountains, (Pilisszentkereszt), a former crown dominion. It is here that the trail reaches its highest point, in this section, at Dobogókö in the Visigrád hills (700m.).
From Dobogókö the trail continues to Óbuda, where Aquincum can be found, the Roman roots of Budapest. From Óbuda it is only a short distance to Castle hill of Buda and the Parliamentary building in Pest, on the other side of the Danube. The landscape is predominantly flat, river land, with large agricultural fields and small, spread-out villages. And between, Esztergom and Budapest, low hills
This section is sparsely accommodated. Therefore the journey has to be carefully planned. Places with accommodation along the way are Gabčíkovo, Komárnó, Stúrovo/ Esztergom and finally Budapest.
For the route along the Danube, it is advisable to continue from the weir at Gabčíkovo (Gabčíkovo – Vodné dielo) to Ňárad (Penzión Platan), instead of staying overnight in Gabčíkovo.
Between Bodíky and Komárnó two alternatives to the main route are offered, one via Veľký Meder in Slovakia and one via Győr in Hungary. Both will be discussed briefly.
Alternative route Veľký Meder
For this route, one needs to cross the Danube at the weir at Gabčíkovo and stay overnight near or at Gabčíkovo and Veľký Meder. Veľký Meder has a spa resort and thus plenty of accommodation. The route leaves Gabčíkovo to the north-east, along the asphalt road to Pataš and Veľký Meder.
From Veľký Meder the route follows a rather busy road, Route 63, for a few kilometres. (An alternative for asphalt is a short ride by train, the regional express in the direction of Komárnó and get off at Bodza, or one stop further at Zemianska Olča. Don’t forget to press the stop button in time or the train may not stop to let you off).
The better part of the trail follows a pleasant course along the Lipovský kanál and the Kormátnanský kanál.
Alternative route Győr
This alternative route crosses over to Hungary, using the ferry to Dunaremete/Lipót. Lipót has a spa and accommodation facilities. From Lipót the trail continues towards Győr and further to Komárom on the Hungarian side of the Danube.
In Rusovce the Roman fortress Gerulata is worth a visit. Unfortunately, Kaštieľ Rusovce is closed to the public, but the castle park is accessible and the trail runs through it.
The wetlands between Čunovo and Gabčíkovo are very much worthwhile.
Győr is a regional industrial center with Roman roots and a small Medieval center.
Komárnó has a charmingly refurbished center and interesting fortress. It’s twin city Komárom, on the Hungarian side of the Danube used to locate important fortifications dating from Roman times.
Stúrovo is situated near Esztergom at the Danube. Esztergom is a fortified town with a large episcopal cathedral.
The hills between Esztergom and Budapest reach up to 900m and used to be the crown dominions of the Hungarian monarchy.
Budapest is very much worth a visit. With its remains of ancient Roman Aquincum, Castle Hill, Fisherman’s wharf, House of Parliament, Art Nouveaux architecture, and numerous spa’s. Too much to mention.
How to get there
Bratislava International Airport (IATA code: BTS), Letisko M. R. Štefánika, is located north-east of the town and has a regular bus connection to the city centre. See www.bts.aero/en/
Bratislava is also served by Vienna International Airport with which it has a frequent bus connection.
Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport (IATA code: BUD) is frequented by ca 50 airlines, including various low-cost carriers. The airport serves as a hub for Wizz Air and as a base for Ryanair.
The airport is located 16km southeast of the city. It is connected to the city by bus lines; bus 100E to Deák Ferenc tér and bus 200E to Köbánya-Kispest Metro Station, transfer to Metro line M3 and city bus line 61, see also www.bud.hu/en and www.imhd.sk
Budapest also has good bus- and train connections to many major (eastern) European cities, see www.bahn.de and www.goeuro.com
The Map below shows the Trail on Open Street Map.
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