Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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jamesgilbert
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Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby jamesgilbert » 18 Apr 2013, 3:06pm

I'm currently planning a 2 month tour across Europe from Paris this summer. So far the plan is to go from Paris to Prague (http://www.paneuropa-radweg.de) then Prague to Vienna (http://www.pragueviennagreenways.org), then a short section of EV6 from Vienna to Budapest.

I'd like to end up in central Romania - i.e. Transylvania and the Carpathians. My question is how to get there from Budapest. Heading due east looks quite flat and possibly not very exciting. I could instead go north to Slovakia, crossing some of the Tatra mountains, then east through the Ukrainian part of the Carpathians into Romania.

Does this sound like a good idea? I'd be interested to hear about any must-see areas (or places to avoid).

DaveFY7
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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby DaveFY7 » 19 Apr 2013, 12:27am

I've cycled south from the Tatras to Budapest and beyond and also northwards into the Tatras from Gyor. Slovakia is a good place to cycle with quiet roads of a decent standard. The Lower Tatras are largely forested so views can be limited but the climbs are decent. The Higher Tatras are very scenic. We spotted a large wild cat on our first trip over. The roads out of Budapest to the north are very busy. We travelled along the Vac and God road and the traffic was very intolerant towards us (road 2)

If time and distance permits, I'd go south on quiet country roads to the Serbian border at Hercegszanto, ride through Serbia to the route along the Danube (djerdap national park) into Romania and head north east to pick up the Transalpina.

The 67C is the Transalpina Pass which is the highest pass in Romania at 2,145m even higher than the "Top Gear" Transfagarasan. The Transalpina takes you into Transylvania. It's a nice challenging climb and is pretty quiet.

I flew into Targu Mures last year and cycled the Transalpina north to south and crossed at Vidin then into Serbia, Kosovo and flew back from Macedonia. I've also cycled the route south from Budapest to the Hercegszanto border, cycled through Serbia into Bosnoa, Kosovo, Albania and onwards so know the route quite well.

I loved the cycling in Romania. It's a fascinating country.

I've also cycled the Czech Greenways from Prague to Vienna. Nice route. :wink:

If you need any advice let me know.

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jamesgilbert
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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby jamesgilbert » 19 Apr 2013, 8:55am

Thanks for all the info, unfortunately I don't think we'd have time to go south to Serbia - I'm particularly interested in going through Slovakia.

We might follow this route from Budapest as far as Liptovský Mikuláš: http://www.visitgreenways.com/tour_Cycl ... Cracow.htm and then just head due East.

Your other proposed route looks good though, I'll put it on the (rapidly expanding) list for another tour!

iviehoff
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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby iviehoff » 19 Apr 2013, 11:06am

jamesgilbert wrote:... as far as Liptovský Mikuláš...and then just head due East.

heading due east from Liptovsky Mikulas you have the broad depression between the Low Tatras to the south, and the Western and High Tatras to the north. It gradually climbs over a watershed before you drop down to Poprad. However overall it just gives the impression of a plain, and not very interesting, though the distant views of the W/High Tatras are nevertheless reasonably spectactular. But to make the ride more interesting you may want to keep to the northern edge of it and cycle in the foothilss of the W/High Tatras through Strbske Pleso etc - though you can't actually cycle in among those mountains, it's footpaths only. And actually once you get onto that road along the foothills, you get a bit too close in to the peaks to see what is going on, so its bit six of one,e tc. Heading south to the southern edge of teh depression doesn't really help, as you tend to stay on the edge of the depression and you don't get much of a view of the mountains to teh south unless you actually get in among them, though that involves quite a long detour to the south on paved roads. There are some unpaved routes you can cycle in the low Tatras, though these are pretty rough tracks.

Avoid Poprad unless you really need to visit a giant supermarket - they are easily found on the main routes in on the western edge of town. The town itself is mostly industrial communist era dump (like Zilina). About 40km further east, Levoca is one of the most historic towns in Slovakia to visit.

If you have time for a walk, the Slovensky Raj offers some fo the most entertaining walking in central Europe. There are several gorges you can walk up with assistance of boardwalks, ladders, chains, etc, which is easy enough to be family friendly, but airy enough to be a bit exciting. You have to pay a small entry fee. The main gorges for walking in this fashion are accessed a couple of km to the SW of Hrabusice, a village about 5km to the SW of Spissky Stvrtok. Spissky Hrad is perhaps the finest castle in Slovakia, and is about 40km further east near the town of Spissky Podhradie.

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smith4188
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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby smith4188 » 21 Apr 2013, 5:23pm

I'm cycling through Romania as I type (well, obviously not as I type). The roads can be interesting. Some of the A-roads are extremely busy stuffed with trucks and with a small shoulder that's often uncyclable. Others are fine. There is also a reasonably large network of little country lanes on my map, but some of these really are just muddy tracks in fields - my map doesn't differentiate between a surfaced and an unsurfaced road. Best to check potential routes via other sources, like BikeRouteToaster.com. B-roads are your best option but there doesn't seem to be many of those. But whatever, come to Romania. It's fun and it's cheap. Beer is around €1 in a bar, single room motel/B&B between €13 and €22, campsites between €3.50 and €5, decent restaurant pizza for less than €4.
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Vladimir
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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby Vladimir » 21 Apr 2013, 5:56pm

Romania is definitely nice and cheap.

How safe have you found it?

I should go cycle touring in Romania - I already speak the language!

smith4188 wrote:I'm cycling through Romania as I type (well, obviously not as I type). The roads can be interesting. Some of the A-roads are extremely busy stuffed with trucks and with a small shoulder that's often uncyclable. Others are fine. There is also a reasonably large network of little country lanes on my map, but some of these really are just muddy tracks in fields - my map doesn't differentiate between a surfaced and an unsurfaced road. Best to check potential routes via other sources, like BikeRouteToaster.com. B-roads are your best option but there doesn't seem to be many of those. But whatever, come to Romania. It's fun and it's cheap. Beer is around €1 in a bar, single room motel/B&B between €13 and €22, campsites between €3.50 and €5, decent restaurant pizza for less than €4.

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smith4188
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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby smith4188 » 21 Apr 2013, 6:54pm

Vladimir wrote:Romania is definitely nice and cheap. How safe have you found it?


I've had no problems in Romania so far, but then again I've had no problems anywhere (and this is my 36th European country on this tour). People are generally good everywhere. And everywhere has its idiots. Go for it, Vlad!
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jamesgilbert
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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby jamesgilbert » 23 Apr 2013, 10:41am

@iviehoff thanks for the suggestions, Slovensky Raj looks good. Levoca is definitely on the list of places to visit.

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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby bikerfab » 26 Apr 2013, 4:33pm

Hello,

I have cycled through Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, give a look to my travelogs (in English too):

http://bikerfab.altervista.org/wp/viagg ... llest-2006
http://bikerfab.altervista.org/wp/viaggi-2/balcani-2007

Never had problems with people (or anything else) everywhere (in Romania I was even guest of a private house while riding through a village in the middle of nowhere).

Regards
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bikerfab
Trips by bicycle, stories, information and photos.
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timmitchell
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Re: Eastern Europe - in particular Slovakia & Romania

Postby timmitchell » 26 Apr 2013, 9:29pm

I stayed in this pension in Zdiar, beautiful town high in the Tatra mountains. Grear walking, cheap food and drink but I didnt cycle

http://www.pensionvasko.sk/en/home