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From Vienna to Košice – a bikepacking adventure in Slovakia

Ben

From Vienna to Košice – a bikepacking adventure in Slovakia

Bike Touring Collection by Ben

6-12

days

3-6 h

/ day

377 mi

16,575 ft

16,700 ft

From Austria, Slovakia is so close and yet so far. Apart from the capital Bratislava, the country is still relatively unknown among its western neighbours. This was also true for me. But last summer, I wanted to change that and my girlfriend and I decided to head east by bike. Slovakia made a big impression on us and there’s still so much to discover.

From the first day, I was captivated by the somewhat rough, mystical charm of the impressive nature. Slovakia has one of the largest populations of brown bears in Europe, as well as a seemingly endless number of castles and ruins, despite the High Tatras being the smallest high mountain range in the world. It’s the simple things here that make it a perfect destination for bikepackers: the beautiful back roads, the traffic-free valleys, cosy inns, and good railway network that makes it easy to travel to and from your adventure.

This Collection is the result of our journey – a 600-kilometre (372 mile) ride from Vienna to Slovakia’s second-largest city, Košice. The route mostly follows cycle routes on minor roads, with a few gravel sections. It’s suitable for both touring bikes and gravel bikes. The nine stages vary in length from 35 to 105 kilometres (21.7 miles to 65 miles). The distance is shorter on days when it’s worth spending more time exploring off your bike.

If you are visiting Slovakia for the first time, you will be surprised how mountainous the country is. Much of the landscape is shaped by the Carpathian Mountains which begin near Bratislava and continue in a wide arc across Ukraine, Romania and Serbia. You also pass several sub-mountains of the Western Carpathians en route. The detour towards the Tatra Mountains and riding along the Low Tatras is really impressive. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to be a well-trained mountain goat to enjoy the route. Except for the crossing of the rather gentle Little Carpathians and somewhat longer climbs in the Slovak Paradise and Ore Mountains, the elevation gain is easily manageable.

With the exception of the stage to Žilina and the last stage to Košice, the daily stages always end at campsites. However, it is never a problem to find a room if you prefer to travel light. In general, the food supply situation along the route is very good. There are many small inns that serve inexpensive and tasty Slovak cuisine. You’ll appreciate the national dish, Bryndza which is made from sheep’s milk cheese, after a long day on your bike! You also pass towns that are connected to the railway network so you don’t have to cycle the whole route. The best way to travel from Košice back to Vienna is by train. The journey takes about seven hours, but the time flies when you look out of the window and see some of the magical places where you have ridden passing by.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    05:12
    54.6 mi
    10.5 mph
    1,200 ft
    850 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The bikepacking adventure to Kosiče starts at the Praterstern in Vienna, right next to the Ferris wheel, one of the landmarks of the Danube metropolis. You will complete the first kilometers on the traffic-free Prater Hauptallee, the most popular running and cycling route for Viennese people. After the

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  • Difficult
    06:36
    65.2 mi
    9.9 mph
    2,375 ft
    2,625 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The second stage of the cycling adventure from Vienna to Kosiče is also the longest at 105 kilometers, which is why I recommend you start early. The route starts out along the western edge of the Little Carpathians. On the well-developed road you keep coming back through small towns. Use the markets

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  • Difficult
    06:00
    62.6 mi
    10.4 mph
    1,350 ft
    925 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today's stage is shaped by the Waag, the longest river in Slovakia. The stage is quite long at just over 100 kilometers, but mostly flat, so that you can make good progress. A main cycle route runs along the western bank of the Waag, which you essentially follow to Žilina. The highlights of the stage

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  • Intermediate
    00:55
    9.19 mi
    9.9 mph
    250 ft
    175 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Today's stage is divided into two parts, as the road through the Waag breakthrough is relatively narrow and heavily traveled. Not an ideal combination for cyclists and therefore not recommended. It is therefore best to take the train for the short stretch from Nezbudská Lúčka to Kraľovany. You can check

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  • Intermediate
    02:34
    24.1 mi
    9.4 mph
    1,050 ft
    600 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    When you arrive in Kraľovany, you first drive a bit on the main road. At Stankovany you switch to the northern bank of the river and follow a cycle route with gravel passages. Here you have to pass a major construction site at kilometer eleven. You should be able to pass here without any problems pushing

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  • Difficult
    02:35
    22.6 mi
    8.7 mph
    1,500 ft
    475 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Today's stage is deliberately kept a little shorter. So you can look for a cozy place at the reservoir, swim and let your mind wander. At the same time, the stage deviates somewhat from the main direction to the east and makes a turn towards the Tatra Mountains. If you are already so close to the smallest

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  • Difficult
    04:55
    45.7 mi
    9.3 mph
    2,825 ft
    3,925 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The sixth stage is, so much has already been revealed, the most impressive scenic of the route. You also start with a descent right away. On the following kilometers, you should drive a little slower, because it is difficult to concentrate on the road, the panorama is so wonderful in all directions

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  • Difficult
    02:30
    21.0 mi
    8.4 mph
    2,350 ft
    1,575 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today's stage is not too long, so you can make a detour to the national park. Especially when it is hot, the water-rich, cool valleys and gorges of the Slovak Paradise are highly recommended! After a few kilometers you will pass the Podlesok visitor center. From here you can tackle one of the numerous

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  • Difficult
    04:40
    48.1 mi
    10.3 mph
    2,325 ft
    3,675 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The stage along the Hnilec River is probably the loneliest section of the tour. So take some provisions with you to be on the safe side, because you may not find any shops until Smolník. Immediately after you have left the town of Dedinky in a southerly direction, the cycle route along the river begins

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  • Intermediate
    02:18
    23.6 mi
    10.3 mph
    1,350 ft
    1,925 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today you can take your time at breakfast. The last stage is not too long and only has two shorter climbs ready for you. After starting in Medzev you drive along the main road. The old, dilapidated factory buildings that line the street and are reminiscent of the heyday of Medzev as a mining and industrial

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    10
  • Distance
    377 mi
  • Duration
    38:15 h
  • Elevation
    16,575 ft16,700 ft

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From Vienna to Košice – a bikepacking adventure in Slovakia

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