Our first view of Hungary was the basilica at Esztergom dominating the view across to the plain. It towered over the town and the Danube. Certainly the town had a different feel to towns in Slovakia, it was a lot warmer and it had felt as if you had crossed over into Southern Europe.
We headed down the south bank of the Danube towards Budapest, it was warm and sunny and the cycle path was empty. During summer the path is heaving with cycle tourists and the Danube bend on the way to Budapest is meant to be one of the prettiest parts of the Danube trail. There was the hilltop castle at Visegrad still with plenty of tourists around and the pretty village of Szentendre which was obviously a popular spot for a Sunday afternoon outing.
The trail was mainly off road but with a few stretches on a rather busy road. The cycle paths continued into Budapest, the biggest city we have seen so far. We stayed for 3 days soaking up the sights and the sun in temperatures in the mid 20s. It has a pretty good cycle network , we stayed near the centre where most of the sights are in easy walking distance.
We headed out of the city along the cycle track that took us down the west side of the Danube on a misty and cold day. The route was mainly car free and was an easy way to get out of the city. The roads around Budapest were busy though, we were heading towards Lake Balaton and had to cycle stretches of the main roads. These often ran parallel to the motorways and had signs on them prohibiting cyclist from using them. We had no alternative to use them, no one seemed to mind and the roads were generally quiet and the traffic considerate.
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in central Europe 77km long. It is a popular place for cyclists as there is a 200km cycle route that takes you around the lake mostly off the main road. The cycle path is very narrow in places and I can imagine it must be a bit of a nightmare in summer. We had it to ourselves though, the leaves were changing the sun was out and it was very beautiful.