Hungary has developed dramatically in recent years in response to the increasing demand for cycling tourism. Today, Hungary has more than 2,000 kilometres of cycle track with another 200 in Budapest. In addition, cycling services have risen to European standards, with repair shops, and hotel, camping and catering outlets dotted along the cycle tracks. Cycling is now permitted in a number of hilly and woodland regions, including national parks, but it is important to know that cyclists must keep to marked routes.
Since the 1990s there has been an increasing social demand for a healthy way of life along with an environmental consciousness, so cycling has become part of society's active lifestyle.
Among developments in Hungary separate mention must be made of the cycle route all the way around the Lake Balaton but the Danube Bend and the Buda Hills also offer great opportunities for cycling tours for those who prefer to use their own physical strength.
Bicycles can be transported by train within Hungary for a small surcharge on routes marked by a bicycle icon on the timetable. Bicycle carriages are also indicated by a similar icon, and bikes can also be transported in the spaces at the ends of each carriage. A request should be make for the transport of large numbers of bicycles at least one week prior to departure.
The biking route around Lake Balaton is approximately 200 km. The lake and its surroundings make up the country’s main recreational area and the centre for many of Hungary’s mineral-rich quality white wines.
Several companies run organized cycling tours around Hungary. Velo-Touring runs tours in several parts of Hungary, including one that goes from Lake Balaton to the sparsely populated red wine region of Villány, plus a tour covering the whole distance between Budapest and Vienna.
Prices run anywhere from $80 to $200 a day per person double occupancy, depending on hotel options and meals. You can do it on your own for far less by just renting gear from a bike shop around Balaton like Tempo 21 or Sportav, especially if you only want to ride for a day or two instead of doing a whole long circuit. Prices are generally $10 to $15 a day for good equipment, or $75 a week. The Balaton region is very health-oriented, so many area hostels and hotels also have bikes for rent. A Balaton cycling guidebook in Hungarian and English covers the region in detail, with info on restaurants and hotels.