The route runs completely flat route across the Hungarian lowlands, only to rise in the final 5 kilometres. The stage starts in Budapest, on wide, straight and well-paved city roads. From km 9 to km 14, the route travels on the M6 motorway. There are a few urban areas along the route, with roundabouts, speed bumps, traffic islands, guide posts, and the like being the common impediments here. There are no major undulations or sharp corners. Past Esztergom, the route rolls along the Danube up to the foot of the closing climb in Visegrád.
The final 5 km are entirely uphill. Past the Danube, the route runs through a valley until 3.8 km to go. From here on, the course makes for the castle, with gradients around 5%, nearing 8% for a short stretch, and with a few hairpins. The home straight is on tarmac road.
start / finish
Budapest has managed to preserve its historical atmosphere and special eclectic cityscape, while allowing new places to open one after the other, and continues to be a vibrant metropolis. You will find interesting cultural events in abundance and many excellent entertainment venues in Budapest.
The first of the must-see sights has to be the Parliament building, designed by Imre Steindl in Gothic Revival style. It is the largest building in the country, and a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) is a landmark in Budapest, and was built to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the foundation of the Hungarian state, in 1896. The square is surrounded by the statues of 14 prominent figures from Hungarian history, while the archangel Gabriel stands on top of the central column. This statue was awarded the grand prize at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair.
The view from the lookout terraces of the Fisherman’s Bastion in the Buda Castle District is truly one of a kind.
The symbol of Visegrád, located just over 40 kilometres north of Budapest and one of the most prominent and most photographed sights of the Danube Bend, is the Citadel dominating the top of a steep hill above the town.
From its courtyard, you can admire the wonderful panorama of the Danube Bend – as did several Hungarian kings and their courts. The castle still emanates the atmosphere of historical times.
The crown is stolen
Visegrád’s fort system was built by Béla IV from his wife’s dowry after the 13th century attack by the Tatars. Visegrád became the country’s capital during the 14th century reign of Charles Robert of the Anjou dynasty. The king had the main symbol of the Hungarian Kingdom, the Holy Crown, brought here and this is where he hosted Czech King John and Polish King Casimir in 1335 at the famous Kings’ Summit to sign a political and economic alliance. This is the origin of the name of today’s political alliance of the region’s countries: the “Visegrád States” (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary). You could even be guests at the Kings’ feast in one of the halls of the wax museum. A daring story of theft is also linked to the castle: in 1440, the chambermaid of the widowed Queen Elisabeth of Luxembourg, Mrs. John Kottaner stole the Holy Crown to have Elisabeth’s newborn son crowned with it. Together with her helpers, the chambermaid filed the padlocks off the door of the treasure chamber in the pentagonal tower of the citadel, and smuggled the crown out of the castle, sewn into a red velvet pillow. A copy of the crown is still on display today at the permanent Holy Crown exhibition on the site.
The Danube curves under your feet
Long wooden stairs lead to the top of the castle but it’s worth the effortt as the halls of the Visegrád Citadel house exhibitions presenting the life and amusements of the medieval Hungarian royal court. Standing on the terrace of the Citadel, you enjoy a breathtaking view looking down on the town and the Danube curving at the foot of the hill. No wonder it’s a favourite photo spot as it affords a fantastic vista of the Danube Bend. And if you arrive in summer during the Visegrád International Palace Games, for four days you can really feel you’re back in the middle ages in the swirl of tournaments, archery, falconry and wrestling shows and other spectacular programmes.
Reach the Visegrád Citadel by boat
More good news: between May and October, scheduled cruise boats travel to the site from Budapest Vigadó Square, also visiting other important historical towns besides the wonderful Visegrád. One example is Esztergom, with the country’s tallest church, the Esztergom Basilica, and the Hungarian National Museum’s Esztergom Castle Museum, or Szentendre whose winding cobble stoned streets, Mediterranean style downtown area and Open-air Museum delight young and old alike. In fact, from the ports of Visegrád, Vác or Esztergom, you can continue by pleasure boat. While in Visegrád, in addition to the old royal palace in the Lower Castle, the Salomon Tower and the nearby King Mathias Historical Playground, you should also visit the Court of Trades. Adrenaline-hunters should definitely go up the winding road to the 700-metre summer and alpine bobsled track next to the Zsitvay viewpoint on the tip of the Nagyvillám mountain. Speed lovers can even enjoy the sight of the Citadel when racing down the bobsled track and if you’re after more adventure, try the nearby adventure park, canopy or go-kart tracks.