Danube-Ipoly National Park - Budapest, Hungary
One of the great benefits when planning trips in Europe is both the low cost of air travel and the many direct flights to major cities such as Budapest. Since I need to plan around a rigid work schedule, my primary constraint is the date and time of the trip, so Google Flights is a great way to find flights and prioritize a weekend based on their cost and convenience. The reason Google Flights makes planning so easy is that you can put in the city you are flying from, the date and then set the destination as Europe, or even be more specific and set it to Western Europe. Using this method is how I made plans for Budapest earlier this year. In addition, no matter what city you are visiting in Europe, is likely you can find a low cost and convenient flight to Budapest, Hungary.
Once I had my flight booked to Budapest, I started to do some research on trails around Budapest. The first long distance trail I came across is the National Blue Trail, the oldest long distance path in Europe. This trail goes all the way across Hungary so could be used as the basis for many ultrarunning trips. Besides this trail, I also saw there is a Solomon Ultra-Trail Hungary event held just to the northwest of the city. The Ultra-Trail is held in the Danube-Ipoly National Park. According to this website there are 8 Protected Landscape Areas and 32 Nature Conservation Areas, meaning there must be some good nature. After researching the area around the Solomon Trail Race I decided on planning my run there to minimize my travel time for the weekend. The area has many trails through it, so it would also making planning for the run easy. In addition, since the location is close to the airport. I could plan to do one of my favorite activities that is to go straight from the plane to the trail to maximize my running time after a Saturday plane flight.
After I had planned the trip a friend of mine also opted to come along on the trip. The running plan worked out well for him too since while I was planning on a marathon or more he was more interested in running / hiking 10k or so during the day.
We landed at the Budapest airport, while traveling in our running clothes, at 10am. We then took a 40 minute taxi ride to Cave of the Paul Valley where the run began. If we had more time, we could have toured the caves here. I picked this point because it was on the southern end of the park district. There was a light rain, but the forecast was for it to clear later in the day. The run started along a street but quickly transitioned to a running trail that we took straight north.
The run was a combination of road, paths through parks, single track and in some areas very dense forest and brush. The first milestone of the run after a steep climb is the Guckler Károly Lookout Tower built atop an old World War II aircraft bunker. The tower is a great place to pause and take in views of the mountains and city. After ascending to the top Daniel decided he’d break off from here and take a trail back towards the hotel. I told him I’d see him in about 5-6 hours. On the descent from the top of this mountain It was very slippery because of the rain and leaves that had begun to drop.
Much of the trail is through dense woods, along ridges and well maintained forest trails. At least one ascent was so steep it required a steel cable to help pull yourself up. At the top thought you are rewarded with a view of a village located in the valley below. From here the trail runs along a ridge that traverses several of the peaks in the area. I explored a small side trail and found a stone house built right into the side of the ridge that looked like it was built with stone quarried from right next to it.
The next thing I came across on the trail is the Egri vár másolata, a small medieval castle complex. This was an area where I saw the most people during the day since there happened to be a small trail run going on that day. Given I was surprised I’d come across a castle, I didn’t expect to see anything else other than forests.
However, the trail quickly came to Teve-szikla that based on google comments is part natural rock formation and also an old mine. The trails wind from the base up to the rim of the mine. In addition, there are some spectacular views of the city framed by these rock formations.
After the mine I wondered along some additional trails then headed to a main road that would take me to the bridge crossing to Margaret Island where the hotel is located. On the main road I passed the Roman City of Aquincum and museum. Still was pretty cool to see these ruins from the road since they were closed for the day.
Budapest is well known for its hot springs and hotels and the Danubius Hotel and Spa Resort is nice in that it is isolated on its own island. In addition, the Island has a running track that I thought would make for a nice recovery run on Sunday morning prior to leaving.
Hungary was an excellent ultrarunning destination because of the excellent trails northwest of Budapest. I’d love to go back and explore more of the countryside, but also the city of Budapest. I highly recommend you consider Budapest as an ultrarunning destination when in Europe because of the convenient flights, excellent trails and closeness to the city making for a fun and efficient trip!
Start and Finish : Danubius Health Spa Resort
Distance : 3,1 miles / 5k
Elevation Gain : 0 feet / 0m
This is a running track that goes around the perimeter of the island and includes some points where calisthenics can be done.