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Fields, forests and wineries line autumn bicycle paths

Slovaks are crazy about high quality bikes - and for good reason. The terrain surrounding Bratislava, for example, is perfect for biking, with pleasant hills, flat paths through fields, and tough but well-marked forest trails all within a few kilometers of the city center. As the weather gets a bit cooler and the leaves start to change, it is a perfect time to grab your bike and head out onto the paths.
Even within the city limits, mountain trails spread over the start of the Small Carparthian mountain range to the north or lead west towards Austria. To the east lie the ripening vineyards of Pezinok and Modra with their fall grape harvest festivals. Unfortunately for those who don't own a bike, none can be rented near the city center. Hopefully a friend will be able to spare a set of wheels.

Slovaks are crazy about high quality bikes - and for good reason. The terrain surrounding Bratislava, for example, is perfect for biking, with pleasant hills, flat paths through fields, and tough but well-marked forest trails all within a few kilometers of the city center. As the weather gets a bit cooler and the leaves start to change, it is a perfect time to grab your bike and head out onto the paths.

Even within the city limits, mountain trails spread over the start of the Small Carparthian mountain range to the north or lead west towards Austria. To the east lie the ripening vineyards of Pezinok and Modra with their fall grape harvest festivals. Unfortunately for those who don't own a bike, none can be rented near the city center. Hopefully a friend will be able to spare a set of wheels.

Adventure in the Bratislava green zones

Rides within the city range from those of the piece-of-cake variety to others which will leave you gasping. One easy, nice ride simply consists of doing a small circle around the Danube from the city center. Start at the New Bridge on the Old City side, cross, turn right by Aušpic Restaurant and follow the biking path west along the Danube River. border. Then go up over the Lafranconi Bridge (about two kilometers away) and turn back on the path along the water back to town (1).

A wide variety of forest trails also surround the city. A pleasant afternoon can be spent exploring the forests by Dlhé Diely (above the Karlova Ves district) which overlooks Hainburg and Devín Castle. To get here, follow Karloveská Street to the last bus 44 stop, then cross the street and follow the steep road past the buildings of Slovak Technical Institute. The way will at first be steep, then flatten out considerably.

On the hills around the Koliba radio tower are a number of mountain paths, most of which lead into each other so a loop from one part of the city to another is easy. One idea is to start from central square of the Krasňany district (near Rača), then turn up Pekná cesta street towards the forests of Bratislavský lesný park. The way is at first quite steep at first but it is worth it as the quiet forest trail offers places to build a fire or relax (2).

Trails on the Kamzík peak, where the Bratislava television tower sits, are sometimes crowded but still pleasant. To start from the Koliba neighbourhood, follow the 213 trolley route up Karpatská street to Brečtanová Street, then to the TV tower. Continuing north, the steep climb will be rewarded by a fast ride down the hill to the Železná studienka area (3), with its two lakes along the Vydrica river. To make a loop back into the city follow a forest path parallel to the beautiful Cesta mládeže road to Partzánska field. You will come out of the forest at the busy intersection of Lamačská cesta and Mlynská dolina in Kramáre. This route can also be followed in reverse.

Železná studnička can also be reached from Lamač, a neighbourhood in the northwest of the city. Start from Lamač (Podháj part) and follow Cesta na Klanec road up into the mountains. The path will take you up Kačín hill (4), where there is a beautiful view of Bratislavský lesný park. Follow the tourist path (red) through the forest and from Kačín return back to Železná studnička. The route is 7 km long.

Any good city map will show these trails and more like them.

Bratislava surroundings

To see the southern and western part of Bratislava area , a good idea is the one-day trip to Hainburg, a small village in Austria (5). Start from New Bridge on the Petržalka side and follow the biking route to the Slovak-Austrian border. The biking route is separated from the main highway, so it is suitable for children and it is flat. From the border, follow the route through fields lining the Danube for about an hour to the village. In Hainburg, you can rest at a small port on the Danube coast or have a sundae in the main square. If you still have energy, you can continue on the trail to other villages, or turn right at the first light in Hainburg up Braunsberg hill for an amazing view of Danube land. Alternatively, turn right at the same light to get to Schlossberg castle.

Another option is to bike in the Devín area (6). From the new bridge, follow the river walk west to the Lafranconi bridge. When the concrete ends, you wind around on dirt paths along the river until coming out near Devínska cesta, the start of the road to Devín. The total way is about 10 km. From Devín castle you can continue along the Morava river along a "nature walk" with signs about the wildlife in English. The path leads to the Bratislava district of Záhorská ves (9 km) or to Vysoká pri Morave (20 km) .

For some nice but flat terrain, cross the Old Bridge and turn left, following the bike paths to the lake area of Čuňovo and Gabčíkovo dam. At Čuňovo, there are shining lakes and a manmade white water course used in competitions. Gabčíkovo dam is situated 15 km from the Bratislava centre (7).

Ambitious bikers can do a circle tour through the Small Carpathians and Záhorie. Start at Rača, the Bratislava suburb and follow the main road (Púchovská Street) to Pezinok, a cosy town situated 20 km from the Bratislava centre which will also be a place for a traditional wine festival from September 23. From the main square, follow the main road to Modra and Malacky . On the road to Šenkvice turn left and follow the crossing to Baba hill. Sweat your way up the steep hill and follow the sign to the Jablonové and Lozorno villages in the Záhorie area where their are pine forests on sand-covered land. The area is also great for picking mushrooms. From Lozorno go to Studienka village , Záhorská Bystrica, and then back to Lamač, the Bratislava suburb. The route is 73.5 km long (8).

If you have a car, it is also nice to bring bikes to Častá, a village located 32 km from Bratislava centre and ride to the Červený kameň castle area. The reconstructed castle is famous for its rich history and is located in the forest. The route starts in Častá up the steep main road and is 4.7 km long (9).

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