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Rivers suitable for canoe or kayak touring in Hungary and/or nearby Budapest

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Hungary is the country of canoeing. We are not only the first in the world in kayak and canoe tournaments, but also have thousands of kilometres of waterways suitable for canoe touring. Which is a lot compared to the rather small size of Hungary.
These rivers are not white-waters, although some of them can be fast-flowing during floods. (The ones below don’t flood in a day, but you can see the slow change and normally flood in early spring and early summer (that is March and June), but by far not every year.)
Moreover, these rivers are designed for beginners, holidaymakers, but the more adventurous can find their ways, too.

Water temperatures are 21-25 celsius degree, warm and pleasant for a swim. The quality of the rivers are excellent, unless you drink half a litre.

Camping is allowed by law within 50 meters of the riverside, unless you are on private property or in a village. By private property I rather mean the garden of a house, because otherwise farmlands are not fenced and most likely you won't be shot for taking a strip of land for a night. Being robbed is not likely either, although regular precautiousness is required. Average fee per night in camps is 4-8 US dollars, depending on the place.

Let’s see the best rivers to canoe in Hungary!

Danube

The largest river in Hungary, still good for canoe touring. It has some side-branches, which are totally different from the main branch from the aspect of canoeing. In the next few lines and I only mean the main branch. See the side-branches below. It crosses Budapest, but I don’t recommend to paddle it withour guiding: 9 bridges and ship-traffic allowes only the more experienced ones to enjoy it alone. Ask for guiding.
So: the Danube main branch flows 3-8 km/h or 2-5 mph. Long-long meanders, sometimes straight sections with several villages and few towns along the river. It does have ships, mostly river cruise-ships and barges/scows cause waves from time to time. The riverbank is pebby, gravel, there are few official campsites, but several nomad ones. There are quite a few bigger or smaller islands. Waterlevel is stable, it won’t take your tent overnight. Without guiding from intermediate level. Water temperature raises from 19 (early June) to 23 celsius (late August).

The most convinient is to start or finish your kayak tour in Budapest. We advice to finish there - if you start 2 day north of Budapest you can cross the Great Danube Band, a stunning canyon-like part of the river, where it cuts through the mountains and is one of the most spectacular place in Hungary. In 5-7 days you can get down from Győr/Komárom to Budapest. Or canoe/kayak the Mosoni-Duna (4-5 days – see below) and add a few more on the Danube. These are just examples - several other tours are possible, it takes weeks to canoe or kayak along the entire Hungarian section. Total length: Duna (Danube) – 417 km. The Great danube Band has 3-4-5 high-quality campsites, a few kms from each other.

Szentendrei-Duna

From beginners – to everyone. 3-6 km/h or 2-4 mph, 19-22 celsius as summer gets hotter.
One side-branch of the Danube, just north of Budapest. Right after the Great Danube Band there is a huge island (Szentendrei-sziget), where the closest side-branch of the Danube from Budapest starts. It has 2 campsites.
Excellent for half-day or one day trips or if you would like to get the taste of kayak and canoe touring while spending some time in Budapest. 32 km long (1-1.5-2 days), 200-250 wide branch and has a couple of nice little islands. There are green hills around, providing beautiful view. During the tour we shortly visit the picturesque “UNESCO town of painters” Szentendre downtown and lookout point – worth a daytrip on its own. (Also may stop on an inhabited island with romantic-like Eastern Block atmosphere.) Finish canoeing within the boundaries of Budapest on the most popular beach where strollers fill the place in the afternoons. Grabe some food and drinks and go back to your accomodation by water-taxi (or a cab).
Farthest point is 40 km, closest is 2 km from Budapest on road.
Szentendrei-Duna pictures here (with Hungarian explanation)

Ipoly

Mostly flows on the Hungarian-Slovakian border, rather small, usually quite slow (2-3 km/h or 1-2 mph), but occasionally speeds up to 4-5 kmh / 2-4 mph. Ipoly has great views with mountains around, but no official campsites. The surrounding feels pretty wild, but for intermediate levels it is fine. You can spend 2-3 days on, then flow into the Danube, just a bit over the Great Danube Band. Adding Ipoly, Great Danube Band and Szentendrei-Duna (side-branch, see just above) you can have a 3-5 days meaningful experince, but because of the Danube section at least intermediate experience I required. Finish in Budapest! Recommended section to canoe or kayak: 50-60 km, for the very adventurous even 100 km.
Farthest point of the Ipoly river itself is 120 km, closest is 75 km from Budapest on road.
Ipoly pictures here (with Hungarian explanation)

Mosoni-Duna

One side-branch of the Danube, 10-50 meters wide, a bit faster (2-4 miles, 3-6 km/hour) in Western-Hungary. It has several islands, shorter meanders, interesting and taking you, still safe with my description. The level of the campsites are higher, and you can find them every night. This river is about 100 km long, so it takes 4-5 days to get down, unless you take a day-off. Arriving at the biggest city of western Hungary (Győr), can be interesting for sightseeing or party, too. Total length: 121 km
Farthest point is 170 km, closest is 110 km from Budapest on road.
Mosoni-Duna pictures here (with Hungarian explanation)

Tisza

Tisza is a rather big river (2-300 meters wide), the 2nd biggest after the Danube in the bit more remote Eastern part of the country. Slow-moving (1-2 miles, 2-3 km/hour), no obstacles just a few ferry. Tisza river is ideal for beginners, have long meanders, sometimes baeutiful sandy banks. It crosses a lake (Tisza-tó – see below), which is a popular vacation place for Hungarians. The local villagers are generally quite poor people, which may give a more authentic experince (strangely). There are official campsites circa every other day, where you can have a bath, etc. You can even make a 3-4 week long tour, so we have to choose a certain section, but that is easy. To find it on the map search for Tokaj, Tiszafüred or Szolnok. Actually, Tokaj is the homeland of the best wine of Hungary (best know as Tokaji aszu), don’t miss the chance to taste it.
Sections from the source of the river (north) to the mouth (south):
Vásárosnamény – Tokaj 5-6-7 days, Tokaj – Tiszafüred 5-6 days, Tiszafüred – Szolnok 5-6-7 days, Szolnok – Szeged 7-10 days. The more south you go the longer the meanders/curves are, therefore the more boring it gets. Before Szolnok it is cool. Total length: 597 km Farthest point is 320 km, closest is 100 km from Budapest by car
Tisza pictures here (with Hungarian explanation)

Bodrog

Bodrog is adviced to canoe from the Slovakian border, than after 2 days flows into Tisza at Tokaj (best wine-region, see at Tisza river, above). It is more narrow than Tisza, but in general quite similar to it. Slow (1-3 km/h, 1-2 mph), wide 50-120 metres, with 2-3 official campsites and several nomad one. Total length: 55 km – 2-3 days. Township of Sárospatak is along with a nice and historical castle. Good views on the mountains!
Farthest point is 265 km, closest is 230 km from Budapest by car
Bodrog pictures here (with Hungarian explanation)

Lake Tisza

Might takes 3-4 days and you can add/combine with the Tisza river at the begining or at the end. The lake is interesting with several islands, reeds, riverbranches and birds. Not too hard to get (only a bit) lost, though… don’t leave without a good map. 125 km2 spend 2-4 days; 150 km from Budapest. No nomad camping is allowed, every village has at least one camping. General touristical infrastructure is high, it is a popular place to canoe, kayak, bike around the lake and also to fish!
Lake Tisza pictures here (with Hungarian explanation)

Rába

The wildest river in Hungary flowing from Austria. It is really adventurous, for curious intermediate and more advanced canoe tourers, but with some previous practise it is a safe trip. It has sometimes trees in the water, occasionally shallow, sometimes the kayaks, canoes touch the ground, but in general, not. It is rather fast-moving (2-8 km/h or 1-5 mph) with many-amy exciting curves, but I really recommend for the more adventurous. Has 5-6 good camping and several nomad one. Maximum 20 celsius, pebble beaches, islands. 10-20 metres wide. Total length: 211 km – 7-11 days
Farthest point is 265 km, closest is 120 km from Budapest on road.
Rába pictures here (with Hungarian explanation)

Szigetköz

A big territory north of the Mosoni-Duna, with hundreds of island and small river branches. The water is sometimes slow, sometimes faster. Only thing is that it is a national park, so you have to camp on pay campsites. But the place itself is a real adventure for good kayakers, too - still safe. You can spend at least 4-5 meaningful days here and with a bit of upriver paddling can cross to the source of Mosoni-Duna (read above) and come down in 4-5 days. There you can camp anywhere.
Farthest point is 170 km, closest is 140 km from Budapest on road.

Ráckevei-Duna

Really slow 1 km/h or less… has villages or cottages all along and really-really pleasantly warm waters. Excellent for beginners, have several islands. Farthest point is 60 km, closest is 0 km from Budapest on road. Total length: 52 km, 2-3 days, no official campsites, some nomads.
Ráckevei-Duna pictures here (with Hungarian explanation)

Hernád – Sajó

Close to each other and join each other, very similar rivers. Changeable, exciting for curious intermediate and more advanced canoe tourers, but a safe trip for them. Fast-moving (2-8 km/h or 1-5 mph), with endless curves, with sometimes deep and slow than fast and rather shallow waters. With gravels Can get flooded after big rains, there are very few official camping grounds, but if you don’t mind going really nomad (with villages around of course) can spend quite a few days on. Hernád flows into Sajó, than Sajó flows into Tisza. It has something to offer for kayakers as well. Hardly gets warmer than 20 celsius. Departure is about 200-250 km from Budapest, finish 150-200 km. No official campsites, only nomads. Too shallow by the middle of the summer (July). Total length: Sajó – 125 km; Hernád – 108 km. 4-6 days
Farthest point is 240 km, closest is 130 km from Budapest

Balaton

Biggest lake in central Europe, attracts masses in summer. Warm water, mostly a bit wavy and famous for its sudden storms, when surfers, swimmers and boaters get in trouble. Because of this it can be dangerous and not only in the general sense. Excellent views, good wines, whatever. Pricy camping and foodstuff. But great selection!
In total 77 km long and 3-6 km wide. Farthest point is 190 km, closest is 90 km from Budapest

See what vehicles and gears you can rent from us for your tour. We provide everything.

If you don’t want to go alone, we organize canoeing tours around the country.
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