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If You Have Two Weeks . . .
Two-Wheel the Tatras

Countries: Hungary, Slovakia & Poland
Distance: 190 miles
The ancient Amber Trail served as a trading route as far back as 1500 b.c., and in many ways, the area feels little changed since then: Cycling north across the Tatra Mountains between Budapest and Kraków, you’ll pass farmers using horse-drawn plows, isolated fortress-topped villages, and vast stretches of undeveloped woods. Rent a bike at Velo-Touring and take some time to pedal Budapest’s streets, lined with art nouveau facades, before hitting the trail (from $20 a day; velo-touring.hu).

Twelve miles in, you’ll enter colorful Szentendre, an artists’ colony packed with two dozen museums, 13 galleries, and a horde of pubs and cafés. It’s worth a stop—but the secret’s long been out, so expect some touristy kitsch. A better spot for lunch is down the road in Visegrád, one of Europe’s best preserved Romanesque towns. Try the venison ragout at Renaissance Restaurant (renvisegrad.hu). The next few miles of trail hug the curves of the Danube past the fat, green mountains it borders. After crossing into Slovakia you’ll head straight up into the Tatras. Take a load off at the Kupele spa in rural Dudince, known for its healing waters since the Middle Ages (kupeledudince.sk). You’ll need the rest for the steep Štiavnické Hills ahead. From there, you’ll cycle into UNESCO-protected Banská Štiavnica, a great base for exploring the surrounding silver mines.

The next day, veer off into Banská Bystrica, where Travel Slovakia can set you up for a one-day horseback tour through the Low Tatras (from $40 per person; travelslovakia.com). The trail soon hits its high point, at 3,600 feet, before winding down into bucolic Poland. A few miles farther is the holy town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (all the beer in Poland won’t help you pronounce that name). Its baroque basilica and 42 churches draw religious pilgrims year-round, especially for the open-air feasts and Passion reenactments on Good Friday. Twenty miles later, the trail concludes in the cobbled lanes of Kraków.

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