Long Distance Cycling Tour along the Limes,
northern border of the Roman Empire

Map of the provinces of the Roman Empire under Traianus. The Limes cycling route follows the northern border (green line) between the nowadays Katwijk aan Zee (Netherlands) and Tomis (now Constanta, Romania). The border fortress of Vindobonum (Wien/Vienna, Austria) is situated roughly halfway between the North Sea and Black Sea. The yellow dotted border section is known as the Limes Germanicus. Image based on a map by Vorlage Demis. Detailed maps of the Limes cycling route are given on the pages Limes-1 and Limes-2.


In the early days of the Christian era the northern border of the Roman empire was mainly defined by the rivers Rhine, Main and Danube. At the end of the first century AD parts of the border line were extended northwards. A new border was set by hundreds of kilometers of ditches and mounds fortified with wooden palisades. Castles and watchtowers at regular intervals were build to control the traffic entering the empire. This was in particular the case from Bad Hönningen (on the river Rhine, south of Cologne, Germany), across the Taunus mountains towards Miltenberg on the river Main, and further to Einig (close to Kelheim on the river Danube). This fortified border line is known as the Limes Germanicus (see map above and images below). Due to large scale excavations it has been possible to trace the ancient Limes quite exactly. The website of the Verein Deutsche Limes-Strasse gives many details.
From Einig / Kelheim the Roman border followed the river Danau to Wien (Vindobonum), Budapest (Aquincum and Contra-Aquincum) and initially all the way Constanta (Tomis) at the Black Sea. When the Roman army, led by Trajan (Emperor Traianus) conquered Dacia in 106 AD, the region was annexed as a province of the Roman Empire. Consequently the Roman border shifted northwards and encloses a large part of nowadays Romania.


Images of the Limes Germanicus.
Left and middle: reconstructed palisade and watchtower near Kipfenberg. Right: entrance of the reconstructed castle Saalburg (now Limes museum).


Limes cycle route: 4100 km from North Sea to Black Sea

For the years 2008 and 2009 Henro de Witt and I have chosen for cycling along the border of the Roman Empire from Katwijk aan Zee to Constanta (see map above). We have covered the first half, from Katwijk to Wien, in July 2008. The second part, from Wien to Constanta followed in April/May 2009. Detailed descriptions with maps and photos are given on the next pages (click bike-button top right). For easy reference, the Limes route is described from west to east, although we have cycled the first part of the route in opposite direction (see bike transport).

Tour in a nutshell

Katwijk aan Zee - Wien.
Total distance: 1805 km in 19 days. Average distance per day: 95 km. Average speed per day: 17.3 km/h.
Uphill: 9,881 meters; minimum 40 hm, maximum 1,411 hm per day.

Wien - Constanta.
Total distance: 2290 km in 25 days, plus 5 rest days and 2 additional days in Constanta. Average distance per day: 90 km. Average speed per day: 18.8 km/h.
Uphill: 10,945 meters; minimum 30, maximum 1,045 hm per day.

See more detailed descriptions of the tour on the next pages; click bike-button top right.

Bike transport:
For transport to Vienna we have taken the City Night Line Amsterdam - Utrecht - Köln - Wien. It is the only rail connection without change that allows bike transport. Moreover, it is relatively cheap if you make your reservation well in advance (euro 140 per person [2009], including double cabin, breakfast and bike transport; preferred ticket office in the Netherlands: Treinreiswinkel). The train leaves Amsterdam at 17 hours and arrives the next morning around 9.00 in Vienna (Wien Westbahnhof).
For part 1 of our tour we have chosen for starting in Vienna and cycling back to the Netherlands. Taking Vienna as a starting point has two advantages: transport can be arranged in advance and it allows you to cycle back home in your own pace, without the stress of missing the train, or waiting for seats and the possibility to carry the bikes.
For part 2 we have again taken the City Night Line to Vienna. From Constanta Carpatair has a regular flight connection to Düsseldorf (Germany), via Timisoara. Bikes are accepted as sports equipment when a reservation is made well in advance. From Düsseldorf there is a frequent rail connection to Venlo, and subsequently to Eindhoven, 's Hertogenbosch and finally Culemborg. From Constanta airport to Culemborg takes approximately 11 hours.

Netherlands: at home (Culemborg).
Germany and Austria: preferably Bed & Breakfast, otherwise a simple hotel. In some parts of Germany it took more time than expected finding a B&B, since guest houses are also popular among Czech and Polish workers.
Hungary: hotels, accomodation at a camping and B&B ("szoba" in Hungarian).
Romania: hotels (both original or restyled former state hotels and/or newly build hotels), guest houses ("pensiunea") and private accommodations ("cabana", or "cazare" = room ).

Oof: Idworx Easy Rohler trekking bike (see details of our 2007 cycling tour).
Henro: Giant Expedition with 27 speed (3x9) derailleur.

Photo and maps.
Oof Oud and Henro de Witt, unless stated otherwise.

More specific information on cycling in Hungary and Romania is given on a separate info page.