SPECIAL TOURS

B(UDAP)EST’S SPECIALITIES

1. COOKING TOUR
2. TRABANT TOUR

TOURS TO HUNGARY’S WINE REGIONS

1. ETYEK, VINEYARD OF BUDAPEST WINE TOUR
2. NORTH - EASTERN HUNGARY WINE TOUR WITH EGER AND TOKAJ
3. SCENIC & FIERY SOUTHERN TRANSDANUBIA WINE TOUR
4. SOUTH - HUNGARY INCLUDING THE MEDIAEVAL CITY OF PÉCS AND VILLÁNY - WINE REGION

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES TOURS

1. ON THE WAY TO AGGTELEK’S SIGHTS
2. OLD VILLAGE OF HOLLÓKŐ AND ITS TRADITIONAL SURROUNDINGS
3. PUSZTA TOUR IN HORTOBÁGY
4. PANNONHALMA – LAKE FERTŐ CULTURAL TOUR
5. CULTURAL HERITAGES OF PÉCS
6. TOUR TO THE TOKAJ WINE REGION
7. WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN BUDAPEST

TAILOR-MADE TOURS

1. BACK TO THE ROOTS

1. COOKING TOUR

Exciting Culinary Vacation

Duration: 3 hours

Description:

Cooking tour is a great way to combine your love of gastronomy and travel into an extraordinary experience. Cooking tour through the Hungarian kitchen provide you with the opportunity to explore delicious traditional foods and special ingredients.

Traditional Hungarian dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, cheeses and honey. Recipes are based on centuries-old traditions around spicing and preparation methods. Typical spices used to give Hungarian cuisine its unique taste like paprika grown in Kalocsa or Szeged, and onions grown in Makó. Some other common ingredients are garlic, sour cream, cottage cheese, walnut and poppy seed in sweet meals, caraway seed, black pepper and a variety of herbs including parsley, bayleaves, tarragon, celery, thyme and savory.

Hungarian culinary specialties with an international reputation include goulash, various refreshing fruit-based cold soups, chicken paprika, stuffed cabbage, foie gras, roast duck, and letcho (a combination of green peppers, tomatoes and onions). Soup is a very important meal in Hungarian cuisine thus a perfect Hungarian lunch and sometimes dinner starts with some kind of soup.

Pastry specialties include Dobos layer cake, máglyarakás (layers of biscuits and apples, topped with whipped egg whites), somlói galuska (a combination of white and/or chocolate cake and vanilla pudding covered with chocolate sauce and whipped cream), vargabéles (baked pasta and cottage cheese with raisins), Gundel crêpes (filled with walnuts and topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream), and various strudels.

If you want to try how to make traditional Hungarian dishes, attend our organized cooking course in Budapest. Talented and friendly chefs tell you all you need and want to know about Hungarian cuisine and show you all cooking practices and tricks so that you'll be able to treat your family and friends to a fantastic Hungarian dinner in your homecountry. 3-4 dishes will be cooked by your group, then comes the eating and drinking..

Optional:

1 hour guiding in the Great Market Hall before cooking, visit of the market and shopping.

Visit in Budapest's Great Market Hall

Go for shopping with sightseeing!

Duration: 1 hour

Description:

Entering the market you will get the feeling of the citizens’ everyday life. The bustling atmosphere and the so much diversity and choice of mouth watering mountains of fresh foods will whirl you. Seeing what the locals buy and eat, you will definitely take a fancy to taste some original Hungarian specilities and then buy some souvenirs. The rich aroma together with the vivid colours of the fresh products displayed in the stalls will dazzle you.

The Market Hall houses the city's biggest, best and richest selection of merchandise, including everything from fresh vegetables, tasty fruits to meat and spices. The three-storey hall is the largest indoor market of Budapest, waiting the shoppers even in cold and rainy weather. It opened in 1897 and at that time belonged to the most modern markets. Beautiful Zsolnay tiles make up the most spectacular element of the building from outside.

Most of the stalls on the ground floor offer popular souvenirs such as red paprika, garlic, Hungarian salami, tokaji wine, palinka and other different food and wine specialities.

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2. TRABANT TOUR

Duration: 3 hours

Description:

Experience the classical Trabant car - ultimate symbol of Eastern Europe.

A nostalgic sightseeing tour in a real Trabant, the former standard East German family car, combines the joy of driving a Trabi with the real atmosphere of the East. Like an old Hungarian song says: “The flight in a Trabant is a delight”.

The Trabant was produced by former East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau from 1957 to 1991. The ”people’s car” with its two-stroke engine, famously known for its flimsy fiberglass and cardboard construction has become an icon of the past Communist era and the latest tourist attraction. It was in production without any significant changes for nearly 30 years with 3,096,099 Trabants produced in total.

We are offering a highly unusual tour in a small coughing and spluttering vehicle that is not too comfortable, very loud and very slow and has no extras. Take a ride and get to know Hungary’s capital from a really unique perspective. The sights of Budapest are waiting for you to explore them.

In order to try the Trabant you must have a valid driving licence.

You can do a regular city tour or can choose our nostalgic sightseeing tour.

The relics of the Soviet influence

Hungary - unlike many former Communist bloc nations - did not destroy its Soviet monuments. The Liberation statue on the Citadel remains where the Communists erected it. Other colossal statues in Socialist Realist style were moved to a fascinating open-air Statue Park Museum dedicated exclusively to these relics of Soviet domination.

After being picked up in a genuine Trabant automobile, your tour begins with a visit to Communist Statue Park. Providing a glimpse behind the iron curtain, the Park is one of the most spectacular sights of Budapest. The gigantic and symbolic pieces of art displayed in the Statue Park are powerful reminders of dictatorship. Gigantic Monuments from the Communist era - the statue of Lenin, Marx, Engels and of the Soviet Soldier will bring you back to the past.

Then stop and have a drink at a café that spoofs Communism, called Marxim (a cross between Marxism and Maxim) in Buda, near Moszkva tér whose name also recalls the recent past. The major appeal of this restaurant is its décor and surroundings. Located in a side-street bordered by a huge derelict factory, the entrance is marked by a neon sign, forming a Comminist red star.

The cellar space is virtually a museum of barbed wire, Communist propaganda posters, banners and cartoons depicting the era. Since Hungarian law bans "symbols of oppression", a lawsuit was filed against the restaurant, but was abolished shortly thereafter.

This is one of the very few locations in Budapest where you can see this kind of stuff on display, so thoroughly have symbols of the Communist period been erased. Make sure to try the Lenin pizza, or the KGB Pasta while crouching over a cold beer, and study the menu, which is full of cynical names for food, all referring to the Communist era.



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1. ETYEK, VINEYARD OF BUDAPEST WINE TOUR

We offer a memorable wine tour in the Etyek Wine Region, the nearest wine region to Budapest famous for its old white wine producing traditions. Though this territory got the rank of a wine region only in 1990, vine growing here has had a tradition of several centuries. Elegant, dry, fine fragrant wines with well-balanced acidity are made here. Since the end of the 19th century the celebrated Törley sparkling wines have been made here from the wine grown in Etyek. Enjoy an unforgettable day in the Etyek Wine Region, experience history, culture, traditions and taste some of its best wines!

Leaving Budapest we will pass by the Buda hills. During a half an hour journey you can hear about the history of viticulture in Buda. As early as during the reign of the first Hungarian kings, grapes were grown in the area of today’s Buda and it represented a main source of income for the local people. The Danube offered excellent means of transport. Thanks to Serbian people who settled here, mainly red wines were produced after the 1600s. The Buda-Sas Hill Kadarka, made from the dark Kadarka grape, became well-known throughout Europe. On those braes, where we find today elegant residential areas on the Rose Hill, Gellért Hill, Sváb Hill and Sas Hill, still in the middle of the 19th century there were vineyards. In the Royal Castle of Buda a grandiose cellar system can be found, while in the neighbouring little towns nice, traditional cellars with the atmosphere of Swabian houses form lines.

1. STOP: PÁTY

The village of Páty is located close to the Budapest-Zsámbék line. Its hilly location in the Zsámbéki basin lays less than 20 kilometres from Budapest. The hills and valleys of this territory paint a very nice environment. After the Mohács catastrophe of Hungary (1526) Páty was also controlled by the Turkish Empire, but the local people stayed here differently from other villages in this part. The competence and industry of the local agriculture people had a very important role in the survivorship of the village. Merchants of far countries came here regularly for steely wheat and smooth wine.

The wine culture and production of the village has been lost by a great European-wide filoxera endemic, but the wine cellars of the old masters still have a fantastic feeling. We will have a short break here to see the romantic Cellar Hill with its atmospheric centuries-old cellars. We will also have a look on the Várady castle’s building from outside, which was built in the 19th century in classicist style. Its famous fence was made of 350 barrels. These guns were used in the Hungarian war of independence between 1848-49.

2. STOP: ZSÁMBÉK

Continuing our trip we will travel toward a neighbouring town, Zsámbék, which is located only 10 kms from Páty. Zsámbék has been inhabited since the Paleolithic times. It has had Celts, Roman and Avarian populations throughout its history, according to archaeological finds. A Celtic mail coach's remains were found here as well as a bronze trumpet.

We will pass by the town’s Baroque castle, which served as a border fortification in the 14th and 15th centuries. Then we will visit the fabulous, amazing ruins of Zsámbék Basilica. The basilica and monastery was built in the 13th century in Romanesque style, it is still an imposing sight. The remains that can be seen today are the walls of a nave 38 metres in length and 24 metres in width. The Romanesque western front with its two towers has remained nearly complete, the interior is Gothic. Between the massive twin towers fragments of a giant, rosette window can be seen.

The Turkish Fountain and the only Lamp Museum in the country are also worth a visit. The Turkish Fountain is the Ottoman occupancy’s most western architectural heritage, its water never freeze over, even in the coldest weather. The lovely Lamp Museum displays a spectacular 1 200 lamps and lanterns, some over 250 years old. Artefacts range from simple oil lamps to the paraffin lamps of world-famous porcelain manufacturers. Amongst the oil lamps, candlesticks, industrial and domestic lamps, there is a lamp made from an antique Chinese vase alongside lamp bases made from Zsolnay and Meissen porcelain and an oil pump lantern constructed around the year 1800.

3. STOP: ETYEK

Within a half an hour journey we will reach our final stop, our place for resting, wine tasting and having a fine 3-course lunch, the town of Etyek. On the lands surrounding Etyek, viticulture grew considerably in the 1900's. The climate here is characterised by sparce precipitation and plenty of sunshine which, together with the soil, provide the perfect conditions for the production of excellent wines. Grape varieties, wines in the region are the Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Rhine Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc - elegant, dry, definitely acidic, light wines with fine fragrance.

Of the approximately 1000 wine cellars standing here before World War II, nowadays about 500 are in use. Two rows created in the mid 1800's are protected heritage sites. Interesting sights are the Circle Cellars consisting of a driveway and cellars located round the edge of a hollow, and the L-shaped Goat Pit, which also consists of old cellars. Both sites are located practically in the centre of the settlement.

In one of the town’s pleasant, traditional cellars you can have a traditional 3-course lunch, taste the region’s excellent wines, hear about its viticulture and traditions and enjoy the beautiful view of the Buda Hills.

After the program we return to Budapest.

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2. NORTH - EASTERN HUNGARY WINE TOUR WITH EGER AND TOKAJ

Probably everybody heard about the famous Tokaj wines bur have you heard the name of EGER? On this tour you can get acquainted with the history of mediaeval Hungary, viticulture and wonderful landscapes. We leave Budapest towards the East and drive along the bordering region of the Great Hungarian Plain and the North - Hungarian Mountain range. In summer you can see cornfields of golden colour and yellow sunflower plantations, green mountains with shady forests. In winter snow covers the landscape. While your guide tells you about land and the people, about traditions and folks habits you can enjoy the scenery passing by. After one and a half hours driving you arrive to the city of Eger, situated in a valley between the Mátra and Bükk Mountains. It is a 1000 - year old episcopal seat - today an archiepiscopal centre - with a glorious historical past. István Dobó, one-time castellan, gave the town the title „patriotic town” for its month long resistance in 1552 against Ottoman Turkish forces that had a superiority of 20 - times against Dobo’s small army. Eger has many attractions beside the fortress: medicinal baths, historical monuments and fine wines. Another famous product of the region is Bull’s Blood, the legendary full bodied red wine, a cuvee of red grapes. The mystery around the wine is kept as secret, but if you are curious, come and visit Eger to find it out! Your guide will take you for a historical walk in the mediaeval castle and in the old town. After this short walk we visit the Valley of the Beautiful Woman to have delicious lunch and taste wine, see those typical wine cellars dug into the hillside standing next to each other in close succession.

Heading further to the East, we pass by Mezőkövesd, a settlement that is famous about its folk’s art. The next place to visit is then town of Tokaj, also centre of the Tokaj - Hegyalja historical wine region (part of the Unesco World Cultural Heritage) where the world-famous Tokaji Aszú is produced. It is the most famous wine producing region in Hungary, also well known outside Hungary among wine lovers. Even though the viticulture in this area is a thousand years old, it became world famous only in the 17th century, when the Tokaji Aszú, a remarkable rare phenomenon resulting from typically late harvesting and special manufacturing processes, achieved wide recognition. As its fame grew, it reached more and more people. The Tokaji Aszú was awarded the title of "The king of wines, the wine of kings" in the court of Louis 14th, but was also well-liked by the court of the Tsar and by the Polish nobility. In Tokaj we visit the famous Rákóczi Wine Cellar; here we will do a cellar visit with a professional guide that will explain us everything about the production and background of the famous wine. Of course there will be a wine-tasting out of the best wines of the region. If you wish to spend more time in this area, we gladly organize accommodation on request. After this memorable program return transfer to Budapest.

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3. SCENIC & FIERY SOUTHERN TRANSDANUBIA WINE TOUR

Duration: 2 days / 1 night
Accommodation: Crocus Gere Wine Hotel ****
Catering: full board (breakfast, lunch, dinner in the hotel and different restaurants of Villány’s surroundings)

Crocus Gere Bor (Wine) Hotel ****

About the hotel: The hotel can be found in the centre of the Villány wine region, southwards from Pécs. It offers a great combination of spa facilities and the world of fine wines. The hotel’s air-conditioned, elegantly furnished rooms invite the guests to enjoy peaceful nights. The hotel features an indoor swimming pool, jacuzzis and a sauna and provides a wide range of massages and other wellness treatments including Vinotherapy.

Program

We would like to guide you through the ancient Villány wine region in the southern most part of Hungary, one of Hungary's premier wine regions where some of the best Hungarian red wines are produced today. Here can be found the first wine route of Hungary, the Villány-Siklós Wine Route, constituting part of the most scenic wine tours. During our 2-day program you can visit the world famous, historical attractions of Pécs, see picturesque vineyards, taste the region’s best wines, enjoy wellness services, the hospitality of the local people and can see the castle of Siklós, and a simple, rural homestead of Mátty.

Short Itinerary:

1st day

  • 3-hour Pécs sightseeing including the city’s main sights, like the Cathedral, Turkish Djami and Barbican gate tower
  • 3-course lunch in a traditional Hungarian restaurant in Pécs
  • visiting the Gere Winery’s vineyards and centuries-old wine cellar including wine tasting and candlelit dinner
  • wellness by night

2nd day

  • visiting the historical town centre, monuments and castle of Siklós
  • experiencing the rural milieu in Mátty by visiting the homestead with its thatched farm house and animals, taking a pleasant horse carriage trip in picturesque environment and having a traditional, Hungarian, 3-course lunch
  • travelling back to Budapest

Program Description

1st day

1. STOP: PÉCS

Leaving Budapest we will travel toward the sunny, southern part of Hungary, the so-called Southern Transdanubia region, the southernmost part of the former Roman province of Pannonia. We will travel by varied landscapes of untouched vast forests, wide plains and valleys tucked away behind gentle slopes. After 2 hours exciting journey across hills and valleys we first reach the 5th biggest city of Hungary called Pécs, located on the slopes of the Mecsek Mountains, close to the border with Croatia. The 2000 year old city has been inhabited since the period of the Roman Empire. It's antique Christian thumbs have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The city's motto is: "The Borderless City". With its mediaeval monuments, meandering cabled stoned streets and baroque houses it has a real Mediterranean atmosphere with many cafés, restaurants that await their guests with open terraces from March until October. In order to get know to the sights, our guide will invite you for a wonderful walk in the old town, with some of the mayor attractions, like the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul, one of the most important historical heritages of the town, buildings from the turkish occupacy, minaret, a magnificent Turkish Djami built in the 16th century, Barbican, a round Gothic-style gate tower, erected in the first half of the 15th century and public buildings and statues decorated with Zsolnay Porcelain.

After the historical sightseeing our guide will take you for lunch in the downtown.


2. STOP: VILLÁNY

The next stop is at the city of Villány, centre of the great Villány wine region, Hungary's first-class red-wine producing areas. Situated upon the southern and eastern slopes of the Villány Mountains, the terraced surface of the mountain offers an ideal morphology to the efficient viticulture. The mass of the Villány Mountains protects the vineyards from the northern cold climatic influence, resulting in a special sub-Mediterranean microclimate. There is also a protected natural park here: 240 million years old fossils of animals and ammonites had been discovered in the former limestone quarry.

Having discovered the fertility of this land the Romans were first to plant grape here. Many well-known wines are made from the grapes basked in sun in the vineyards on the plateaus slopes. The red wines, for which the Villány is famous, are the Blue-Oporto, Blue-Frankish, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot. Here you can see famous vineyards and visit one of Hungary's top wine makers, the Gere Winery and taste its wines.

Arriving to Villány, firstly we will visit the Gere Winery’s vineyards with picturesque slopes and we will get acquainted with the winery’s viniculture philosophy and wine-production. Then we will invite you in the winery’s traditional, centuries-old cellar, where you will hear about the wine regions and the winery’s history, winemaking traditions, can taste splendid wines, have a fine dinner and spend a memorable time in joyful, rural atmosphere.

After the dinner you can enjoy the four-star Crocus Gere Bor(Wine) Hotel’s wellness services.


2nd day

1. STOP: SIKLÓS

After a rich breakfast in the hotel, we will departure to a charming town with the best preserved border fortress of the country, Siklós. It offers for its visitors a large number of monuments and sights, atmospheric streets that show a picturesque combination of the ancient past and the promising future. We will visit the Siklós Fortress, which has become symbol of the town, and the other main outstanding sight in the town, the Turkish Djami from the 16th century.

The border fortress guarding the plain of the Dráva River is one of the best preserved fortress castles of Hungary. In the territory of the present Siklós a military base called Serena was established in the Roman Era. The first mention of the fortress is in a document of 1190. The first official documentation proving the existence of Siklós dates back to 1294, from this time on it was the residence and the centre of the domains of the most significant families of the Hungarian history. During the Ottoman occupation the Turks used the castle as a fortress. On the outskirts of the town they built mosques, the most splendid of which was the Djami of Malkoch Bey, surrounded by a rose garden. The terrace of the bastion of the 18th century fortress, still in its original shape, offers a beautiful panorama over Siklós and the nearby vineyards.


2. STOP: MÁTTY

We will continue our trip to Mátty, to experience the rural milieu of a traditional, Hungarian farm. The homestead with its thatched farm house recalling the 19th century’s atmosphere is located in the wonderful environment of the Duna-Dráva National Park, in the neighbourhood of the Mátty Fishing Lake. Here we can get insight the homestead’s everyday life, see the farm’s animals, take a pleasant horse carriage trip in picturesque environment and have a traditional, Hungarian, 3-course lunch.

After the programs we will travel back to Budapest.

Accommodation Description

CROCUS GERE BOR(WINE) HOTEL ****

HOTEL

The Crocus Gere Bor Hotel Wine Spa can be found in the centre of the Villány wine region and offers a great combination of spa facilities and the world of fine wines.

Villány is situated southwards from Pécs, approximately 30 km, being one of the most famous wine-districts in Hungary. Its vine-lands and also the village itself are protected by the long-stretching mountains of Villány.

Attila Gere and his family belong to the most renowned wine makers of the area.


ROOMS

The elegantly furnished rooms invite the guests to enjoy peaceful nights.

Rooms include:

  • Wake Up Service/Alarm Clock
  • Safety Deposit Box
  • Air Conditioning
  • Mini bar
  • Hairdryer
  • Satellite TV
  • Bath or Shower
  • Wi-Fi

SERVICES

  • 24-hour reception
  • Bar
  • Hot spot (Wi-Fi)
  • Infra-Sauna
  • Restaurant
  • Wine cellar
  • Beauty parlour
  • Function rooms
  • Indoor pool
  • Massage
  • Parking lot
  • Rooms-service
  • Wellness
  • Amusement Bath
  • Conference room
  • Indoor swimming pool
  • Non-smoking room
  • Rent a Bike
  • Sauna
  • Whirlpool

GASTRONOMY

In the restaurant guests can taste delicious Hungarian cuisine accompanied by highest-quality wines from the Villány region. Vegetarian meals are also available.



WELLNESS

The Crocus Hotel Wine Spa features an indoor swimming pool, jacuzzis and a sauna and provides a wide range of massages and other wellness treatments including Vinotherapy.

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4. SOUTH - HUNGARY INCLUDING THE MEDIAEVAL CITY OF PÉCS AND VILLÁNY - WINE REGION

Heading to the South after 2 hours exciting journey across Trasdanubian hills and valleys we first reach the 5th biggest city of Hungary called Pécs, located on the slopes of the Mecsek Mountains in the south-west of the country, close to the border with Croatia. It is the administrative and economical centre of Baranya county, seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pécs. It has been selected to be the European Capital of Culture in 2010 sharing the title together with Essen and Istanbul. The city's motto is: "The Borderless City". With its mediaeval monuments, meandering cabled stoned streets and baroque houses it has a real Mediterranean atmosphere with many cafés, restaurants that await their guests with open terraces from March until October. In order to get know to the sights, your guide will invite you for a wonderful walk in the old town, that is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The mayor attractions are: Roman burial valuts, an original mosque and a tall minaret from the 16th century left from the period of the former Ottoman Empire, Zsolnay Porcelain Manufacture and Museum, grandiose paintings in the Csontváry Gallery, decorative Vasarely patterns, public buildings and statues decorated with Zsolnay Porcelain called "eozin" that has a special greenish colour. In early spring the greatest attraction is when the almond trees are blossoming. After the short historical walk your guide will take you for lunch in the downtown.

The next stop is at the city of Villány, centre of the great Villány wine region, Hungary's first-class red-wine producing areas. Situated upon the southern and eastern slopes of the Villány Mountains the terraced surface of the mountain offers an ideal morphology to the efficient viticulture. The mass of the Villány Mountains protects the vineyards from the northern cold climatic influence, resulting in a special sub-Mediterranean microclimate. There is also a protected natural park here: 240 million years old fossils of animals and ammonites had been discovered in the former limestone quarry. Having discovered the fertility of this land the Romans were first to plant grape here. Many well-known wines are made from the grapes basked in sun in the vineyards on the plateaus slopes. The red wines, for which the Villány is famous, are the Blue-Oporto, Blue-Frankish, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot. Here you can see famous vineyards and visit one of Hungary's top wine makers, the Gere Winery and taste its wines. Arriving to Villány, optionally you can visit the Gere Winery’s vineyards with picturesque slopes and can get acquainted with the winery’s viniculture philosophy and wine-production. Afterwards we will invite you in the winery’s traditional, centuries-old cellar, where you will hear about the wine region’s and the winery’s history, winemaking traditions and can taste splendid wines. After a memorable day in joyful, rural atmosphere we return to Budapest.

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1. ON THE WAY TO AGGTELEK’S SIGHTS

„The variety of formations and the fact that they are concentrated in a restricted area means that the 712 caves currently identified make up a typical temperate-zone karstic system. Because they display an extremely rare combination of tropical and glacial climatic effects, they make it possible to study geological history over tens of millions of years.”

/UNESCO/

This tour brings you to the UNESCO World Heritage protected site of Northern Hungary, Aggtelek. We cross the country from Budapest to Northeast to explore beautiful scenery and country sites, monuments, buildings, treasures of the Hungarian culture and nature. It is an unforgettable program for the lovers of the natural beauties, different traditions and special architecture, including the traditional town of Mezőkövesd, capital of „Matyóland”, the medieval Diósgyőr castle, hidden between the hills of Bükk and the fantastic forms of stalactits and stalagmites in Aggtelek.

Program:

During the day we will discover the sights of Northern Hungary. Leaving Budapest towards the East, we drive along the bordering region of the Great Hungarian Plain and the North - Hungarian Mountain range. Firstly we stop at Mezőkövesd for a visit of the heart of Matyóland, famous for its folk art. The inhabitants of Mezőkövesd and neighbouring Szentistván and Tard are called the Matyó people. Oral traditions maintain that the “Matyó” name is derived from the name of the great benefactor, King Matthias. They form a special ethnographic unit signified by their traditions and the fact that as Roman Catholics they live surrounded by Protestant villages. With their colourful costumes, distinctive crafts and special traditions, the Matyó ethnic group has made the settlement widely known.

In the Matyó Museum you can see examples of the costumes once worn every day. Visitors can admire the long, bell-shaped skirts and richly coloured ornamental headdresses worn by the women and the long, loose-sleeved shirts, also highly embroidered, of the men. The traditions and way of life of the Matyó are also exhibited.

In the district of Hadas, which is noted for preserving the old Mezőkövesd, there are many houses specific to the region. They are also used as activity and leisure centres. In these houses visitors may be introduced into the mysteries: how to make a doll, how to weave and spin, how to paint the furniture, how to embroider; or you can try your hand and pottery and glass-grinding. In the Town Gallery there is a permanent exhibition made of the pieces of the colourful world of Matyó embroidery.

Continuing our tour we will arrive to the medieval castle of Diósgyőr. The Castle, which has an important role among the monuments of Hungary, is situated at the foot of the Bükk mountains in a beautiful natural environment. Its golden age was in the 14th century when the King Louis the Great of the Anjou House had it built as a magnificent gothic royal castle. From the time he came to the throne of Poland, as well, he had been spending several months of a year in the castle with his entire royal court, half way between Cracow and Buda. After his death, the Castle of Diósgyőr became the Queens’ engagement gift and provincial residence. That is why it was widely known as „the Queens’ Castle”.

After visiting the castle’s interesting, historic exhibition, we will have a break to relax in a surrounding restaurant and taste some delicious Hungarian dishes. A fine, traditional 3-course lunch will be served for you, accompanied by the region’s wines.

At Aggtelek will be our last stop. We will discover the system of the largest caves of Hungary, called Caves of Baradla, with a longitude of 25 kms (5,6 kms belonging to Slovakia). More than 700 small-to-large caves can be found in the Aggtelek National Park, these were placed on UNESCO’s World Natural and Cultural Heritage List in 1995. There are 200 caves about 2 million years old, where also the pre-historical man lived, according to several sources.

The Baradla Cave is also the most spectacular in the country. The morphological diversity, richness of formations, characteristic fauna, as well as archaeological and historical value, make this cave system one of the most complex underground karstic phenomena in the world. The stalactits of the caves has received fantasy names, because of their extraordinally forms, like Head of Dragon, Tiger, Toungle of Mother-in-Law, Hall of Columns, Hall of Giants.

We take a short 1 hour trip down to the caves, visiting the best known halls and chambers with tour guide. After these programs we return to Budapest.

If you wish to spend more time in this area, we organize accommodation on request.

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2. OLD VILLAGE OF HOLLÓKŐ AND ITS TRADITIONAL SURROUNDINGS

“Hollókő is an outstanding example of a deliberately preserved traditional settlement. This village, which developed mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries, is a living example of rural life before the agricultural revolution of the 20th century.”

/UNESCO/

The most effectively preserved Palots village, Hollókő has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1987. The 58 protected buildings of the old village, and the small church they embrace, make one feel in the past. During the tour we can feel the atmosphere of the traditional, Hungarian rural life while walking among the houses of Hollókő, than can experience the lifestyle of the richest by visiting the baroque castle of Gödöllő, the former Summer-Residence of Queen Elisabeth (Sissi).

Program:

Located in the northern part of Hungary, in the Cserhát Mountains, about 100 km northeast of Budapest, the small picturesque village of Hollókő is one of Hungary’s most popular attractions. We will travel an hour and a half in the northern, woody highland. After turning the corner into the Cserhát valley and beyond the new village, an idyllic sight reveals itself to us. This small village has preserved its medieval form. The village center, consisting of 58 buildings of this living museum village and the remarkable white-walled church, hasn’t changed since the fire at the beginning of the century. It's inhabitants, the “Palócok” until today are keeping the old traditions, the hand-braided clothes from the years of 1870-1880. During our visit you will know the traditional way of singing and dancing, and you can taste some local specialities prepared in old-style ovens as well.

The village is a representative of single street village type characteristics of the region. In the middle of the village, stands a small church with a wooden steeple and shingle roof, which was built in 1889. Some of the traditional houses were transformed into museum: Post Museum, Weaving House, Doll Museum and Hollókő Village Museum.

The castle raised above the village is also worth to visit. It was built in the 13th century on the hill next to the village. The splendid castle was mentioned in records at first in 1310 as 'castrum Hollokew'. Its building is in the best condition among the Nógrád county fortifications. A small museum can be visited within the castle.

Then we will continue in Gödöllő, and visit the biggest baroque palace of Hungary which was the residence of Sissy and Francis Joseph II. The museum of the palace will introduce us into the life of the Austro-Hungarian dynasty in the XIX. Century, where you can know the history of Sissi, her personal objects and residency. This Palace was constructed by Anthony I. Grassalkovich around 1735. It enjoyed a second golden age during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in the second half of the 19th century.

The renovated rooms of the impressively large Baroque palace, together with the items on display, call up the history of the building, the famous visitors, and the former noble and royal residents. In 2001, the 250th anniversary of Maria Theresa’s visit to Gödöllő, the permanent exhibition of the Museum was completed with halls recalling the Grassalkovich and the Baroque era of the Palace. With a visit to the museum, you can also see the Baroque theatre, which was renovated in 2003, as well as the pavilion on King hill.

After the visit of the museum, we will offer to you to taste the favourite cake and coffee of Sissi as well. In your free time you can have a nice walk in the enormous park surrounding the palace, then we return to Budapest.

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3. PUSZTA TOUR IN HORTOBÁGY

“The cultural landscape of the Hortobágy Puszta consists of a vast area of plains and wetlands in eastern Hungary. Traditional forms of land use, such as the grazing of domestic animals, have been present in this pastoral society for more than two millennia. The Hungarian Puszta is an outstanding example of a cultural landscape shaped by a pastoral human society and represents the harmonious interaction between human beings and nature.”

/UNESCO/

We invite you to discover one of the most colourful regions of Hungary, the northern part of the Great Plain called the Puszta. By our tour we would like to give you a taste of the richly varied locations, from the second largest lake in the country, Lake Tisza, to the unique natural wonders of the Hortobágy National Park. We hope that upon your return, you will feel that you have had a wonderful time in Hungary.

Program

Hortobágy is one of Europe’s largest protected grasslands, where the Hungarian grey cattle, the stud, flocks of twisted horn Racka sheep and buffalo herds graze out in the open. This is an 800 km² national park in Eastern Hungary, in the Puszta, rich with folklore and cultural history.

During our tour to Hortobágy we will have a stop at the Lake Tisza, an enchanting bird and water sport paradise. Silky-smooth water, huge bays, backwaters and islands, fish and game in abundance, this is Lake Tisza, the country’s second largest body of water. The region will dazzle you with its untouched water life, peaceful beaches and welcoming country people. Interesting plant life runs alongside the channels and the special world of birds is waiting for you.

The Bird Reserve is strictly protected giving home to around 200 bird species: herons, egrets, wagtails. The reserve is part of the Hortobágy National Park and it's an UNESCO's World Heritage Site.

After visiting the lake’s environs, we take you to the miraculous Hortobágy Puszta, where you will see the grassy plain which is one of the most beautiful sights of the European tourism. During the puszta–visit you can become acquainted with the fauna and flora, see the traditional Hungarian domestic animals, take part in a horse-carriage trip, participate on a spectacular horse- herd performance and can ride a horse too. In the Shepherds’ Museum you can get to know with mysteries of the shepherd’s life and the landscape, respectively you will visit the Bridge with Nine Vaults.

The program includes home made apricot brandy and cheese scones as welcome drink and snacks and a fine 3-course lunch in a traditional restaurant of Hortobágy. Finally we return to Budapest.

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4. PANNONHALMA – LAKE FERTŐ CULTURAL TOUR

„Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma is of outstanding universal value illustrating in an exceptional manner the structure and setting of an early Christian Monastery that has evolved over a thousand years of continuous use. Its location and the early date of its foundation bear unique witness to the propagation and continuity of Christianity in Central Europe.

The Fertő-Neusiedler Lake has been the meeting place of different cultures for eight millennia, and this is graphically demonstrated by its varied landscape, the result of an evolutionary and symbiotic process of human interaction with the physical environment.”

/UNESCO/

We guide you to the western part of Hungary, to the green Pannonia, for a detailed visit at Pannonhalma town’s 1000 years old Benedictine Abbey, which is now one of the most impressive historical complexes in Hungary, incorporating beautiful Romanesque and Gothic structures. Its classical-style bibliothek is one of the biggest of the world, with several valuable book-specialities from the XII-XIV century. Continuing our trip you will have the chance to see the amazing, varied landscape of Fertő Lake, the remarkable rural villages surrounding it, and the enchanting, baroque Eszterházy Palace, the “Hungarian Versailles”.

Program:

Leaving Budapest to the North-West, 120 kilometres far we arrive at Pannonhalma. The Arch abbey of Pannonhalma was founded in 996. Father of the state founder, Prince Géza, who selected the location for the Benedictine monks, and his son, Saint Stephen were convinced that the great bishop of Tours, Saint Martin was born near "Mons Sacer" or "Sacred Mountain". That was the reason for granting the holy hill of Pannonia to the monks arriving from Bohemia. The monastery is held to be the “national cradle” of Hungarian Christianity and European culture. The Arch abbey is the only example of a classical monastery layout following Benedictine traditions which has been preserved in perfect condition. There are Romanesque, early and late Gothic and Renaissance elements in the minster. The library with 300,000 books is the biggest Benedictine collection in the world. The Arch abbey’s Archive treasures several valuable documents, the most known one is the deed of foundation of Tihany Abbey dating from 1055 which is the earliest written record of the Hungarian language. The Arch abbey has a great collection of artefacts; paintings, prints, coins, antiquities and treasures as well as a protected botanical garden. In 1996 UNESCO placed the abbey on the list of World Heritage sites as being of universal value. The abbey, one of the most ancient canonical places in Hungary, has intensive religious life and education still today. Pope John Paul II was also invited here to celebrate its 1000th anniversary.

After the guided tour in Pannonhalma, we continue our trip to the Fertő Lake. At the Western gate of Hungary Lake Fertő welcomes visitors with its unparalleled beauty and fascinating landscapes. The extensive reedy marshes, the open water surface, the vineyards on the shore, and the foothills of the Alps in the distance offer extraordinary sights. It is the second largest steppe lake in Central Europe, straddling the Austrian–Hungarian border. After our short break at the beach of the Lake we leave for the town, Fertőd, waiting for us with its unique, magnificent sights.

In Fertőd we visit the Esterhazy Palace, the country’s biggest and most beautiful baroque mansion, the “Hungarian Versailles”. It took 46 years to build starting in 1720 for the nation’s wealthiest aristocratic family. This is the place where Joseph Haydn composed an enormous number of works under the patronage of the Esterhazys, one of the richest aristocratic families of the country in the 18th century. The palace with its Baroque and Rococo courtyard, wrought-iron gate and glamorously decorated 126 rooms is an outstanding value in the surrounding World Heritage area.

After this memorable program return transfer to Budapest.

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5. CULTURAL HERITAGES OF PÉCS

“In the 4th century, a remarkable series of decorated tombs were constructed in the cemetery of the Roman provincial town of Sopianae (modern Pécs). These are important both structurally and architecturally, since they were built as underground burial chambers with memorial chapels above the ground. The tombs are important also in artistic terms, since they are richly decorated with murals of outstanding quality depicting Christian themes.”

/UNESCO/

Through our tour to Southern Transdanubia, we would like to show you Pécs, the “Hungarian Mediterraneum”, the jewel of the region, blessed with a mild climate. Sightseeing in Pécs offers an amazing experience to the tourists visiting this city. It provides the opportunity to explore the city's natural grace and cultural heritage. The various tourist attractions including cathedral, museums, palaces and religious sites make for a marvellous sightseeing in the city. During our trip toward Pécs, we will stop for a visit in Szekszárd too, in the near 1000-year-old romantic small town, the town of quality wine and arts.

Program:

Leaving Budapest we will begin our tour toward the sunny, southern part of Hungary, the so-called Southern Transdanubia region, the southernmost part of the former Roman province of Pannonia. We will travel by varied landscapes of untouched vast forests, wide plains and valleys tucked away behind gentle slopes.

Then we arrive to Szekszárd, the city about which Count István Széchenyi, one of the greatest statesmen of Hungarian history, wrote the followings in his diary when passing the area: “Szekszárd (...) is the nicest landscape since we left Budapest”. Szekszárd, the near 1000-year-old romantic small town is surrounded by seven hills, producing the fiery historical wines. The town is the center of the outstanding Szekszárd wine region. It is situated in a really excellent place, at the meeting point of the Szekszárd Hills and the Great Hungarian Plain, near the Danube. Important waterways and overland routes have been here for thousands of years. The remains of Roman past, medieval battles and the settlement of a Celtic tribe can be found here.

The picturesque slopes with its modern streets and squares call the attention, whatever direction the traveller comes. Szekszárd with its population of 36000 nowadays draws a picture of familiar atmosphere and modern town.

The heart of the town is Béla square, which can be the starting point of our walk. The square is guarded by the coptic church built in 1805. It is famous for being the largest one-nave church in Middle-Europe. You can listen to the chimes of the bells three times a day.

On the other side of the square there is the Holy Trinity statue preserving the sad memory of plague amid the dense traffic of cars. Béla square is closed by the Town Hall on the West and the old County Hall on the East. Conserved remains of the 12th century Benedictine Abbey are to be found in the courtyard of the County Hall, while there is a Ferenc Liszt Memorial Exhibition inside, the piano, letters and statue of this 19th century Hungarian-born genius pianist and composer. The sights of Szekszárd can be reached on foot, there are not big distances.

Departing Szekszárd, after one hour travel we reach Pécs, lying at the southern foot of the Mecsek mountain. Pécs is one of Hungary’s most beautiful cities and main tourist destinations, with its historic monuments, museums, cultural and artistic festivals.

Mysterious Roman burial Vaults, Turkish Mosques, slender minaret, Fine Zsolnay ceramics, grandiose Csontváry paintings, decorative Vasarely Patterns, almond trees blossoming in early spring, restaurants and cafés with pleasant atmosphere - this is all Pécs, a city with 2000 years history, and in the year 2010 the cultural capital of Europe. Cultural center of it's region, and city of several universities.

The city has been inhabited from the period of the Roman Empire. It's antique Christian thumbs have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As a result of 200 years of archaeological research, large numbers of items and wall paintings with Christian symbols were excavated here. The group of early-Christian burial vaults are dating from the 4th to the 6th centuries, once formed part of the cemetery of the Roman city of Sopianae. The burial chambers and memorial chapels of the Sopianae cemetery bear outstanding testimony to the strength and faith of the Christian communities of Late Roman Europe. The unique Early Christian sepulchral art and architecture of the northern and western Roman provinces is exceptionally well and fully illustrated.

During the XVI-XVII. century the city was occupied by the ottoman troops. The main attractions of the city are the Basilic from the XV-XVI century, the buildings from the turkish occupacy, like djami, minaret and thumb og Irisz Baba.

The city also offers several cultural activities, in it's museums you can see world famous collections. Of its numerous museums the most important ones are the Vasarely Museum, the Csontváry Museum and the Schaár Museum.

Zsolnai porcelain is a famous product of Pécs. The Zsolnai factory site, including its buildings, has been developed as a cultural-quarter for 2010, as part of the European Cultural Capital Pécs 2010 program.

After taking a memorable visit to the city’s main historic and cultural sights, you will have the chance to taste some delicious Hungarian dishes in a pleasent restaurant. A fine, traditional 3-course lunch will be served for you, accompanied by the region’s fine wines. Finally we return to Budapest.

If you wish to spend more time in this area, we organize accommodation on request.

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6. TOUR TO THE TOKAJ WINE REGION

„The cultural landscape of Tokaj graphically demonstrates the long tradition of wine production in this region of low hills and river valleys. The intricate pattern of vineyards, farms, villages and small towns, with their historic networks of deep wine cellars, illustrates every facet of the production of the famous Tokaj wines, the quality and management of which have been strictly regulated for nearly three centuries. The Tokaji wine region represents a distinct viticultural tradition that has existed for at least a thousand years and which has survived intact up to the present.”

/UNESCO/

On this full-day tour you can get acquainted with the history of mediaeval Hungary, viticulture and wonderful landscapes. During the program we will visit two of the country’s most famous wine regions, Eger, the homeland of the well-known “Bull’s blood”, and Tokaj where the “Aszú” was born, the king of wine, wine of kings. All these are accompanied by spectacular, historical monuments and beautiful natural sights.

Program:

We leave Budapest towards the East and drive along the bordering region of the Great Hungarian Plain and the North - Hungarian Mountain range. In summer you can see cornfields of golden colour and yellow sunflower plantations, green mountains with shady forests. In winter snow covers the landscape. While your guide tells you about land and the people, about traditions and folks habits you can enjoy the scenery passing by. After one and a half hours driving you arrive to the city of Eger, situated in a valley between the Mátra and Bükk mountains. It is a 1000 - year old episcopal seat - today an archiepiscopal centre - with a glorious historical past. István Dobó, one-time castellan, gave the town the title „patriotic town” for its month long resistance in 1552 against Ottoman Turkish forces that had a superiority of 20 - times against Dobo’s small army. Eger has many attractions beside the fortress: medicinal baths, historical monuments and fine wines. Another famous product of the region is Bull’s Blood, the legendary full bodied red wine, a cuvee of red grapes. The mistery around the wine is kept as secret, but if you are curious, come and visit Eger to find it out! Your guide will take you for a historical walk in the medieaval castle and in the old town. After this short walk we visit the Valley of the Beautiful Woman to have delicious lunch and taste wine, see those typical wine cellars dug into the hillside standing next to each other in close succession.

Heading further to the East, we pass by Mezőkövesd, a settlement that is famous about its folks art. The next place to visit is then town of Tokaj, centre of the Tokaj - Hegyalja historical wine region, where the world-famous Tokaji Aszú is produced. It is the most famous wine producing region in Hungary, also well known outside Hungary among wine lovers. Even though the viticulture in this area is a thousand years old, it became world famous only in the 17th century, when the Tokaji Aszú, a remarkable rare phenomenon resulting from typically late harvesting and special manufacturing processes, achieved wide recognition. As it’s fame grew, it reached more and more people. The Tokaji Aszú was awarded the title of "The king of wines, the wine of kings" in the court of Louis 14th, but was also well-liked by the court of the Tsar and by the Polish nobility. In Tokaj we visit the famous Rákóczi cellar for wine - tasting. After this memorable program return transfer to Budapest.

If you wish to spend more time in this area, we organize accommodation on request.

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7. WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN BUDAPEST

If you wouldn’t like to miss the beautiful Danube view with the fabulous Castle district and the splendid groups of buildings in Pest, as well as Andrássy Avenue with its luxurious palaces and the Heroes' square with its ceremonious atmosphere, take part on our standard or private BASIC BUDAPEST CITY TOUR!

Duration: 3 hours

Description: See all the wonderful sights of Budapest; the nicest squares, monuments and churches of the city and the unique panorama of the river Danube. The City Tour of Budapest includes the visits to the most interesting and famous sights of the capital.

The tour starts with the impressive House of Parliament, which is Budapest’s most revered building in the government district, also counted as the symbol of the city. Proceeding by the Margaret Island we arrive up to the Castle Hill. The fabulous Castle District with the panoramic Danube view is parts of the world heritages. Here we can find the amazing, medieval sights within walking distance, the Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthias Church, the Royal Palace and many other historical sights are waiting for the visitors. Then we can have a breathtaking view onto the entire city from the Citadel, a former military fortress, built on the highest point of the city, during the Austro – Hungarian Monarchy.

Traverse the Danube on the more busy Pest side we take you along the most interesting downtown streets and the nicest promenade of Budapest, Andrassy Avenue passing by St. Stephen's Basilica, the Opera House and splendid groups of buildings during the tour. At the Heroes' Square we stop to take a look to the statues of the most important heroes of Hungarian history. Heroes’ Square is Hungary’s biggest square, complete with historical statues and famous museums. In the vicinity, the Budapest Zoo, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, the Gundel restaurant, the Vajdahunyad Castle and many more attractions await visitors.

During Budapest City Tour there will be stops at: Castle District, Citadel and at Heroes' Square.

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6. BACK TO THE ROOTS

Many descendants of emigrated Hungarians decide to visit each year the country of origin (Hungary and the neighboring states) of their parents, not just because searching for the roots of their family, places of birth, deaths and marriages but for the special cultural, historical and natural heritages...

Before planning the “back to the roots” travel we recommend to research your roots on sites like Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org or Genes Reunited - your country’s national archives is also a good starting point. You can then arm yourself with names, death and marriage certificates, immigration and electoral rolls, as well as towns of origin.

Best of Hungary Tours can assist you by offering our best driving guides that can translate and assist you throughout the entire travel with great knowledge in history, stories and sites of interest. We gladly organize your accommodation and programs to make your back to the roots journey to a memorable, special, life-long experience.

We prepare for you a tailor-made itinerary according to your requirements. All you need to do is to give us the coordinates and leave the rest to us!

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