Pécs is a really long drive from Budapest, but believe me it’s worth the time and energy. A beautiful little town with so much history from as early as 2000 years ago, some rare relics and architecture from the Ottoman era, fascinating Baroque architecture and more.

The visit of the Zsolnay Quarter is part of my Pécs and Villány tour, it’s a unique experience if you would like to learn more about Hungarian ceramics and porcelain and Vilmos Zsolnay, the greatest figure of Hungarian pottery.

The Zsolnay project was a monumental industrial historic building reconstruction project in the original factory plant exceeding 5 hectares. The main aim was to create a lively cultural center to commemorate the Zsolnay heritage and to recreate the factory plant an attractive cultural district with the operating production also being part of the plant.

You can have a look at the special collections of the Handicraft / Artisan and Creative districts or enjoy the facilities of the Children and Family district.

When we are touring the Danube Bend I usually try to include the visit of the Castle complex including the Upper Castle and the Royal Palace, too.

The miracle that we are able to see how royals lived in the 15th century is due to a passionate Hungarian archeologist who had discovered the ruins of the palace in an orchid, we are tremendously grateful to the archeologists who recreated the lavish interiors of the Gothic-Renaissance palace.

The barely 5.000 sq feet stone house built in the 1300’s was rebuilt and extended several times and transformed to a fabulous royal residence with 350 rooms by King Matthias. Legend is that marble fountains were filled with red wine in the 15th century. The Gothic cloisters, Renaissance loggia, living quarters of our kings and queens, amazing fountains and gardens are to be seen in the Palace as well as items and relics from the Middle Ages.

 

Yes, Pécs is one of my favorite destinations so I’d like to encourage you to book a tour at your earliest convenience. Once you have a look at the pictures below I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the city, too.

Pécs is very unique because the entire Hungarian history is on display in the city’s architecture, spirit and charm. You can learn so much while just walking around the cobblestoned streets.

We start the tour discovering the 1700-year-old Early Christian Necropolis, the well preserved burial chambers of the Romans fron the 4th century. We continue in the 11th century Basilica on Dóm square, an important symbol of the continuous fight of the Hungarians for Christianity. We tour the ruins of the Turkish baths, the only Turkish age mosque in Hungary that has remained intact together with its minaret and the 13th century Catholic church converted into a mosque in the 1540’s and reconverted into a Catholic church in the 1680’s. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to notice the special combination of the Muslim crescent moon and the Christian cross topping the church, reminding us of the peaceful coexistence of different religions. We admire the harmonious Baroque architecture and also have a look at the Vasarely museum.

After the city tour I take you to the Zsolnay quarter, the completely renovated and restored Zsolnay factory buildings where the most beautiful Hungarian porcelain and ceramic products have been manufactured since 1853.

 

I guided several tours in the Northern part of Hungary this summer and Sopron has become my guest’s most popular destination, honestly, I can understand why. That’s the reason why this visit is part of my new tour to Győr and Sopron. The little town is situated near the border to Austria, a beautiful Baroque town rich in medieval architecture.

We refer to Sopron as to the most loyal Hungarian town because its citizens rejected the offer of Austrian citizenship in a referendum after WW1 when two thirds of the Hungarian territories got detached from our country. The anniversary of the referendum is celebrated every year.

During the tour we visit 13th century churches with Romanesque and Gothic structure, the Fire Tower, which is the town’s symbol since its construction in the 1600’s and apartment buildings from the 18th century. You’ll see where our great king Matthias was accomodated when he was besieging Vienna in 1482 and where Franz Liszt gave concerts in the 1800’s. I’ll also show you the ruins of the ancient Roman settlement, you can see the ruins of the town hall and the market from the Roman era.

 

 

We’re just back from another great countryside tour. We visited Eger, a small town today with exciting history. The Eger Castle witnessed the extreme courage and patriotism of its defenders who withstood the Ottomans’ 5-week-long siege in 1542.

We started by discovering Eger’s Basilica and the University, which is home to the Camera Obscura, Eger’s Eye, probably the most interesting thing in town. There are only 3 camera obscuras around the world, it’s so much fun to spy on what’s going on around the city.

We took a pleasant walk in the old town and tasted some Lángos, which was delicious. We visited the castle, the scene of the fight in 1552, I was telling stories from ‘The eclipse of the crescent moon’, a Hungarian novel about the great victory of the Hungarian defenders of the Eger Castle.

After visiting the local wine museum in the afternoon we drove to the Valley of the Beautiful Women and tasted the best red and white wines of the Eger wine country.

Hungary is very famous for porcelain production, one of the greatest manufacturers is Herend. The factory has been producing porcelain for almost 200 years. The factory is based in the little village of Herend, near Veszprém, I’d be happy to include the visit of the factory when we are touring the Lake Balaton and its surroundings.

Herend porcelain has won several prizes at different expos and exhibitions. After a famous Herend set had been presented at the London World Expo in 1851 Queen Victoria ordered a dinner set, the pattern got named in her honour “Viktória”.

The visit of the Herend Porcelain Museum is very interesting, the “Mini-Manufactory” displays the porcelain making in a series of rooms; visitors are shown the preparation of plaster casts, shaping, piercing, flower making and the various painting techniques. After the visit you’ll be invited for a coffee or tea served in Herend porcelain.

 

 

The wine region is very often named Budapest’s vineyard because of its closeness to the capital city. It was officially formed in 1997 although local wine production originates from the Middle Ages. Due to calcareous clay soils the region is famous for the production of high acid sparkling wines.

Because of the region’s ecological environment the most important characteristic of the wines are their imparting, vibrant acidity. The best-known white types are Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pinot Gris. Red wines are still an exception in the region but you can taste some interesting Pinot Noir and Cabernet, too.

Local winemakers are absolutely charming and would be happy to offer you not only their best selection of wines but a light lunch, too, join my “Etyek Wine Tour” to see and taste more!

 

 

Hungarian people named the lake Balaton the Hungarian sea almost a hundred years ago. That’s where most of us spend at least a few days in the summer, go camping for a school excursion or ice skating in the winter. That’s also where many of our friends from East Germany spent their summer vacations during the communist era, but that’s an entire different story.

The lake is about 80 km long, it’s the  biggest freshwater lake in Central Europe. The water is of a very beautiful green, and is smooth and silky, no wonder that the neighborhood is the number one tourist destination of locals. It’s a holiday resort, the paradise of sailers, windsurfers and kiters, the venue of a few great summer music festivals and a perfect quiet place for chilling out.

The Lake Balaton Tour takes you to the pretty Northern shore of the lake, a mountainous region with extinct volcanoes, highlands and several wine regions. The tour also includes rarities of the Hungarian architecture, I show you around the medieval castle of Nagyvázsony, the castle-town of Veszprém and the elegant Festetics palace of Keszthely. We visit charming little towns, like Tihany, which is said to be the richest Hungarian town and Balatonfüred, where we can take a little walk at the marina.  let’s not forget about food and drink, I’ll introduce you to local farmers of the Kál basin and winemakers of the Badacsony wine region.

 

The Eger region’s wine culture has a history of over a thousand years, and essentially it has always determined the life of the local people. The most recognized red wine of the region is the Bull’s Blood (“Bikavér”) but white wine is also produced due to the favorable environment.

The climate is characterized by relatively late spring and is rather dry. The soil is varied, the most typical is brown forest soil covering volcanic rhyolite tuff.

By the beginning of the Communist era, as a result of nationalization quality production got replaced by quantity production and led to producing unpretentious wines. Because of the terribly poor quality of the wines both domestic and international reputation declined considerably. By the end of the 1970’s the Eger wines became in fact high acid, often bitter and astringent, even dilute. The renaissance of the region’s wines and wine production started in the mid-1990’s and it’s time to be very proud of them, again.

One of the best-known Hungarian wine brands is the Bull’s Blood of Eger. It ‘s medium-bodied and is characterized by a deep ruby color with relatively high acidity. Its smoothness is due to the extended ageing (12 months) in oak barrels. Bull’s Blood is a cuvée, and officially it has to contain at least three different grapes.

As for the local whites, one can taste a great variety of Riesling, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel, Traminer, and Zenit wines.

Book an “Eger and wine tour by car” with me if you’re interested in taking a walk around the vineyards, talking to local farmers and winemakers and learning about all the secrets of the magical Bull’s Blood!

 

My most popular countryside tour is around the Danube Bend, probably because it’s very close to Budapest and includes the visit of three very different towns. The Bend of the Danube is to the north of Budapest, it’s a curve of the river where the Danube turns south in the direction of Budapest.

During the tour we visit Esztergom, Visegrád and Szentendre. Esztergom was Hungary’s first capital and is the center of the Catholic church with the biggest Basilica of the country. The Basilica is 170 years old but one of its chapels is older, it dates from the 16th century and is an amazing example of the Hungarian Renaissance. One can climb 380 steps to the top of the Basilica in order to enjoy the view over the town and its neighborhood.

Visegrád is the smallest Hungarian town with a population of 2.000 but it’s of great historical significance. The town’s fortified castle is from the 13th century and overlooks the Danube Bend, by visiting the ruins of the 800-year-old castle you’ll also enjoy the spectacular view over the river.

Szentendre is a little jewelry box, a little town with Mediterranean atmosphere, cobblestoned streets, colorful buildings, small cafés and art galleries. It’s very often named an artists’ town because the neighborhood inspired many generations of great Hungarian artists. You might also would like to visit the sweet Marzipan museum. You have the option to take a boat to get back to Budapest at the end of the tour.