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.

 

We visited this cute little village last week as it was part of a family research I was working on for my guests arriving from Australia. I’ve never been to Szentkút before but I’m very much impressed by this enormous pilgrimage site, it’s just too bad it was deserted this part of the year. I understand it’s much more crowded in August when open air masses are held for hundreds of thousands of people.

The fountains have been famous for their healing power for some 700 years now and is declared a National Shrine since 2006.

 

 

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.

 

 

Probably the most beautiful wine country in Hungary, Villány offers great quality red and rosé wines and exceptionnal wineries with an amazing view over the surrounding hills. The number one domestic stronghold of wine tourism is the Villányi Borút -Villány Wine Trail- which was the very first Wine Trail brought to life in Hungary. Book the “Pécs and Villány Tour by Car” if you want to see and to learn more!

The area altogether is about 1800 hectares, the climate is of sub-mediterranean character with a hot summer, mild winter and a lot of sunshine. The southernmost mountain of Hungary protects the grapes from cool north winds.

Excavations prove that the Romans cultivated grapes in the area some 2000 years ago. As far as we know our ancestors started winemaking as early as in the 1060’s. Villany wine region had its first golden age during the early 1800′ after the arrival of German settlers. They introduced advanced agricultural know-how, technics and a new grape, known today as Kekoporto, which became number one in the region’s wine making.

During the second half of the 20th century the Villány vineyards were nationalized, the legacy of the quantity production will probably continue to be felt for decades in plantations with low densities and widely paced rows, originally designed to accommodate oversize tractors. It’s easy to see the differences between a collectively cultivated tract and a privately owned plot even today.

The Villány vine varieties and wines are Kékoportó, Kékfrankos and Cabernet Sauvignon, Hárslevelű. Italian Riesling and Leányka.

Villány winemakers are among the most successful participants in Hungarian and international wine contests and exhibitions. Wine producers and cellars of Villány have been awarded the titles “Wine Producer of the Year” and “Wine Cellar of the Year” several times.

 

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.

 

Many of my guests participate in a rivercruise starting or ending in Budapest. The rivercruise companies offer a general sightseeing tour in Budapest. My guests contact me very often whether I can show them more without duplicating what they see duiring their tour.

You have to believe me when I say that there is so much more to see. I know excatly what is included in a local tour as I guide those tours, too. I can recommend one of my thematic tours, a trip to the countryside or I can send you a plan fully customized according to your needs. Don’t hesitate to contact me for further details.