Culture

Hungary – A Little Bit More

21 to 28 May
Hungary

This holiday is timed so that participants of our ‘Really Hungary’ tour can extend their stay and gain a cultural experience of Hungary’s capital and its surroundings. Many tour agents offer short hops to see the main sites of Budapest and maybe a couple of nearby attractions but on this holiday you will explore more than that, and most of it by rail.

This tour can also be taken as a stand-alone holiday for those not wanting to travel on the preceding Enthusiast trip.

Although there is no coastline to Hungary, it has Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Europe outside Scandinavia, and of course the mighty River Danube which splits Budapest into two (Buda and Pest). It also boasts over 1,300 hot springs, many of which are used for bathing and medicinal purposes.

Join us and explore, not only Hungary’s capital city with its State Opera House, magnificent Parliament buildings, St. Stephens’s Basilica and the Royal Palace, but also beyond this wonderful city. Taste the local foods and drink the local wine.

Highlights

  • Budapest
  • Unesco World Heritage Sites
  • Szentendre “The Pearl of the Danube”
  • Narrow-gauge trains in the Danube Bend
  • Esztergom Hungary’s religious centre
  • All 7 nights in Budapest hotel

Tour Manager: Ferenc

Itinerary

Day 1 Tuesday 21 May Flight departures from the UK direct from Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Luton, Bristol, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester to Budapest, Hungary’s capital city. On arrival and check-in, you will have free time this evening as we cannot stage a group dinner due to the prospect of some late arrivals. A welcome dinner will be provided the next evening instead. Dinner can be had at the hotel restaurant or several others nearby or in downtown. Your guide will be able to meet you at the hotel lobby for introduction at 7 p.m., if you make the hotel by that time.

Day 2 Wednesday 22 May (B, D) Time to explore Budapest. A leisurely start in the morning will allow us to take a ride on a heritage tram* along Europe’s busiest tram line, passing by Nyugati station (built by the Eiffel company) and crossing the Danube with a wonderful view of Buda castle and the Parliament Buildings. We continue into the hills to Hűvösvölgy, terminus of the tram but also the Children’s Railway. We will enjoy an uphill ride on this narrow-gauge line among the woods surrounding the city, through viaduct, tunnel, cutting and embankment, just like on a real railway. All staff except station masters, signallers and locomotive drivers are children. After reaching one of the highest points in Budapest, refreshments/snack may be had before we board the cog wheel railway to descend back into town. A 3-hour sight-seeing tour will follow, visiting all major sights in Budapest such as Castle Hill, the Citadel, the Food Market Hall, the National Museum, Heroes’ Square and Andrássy avenue. The two banks of the Danube and Andrássy avenue with the World’s first electric underground line running beneath it, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We will end our sight-seeing tour at the hotel, enabling us to freshen up before our welcome dinner in a typical Hungarian restaurant nearby.

Day 3 Thursday 23 May (B) Another leisurely start sees us travelling to nearby Szentendre, also called the Pearl of the Danube. We take a suburban train (HÉV) built in the DDR to its Szentendre terminus and then have a chance to look at the urban transport museum of Budapest operator BKV, before being driven to the open-air village museum just outside town, housing original and replica buildings from ten geographical regions of Hungary. The reception building is a copy of the railway station in Mezőhegyes and heritage railcars take visitors around the museum grounds. You may opt for lunch at the museum restaurant, which reinacts a traditional ’csárda’ (a countryside inn for eating) or await our return to downtown where some riverside restaurants or more hidden gems offer all kinds of good food. In Szentendre, we will see the Baroque architecture, Orthodox churches, galleries, cobbled streets and riverside setting. In Fő (i.e. Main) Square we will see the wrought-iron cross, raised in 1763 to thank that the last major outbreak of the bubonic plague avoided town. Szentendre is also well known for its Szamos Marzipan Museum and other art museums. We will not only visit the Belgrade cathedral but also the Margit Kovács ceramics art collection. We will return to Budapest by suburban train and return to the hotel by metro.

Day 4 Friday 24 May (B, D) Once again, we are not rushed by an early departure from our hotel. We first pay a visit Europe’s biggest synagogue in the former Jewish district of Budapest. Following our visit, we will take a quick metro ride to Nyugati station for a trip to the Western edge of the Great Plains. Departing a heritage railcar* around noon, we will be able to experience a real branch line atmosphere as the line to Lajosmizse is the last railway line into Budapest that is not yet electrified. We arrive to a very rural setting with horse stables and pigsties where we can see how rural life in Hungary used to be before globalisation. This will be followed by a horse-show and a very Hungarian, albeit somewhat early dinner. We then return by our special train* to Nyugati station, arriving there around sunset.

Day 5 Saturday 25 May (B) Today we take a trip to the Danube Bend. We ride a regional train from Nyugati station to Esztergom, a line which was only recently electrified. During our trip we travel in between the Buda and the Pilis hill ranges and even pass a tunnel along the way. After a quick transfer to the centre of Esztergom, we visit Hungary’s largest basilica which is also home to the centre of the Catholic church in the country. After visiting the church museum, we have another transfer across the bridge spanning the Danube into Slovakia. We will then return to Hungary and travel by road to Visegrád, where the summer residence of Hungarian kings in the 14th and 15th century was located. We will visit the castle that overlooks the horseshoe curve of Europe’s longest river, also known as the Danube’s Bend. We return to Budapest by boat, sailing along the majestic Blue Danube, to arrive Budapest in time for dinner.

Day 6 Sunday 26 May (B) Today we take another trip to the Danube Bend and beyond. We take an accelerated train from Nyugati station to Szob, the border point with Slovakia, along the left bank of the Danube. The initial 20 miles of the line is the route of the first railway opened in the country in 1846, between Pest and Vác. Past Vác, we again have a chance to admire the castle of Visegrád, from across the Danube. At Szob, we board a narrow-gauge train that takes us up into the forests and the hills. At Márianosztra, we change to another narrow-gauge train that will climb steeply uphill in never ending curves. This section of the line was reopened after 25 years of closure only a couple of years ago, following being rebuilt from EU funds. At the summit, we change to a third train that negotiates the descend into Nagybörzsöny, a pleasant little mountain village. This part of the line is a listed national monument as it has a zig-zag route, of which only a few are left in Europe. At Nagybörzsöny, we have lunch and look at a local water driven mill, as well as visit a small Roman style church at the end of the village, before making our way back to Szob much faster on a coach. We return to Budapest Nyugati station on an international EuroCity or Metropolitan service, unless delayed.

Day 7 Monday 27 May (B, D) This morning is devoted to visiting the Railway Museum, which is located at the former Északi depot north of Rákosrendező station. The depot had a double roundhouse but unfortunately only one half of it remains. The second turntable is surrounded by exhibited steam locomotives. The area is also covered by a miniature ride-behind railway. Too many artifacts are stored here to be listed but you can explore most of the site and the roundhouse at your leisure, or have some refreshments in the local Resti, which is the slang name for a railway station’s buffet or restaurant. You may return to your hotel or the shopping streets of Budapest at your convenience but we will again meet up so that we can be at one of the piers along the Danube by 7 p.m. for our farewell dinner. We will board a boat that will circle Margareth Island and then take us south through downtown while we watch the sunset, the buildings and bridges being lit up one after each other. The buffet style restaurant will offer plenty of traditional Hungarian dishes to choose from and tonight PTG will treat you to some fine wine. Live music will be available on-board so bring your dancing shoes! We return to pier at 10 p.m. to make our way back to the hotel, or enjoy some of the nightlife in one of the most vibrant cities of Europe.

Day 8 Tuesday 28 May (B) Today is departure day and a transfer will be made available to you for your transfer to the airport for return flights to the UK.

Hotels

Golden Park Hotel in Budapest
(Deluxe Double or Standard Twin rooms)
Or Elit Hotel Budapest

Flights

Direct flights from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

Place(s) available

Holiday prices per person

  • Full 8 holiday including flight from London: £975
  • Full 8 holiday with own flights: £775

Options

  • Upgrade to the Elit Hotel: £85
  • Single room supplement: £150 (Golden Park), £180 (Elit)
  • With flight price might increase for late bookings

Deposit

  • £600 with flights, £300 joining in Budapest

Price Includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary: B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our Tour Manager. Holiday is escorted in Budapest.
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