The Heterodoxy of Hungary

One of the least discovered countries in Europe beyond its capital, Budapest and part of the Danube River, Hungary is a treasure trove of fascinating culture & heritage, mind-boggling cuisine, heavily-guarded secrets of wine-making traditions and intoxicating landscapes at the center of Europe that connects Western Europe, the Balkans and the Soviet States with no less than 7 bordering neighbors. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Experience enchanting castle towns of Czechia

Enjoy stays in unique and boutique hotels

Experience exceptional wine and gourmet experiences

Enjoy an intimate experience with local characters

ITINERARY

DAY 1: BUDAPEST / GYOR / PANNONHALMA / SOMLOVASARHELY

Our journey of Hungary begins with a pleasant drive to the historic city of Gyor, an important city of the Hungarian lowlands with some of the most gorgeous Baroque old town squares in Europe. On a walking tour, we explore the monuments that include the Varoshaza town hall, one of the most recognizable sights in Gyor for its impressive neo-Baroque design conceived by architect, Hubner Jeno in the 1890s. We will also explore the Gyor Basilica that was consecrated at the start of the 11th century by King Stephen I. That initial Romanesque monument was flattened by the Mongols in 1241, and its replacement had to be completely rebuilt from the 1630s after the city’s brief Ottoman occupation. Another impressive structure is the St Ignatius of Loyola Benedictine Church, one of the earliest example of Baroque religious architecture in Hungary. Now Benedictine, the church and its adjacent monastery were founded by the Jesuits and built between 1634 and 1641. 

From here, we continue to the incredible UNESCO World Heritage-listed Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey, the second largest territorial abbey in the world and one of the oldest historical monuments of Hungary. founded in 996 by Prince Geza. The Archabbey played a very important role in spreading Christianity across the old Hungarian Empire. The whole structure is of outstanding universal value and includes the buildings of the Archabbey; the Basilica and crypt (a 13th century Gothic church); the educational buildings (Baroque Refectory and the famous monumental library which houses more than 360,000 volumes); the Chapel of Our Lady and the Millennium Monument; the Archabbey’s botanical garden, the herbal garden, parks and forests. A community of monks is still present today at the premises living under the Rule of St. Benedict (written by St. Benedict almost 1500 years ago). 

Finally, a scenic drive arrives us at the stunning Kreinbacher Estate in the village of Somlovasarhely, surrounded by verdant vineyards and the rolling countryside of Veszprém County, where we spend the next 2 nights. 

Overnight: Kreinbacher Estate, Somlovasarhely

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: SOMLOVARSARHELY (EXPLORING THE GEMS OF LAKE BALATON)

A beautiful day begins as we explore the magical gems of Lake Balaton, largest lake in Central Europe surrounded by picturesque vineyards, volcanic mountains, thermal spa resorts and some of the most beautiful historic monuments in Hungary. Our first stop of the day is the city of Keszthely where we visit the spectacular Festetics Castle, one of the most beautiful baroque palaces of Hungary. The castle astonishingly avoided damages during the Second World War and it has been serving as Helikon Castle Museum since 1974. Its library of 100 000 volumes is the only complete aristocratic collection in Hungary to have been left intact. 

We then continue along the shimmering banks of Lake Balaton to the ruins of the Szigliget Fortress dating back to the mid 13th Century when castle constructions had intensified following the Tartar invasions. Enjoy spectacular views of Lake Balaton and thereafter, a short drive away takes us to the beautiful surroundings of Laposa Domains, one of the most endeared wineries in the Balaton region where we will enjoy a tour of the family-run facilities and understanding of the wine varietals such as the Olaszrizling - the refreshing white blend that is the signature of the region. Enjoy amazing views while enjoying sampling of wines and traditional cuisine. 

Finally, we have the option of visiting the mesmerizing Tapolca Lake Cave underneath the town of Tapolca exhibiting a wonderful world of sensory karst and crystal clear waters where we can visit incredible chambers as well as a chance to take a unique boat in the cave to admire the mysterious atmosphere. 

Overnight: Kreinbacher Estate, Somlovarsarhely

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 3: SOMLOVASARHELY / VESZPREM / PECS / VILLANY

We head east today for a stop at the historic city of Veszprem, one of Hungary's oldest adorned with winding streets and blessed with a romantic atmosphere. Visit the Veszprem Castle, situated atop the Varhegy Hill offering spectacular panoramic views of the old city. On an immersive tour, learn about the castle district that dates back to the 10th Century that used to be the pride of the country and a personal favorite for King Stephen I and his wife, Gisela, home to an incredible amount of ecclesiastical treasures as well as modern arts. 

We then continue south towards the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Early Christian Necropolis of Pecs which comprises of 6 funerary monuments with a distinctive architecture and impressive murals depicting Christian themes that dates from the second half of the 4th Century when Pecs (formerly Sopianae) was an important city in the Roman province of Pannonia. Among the inscribed monuments are burial chambers, chapels and a mausoleum. Typical for the site is the two-storey building, with an above ground chapel and a subterranean burial chamber. Only some of these include mural paintings. Later, we enter into the historical centre of Pecs admiring the stunning Pecs Cathedral, built on the early foundations of an early-Christian basilica from the 4th Century. Stroll around the atmospheric Szechenyi Square

Finally, a pleasant drive arrives us in the beautiful wine region of Villany, long renowned for its incredible bold reds - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc along with its picture-perfect countryside. We house up tonight in the beautiful surroundings of the Crocus Gere Wine Hotel to enjoy an evening of sumptuous Hungarian gastronomy and delectable wines. 

Overnight: Crocus Gere Wine Hotel, Villany

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 4: VILLANY / RUZSA

Start the day with an insightful knowledge about the incredible wines of the Villany wine region where we learn about the traditional techniques employed for centuries. We visit the Csanyi Winery, first established as Chateau Teleki Winery in 1881 and now combining traditions with state-of-the-art modern technology in creating some of the most revered bold red wines in Hungary with the likes of Bordeaux-style Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Spanning over 380 hectares in the heart of Villany, embark on an immersive tour of the vineyard grounds and the wine-making facilities that is the pride of the country. A short drive later then takes us to the protected picturesque village of Villanykovesd, with its distinctive Swabian influence, evident in its rows of traditional whitewashed cellars, many of which are still in use. We have the opportunity to visit one of postcard-worthy cellars to discover the aged-old traditions of Hungarian wine-making and sample tasting. 

OPTION: THE BUSOJARAS FESTIVAL IN MOHACS

Next, we continue east towards to the traditional settlement of Mohacs, one of the oldest in Hungary with its location on the banks of the Danube River that witnessed the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 when Hungary was defeated by the Ottomans. Celebrating the end of winter every February, enjoy the rare opportunity to participate and witness the unique Busojaras Festival in Mohacs, celebrated by locals who wear scary-looking masks in a carnival parade enactment as an attempt to scare away invading Ottomans as well as the cold biting winter. Today, the festival is a parade of folk music, dancing and wine. A Beyond X Boundaries' exclusive, we go behind the scenes to learn about the making of the masks, the preparation process and participation of the festival in depth. 

Finally, we will arrive in the rustic environments of the south Hungarian "pusztas" (plains) where we spend the next 2 nights luxuriating in the refined settings of the Homoki Lodge

Overnight: Homoki Lodge, Ruszas

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 5: RUZSA

Awake to a captivating day where after breakfast, we enjoy a village tour of Ruzsa where we pass near well-kept crops and fruit orchards following the border of the surrounding farms until you reach a typical Hungarian village in the Puszta Plains of Hungary. Learn about its population and how they build their homes and yards, see happy pecking chickens in their gardens with crops of vegetables. The guide will show you the infrastructure like the school, major house, church and the park. For lunch, we have the opportunity to sample traditional Hungarian hamburgers and even witness how they are made. Other options include a discovery horse ride in the beautiful southern Hungarian puszta where we venture into the pine and acacia forests on horseback spotting fascinating wildlife such as hares, roe deer, fallow deer and wild boars. Perhaps also consider a visit to the Morahalom Buffalo Reservation to witness the stunning protected wetlands through the naturalization of water buffaloes and a large number of waterfowl such as swans, gray herons, storks, stilts, herons, etc. Stop for lunch to to taste local dishes (Drinks and lunch included). Return towards the lodge on sandy paths with a chance to observe a fallow deer breeder. As night falls, enjoy a localized experience tucking into dinner with authentic Hungarian gypsy music. 

Overnight: Homoki Lodge, Ruszas

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 6: ZNOJMO / MIKULOV / VALTICE / BRNO

Our journey of Moravia continues today as we leave Znojmo for another Moravian gem, Mikulov - probably the most beautiful town in Moravia. Enjoy a guided walk discovering the stunning architecture of Mikulov, dominated by its castle, the Chateau Mikulov that was extensively reconstructed many times in its history and in present day, we can learn about its strategic importance at the heart of the Moravian winescape, trade route that lies between Vienna in Austria and Brno.  

Our journey then continues to the town of Valtice, home to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Valtice Palace, a pearl of supreme Baroque architecture that was originally founded as a castle in the 12th Century before it became the princely residence of the Liechtenstein family in the 16th Century. On an in-depth visit, we discover the palace that was the envy of many in medieval times. 

From here, we then continue in the route to Brno with a stop at the impressive and award-winning Sonberk Winery, renowned both at home and regionally as one of the best wineries in Czechia. Finally, we arrive in Brno, second-largest city in Czechia where we spend the night at the Barcelo Brno Palace

Overnight: Barcelo Brno Palace, Brno

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 7: BRNO / TREBIC / TELC / HERALEC

Begin the day with a walking tour of Brno's historic old town adorned with cobbled streets and beautiful landmarks that include the 12th Century Cathedral of St Peter & Paul which also houses the Brno Ossurary, with a vast collection of human bones displayed in its archways and used as decorative displays and ornamentation. Then, we visit the stunning Spilberk Castle that hides a dark side as one of the most horrific dungeons in medieval Europe. 

OPTIONAL:

Consider a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tugendhat Villa, considered one of the most extraordinary examples of modern architecture from the early 20th century. 

Later, a short drive away on the outskirts of Brno takes us to the Veveri Castle, one of the oldest in Czechia situated on a rocky promontory towering over the Svratka River. Originally built as a hunting lodge at the time of its creation, it was later converted into a stone castle at the beginning of the 13th Century when Moravian margrave Jan Jindřich made it one of his main residences. 

Our journey then continues to the Moravian town of Trebic, part of a collective UNESCO World Heritage-listed Moravian landscape. We have the chance to wander around its charming town centre, witness the stunning St Procopius Basilica and its Jewish heritage that first began in the 14th Century. From here, a short drive away arrives us in one of Czechia's most beautiful gems, the less-trodden and beautiful town of Telc, with enviably the most beautiful square in the country. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Telc was founded in the 13th Century surrounded by fairy-tale countryside, mesmerizing and colorful buildings that seemed to come out of a storybook and an intricate labyrinth of underground tunnels and cellars. Finally our day ends with our arrival at the charming Chateau Heralec, a Relais & Chateaux property and one of the most beautiful castle hotels in Europe. 

Overnight: Chateau Heralec, Heralec

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 8: HERALEC (GEMS OF THE VYSOCINA)

Enjoy an excursion in the exciting Vysocina region, home of the Czechia highlands dominated by spectacular mountain ranges and beautiful towns. Our first visit of the day is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk in the town of Zelena Hora, designed by Jan Blažej Santini Aichel – a Czech architect of Italian descent. The work was completed in 1727 and dedicated to Saint John of Nepomuk, a 14th Century Bohemia martyr, beatified in 1721 and canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1729. The number five plays an important role in the design of the church. The ground plan of the church is a five-pointed star. There are five entrances, five chapels and five altars in the church. This number is a reference to the five virtues of St John of Nepomuk. 

Thereafter, continue to the impressive Pernstejn Castle, one of the most exceptionally well-preserved castles in Czechia and was the seat of the powerful lords of Pernstejn built in tremendously intricate late Gothic and early Renaissance style. Dubbed the "Marble Castle" due to stone resembling marble framing the doors and windows – retains a domineering, medieval look as its towers and ramparts loom over the surrounding, lush countryside. Finally, our last stop will be the ancient town of Jihlava, the oldest of the Bohemian mining towns renowned for its silver ore that brought miners, tradesmen, and merchants from all over Europe. Enjoy a leisure stroll through the town's beautiful architecture brought about by its silver ore wealth and an opportunity to visit the Jezek Beer Brewery that was established since medieval times. 

Overnight: Chateau Heralec, Heralec

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 9: HERALEC / KUTNA HORA / PRAGUE

Our journey to Prague begins with our departure from Chateau Heralec to the city of Kutna Hora, dubbed the "City of Silver", deservedly attributed the other name “national treasury”. This is to say that its wealth helped to ensure the boom of the Czech Kingdom. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, we explore Kutna Hora's stunning center dominated by the impressive St Barbara Church that was constructed in the 14th Century and only finished in the early 20th Century. Worth a visit is Jesuit College next to the church, an early Baroque building designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Domenico Orsi, the same artist who designed the Theological Hall in the famous Strahov Monastery in Prague. We will spend time witnessing other impressive monuments and important buildings that made Kutna Hora a worthy competitor to Prague before finally culminating our journey into the Golden City where we end our sojourn of Czechia. 

Meals: Breakfast

INTO PRAGUE - THE GOLDEN CITY

A stalwart of a city, the city of a thousand spires, "Paris" of the East. There are not enough adjectives to describe Prague, one of Europe's most stunning and incredible capital that has transformed since the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Inspiring with its gorgeous scenes all around and fairy-tale atmosphere, it is hard to ignore Prague. Mesmerizing cuisine, exceptional beers and a lively lifestyle just tops it off for one of the most enviable cities in the world to visit in your lifetime!

HIGHLIGHTS OF PRAGUE

Hradcany Castle, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and Prague's Historical Centre

Private Dinner Cruise on the Vltava River

Gastronomic Michelin dining experience 

WWII Concentration Camp Historical Tour

HOTELS

Augustine - A Luxury Collection Hotel

Conveniently located luxury hotel in Prague centre, in fabled Lesser Town district, right below Prague Castle and just steps away from Charles Bridge. Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Prague is the quintessence of Prague's history, character and beauty. As part of Luxury Collection, Augustine defines the destination with its deep history and energy inspired by the 13th century Augustine monastery, which is interconnected with the hotel. 

Nestled in a former baroque palace, The Grand Mark Prague creates an aura of luxury, artfully blending classical design with modern art, technology and features throughout. The location is ideal for leisure and entertainment as it is within walking distance of all the key attractions in Prague, as well as high-end designer shopping. 

The Grand Mark Prague

HOTELS

Somló tells us of the passage of time from the heritage of the volcanic butte to the exceptional longevity of the wines. Time spent in any of the 15 rooms of Kreinbacher Estate can feel like a step back in time to peaceful, quiet days. Somló’s Kreinbacher Estate has an iconic, contemporary design, to fulfil all the needs of the modern traveller, whilst still offering that sense of distance from the hustle and bustle.

Kreinbacher, Somlovasarhely

The Crocus Gere Wine Hotel is located in the heart of Villány, directly by the historical cellar row. The wine-maker Gere family’s hotel not only offers rich and unique experiences of Villány’s gastronomy and wine. but also ensures recreation for the fans of wellness. 

Crocus Gere Wine Hotel, Villany

A rare chance to experience the culture, traditions, and scenery of southern Hungary, Homoki Lodge is a Nature Quest Resort located in a sparsely populated area of wide, open prairies and big skies. Conceptualized by owners, Brigit and Oliver in 1997, you can now enjoy tremendous hospitality with superb gastronomy and an introduction to the stunning southern countryside of Hungary with aplomb. 

Homoki Lodge, 

Castellum Hotel, Holloko

The Barceló Brno Palace is an urban hotel that boasts a perfect location in the centre of the city of Brno with an innovative design and decor. The vision for Barceló Brno Palace Hotel was to create a hotel that would inspire and amaze by combining the chic and elegant modern design with flawless service unmatched in Brno.

Welcome to one of the most romantic castle hotels in the Czech Republic – Chateau Herálec. A luxury five-star boutique hotel, with uniquely designed rooms and impeccable service, is one of the most beautiful romantic chateaux in the Czech Republic.

Chateau Heralec, Heralec

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