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.
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
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
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
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
DAY 4: CESKY KRUMLOV / JINDRICHUV HRADEC / VRANOV NAD DYJI / ZNOJMO
Leaving Cesky Krumlov today, we continue our exploration of South Bohemia with a visit to the pretty town of Jindrichuv Hradec - home to one of the most powerful families and clan in Czechia between the 13th to 17th Centuries. The sight of the superbly-stunning Chateau Jindrichuv Hradec situated above the Vajgar Lake paints one of the most picturesque scene in Czechia and we have the opportunity to discover this incredible Gothic and Renaissance jewel. Thereafter, a short drive from here arrives us in the border town of Slavonice into Moravia, adorned with beautiful Renaissance townhouses that are part of the designated UNESCO World Heritage Moravian landscape. On a walking tour, we learn about its history that started off as a marketplace village before it turned into a fortified township with a complex underground tunnel system that not only served as a drainage system but as part of the town's defensive system.
Our journey of Moravia then continues with a visit to the Chateau Vranov nad Dyji, part of the Podyji National Park, situated on a rock promontory in the picturesque valley of the River Dyje. Designed a National Monument and one of the most important secular baroque buildings in Central Europe dating back to the 12th Century, it was built by the Dukes of Bohemia to defend the southern border of Moravia against raids from the neighboring Austrian March. Finally, we arrive into the historic wine-making town of Znojmo, surrounded by medieval city walls and stunning Renaissance architecture where we spend the next 2 nights at the modernized Hotel Clemar.
Overnight: Hotel Clemar, Znojmo
DAY 5: ZNOJMO (THE WINE JEWEL OF MORAVIA)
We dedicate the day to the under radar wine-making traditions of Moravia, a wine region that spreads along the border with Austria and where Znojmo is, played an important role in Czech history. We will learn about its incredible terroir which lies in the rain shadow and on the foothills of the Bohemia-Moravian Highland, whose stony soils are excellent for the cultivation of Riesling, Grüner Veltliner etc. Our day first begins with a walking tour of Znojmo, one of the oldest cities in Europe, proclaimed by King Ottokar I of Bohemia as a royal city in 1226. Start off from the City Hall where we begin to appreciate its Renaissance grandeur slowly progressing to the Znojmo Castle, the famous Rotunda of Saint Catherine - the oldest building in the town with its unique frescoes, the monumental Gothic Church of St. Nicholas where we have unspoiled views of the surrounding vineyards and the Dyje River. We then take a drive out to visit the Sobes Vineyard, blessed with superb terroir in an enviable location overlooking the meandering Dyje River. Learn about the ancient wine-making techniques of one of the oldest vineyards in Czechia where we then culminate with a tasting of its revered wines. Later, we will visit the Baroque Louka Monastery, an important monastery complex founded in 1190 in Louka by Znojmo appanage Duke Konrad Ota with his mother. Nowadays, it has been transformed by wine company, Znovin Znojmo where we get a further understanding of its ancient wines, where more than one million bottles are maturing in huge monastery cellars.
Overnight: Hotel Clemar, Znojmo
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.