Visegrád Castle above the Danube River
Dohany Street Synagogue
Tihany Abbey near Lake Balaton
Eszterházy Palace, Fertod
Image by Szvitek Péter on Wikimedia Commons via CC BY 2.5 HU DEED
Explore the churches, synagogues and galleries of Budapest and journey through western Hungary on an exploration of the country’s rich cultural history
Visit Esztergom, Hungary’s ecclesiastical centre, and the rural palaces of Széchenyi and Eszterházy
Enjoy views over the Danube Valley in Visegrád and discover the area around Lake Balaton
“Alex Koller was a revelation – his breadth and depth of knowledge is phenomenal! Impressive, inspiring and approachable – I hope to travel with Alex again soon”
“It is always a joy to go anywhere with Alex”
– ACE customers on a 2023 tour led by Alex Koller
Hungary occupies a special place in European history. The Magyars were latecomers to the scene in the political and ethnic upheavals that followed classical antiquity, and they also stand out for their uniquely non-European language among the peoples of Central Europe. The different parts of the Magyar world experienced vastly diverging historical and cultural developments, as they came temporarily under the control of foreign powers, in particular the Ottomans and the Habsburgs.
Today’s Hungary bears traces of the medieval kingdom that adopted Christianity under the sainted King Stephen in the year 1000, as well as the later expanded realm within the Habsburg Empire. The Ottomans account for the introduction of features like Hungarian bathing culture, while the variety of peoples that used to live under the Crown of St Stephen is expressed in the Serbian quarters of towns like Szentendre and Székesfehérvár. The glories of the Buda Renaissance court can still be appreciated in the ruins of Visegrád.
Our tour will explore these overlapping narratives, through visits across Buda and Pest, along the Danube Bend, in the Lake Balaton area and further into western Hungary. Excursions to palaces, churches, synagogues and galleries will illuminate our understanding of this rich and remarkable historical tapestry.
Crucial to the life of the Hungarian nation under the Habsburgs was the role of Hungarian nobles, whose wealth and power can be appreciated in the country houses they built, some of which we will see on this tour. The Austrian rulers, on the other hand, were instrumental in the reconstruction of lands which were devastated after the defeat of the Ottomans in the 17th and 18th centuries. The vast city squares of towns like Győor, as well as numerous late Baroque churches, exemplify the aspirations of that hopeful age.
The restoration of Hungarian self-rule in the 19th century finally brought about the architectural ensemble of Budapest, which celebrated the confidence of the resurgent nation in monumental structures like the famous Parliament Building and Heroes’ Square. Together with the Danube River and the rocky outcrops on the Buda side, they form what is arguably one of the most scenic and impressive compositions in any European capital.
Our tour begins with five nights in Budapest at the four-star Continental Hotel, an elegant oasis of calm in the heart of the city, followed by two nights at the four-star Hotel Golden Lake Resort in Balatonfüred, facing Lake Balaton, and two nights at the comfortable three-star Lövér Hotel, set on the edge of a nature reserve on the outskirts of Sopron. We return to Budapest for a final overnight stay at the Continental Hotel in readiness for our return flight.
This tour will be led by Alex Koller, PhD, an expert in art and architectural history. Born in Vienna, Alex has lived and studied in Vienna, Salzburg and Cambridge, gaining his PhD in History of Art from Magdalene College, where he has also lectured and supervised. Alex is an accomplished linguist and experienced ACE Tour Director, who has travelled extensively throughout Europe and the Far East.
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Included: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, ten breakfasts, nine dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.
Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £795.