Start: Szentendre 18:00, day one in the lobby of the hotel. Self-guided guests will be greeted and briefed at 09:30 on day two
Finish: Kraków 12:00 noon, day eight. Call us for guaranteed departures, updates or to add a new departure.
This pleasant hike along the ancient amber trail trading route takes you through three countries - Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, and includes five UNESCO world heritage sites. Your journey begins about 10 kilometres north of Budapest in Szentendre; a picturesque little town full of cafes, restaurants, galleries, churches, museums, little shops, and street artists. It is the gateway to the Danube Bend, an often photographed area of Hungary where the river winds between steep hills to Visegrad and the historic town of Ezstergom.
The magnificent cathedral at Ezstergom has been the seat of the Hungarian bishops for centuries. Crossing the Danube, you will enter Slovakia and the Kovácovský Hills, and walk onward to the medieval mining town of Banská Štiavnica and the spa village of Sklené Teplice, where treatments dating from the 16th century can be arranged with prior notification. The adventure will become more challenging as it progresses and you work your way into the Low Tatras and some of the most dramatic scenery in Slovakia. You will walk through small mountain villages that are rarely visited by tourists.
The unique culture and traditions of the hospitable people who live hear create a very special atmosphere amidst the beauty of the mountains. Your walk will include several visits to majestic medieval castles; the most impressive may be the Oravský Castle which was built in the 13th century, on a cliff overlooking the Árva River. In Poland you will hike to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and visit its UNESCO protected chapels and churches, including the infamous Stations of the Cross, before a final transfer into Kraków. We recommend you consider staying an extra day or two in Kraków, especially if you care to visit important sites such at the Wieliczka Salt Mines, and Auschwitz.
Highlights: Five UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the open air museum at Szentendre; panoramic views of the Danube Valley, Banska Stiavnica, Low Tatras National Park, Kvacanska Valley, Dumbier Mountain, the Stations of the Cross at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Kraków.
Day 1: Meet in Szentendre
Szentendre is a small town 12 miles from Budapest and easily accessible by car on highway 11, subway train (Hév), coach (Volán), or by boat on the Danube (Mahart). Guided groups will meet their guides at 18:00, but we recommend arriving earlier so you can explore the town’s two dozen museums, seven churches, 13 galleries, and countless coffee shops and little pubs. Highlights include the Open Air Ethnographic Museum (home to the largest ethnographic collection in Hungary) and the Ferenczy Museum (a permanent collection of Hungary’s most artistic family). Self guided walkers will be greeted and briefed tomorrow morning. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfast only).
Centrum Panzion; or
Hotel Kentaur, Szentendre
Day 2: Szentendre to Visegrad (16km/10 miles)
Following a 30 minute transfer to Visegrad, you will begin your hike with wonderful views of the DanubeBend and the hills surrounding Visegrad. Today’s hike is moderately challenging and leads you through beautiful forests and lush meadows. You’ll pass the Solomon Tower, one of Central Europe’s best-preserved Romanesque towers, and the Renaissance-style King Matthias Palace. In the late afternoon, you will be transferred 30 minutes to Esztergom, one of the oldest towns in Hungary, home to an enormous basilica, and the traditional seat of the Hungarian Roman Catholic bishops. Estergom is renowned for its Hungarian Classicalism architecture and its situation on the meandering Danube River and surrounded by the Pilis Mountains. BL
Pension Basilika, Esztergom
Day 3: Prenčov - Banska Stiavnica (18km/11 miles)
An hour and a half transfer will take you across the Slovakian border into the village of Prenčov. You’ll hike to the observation tower atop of Sitno, the highest peak in the Stiavnicke Highlands. Your path will lead you through an area that was settled in the 3rd century by the Huns who began a tradition of extracting silver and gold from the hills that continues today. You will follow an interesting system of lakes and canals to Banska Stiavnica, a UNESCO protected town that lies in the middle of gigantic caldera, created by the collapse of an ancient volcano. BLD
Hotel Grand Matej, Banska Stiavnica
Day 4: Banska Stiavnica - Salatin - Ruzomberok (17km/11 miles)
Transfer about an hour from Banska Stiavnica to Liptovska Luzna where you will begin hiking into the Low Tatras and the most difficult part of this adventure. An easy beginning warms you up for a steep climb to the top of Salatin Hill, where you will be rewarded with an exceptional view of the Liptov and surrounding area. You will spend the day exploring the prettiest foot trails in the Low Tatras National Park, home to species of bear, wolf, lynx and the critically endangered Tatra chamois. BLD
Hotel Kultura, Rusomberok
Day 5: Prosiecka and Kvacanska Valley (17km/11 miles)
Your morning transfer from Ruzomberok to Prosiek will take about 30 minutes. From here, you will venture into one of Slovakia's most beautiful valleys. The Kvacanska Valley is an invigorating hiking circuit, featuring beautiful wilderness, a refreshing waterfall, and a unique restored wooden mill in the hamlet of Oblazy. Along some sections of the trail, you’ll need to use ladders to ascend. After finishing the walking route you are taken by car back to Liptovsky Mikulas, made famous as the place where Juraj Janosik, the "Slovak Robin Hood", was brutally hung from a hook to his death in 1713. BLD
Hotel Steve, Liptovsky Mikulas
Day 6: Demanovska Valley (14km/9 miles)
Leave your luggage in your room today, as you will be returning to Liptovsky Mikulas later today. A short transfer will take you into the very heart of the Low Tatras: the Demanovska Valley. You will visit the Demanovske limestone caves or go up on the lift almost to the top of Chopok Mountain, and continue to the highest peak of the Low Tatras, Dumbier Mountain (2043m). After a full day of hiking, you’ll transfer back to Liptovsky Mikulas. BL
Day 7: Liptovsky Mikulas - Kalwaria Zebrzydowska - Kraków (7km/ 4 miles)
This morning you will transfer into Poland to the village of Lanckorona, where before you begin your final leg of the hike, you will visit an interesting project created to preserve local folk architecture. From here, you will hike to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and the reverential Stations of the Cross, consisting of 32 chapels and chaplets and ending in the monumental Bernadine monastery. At the end of the day, you will be transferred into Kraków, a short distance away. BLD
Hotel Polski, Krakow
Day 8: Kraków
You will need more than one day to experience Kraków properly. Wawel Castle, the Old Market Square, and the Kazimierz Jewish quarter, can each easily take a day; we recommend planning extra time to explore the city’s museums, cafes, pubs, theatres and clubs. You may also want to take a day trip to visit Auschwitz or the salt mines of Wieliczka. On request, we can assist with booking post adventure accommodations on your behalf. Your adventure concludes at noon, following a morning of exploring the cultural, artistic, economic, and academic center of Poland. B
Start: Szentendre 18:00, day one in the lobby of the hotel. Self-guided guests will be greeted and briefed at 09:30 on day two.
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