Esterhazy hero

Austria & Hungary: a Cultural Walking Tour with Music and Opera in Vienna


The great Hungarian nobleman, Prince Miklós Esterházy (1741-1790), endowed the world with an extraordinary legacy of music and architecture. As Haydn’s patron for four decades, he provided the setting in which the composer produced his finest works - the entire court moving twice annually between the Esterházy Palaces in Fertód in Hungary and Eisenstadt, which was in Hungary until 1921 border adjustments placed it in Austria.

During our 9 day visit to this fascinating area of central Europe we attend two performances of the Haydn Festival in the magnificent Esterházy palace in Eisenstadt; enjoy forest, lakeside and vineyard walks; partake of wine-tastings; and explore the Gothic and Baroque heritage of Hungary’s quiet small towns - Western Transdanubia escaped the Mongol and Turkish invasions by a whisker.

We begin the holiday staying in a splendid castle hotel and conclude with two days in Vienna, that most elegant and cultural of cities, with an opera performance on our final evening.

HIGHLIGHTS of the tour include:

  • World-class concerts in the Esterhazy palace, in the precise historic setting where the music was composed and first performed.
  • Exploring the Romanesque and mediaeval architecture of western Hungary
  • Lakeside, vineyard and forest walks, and a boat trip on Lake Neuseidlersee
  • Two nights in Vienna, with an opera performance at the Vienna State Opera
  • Outstanding food and wine, including private wine tastings with the most highly regarded winemakers in Austria and Hungary
  • Historical insights ranging from Roman Carnuntum to the Iron Curtain

Guests’ comments on this trip:

‘The combination of good to excellent hotel choices, consistently good to great food & wine, a well judged balance of walks through interesting & varied countryside & places of historic & architectural interest together with some delightful concerts made for a lovely holiday.

’This was my second trip with Kudu. I went last year on the ‘Wexford Opera’. I thought it would be a hard act to follow, especially as we had such a lovely guide in Patricia. This ‘Esterhazy’ holiday was even better: the fairy-tale palaces, lovely music, wine and good company.’

 

DAY 1  
D included
After meeting at Vienna international airport by midday, we travel south, pausing to visit the Augustinian Abbey of Vorau with its richly frescoed interior, remarkable double organ and organ loft and 18C Rococo library. Our destination is a privately owned castle hotel (4 star) dating from 1065, superbly sited in the forested hills which form the present borders with Hungary and Slovenia. The castle’s long history includes five centuries as part of the Hungarian Crown Lands and successfully surviving a number of sieges and invasions from the east.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included 
After breakfast we set off on foot for a morning exploring the forest trails - early autumn colours, wild cyclamen and fungi, and the whitewashed small wayside chapels which characterise this rural corner of Styria. Returning to the hotel we tour the castle’s own 17C ‘Long Cellar’, where the estate wine is aged in barrique casks made from their own oak trees - and taste the highly acclaimed results. A formal dinner of Styrian specialties is given a light and creative touch by the noted young chef.

DAY 3
B, L, D included
The border crossing into Hungary is quite close and our first destination is the sleepy village of Ják which contains Hungary's most important Romanesque architectural monument - the Benedictine Abbey Church. Founded in 1214 and miraculously escaping destruction by the Mongol hordes, its chief glory is the Norman-style portal - a pillared doorway carved in geometric patterns 12 layers deep. Continuing to Cák, we walk in the landscape reserve and picnic near a picturesque row of thatched above-ground wine cellars. In the afternoon we visit Kószeg, a tranquil little town with a charming Renaissance square and an illustrious history. During the 1532 siege of the town castle by Suleyman the Magnificent's troops, a handful of Hungarian soldiers successfully held the fortress for 25 days against 100,000 Turks who finally withdrew at 11 a.m. on 30th August, sparing Kószeg (and Vienna for the next 150 years). Church bells peal an hour before noon to this day. Continuing to Sopron, we settle into our hotel, a recently restored Renaissance mansion (4 star) in the quiet historic centre.

DAY 4
B, L, D included
We travel a short distance to Fertod to visit the Esterhazy Palace - often referred to as the ‘Hungarian Versailles’, this opulent palace was Prince Miklos Esterházy’s summer residence where Haydn composed an enormous number of works - during the golden years between 1770 and 1790, at least one new opera performance was given each month! Returning to Sopron (where the nine year old Liszt dazzled audiences at his debut) the afternoon is free for exploring Hungary’s most delightful mediaeval town - since neither the Mongols nor the Turks reached here the walled Inner Town is a treasury of Gothic and early Baroque architecture. Highlights include the Old and New Synagogues (both built in the 14C and amongst the greatest Jewish Gothic monuments in Europe); climbing the Fire Tower (which has a square 10C base on top of a Roman gate, a 16C cylindrical section and a Baroque arcaded balcony and spire); and the Storno Collection of Gothic furnishings. We reconvene in the late afternoon to walk along an historically important section of the former Iron Curtain (site of the ‘Sopron Picnic’), then have an informal wine-tasting to accompany dinner in an excellent local restaurant.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
A leisurely stroll in the Fertod National Park, ecologically part of the puszta or Hungarian steppes, delivers us to a small foot ferry which takes us across the lake to the village of Rust, where we partake of lunch in a traditional heuriger (rustic wine tavern). After free time to wander - many of the 17C houses are crowned with huge storks nests, and the 12C - 16C Fischerkirche contains faded Romanesque frescoes  - we drive to Eisenstadt, the other favoured seat of the Esterházy family. Before settling into our hotel (4 star, modern and central, with an indoor swimming pool), we visit the Landesmuseum, which contains remarkable Celtic artefacts, Roman mosaics and Liszt’s ‘Blue Salon’. An early dinner precedes a performance of works by Schubert and Haydn by the Cappella Gabetta, with the renowned violinist Baiba Skride, in the splendid, and wholly appropriate, setting of the Schloss Esterhazy.

DAY 6
B, L, D included
Following a to visit to the Haydn Museum, housed in the composer's home from 1766 to 1778, we return to Schloss Esterházy for a performance of works by Schubert and Haydn with the Austro-Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Chamber Choir, conducted by Adam Fischer. In the afternoon we walk through woodland in the hills above Eisenstadt and stroll in the vineyards where the wine harvest should already be under way. Dinner tonight is in an excellent contemporary restaurant in the former Baroque Riding Hall of the Esterházy Princes.

DAY 7
B, L, D included
North east of Eisenstadt we visit the charming small cottage where Haydn was born en route to the archaeological museum of Carnuntum (housed in a replica Roman villa) and then explore the site of Roman Carnuntum, the XV Legion’s camp from which they defended the boundaries of the empire on the Danube. Transferring to Vienna, an orientation walk brings us to our very comfortable (4 star) historic hotel, ideally situated within ‘the Ring’, Vienna’s mainly pedestrianised historic centre. We attend a performance (programme available after Easter) in the Vienna State Opera House.

DAY 8
B, D included
A free day in Vienna: the possibilities include the treasures of St. Stephan’s cathedral; the Kunsthistorisches Museum housing one of the most important collections of paintings in the world; the bustling, colourful Naschmarkt - Vienna’s oldest food market; the magnificent Lipizzaner horses at the Spanish Riding School; the Hapsburg imperial palace, the Hofburg (containing the imperial jewellery collection in the Schatzkammer); the Liechtenstein Palace private collections; or savouring Sachertorte in a Viennese traditional coffee houses. Our farewell dinner reflects the culinary heritage of the Austro-Hungarian empire. 

DAY 9
B included
Our trip ends today with a transfer to Vienna airport at times to suit individual preferences.

Caveat
The Haydn Festival events described are (rarely) subject to change by the organizers. Actual activities or their order may therefore vary from those described in the itinerary. 

£2,890 per person sharing
£400 deposit per person
£380 
single room supplement

Please note that the single room supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable. We shall endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy whenever possible.

Price includes

  • all accommodation for Days 1 through 9, on a twin shared basis
  • All meals (with wine at lunches and dinners) as listed in the daily notation
  • All land transportation in a private vehicle as described except during free periods
  • Ticket for boat trip across the lake as described
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees except during free periods
  • Wine tastings in both Austria and Hungary
  • Tickets for two performances of the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt
  • Good category ticket for an opera performance in Vienna 
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff (appreciation for tour leaders & managers is entirely at your discretion)

Price does not include

  • Transportation to and from Vienna
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol besides wine with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Austrian and Hungarian departure tax, if any


VALUE FOR MONEY - SO MUCH IS INCLUDED

On Kudu trips you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 2 nights in a privately owned castle hotel (4 star) dating from 1065, superbly sited in the forested hills on the border with Hungary and Slovenia

  • 2 nights in Sopron, in a recently restored Renaissance mansion (4 star) in the quiet historic centre

  • 2 nights in Eisenstadt, in a 4 star modern and central hotel, with an indoor swimming pool

  • 2 nights in a very comfortable (4 star) historic hotel, ideally situated within ‘the Ring’, Vienna’s mainly pedestrianised historic centre

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT EARLY BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR MUSIC AND OPERA TRIPS.
Kudu Travel reserves a block of seats for each performance, approximately 1 year in advance, and unsold seats will eventually be released. Once released, it may not be possible to retrieve seats in the same category, or indeed, to obtain any tickets at all for sold out performances.

Visa and Health Requirements
Visitors from the EU and USA currently require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to Austria and Hungary. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassies of Austria and Hungary.

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Austria or Hungary. Residents of countries in the EU can only claim free (emergency) medical treatment in Austria and Hungary by presenting their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which is issued in the UK by the Department of Health. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO.

Insurance
It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents. If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party
This trip will run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14 guests.


Downloads