Type of tour:Guided/Self-guided
Duration:9 Nights
Distance:10 Miles/day average
Dates: Guided: Jun 8, Jul 6, Aug 10, 2014
Self-guided: Daily: Apr 1 - Oct 31, 2014
Tour price:€2390 (guided)
€1490 (self-guided)
Start city:Budapest, Hungary
End city:Krakow, Poland
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Hiking through the Tatra Mountains
Budapest to Krakow, Hiking on the Amber Trail

Tour Description: Self-guided

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Please note that this is a hiking tour only; there is no cycling on this tour.

This rewarding hiking route passes through the three countries of Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, following the steps of the historic amber trade route. The journey starts on the Danube River in Budapest, the capital of Hungary known as the "Paris of the East". The hike itself begins in the nearby village of Szentendre about 6 miles (10 km) north of Budapest. Szentendre is a picturesque little town full of cafes, restaurants, galleries, churches, museums, shops and street artists. It is the gateway to an especially panoramic part of Hungary called the Danube Bend, where the river winds between high hills to Visegrad Castle and the historic town of Ezstergom, which was the seat of the Hungarian bishops for centuries, featuring a magnificent cathedral.

In crossing the Danube you reach Slovakia, the longest and most scenic part of the journey. The first footpath here leads from the Slovak side of the Danube into the Kovácovský Hills and onward to Banská Štiavnica, a medieval mining town that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its unique history. For those who wish to rest and regenerate their strength, the spa in Sklené Teplice offers swimming in thermal caves.

The trail leads through the unspoiled countryside of the mountains in Slovakia and the typical highland villages, over the High Fatra, Low Tatras and Western Tatra range, where the effort expended in conquering the difficult route is rewarded with the panoramic views of the highest mountains in Slovakia. The little mountain villages might be lost in time, with excellent hospitality from the locals, herds of sheep and traditional crafts. All this is part of the unforgettable experience of this trail, so far relatively undiscovered by outsiders. Dwellings cut into the stone cliff or the unique wooden mill in the Kvacanská Valley become an unforgettable experience. History lovers will not fail to notice the castles and castle ruins along the way, including the majestic Oravský Castle, breathtaking even for the experienced traveler. Many villages such as Vlkolinec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consist largely of the old-fashioned traditional wooden cottages.

And the most important thing - hikers along the Slovak section of the route will truly appreciate the system of marked trails and the maintenance of the trail itself, as it is among the best trail systems in the world. On the Polish segment of the Amber Trail, one of the best parts is a tour of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 32 chapels and churches on a famous Stations of the Cross. Only 8 miles (12 km) from Krakow is a hiking tour of the highest caliber, the Wieliczka salt mines which have been operational since medieval times. The high point of the Polish side is Krakow itself, a wonderful historic, lively, pulsing town that is, among other things, known for the amber market at the Sukienice Cloth Hall. It reaffirms the meaning and existence of the Amber Trail as a link between North and South, a trade route that offers such riches for visitors.

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