Budapest and Hungary are on the top of the list for Jewish travel and tours, but generally these also include a greater scope of travel that includes Prague, Krakow, Warsaw, and Vienna. For Jewish travel within Budapest or Hungary, contact Chosen Tours or Underguide Tours.
Academic Trips & Language Tours
Central European University, V. Nádor u. 5 (tel. 1/327-3000; www.ceu.hu), boasts students from 90 countries with instructors from 30 countries. Based in Budapest, it is accredited by both the Hungarian and the U.S. accreditation agencies, through the University of the State of New York. The language of instruction is English for the entire extensive list of Master and Doctoral programs. Summer programs are ideal for those who want to take a course without leaving their home university. Generous financial aid is offered to all nationalities.
Many universities are now offering Budapest as an option for a study abroad semester. University students should check with their school for opportunities.
If you think you want to learn Hungarian, one of the schools that brags about having the best reputation and longevity having opened in 1927 is the Debreceni Nyári Egyetem Budapesti Nyelviskolája or Debrecen-Budapest Language School. The Budapest location is at V. Báthory u. 4 II/I (tel. 30/928-6577 mobile phone only; www.nyariegyetem.hu). Summer intensives are available in Debrecen, Sopron, and sometimes Eger. The 60-120 lessons, at 6 lessons per day over 2 to 4 weeks will have you speaking elementary Hungarian. Less grueling schedules are the semester-long programs offered only in Debrecen. They can arrange for accommodations for an extra fee. Course fees run 576€-1,000€ if you opt for accommodations and the meal plan.
BrainTurbo XI. Villányi út 60, 2nd floor?(tel. 30/230-1706 mobile phone only) has an innovative approach, claiming to be four times faster than other language-teaching methods learning 1,500 Hungarian vocabulary words in only 12 weeks without homework. First you lie on your back wearing special glasses, while a series of words and sentences are repeated to you both in English and Hungarian putting your brain in a receptive state for learning. Afterward, a teacher helps you to recall the words and expressions you listened to while relaxed. Because the Hungarian software is fairly recent, there is no track record yet to validate the effectiveness. If you are curious, try out the free trial lesson. The entire 12-week course is a hefty 225,000 Ft. Save 10% by signing up for a free Funzine club membership at www.funzine.hu.
Adventure & Wellness Trips
Much of Hungary is located over natural spring waters allowing many of the towns and cities an opportunity to create wellness oasis spots. You should be aware that the mineral content of the water is believed to have healing properties for diseases and ailments related to skin conditions, respiratory, muscle, or bone problems. Due to this, a good number of the "wellness" centers are also medical centers providing physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. Large spas have doctors on the premises for diagnosis and treatment on the spot. Thermals generally have natural spring pools of different temperatures, wet and dry saunas, and whirlpool baths. As part of the medical treatment, massage is included in the list of services, but other services have been added such as manicures and pedicures.
However, if you are looking for a luxurious pampered wellness opportunity, look over the options of services provided before deciding on a location as the term "wellness" has broad-based usage. Lake Balaton is also popular for wellness spas of the relaxing and luxurious varieties, but as an aid in making a decision Wellness Weekend (www.wellnessweekend.hu) has a number of luxury hotels in Budapest, Eger, Heviz, and Sopron with photos and last-minute discounts.
Dental & Medical Trips
As humorous as it may seem to include dental or medical tourism in a tour guide, Hungary has been known for decades for its high-quality and low-cost dental services. Many Austrians and Germans have been coming here for years and the good word has extended through the rest of Europe and over to the U.S. The dental tourism industry here has complete staff who speak English. Services include whitening, root canals, dentures, and cosmetic implantations. Most have labs on the premises, so there is little waiting time for dentures and if an adjustment is needed, they are on the spot. Some agencies have teamed with plastic surgeons to create a whole new you. I have no personal experience with any of these, but have heard positive reports.
Pasarét Dental II. Pasaréti út 8 (tel. 1/488-7919; www.pasaretdental.hu) has been around for a long time and has a good reputation for all things dental.
Meditours Hungary VII. Nagydiófa u. 19. (tel. 1/787-5564; www.meditourshungary.com). The only medical tourism program owned and operated by a medical doctor, American-Hungarian Dr. Randy Simor, takes great pride in arranging the most competent services in the city for medical tourists. Meditours will assist in making all of the necessary arrangements once you arrive, airport meet and greet, accommodations, and handholding every step of the way. Not only do they offer cosmetic dental services, but also cosmetic surgery, anti-aging, and IntraLasik eye sight correction surgery as well as others. Their hosts are on-call 24/7 for any needs you have with the mobile phone they provide for your use during your stay. I used their agency for the IntraLasik eye surgery option and was very impressed.
Kreativ Dent (www.kreativdent.eu) is a New York-based agency that arranges dental tourism packages to Budapest. Outside of Budapest, in the town of Mosonmagyarovar, close to Sopron, you have your choice of over 150 dentists, but you may want to consider H@ppy Dent at Zichy Mihály 2 (tel. 96/566-472; http://happy-dent.net). They don't assist with transportation, but they will help with a place to stay. Diamant Dent also in Mosonmagyarovar at Regi Vamhaz tér 11 (tel. 96/ 579-067; www.diamantdent.hu) has its own hotel and shuttle to pick you up and transport you to the clinic.
Food & Wine Trips
If you love food and wine as an introduction into a culture, you may want to try the tours offered by Taste Hungary (www.tastehungary.com), co-owned by American Carolyn Bánfalvi, author of A Food and Wine Lover's Companion to Hungary: with Budapest Restaurants and Trips to the Wine Country. They only have a website presence and all bookings are through their site. Wine Time Hungary, VII. Klauzál tér 13. fszt. 5 (tel. 1/788-9645; www.winetime.hu) specializes in wine tours to the regions where the grapes are grown. In Budapest, they offer virtual food and wine tours. Underguide Tours (tel. 06/30-908-1597 mobile phone only; golocal@underguide) are magicians with creating customized tours and can create the food or wine tour of your choice.
Volunteer & Working Trips
Habitat for Humanity (tel. 1/354-1084; www.habitat.hu), with an office at VI. Podmaniczky u. 91, has a well-established program in Hungary. None of the building occurs in Budapest, but in smaller villages. They have specific dates when they build; therefore, you will need to schedule your trip around theirs if you want to be part of this endeavor.
Quite a different cultural yet volunteer experience can be had with Servas International (http://joomla.servas.org). The program was started in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler as a peace movement. Now active in 100 countries, it is a worthwhile way to experience parts of Hungary as part of their traveler program where Hungarians voluntarily open their home and lives to host you for short periods of time. You need to apply at least 4 weeks before you travel in your home country to be approved.
Escorted General-Interest Tours
Go Today (www.go-today.com) offers a 6-night tour of Budapest or other tours that include Vienna or Prague. Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises.com) proposes travel opportunities via the Danube, including Budapest and other smaller towns along the way as part of their expanded country tours starting in Germany, continuing from here to Bratislava and Vienna.
For more information on Escorted General-Interest Tours, including questions to ask before booking your trip, see www.frommers.com/planning.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.