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Independent Budapest: Hidden Gems in the “Pearl of the Danube”

Explore both old and modern-day Europe as you venture through Budapest’s Baroque architecture to discover its culture on expert-led field trips and through independent explorations.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23250RJ
9 days
Starts at

Independent Budapest: Hidden Gems in the “Pearl of the Danube”

Explore both old and modern-day Europe as you venture through Budapest’s Baroque architecture to discover its culture on expert-led field trips and through independent explorations.
9 days
Starts at
Program No. 23250 RJ
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At a Glance

Transport yourself back in time as you explore the historic neighborhoods of Budapest with our expert instructor and on independent, self-directed excursions. Experience this city’s architectural prowess as you study the Baroque, Neoclassical, Eclectic and Art Nouveau buildings that stand at nearly every corner. Learn about life in Hungary today, and take in the vibrant culture in the “Pearl of the Danube.” Explore the traditions of Budapest on your own, such as by taking a dip in its many thermal baths as you soak in all this beautiful city has to offer.
Independent City Discoveries
Independent City Discoveries
Learn with a Group Leader and enjoy educational programming while also getting independent time to explore on your own. Most Independent City Discoveries include lectures, self-guided excursions and passes for public transit and museums.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn about Budapest through a series of fascinating lectures from local experts about its culture, politics and history.
  • Discuss Hungarian politics, economy, sociology and everyday life while inside a local's home.
  • Take in the splendid panoramic views on a short hike to one of the highest points in Budapest and a favorite spot of the locals: Normafa.

General Notes

Give us a call to combine this learning adventure with select dates of "Independent Prague: Architecture and the Arts" (#9952) for even more learning in Central Europe! We’ll even pay your airfare from one program to the other.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Budapest 1900
by John Lukacs
Written by a distinguished historian and native son, this richly detailed portrait of the city at its zenith includes hundreds of illustrations.
by Imre Kertész, Tim Wilkinson (Translator)
The autobiographical story of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner, Imre Kertész. This book chronicles the 14-year-old boy’s struggle to make sense of his capture in Budapest, survival in the concentration camps and readjustment to life after the war.
Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
by Victor Sebestyén
Twelve Days portrays the Hungarian uprising using official documents, family diaries and stories from eyewitnesses, giving a firsthand account of the nation’s courageous revolt against their Soviet oppressors. Author Victor Sebestyén, a Hungarian forced to flee the tumultuous country during this time, masterfully paints the picture giving readers a full understanding of the historic event.
A Guest in My Own Country
by George Konrad
The author’s autobiographical tale of fleeing the Hungarian countryside to avoid deportation, and along with his young family members, becoming the only Jewish children from their hometown to survive the Holocaust. Konrad tells his story in episodes of important moments, from his childhood to his adult life navigating life in East-Central Europe under socialism.
The Hungarians, A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat
by Paul Lendvai, Ann Major (Translator)
A journalist who fled Hungary in 1957, Lendvai combines history, scholarship and anecdote in this uncommonly engaging account. With verve and authority, he covers the struggle of the Magyars' against the Tartars, Turks and Russians over the past millennium.
Budapest Map
by Berndtson & Berndtson
A convenient map of the city center at a scale of 1:11,000.
The Magic Lantern, The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague
by Timothy Garton Ash
With a chapter each on Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague, this eyewitness account by an astute journalist and historian shows these vibrant cities during a time of great change.
The Color of Smoke, An Epic Novel of the Roma
by Menyhert Lakatos
First published in Hungarian in 1975, this epic novel provides both a sweeping glance of World War II-era rural Hungary and an intimate glimpse into the interior life of an adolescent coming of age within the harsh but resolutely light-hearted Roma community.
Eastern Europe!
by Tomek E. Jankowski
An entertaining history of the region from its stint as an outpost of Rome through the formation of states, Medieval splendor, Ottoman incursions, wars, the Soviet period and the fall of Yugoslavia. Jankowski divulges, in an epilogue, the recipe for Mrs. Jankowska's Homemade Pierogis.
Kasztner's Train
by Anna Porter
Called the “Hungarian Oskar Schindler,” Hungarian born Anna Porter tells the story of Rezso Kasztner, the hero who stood in the way of Adolf Eichmann and the German army’s genocide of the Jewish population in Hungary. By expertly manipulating the Nazi leader, the lawyer and Zionist activist successfully saved thousands of lives by organizing a train ride to freedom.
The Jews of Hungary: History, Culture, Psychology
by Raphael Patai
A comprehensive history of the Hungarian Jewish community, their multi-faceted roles in the country and how they helped to shape its history as a whole, as well as that of the global Jewish community. Historian and anthropologist Raphael Patai particularly shows how both the adversities and triumphs of Hungarian Jews have resulted in tremendous additions to every area of Hungarian society.
The Essential Guide to Being Hungarian: 50 Facts and Facets of Nationhood
by István Bori
A guide on how to be Hungarian, from daily life, food and customs to philosophy, science and sports. Written by twelve authors knowledgeable in the different facets of this unique country, the book gives readers an idea of what life is like in Hungary and how it developed into what it is today.
The Bridge at Andau
by James Michener
A chronicle of the Hungarian revolt of 1956, from the lens of a journalist at the border crossing where he gathered the stories of those fleeing the USSR’s brutal shutdown of the uprising. These stories reveal the intermingled victory and defeat of the ordeal, and the strength of the Hungarian people.
Budapest, A Cultural History
by Bob Dent
This brilliant guide introduces the history and traditions of this Central European cultural capital, with emphasis on its most important artists and architects.
The Romani Gypsies
by Yaron Matras
Matras delves into the history of the Romani, an ancient and misunderstood European culture that has survived through modern times.
Eyewitness Guide Budapest
by Eyewitness Guides
Featuring handy maps and solid information on culture and history in addition to a detailed overview of attractions. With hundreds of photographs.
by Claudio Magris
Mixing history, personalities and literature, Magris traces the course of the Danube from its source in the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire through the Balkans to the Black Sea in this anything but conventional travelogue, first published in 1986.
Danubia, A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
by Simon Winder
Winder, author of Germania, considers the legacy of the Habsburg Europe in this charmingly digressive history and travelogue.
The Radetzky March
by Joseph Roth, Joachim Neugroschel (Translator)
Magnificently set against the backdrop of the twilight of the Habsburg Empire, Roth's family saga takes in the sweep of history and empire in Central Europe. The richly textured novel opens at the battle of Solferino, when young Lieutenant Trotta saves the life of the Emperor.
The Will to Survive
by Bryan Cartledge
The Will to Survive paints the picture of how the small country of Hungary has survived, despite many tragedies, defying oppressive forces throughout its history, and emerging a sovereign democratic republic in the European Union.
Enemies of the People
by Kati Marton
In this book, Kati Marton reveals the inner workings of the Communist Terror State, using the experience of her family, in particular her journalist parents who were spied on by the secret police and eventually betrayed by those close to them. An accomplished journalist of Hungarian origin (and widow of third husband Richard Holbrooke), the author uses interviews and secret police files to show the lengths that the regime was willing to go to in order to secure their power.

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