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Central-Eastern Europe Trail Systems Study Tour
2023-08-15 - 2023-08-31

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This unique and diverse experience will visit 7 countries all together in about 17 days and will study trail systems and visit some of the best trail areas, sights and cities of the region. Participants will study and discuss the topic of what it takes to have a good trail system, and how nature may coexist with human activity and heritage in harmony. 1 epic tour, 2+ weeks - 3+ trail marking system types - 4+ capitals - 5 cross-border regions - 6 landscape characters - 7 countries - 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites - 9 national parks - 10 cities - 17 days - +1 participants - if you come! Organized by Helian NaTour Ltd. & Viator Association for Hiking and Culture, with local partners Organized for: WTN Trails & Knowledge Task Team members & anyone interested

Useful Information

The program is organized & promoted in partnership with the World Trails Network.


What can we learn from different trail systems in order to synthetize what an ideal trail system would look like?

to study & experience the various trail concepts, network and marking / signage systems of several countries and regions in Central & Eastern Europe and their history since the 19th century, and the region in general with some of its main city & tourism highlights,

in order to get inspiration of what trails mean to these regions and multiple examples of how a network-based unified trail marking and signage system can be designed and implemented on a landscape, regional, or national level, and how international trails fit into these systems.

Participants will also have the opportunity to get to know and enjoy the region, with its rich & unique culture, cuisine, history and some of its people, main cities & landmarks (Central, Western & Northern Hungary, Slovakia, Eastern Austria, Slovenia, and close corners of Poland, Croatia and Italy).

An important part of the experience is its cross-border character, of which the highlight point is visiting the location where the Iron Curtain between Eastern & Western Europe was first "broken through". 


Tour highlights:

Carpathian Mountains

Tatra Mountains & Slovenský Raj (Northern & Eastern Slovakia and the corner of Poland) - trails along ravines and in alpine environment - the Slovakian & Polish national trail system

Novohrad-Nógrád - a cross-border Geopark with its geological, historical & etnographic heritage and trail system, greenways-geotours-thematic routes, walking along and through the border

Central Hungary & Transdanubia

Budapest - city tour & trails in the Danube Bend Area / Pilis Biosphere Reserve, the Hungarian Trail Marking system, the National Blue Tour (the first long-distance trail in Europe)

Studying recent trail developments, pilgrimage & thematic routes, trail marking (blazing) practice/assessment & discussion

European Cultural Capital 2023 - the City of Veszprém, lake Balaton, water-related nature tourism, trails and gastronomy

Eastern Alps

Julian Alps - the trail & hut system of Slovenia - relationship between mountaineering and hiking, and the corner of Italy

Ljubljana / Graz - city visits in the capitals of Slovenia and/or Styria

Accessible & "sensual" trail experience, railway trail of Semmering 

Trail & marking system in Lower Austria, tourism management in the Wiener Alpen area

Tri-border area AT-SK-HU

Vienna & Bratislava - city tours in the capitals of Austria and Slovakia, resting in Hungary

Sopron - a city with unique history in Northwest Hungary, closely connected to Austria, urban walking

Pan-European Picnic site (where the Iron Curtain was first opened); ancient Roman stonebreak, cross-border trails, e-bike tour

Closing workshop

hybrid (on-site + on-line) mini-conference as a joint WTN Trails & Knowledge / Sustainability task team gathering

with invited local / regional partners and international participants - sharing experience, presenting & exchanging trail systems knowledge and discussion


Key facts:

Planned duration: 17 days (+1 optional), 14/15 Aug - 31 Aug/1 Sept 2023.

Flight destination (starting and ending point): Vienna International Airport (VIE) - flight costs not included

Approximate route: see above

Visa (if needed): EU Schengen

Expected nr. of participants: 10-15, from around the world, open to anyone interested. Local / regional participation possible on a section-basis.


Expected costs:

local travels, accomodation and meals, organizational & guiding costs 230 EUR/pers/day + 30 EUR single supplement (incl. 27% VAT).

For 17 days, it is in total 3.910 EUR when staying in a double room, and 4.420 EUR when staying in a single room (this includes an extra night before or after the actual trip program, based on the participant's choice, so that flight booking and taking a rest can be more flexible). An extra cost of approx. +200 EUR has to be paid on site for entrance fees (exhibitions, parks etc. visited).


Partial participation options:

  • 15th Aug-21st Aug (7 days) - Mountain hikes and geo-tours in the Northern Carpathian Mountains (PL-SK-HU) with city visits to Bratislava and Budapest: 1610 EUR in double room / 1820 EUR single 
  • 20th Aug-31st Aug (12 days) - Trails & tours across Transdanubia & the Eastern Alps (HU-HR-SLO-IT-AT) with partners' workshop & city vists including Ljubljana, Sopron & Vienna: 2760 EUR in double room / 3120 EUR single


Insurance: Participants are requested to have a travel insurance which covers cancellation, mountain sports (special mountain rescue), and in general, accidents, injuries, sickness, etc. Costs of insurance are not included.


Organized by / supported by:

Helian NaTour Ltd., Viator Association for Hiking and Culture (Hungary), with collaboration of the World Trails Network and local/regional trail-related stakeholders

Main organizers & guides / partners: András J. Molnár (Viator Association), Dóra Nagy (Helian NaTour Ltd.), András Vissi (Scardobona Ltd., Sopron)

Local partners: Júlia Nagy (Novohrad-Nógrád Geopark), Péter Gadácsi (Gerecse Natúrpark Visitor Centre), ... (work in progress)

Further organizations to be / being invited as potential partners (work in progress): EVA Air, EKA - Forests for Public Benefit Foundation, Pilis Park Forest, Ipoly Forest Service, Duna-Ipoly National Park, Budapest Sport Hiking Federation, MTSZ - Hungarian Hiking Federation, MTE - Hungarian Tourist Association, KST - Slovak Tourist Club, PZS - Slovenian Mountaineering Federation, Veszprém - European Cultural Capital, Hungarian Paulite Order, Living Stones / Pietre Vive group Ljubljana, Ister-Granum EGTC, Neszmély Wine Route Association, Wald der Sinne - Forest of the Senses, Wiener Alpen, Soproni Vándorok hiking association, Sopron University, GySEV/Raaberbahn railway company, Charta XXI movement for reconciliation, etc.

Organized for: Anyone interested, especially for the WTN Trails & Knowledge Task Team members and partners

For questions please contact:

Molnár András
Tour Leader
Visionary, Researcher & Counselor. Trail enthusiast, hiking & pilgrimage guide and instructor. Trail signage, development & IT expert. Co-chair of the WTN Trails & Knowledge Task Team. Chief editor of the trail network & signage concept of Hungary (2012-14), coordinated planning & development of the international Mary Way route network (2007-2009). Recent academic work includes trail network analysis & visitor monitoring.
Deatailed program
0. day (14/08): Wien/Sopron area

(alternative arrival day - optional)

1. day (15/08) Wien/Sopron area

arrival day / jetlag time / Vienna City tour (AT, UNESCO World Heritage) [optional, c.f. last day] Gather and stay in the Sopron/Fertőd area (HU)

2. day (16/08): Western Slovakia

3-way border point (AT-HU-SK); introduction to the larger area & it's history in general Bratislava (SK) city tour Travel to Zakopane (PL)

3. day (17/08): Tatra Mountains

Hiking in the High Tatra Mountains (national parks, PL/SK), Alpine & sub-alpine trail systems, trail history, national trail systems of Poland and Slovakia, visitor management practices

4. day. (18/08) Eastern Slovakia

Ravine trails of the carstic area of National Park Slovenský raj / Slovak Paradise (SK), leisure time

5. day (19/08): Northern Hungary

Cave tour in Aggtelek National Park (HU, UNESCO World Heritage site), Castle ruins and geological heritage with cross-border trails of the Novohrad-Nógrád Geopark (SK-HU, first cross-border UNESCO Global Geopark)

6. day (20/08): Nógrád area

Visit the "gem" of the geopark: 17million-year fossils of Ipolytarnóc (HU), Etnographical village of Hollókő (HU, UNESCO World Heritage site) on the National day of Hungary; Festive fireworks in Budapest (HU)

7. day (21/08): Budapest area

Budapest (HU, UNESCO World Heritage) city tour and urban trail walk, leisure time with optional spa visit, meeting with partners

8. day (22/08): Danube Bend area

Danube Bend area (HU): National Park Duna-Ipoly, Pilis Park Forest & UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Dobogókő - Hiking Museum (optional), the Hungarian trail system and the National Blue Trail (first long-distance trail in Europe), Paulite thematic trails - in the footsteps of the hermits, Visegrád - visit Pilis Park Forest facilities (Mogyoró-hegy forest educational centre)

9. day (23/08): Northern Transdanubia

Ister-Granum Euro-Region, historical city of Esztergom (HU/SK border), Gerecse Natúrpark (HU) visitor centre and the Holy Cross shrine in Péliföldszentkereszt Multi-thematic routes, recent hiking & pilgrimage trail developments of the area, Trail marking practice and/or assessment on-site, Wine tasting in the city of Tata (HU)

10. day (24/08): Central Transdanubia

Central Transdanubia: Short visit in the city of Veszprém (HU, European Cultural Capital in 2023). Panoramic and educational trails and 'water world' at Tihany, Lake Balaton (HU), visit the Lavender House. Leisure time and/or light rafting tour along the Mura river (HU/HR border) (25/08): Croatia-Slovenia

Introduction to the trail system of Croatia and Slovenia (HR/SLO). Travel to the city of Zagreb (HR) and/or Lubljana (SLO) and to the Bled Lake (SLO), dinner (26/08): Julian Alps

Julian Alps, Triglav National Park (SLO): experience the Slovenian alpine trail & hut system around the Vršič pass. Visit the source of the Soča river & the corner of Italy at Tarvisio (IT)

13. day (27/08): Styrian Alps

Travel through Styria (AT), Forest of Senses - a private initiative of an accessible trail in the Alps; hike on a high alpine plateau (Schneealpe) or along a cultural trail in the Mürz Valley (AT), leisure time

14. day (28/08): Eastern Alps

The trail system of Lower Austria, experience the Semmering railway (UNESCO World Heritage) and its thematic trail (AT); Meeting with partners at the Wiener Alpen tourism organization; Visit the City Wall Promenade in the historical centre of Sopron (HU)

15. day (29/08): Wien/Sopron area

Fertő-Hanság cross-border national park area (HU/AT, UNESCO World Heritage): Iron Curtain and Bernstein trails, eBike tour to the Pan European picnic site (where the border was first opened at the end of the cold war), Fertőrákos (HU) - ancient Roman stonebreak, Mörbisch (AT) - lakeside town; Cyclamen educational path (the first educational path est. in Hungary) Meeting with local hiking clubs and university partners

16. day (30/08): Wien/Sopron area

Closing workshop - Hybrid (on-site and online) WTN task team gathering (Trails & Knowledge / Sustainability), tour summary & conclusion, discussion Narrow gauge railvay ride at Nagycenk (HU) with the historical cross-border GySEV/Raaberbahn railway company (HU/AT)

17. day (31/08): Wien/Sopron area

return journey day / leisure time / Vienna City tour [optional, c.f. first day]

17 +1 day (01/09): Wien/Sopron area

(alternative return journey day - optional)

Important information

More info:

Important dates and sign-up: Registration opens on 20th March & closes on 30th April. Deposit of 40% of the full fee due at registration time, full participation fee due until 30th June. [If less than 10 participants register by 30th April then the trip will either be canceled or all participants should agree on higher costs per person.]

Currency: the local currency is EUR except for Hungary (HUF - forint) and Poland (PLN - złoty). The price of the tour will be denominated in EUR

Language: Guidance in English will be available.

Time zone: CEST (Central European Summer Time, UTC+2h) throughout the whole tour

Climate and expected weather: the climate is moderately continental and may become colder with increasing altitude in mountainous areas. Temperatures to expect: 5-35 ˚C depending on the area/altitude, most likely between 15 and 30 ˚C. Precipitation: occasional rain, more probably in the second half of the tour. The program will be adjusted to the weather conditions.

Good to know: we will not have long hikes, however, the terrain conditions may be rough and rugged, so physical preparedness, proper clothing (raingear) & shoes (high-heel boots) will be important.

Accomodation: hotel / pension / guest house - in most places 1/2-bed rooms, ensuite bathroom, with breakfast. Only a few nights will be more hut-like (more beds per room or shared bathrooms).

Meals: we will mainly eat local food, but try to provide `a la carte options or shared dishes wherever possible. Any allergies or special needs must be communicated and discussed upon signing up for the tour.

Transportation: mostly with a 20-person rented bus, and of course, section hikes (cca. 2-12 km/day), some days include riding on eBikes or public transportation (local trains, cable cars)

Local partners: some of the days will include meeting with local representatives (hiking clubs, forest service, nature or national park staff, tourism development or management organizations, municipalities), mainly in Hungary and Austria

Local participants: some of days will be open to local participation, where we can hike together with people from the area

Closing workshop: the tour will end with a mini-conference & sharing workshop, which will be a joint WTN Trails and Knowledge / Sustainability Task Team meeting / gathering

Communications: the tour may be partly or fully accompanied by a volunteer media specialist, who will take photos & video footage, and make interviews with the participants, out of which a public gallery and intro video will be made later. By signing up for the tour you give consent to it, unless stated otherwise.

What to bring: a detailed packing list will be sent to the registered participants 1-2 months before the trip

Cancellation policy: If the Passenger lives with their general right of withdrawal within 60 days prior to the start of the trip, they are obliged to provide the Helian NaTour Travel Agency, according to the Civil Code. 6: 213. § (2), with a payment of forfeit based on the following amount and conditions:

  • in case of cancellation (withdrawal) between the 60-36. days, 10% of the participation fee
  • in case of cancellation (withdrawal) between the 35-26. days, 50% of the participation fee
  • in case of cancellation (withdrawal) between the 25-16. days, 75% of the participation fee
  • 100% of total fee within 15 days or in case of no-show

Liability: Although the organizers ensure appropriate safety measures during the tour, they assume limited liability, as every participant is acting on her/his own risk during the trip. Any outdoor activity can be dangerous and there is an element of risk, which you are accepting by participating. Participants will be required to sign a liability release and assumption of risk statement.

Data handling: The organizers Helian NaTour Ltd. & Viator Association manage data of registered participants according to their data protection guidelines, compliant with EU GDPR regulations.

Has the trip aroused your interest? Then please fill in the contact form and we will contact you soon!
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