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Hungary in Spring

Fabulous spring birding in Hungary, from the Zemplen Hills to the Hortobagy NP

2026 Dates
  • 09 May - 16 May 2026
Duration8 Days
2026 Price
Price TBC
Max Group Size12

Hungary in spring offers fabulous birding, featuring rare owls and woodpeckers sometimes at the nest, breeding wetland birds including marsh terns, waders and herons, speciality passerines with warblers, Bluethroat and reedbed specialists, key European targets such as Great Bustard, Lesser Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagle, and passage migrants at a time of year when anything can turn up. A hectic and varied birding experience, particularly at lower elevations!

We visit three very different areas: the forests of the northern Zemplen hills, lowland grasslands of the Kiskunsag NP, and the lowland wetlands of the Hortobágy NP.  In the hills we seek Lesser Spotted and Short-toed Eagle, Black Stork, Woodlark, Red-backed Shrike, Eagle Owl, Bee-eater, Golden Oriole, Nightingale, Barred Warbler, Serin, and Hawfinch. Forests are home to Ural Owl, Collared Flycatcher and nine woodpeckers including White-backed, Grey-headed, Middle Spotted, Syrian, Black and Wryneck. Wet-meadows hold Corncrake, River and Marsh Warbler.

In the famous Hortobágy, photogenic Red-footed Falcon are wonderful, and fish-ponds teem with Pygmy Cormorant, Black-necked Grebe, Squacco, Night and Purple Heron, Common and Little Bittern, Spoonbill, Garganey, Ferruginous Duck, Spotted Redshank, white-spotted Bluethroat, Penduline and Bearded Tit, Icterine, Moustached, Marsh, Savi’s and Great Reed Warbler – we should see most of these.

The Kiskunsag is excellent for Great Bustard, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Collared Pratincole, Lesser Grey Shrike, Roller, Hoopoe, Tawny Pipit, blue-headed Yellow Wagtail, Little Owl, Stone Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Long-legged Buzzard, Marsh and Montagu’s Harrier and Saker Falcon. Marsh birds are everywhere, and Whiskered, Black and White-winged Tern are a particularly delicate delight. Almost anything is possible; one of the best bird lists in Europe awaits you!


Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!

Day 1: Sat 9 May 2026 - Arrive Hungary
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we fly from London to Budapest. Our first base on this three-centre tour is a small wine-producing village on the southern slopes of the Zemplen Hills. Birds on route will probably include Marsh Harrier, White Stork, Bee-eater, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrike, Crested Lark and Corn Bunting. We may also stop at a good site for Eastern Imperial Eagle.

Days 2 & 3: Sun 10 & Mon 11 May - Zemplen area
We enjoy two days exploring the varied and scenic habitats of the area. Raptors here include Eastern Imperial, Lesser Spotted and Short-toed Eagle. We take a picnic lunch daily in an area where these and also Black Stork regularly soar giving us every chance. There are plenty of commoner birds to look for too, such as Serin, Red-backed Shrike and Hawfinch. The deciduous forests of the Zemplen are also home to Ural Owl and eight species of woodpecker including Grey-headed, Middle Spotted and White-backed. Bee-eater nest in small colonies, while Black Redstart, Collared Flycatcher, Common and Short-toed Treecreeper may be seen. Wryneck and Syrian Woodpecker usually inhabit gardens, orchards and other "secondary" habitats (rather than the forest proper) are home to Golden Oriole, Nightingale and Barred Warbler. Pastures and wet-meadows along the River Bodrog support Corncrake and bushy areas may have both River and Marsh Warbler. On one evening those who wish can visit an old wine cellar for which the area is famous.

Day 4: Tue 12 May - River Tisza
Today we leave the hills and cross the River Tisza for the Great Plain, where our second destination will be the famous Hortobagy National Park for two days. On the way, we search for lowland specialists including Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-footed Falcon and Roller. Our hotel serves excellent traditional cuisine, and is in the perfect location to explore the Hortobagy. Overnight Tiszafured for two nights.

Day 5: Wed 13 May - Hortobágy National Park
We have a full day to bird this fantastic area, both on foot and in our vehicle. Numerous fish-pond systems, extensive marshes and smaller brackish lakes in the area teem with birds, indeed almost anything is possible in this internationally important area. We expect to see Pygmy Cormorant, Black-necked Grebe, Garganey and Ferruginous Duck, Great Egret, Squacco, Night and Purple Heron, Little Bittern, Spoonbill, Yellow-legged and Caspian Gull, Whiskered, Black and White-winged Tern, Common Crane and passage waders such as Ruff and Spotted Redshank in breeding plumage plus Green and Wood Sandpiper. Water Rail and Little Crake will almost certainly call and may show, raptors may include Long-legged Buzzard and migrant species and likely passerines include (White-spotted) Bluethroat, Penduline and Bearded Tit, Moustached, Marsh, Savi's and Great Reed Warbler.

Days 6 & 7: Thur 14 & Fri 15 May - Kiskunság​​​​​​
We head back westwards to another wonderful national park, the Kiskunság. Being very flat with no hills to climb, this vast region with habitats including grassland, farmland, saltlakes, sand dunes and copses is relatively easy to bird. It is the flat grasslands, called the 'puszta', where we will find Hungary's national bird - the Great Bustard. The prized target here, we spend a morning in search of these magnificent birds and hope to see their famous display. Roller can also be easier to see at Kiskunság​​​​​​, and we scan the skies for Saker, Eastern Imperial and White-tailed Eagle and Montagu's Harrier. Red-footed Falcons nest in loose colonies and are particularly photogenic here

Other birds of note include Tawny Pipit, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, Little and Long-eared Owl, Stone Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Lesser Grey Shrike. There should be marsh terns around salt-lakes and fishponds and Mediterranean, Yellow-legged and Caspian Gull to scrutinise by gravel pits. This is also one of the best places in Hungary to find Collared Pratincoles, and in some years the odd Black-winged Pratincole occurs with them. Susliks, a colonial ground squirrel are often seen near our hotel in Kunpuszta where we stay for two nights.

Day 8: Sat 16 May - Depart
After breakfast we will drive to Budapest. If time allows (depending upon flight departure time) we will do some final birding on the way. Return to London.

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

What's included in your holiday price:

• scheduled return flights between London and Budapest, airport taxes,
• ground transportation as outlined including all transportation in Hungary in a modern and spacious air-conditioned vehicle,
• accommodation and all meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
• the services of your leaders.
• entrance fees to parks and reserves, and tips to hotels and restaurants.
• The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more...

What's not included in your holiday price:

• personal insurance, drinks and other personal expenses, optional tips to the driver and local guide, and any other costs not specified as 'included'.

More Holiday Information

Accommodation is in comfortable hotels or guest houses with all rooms en suite.
Food Breakfast is continental style. Fruit juice and tea or coffee is usually available. Picnic lunches will be provided by your guide, and will include a variety of local produce plus soft drinks.
The country's unique cuisine has influences from the Central Asian Magyar founders of the nation, Turks, Germans, French, Austrians, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbians, and Croatians. The simple agrarian and shepherd lifestyles of the Hungarian Plain and mountains have also helped shape the country's unique dishes. Sauces rich in sour cream, delicacies such as goose liver and an emphasis on meats, including game such as boar and venison, are often on the menu. Fish stew or a thick and sometimes peppery fish soup - is also quite popular. Other traditional favourites include veal paprika stew and roast chicken with cottage cheese noodles. Gulyás (a hot dish that usually consists of beef, onions, capsicum and paprika), Halaszle (a Hungarian fish made with extra hot paprikas), Toltott kaposzta (cabbage stuffed with meat and other vegetables and spices) and Porkolt (a hot dish which is almost always made of meat, onion capsicum and paprika powder. Any kind of meat can be used, such as beef, lamb, pork, chicken, liver, offal and sometimes even fish). Fabulous desserts, served with strong espresso, include strudels, tortes and the legendary Gundel pancakes with chocolate rum sauce.
Walking is generally light/moderate. There may be some uphill track and road walking, though generally an average level of fitness is required.
Weather Hungary has a temperate climate, with cold, cloudy, humid winters and warm summers. The weather will most likely be quite warm, but chilly mornings and nights are possible. Rain is quite likely at this time of year.
Insects There may be biting insects, a good mosquito repellent is recommended.
Group size is restricted to 12 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London – regional departures may be possible, please ask for further details.

Other birding and wildlife holidays in Hungary

Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in Europe?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).
Tour Details

About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248