Our whistle-stop tour around Magyar country offers plenty of reason to venture out of the capital.
With its spectacular architecture, thermal baths, buzzing cultural scene, there’s little reason to leave Budapest. However, it would be a shame to not venture at least a glance beyond the capital. From wild swimming in crystalline thermal waters to impossibly picturesque villages, here are the top 10 places to visit in Hungary.
Take a Dip in Lake Balaton
A 90-minute drive from Budapest, the freshwater Lake Balaton stretches for 77km making it Europe’s largest lake and earning it a reputation as Hungary’s ocean. It’s skirted by pretty villages, each with a distinct ambiance. Siófok is known as Balaton’s party capital, while the quiet beaches of Tihany offer an idyllic escape from it all.
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Take A Boat Trip To Szentendre
A stone’s throw along the Danube from Budapest, Szentendre is one of the most charming places to visit in Hungary. All cobbled streets and pretty 18th-century architecture, it’s Hungary’s unofficial arts centre, bristling with museums, galleries and artists’ studios.
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Wild Horse-Spotting in Hortobágy
Two hours east of Budapest, Hungary’s oldest national park Hortobágy offers panoramas of the country’s broad steppes. The vast, grassy plains are home to herds of grazers, including ponies, buffalo and huge-horned Hungarian Grey Cattle.
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Party In Pécs
One of the most visited places in Hungary after Budapest is Pécs. The university town is home to a number of colleges, museums and churches, as well as a thriving café culture and nightlife scene. Find most of the action around Király Street.
Time Travel At Hollókő
To gain a glimpse of Hungarian life in the 17th century, you don’t need to visit a museum. Instead, take a trip to Hollókő, a UNESCO World Heritage village that has been perfectly preserved as a traditional rural Palócz settlement. A number of events take place at Hollókő throughout the year, including a three-day Easter celebration during which there’s a parade, music, dancing and unusual traditions such as water throwing.
Toast To Eger
For oenophiles, Eger is without doubt one of the best places to visit in Hungary. The historic town is home to the beautiful Eger Castle, Baroque palaces, and the remains of Turkish settlements, as well as plenty of great wine bars – sample a glass of the region’s famous Bull’s Blood wine.
Bathe In Heviz’s Thermal Lake
Budapest’s thermal bath culture is one of the capital city’s major draws. However, it’s a mere glimpse of what’s on offer further afield. Heviz is home to one of the world’s largest thermal lakes, with the water averaging at a toasty year-round temperature of 31oC.
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Museum-Hopping In Kecskemét
Kecskemét may be known for its fruit farms, but the ‘garden city’ is also a burgeoning cultural hub, with a number of museums to explore. Don’t miss the Hungarian Museum of Naive Artists, which showcases works by local painters and sculptors.
Duck Underground At Baradla Cave
Guided explorations into Aggtelek National Park’s Baradla Cave are vivid adventures through otherworldly landscapes. Appreciate the subterranean network’s extraordinary acoustics with the concert at the end of the tour.
Visit Former Capital Esztergom
A scenic hour’s drive from Budapest, Esztergom served as the capital of Hungary during the Medieval era. The presence of Esztergom Basilica—the largest church in the country – marks the city’s erstwhile prestige, although it’s the relics of numerous saints that really capture the imagination.