Statuesque fortresses, stunning lakes, extraordinary caverns, dense forests, and magnificent cathedrals, Hungary is more than just its sparkling capital ‘Budapest’. The countless destinations to explore in Hungary are swiftly transforming this popular Eastern European country into a thriving and vibrant tourist hotspot. The nation has been strongly influenced by its conquerors, a fact clearly reflected in its intriguing architecture and culture.
The Varied Destinations to Explore in Hungary
Discover where you can unravel the mysteries and treasures of Hungary before embarking on your trip to this incredible country:
1. Budapest – The gleaming capital of Hungary2. Szentendre – An artistic escape in a charming town3. Eger – A town with a violent history and crimson wine4. Esztergom – A glimpse into Hungary’s past5. Debrecen – An adventure to the vast grasslands of Hungary6. Tihany – A historic village with scenic vistas7. Lake Balaton – A retreat into nature with lakes and woodlands8. Aggtelek – An expedition through enigmatic caves9. Lillafured – A hike up to the mountains10. Sopron – Roam around an ancient city with a colorful history11. Tapolca – A picturesque resort town with caves12. Tokaj – Stroll through dreamy vineyards13. Pecs – For heritage during the day and entertainment at night14. Holloko – Relive history at the UNESCO World Heritage Site15. Visegrad – Of Renaissance landmarks and skiing16. Hortobagy – A must-visit for breathtaking sunsets17. Siofok – Move aside nightclubs, day clubs are here to stay
1. Budapest – The gleaming capital of Hungary
Budapest is one of the essential places to visit in Hungary to comprehend the nation’s history and progress in the modern era. Historic and ancient edifices stand majestically alongside contemporary architectural marvels. It’s no wonder that the stretch of Banks of the Danube River, Royal Castle Quarter, and Andrassy Avenue has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! It’s also a paradise for gastronomes. In fact, apart from Hungarian cuisine, you’re bound to find numerous Indian restaurants in Budapest.
Must-visit attractions: Buda Castle or Royal Palace, Great Synagogue, Basilica of St. Stephen, Parliament, Memento Park, Hungarian State Opera House, House of TerrorFamous for: Cruising along the Danube River, Hungarian gastronomy, Performances at Budapest Opera House
Pointer: Refrain from exchanging currency on the streets. It violates the law and there is a possibility of being swindled.
Essential Reading: Top 10 Accommodations In Hungary To Match Every Mood & Personality
2. Szentendre – An artistic retreat in a charming town
: henryleester for Pixabay
Szentendre or St. Andrews is a mere 20 KM away from the city of Budapest and is one of the finest places to explore near Budapest Hungary. The scenic town is adored by every tourist and appears absolutely enchanting with paved streets bordered by vibrant Baroque residences. Numerous art galleries, museums, and shops keep visitors engaged.
Places to explore: Art Mill, Belgrade Cathedral, Hungarian Open Air Museum, Ferenczy Karoly Museum, Blagoveschensk ChurchRenowned for: Museums, Artists colony with galleries & cafe
Pointer: If you’re pressed for time, opt for a boat journey to Szentendre in the afternoon as it takes twice as long to travel upstream to the town in the morning.
3. Eger – A town with a sanguinary past and crimson wine
Situated on the Eger River, Eger stands as one of the prime destinations to visit in Hungary. Visitors witness the remnants of the Turkish invasion which had an impact on the town’s architecture. A short distance away lies the Valley of Beautiful Women, known for producing Hungary’s finest red wine, referred to as ‘Bikaver’ or Bull’s Blood.
Places to explore: Eger Castle, Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Apostle, Magic Tower, Lyceum, County Hall, Kossuth Lajos UtcaRenowned for: Vineyards of Eger, Baroque and neo-classicist architecture of the city
Pointer: Remember to make a stop at the churches for the most breathtaking views.
4. Esztergom – A glimpse into Hungary’s historical past
Esztergom is counted among the finest places to visit in Hungary in order to witness the influence of Christianity on the country. It is home to the largest church in Hungary, the Esztergom Basilica, and its museum boasts the largest collection of Christian artifacts. The city also served as the capital of Hungary between the 10th and 13th centuries.
Places to explore: Esztergom Basilica, Christian Museum, Castle Museum, Danube MuseumFamous for: Interiors of the Esztergom Basilica, Museum featuring Christian relics
Travel Tip: The Esztergom Cathedral is not open in the winter, so plan accordingly.
5. Debrecen – An excursion to the vast grasslands of Hungary
Debrecen is one of the popular destinations to visit in Hungary and is also the second largest city after Budapest. While it has a distinctive history of its own, it is more renowned as the gateway to the expansive plains of Hungary and particularly as the base for a trip to the Hortobagy National Park.
Places to explore: Calvinist College, Great Church, Deri Museum, Timar Haz, Centre of Modern & Contemporary ArtFamous for: Day excursion to Horotbagyi National Park, Flower Carnival in August, Lake Fancsika
Travel Tip: Take a break at the local eateries for an authentic lunch of hearty beef soup and pasta.
6. Tihany – A historic village with scenic views
Tihany is a small village situated in the Lake Balaton region with a rich history. One of the top destinations to visit in Hungary outside of Budapest, Tihany is renowned for its Abbey where the earliest recordings of Hungarian language can be found! The functioning church is visited by numerous tourists throughout the year.
Places to explore: Benedictine Abbey Church, Lavender House, Visszhang-hegy, Open-air Folk Museum, Benedictine Abbey MuseumFamous for: Lavender Garden, Bird watching at Inner Lake & Outer Lake, Loczy Nature Trail
Travel Tip: Visit the church during the evening hours to avoid the crowds.
7. Lake Balaton – A retreat into nature with lakes and forests
The Lake Balaton is unquestionably one of the most excellent places to explore in Hungary. The lake also known as the Hungarian Sea possesses an extensive shoreline of 197 KM, which is actually encircled by a cycle path that visitors can pedal on! The lake is encompassed by holiday towns and boasts exquisite woodlands, particularly within the Balaton Uplands National Park.
Places to explore: Herend Porcelain Factory, Festetics PalaceFamous for: Szigliget Fortress, Heviz Spa, Balaton Sound Festival
Recommendation: Reaching Lake Balaton via public transportation is cost-effective and dependable, but be sure to consult the official schedules of buses and trains before initiating your itinerary.
8. Aggtelek – A stroll through enigmatic caves
Aggtelek is a village that serves as the entranceway to the renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aggtelek and Slovak Karst. One of the most captivating locations to visit in Hungary, Aggtelek’s Baradle Cave showcases remarkable stalactite formations. Particularly, the cavern known as the ‘Giant’s Hall’ is remarkable and a delight for nature enthusiasts.
Places to explore: Aggtelek Cave SystemFamous for: Baradla Cave, Rakoczi Barlang Cave
Recommendation: Arriving early will allow you to evade the crowds.
9. Lillafured – An ascent to the mountains
The Bukk Mountains rank among the most splendid destinations to explore in Hungary. Lillafured is the ideal place to use as a starting point for exploring the Bukk National Park. The park features over 1,000 caves, stunning freshwater lakes, and dense forests that are perfect for hiking. Additionally, the Lillafured waterfall stands as the tallest waterfall in Hungary.
Places to explore: Bukk National Park, Lillafured Waterfall, Lake Hamori, Anna CaveFamous for: Trekking in Bukk National Park, Miskolc Zoo
Recommendation: Cave bathing is the most popular activity among tourists.
10. Sopron – Roam around an ancient city with a vibrant history
Sopron has observed history throughout the ages and one of the most historic locations to explore in Hungary Europe. It settled by the Celts, Romans, Germans, Avars, Slavs, and Magyars, each of whom left their imprint on the culture and architecture of the city. While the city has expanded, its inner town, Belvaros, is still captivating and a pleasure to wander.
Places to explore: Lake Neusiedl, Storno House, Firewatch Tower, Old Synagogue, Harrer Chocolate FactoryFamous for: Fertő-Hanság National Park with Lake Ferto, Fire Tower with 200 steps
Tip: Take a walk on Sopron’s cobblestone streets.
11. Tapolca – A picturesque resort town with caverns
Not many towns or cities have an extensive underground cave but Tapolca does! It is the beautiful subterranean ‘Lake Cave’ that features Tapolca among the famous places to explore in Hungary. Located right in the middle of the town, the lake cave is open to the public and is also renowned for its healing properties.
Places to explore: Lake Malom-to, Szent Gyorgy Hill, Lake CaveFamous for: Little Princess Statue, Kotenger
Tip: Do not visit the caves alone. In fact, you’ll find that all guides pertaining to Europe travel tips discourage travelers from engaging in this practice!
12. Tokaj – Take a leisurely walk through enchanting vineyards
Tokaj is at the heart of the wine country and among the finest places to explore in Hungary to sample the best wines. The small town is filled with lovely houses and offers splendid views of the Zemplen Hills. Perfect for wine enthusiasts, Tokaj has been producing sweet wines since the 15th century!
Places to explore: Tokaj Museum, Wine Sampling Tours, VineyardsFamous for: UNESCO World Heritage Tokaj Wine Region, Sarospatak Castle
Tip: There is no specific dress code for wine tastings, but we suggest opting out of wearing white attire.
13. Pecs – For historical sites during the day and entertainment at night
Pecs is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hungary, second only to Budapest. With a pleasant climate all year round, it attracts visitors who come to witness the ancient architectural landmarks. Drawing many young backpackers and travelers, the city offers a thrilling nightlife experience.
Places to explore: Zsolnay Cultural Centre, Mosque Church, Csontvary Museum, Modern Hungarian Gallery, Zsolnay Porcelain MuseumFamous for: Hiking at Mecsek, Mosque of Pasha Qasim, St. Peter and Paul Cathedral
Tip: Photography is allowed at Mosque of Pasha Qasim, but it is advised not to take pictures of worshippers during prayer times.
14. Holloko – Relive history at the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Often listed among the top 10 must-visit locations in Hungary, Holloko is a living representation of history. The small village has only two streets but is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its distinctive architecture. The houses are constructed using the traditional technique called ‘wattle and daub’, which involves using sticks, clay, or mud.
Places to explore: Holloko Castle, Church of St. Martin, Village Museum, Guzsalyas, Paloc Doll Museum, Postal MuseumFamous for: Paloc Babamuzeum, Hollokoi Falumuzeum
Tip: It is common to encounter greeters at the Church of St. Martin, so be prepared to shake hands when entering.
15. Visegrad – Of Renaissance monuments and skiing
Title: Visegrad – A charming fortress town located in Pest County, Hungary
Visegrad is a picturesque castle town situated in Pest County, Hungary. It is located in the northern part of Budapest, on the banks of the Danube River in the Danube Bend. Approximately 1,864 inhabitants reside in this secluded town. The destination is renowned for the remains of the Early Renaissance summer palace belonging to the late King Matthias Corvinus and the ancient citadel.
Tip: The optimal way to truly appreciate Visegrad is by embarking on a hiking adventure.
16. Hortobagy – A must-see for breathtaking sunsets
: kareni for Pixabay Hortobagy boasts the most level plain in all of Europe! This location is globally recognized for its iconic sunsets, distinct flora and fauna, and a remarkable exhibition of equestrian skills by the Hungarian cowboys.
Places to explore: Nine Holed BridgeFamous for: Bridge Fair, National Herdsmen Competition
Tip: Exercise caution to avoid disturbing the wildlife.
17. Siofok – Day clubs have taken over the nightlife scene
Siofok is an enchanting village located on the southern coast of Lake Balaton. As one of Hungary’s most popular holiday resorts, it attracts approximately 200,000 visitors during the summer season.
Places to visit: The Villa Jokai, Museum of Egg, Water TowerFamous for: Coke Club, Galerius Thermal Spa and Wellness Centre
Tip: Attend Balaton Sound, the country’s largest EDM festival, held a few kilometers away in Zamárdi village.
So, this concludes our list of the top destinations to visit in Hungary that should be included in your Europe tour itinerary. Know of any others? Share them in the comments section before you book your exciting Hungarian tour with Fred and Fuzzys for an unforgettable vacation with your loved ones!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Touring Hungary
What is Budapest most renowned for?
Budapest is renowned for a multitude of attractions. Some notable ones include the Parliament Building, the Gellért Baths, Heroes’ Square, Margaret Island, Danube Promenade, House of Terror, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the Hungarian State Opera House.
What can you do in Hungary during the winter season?
There are numerous activities to enjoy in Hungary during the winter season. You can explore the festive Christmas markets, go ice skating at the City Park Ice Rink, witness the Basilica Light Show, indulge in the thermal baths and spa, and visit the various Ruin Bars. Additionally, you can attend opera performances at the Hungarian State Opera House, take a ride on the Christmas light tram, and embark on a river cruise along the Danube. Theme parks in Hungary are also worth visiting.
Is it safe to visit Budapest during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Hungarian Government has lifted COVID-19 restrictions due to the continuously declining rate of cases. However, certain guidelines have been implemented. Vaccinated travelers are not required to present a negative RT-PCR test report, while unvaccinated individuals must provide a negative COVID-19 test report taken within 72 hours before departure. All travelers should acquire a health certificate from the official government website.
How many days should you spend in Budapest?
Ideally, you should allocate 2-3 days to explore Budapest. This timeframe is sufficient to cover the entire city and visit its major attractions. However, if you desire some leisure time and relaxation, it is recommended to extend your stay by a day.
Do people in Budapest speak English?
Yes, English is widely spoken in Budapest, including in restaurants, hotels, and metro stations. English audio guides are also available for various tours and tourist attractions, ensuring a hassle-free experience during your visit.
Is Budapest a walkable city?
Yes, Budapest is highly conducive to exploring on foot as it is a compact city where one attraction is within walking distance of another. Additionally, there are numerous well-located hotels and restaurants in close proximity to these attractions. If walking is not your preference, Budapest offers a reliable subway metro service that connects to all major areas of the city.
Is Hungary an expensive country?
While transportation costs in Hungary may be slightly higher than in other European countries, accommodation and food are moderately priced. Affordable hotels and restaurants can be found throughout Hungary.
Is Budapest a safe city?
Budapest is generally safe for tourists, safer than many other major European cities. However, it is important to be cautious of common tourist traps. For example, be wary of exchanging currency with unauthorized individuals on the street. Always exchange currency at certified currency exchange outlets, preferably Western Union. When using other non-Western Union outlets, ensure the commission rate is confirmed before signing any receipts and handing over money. Additionally, be vigilant of your belongings wherever you are in the world.
What is the best time to visit Budapest?
The best time to visit Budapest is from March to May and then from September to November. During these months, the weather is pleasant, making it ideal for exploring the city. Moreover, Budapest experiences fewer tourists during these periods.