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Hungary is a pretty big country, but only a few places get all the attention. I’m all about experiencing each destination to the fullest, so I wanted to change that. To do so, I’ve gathered a few fellow bloggers to help me create a list of the best cities to visit in Hungary, and I know you’ll be surprised by how much beauty is waiting to be discovered.
BEST CITIES TO VISIT IN HUNGARY’S NORTHERN COUNTIES
Starting with the obvious, Budapest is, without a doubt, one of the best cities in Hungary. And I know it sounds a bit cliche, but it really is one of the most beautiful European cities I’ve visited.
The number one thing that stood out to me was the remarkable architecture of both historical landmarks and ordinary residential buildings. Whether you’re strolling through the city’s streets or visiting places like Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and the Parliament, every building looks different and has unique details that are just a feast for the eyes.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg because Budapest is also home to some amazing museums, lovely parks, colorful street art, buzzing nightlife, and incredible food scene (including traditional Hungarian restaurants, super cute cafes, and mouthwatering breakfast and brunch places).
By Alexander from Destinavo
Eger is located 2 hours away by train from Budapest. There are also buses that go from the central bus station in Budapest as well as from other cities in Hungary. Additionally, there are guided tours that one can join on a day trip.
It’s one of the most historical cities in the country, and it has significant importance as it was here where they stopped the Ottoman Empire from invading Hungary and Europe. This is something that the local Egers are very proud of, especially since during the siege, the Hungarians were outnumbered by thousands of Ottomans, but they still prevailed.
Wine is something else that Eger is very famous for, and they make some of the best Hungarian wines out there. Egri Bikaver or ‘bulls blood’ is perhaps the most famous variety, although there are plenty to try while visiting. There is a wide range of wine shops where you can go wine tasting, which is one of the best things to do in Eger.
The old fortress is a must-visit, but just walking around the city is pleasant as there are lots of beautiful buildings and impressive architecture to admire. The city of Eger also has a great selection of restaurants serving Hungarian food.
The summer months are, without a doubt, the most popular time to come here, and both local Hungarians and tourists love to visit.
By Deb from The Visa Project
From the moment you arrive in Esztergom, the green domes of its famous basilica (the largest one in all central Europe) will be in your line of sight. From the basilica, you can see the Danube river and the surrounding mountains.
However, there is more to this city in northern Hungary, which was the capital of the country from the 10th until the 13th century. You can visit the castle, the palace, and Szechenyi Square. If you have enough time, the Watertown district and its Ottoman Empire monuments are also must-sees.
You can dine out at Primas Pince, a huge restaurant set in the cellars under the basilica. If you choose to spend the night, book it at the Szent Adalbert Hotel.
If you are visiting from Budapest, you can take a 90-minute train ride from Nyugati station to Esztergom’s train station, and then catch a local bus to get to the town. Or if you like walking, it’s a 30-minute walk. If you are visiting from Bratislava, Slovakia, you can take a train to Sturovo. From there, you will need to take a taxi to Esztergom.
As Hungary is part of the Schengen zone, if you need a visa to go there, you can check the Hungary Schengen visa guidelines here.
By Jenna from I Know the Pilot
Szentendre is a gorgeous little town full of colorful buildings, art museums, winding roads, and cozy cafes. Only 40 minutes from Budapest, it is an easy day trip by train or by ferry and a great way to escape the bustle of the big city.
There are numerous museums to visit in Szentendre, including a bunch of great art museums, a ceramics museum, a wine museum, and even a museum for Marzipan!
The Marzipan Museum is a must-visit, even if you’re not a fan, purely for the quirky experience (and where else are you going to visit a museum dedicated to Marzipan?!). Marzipan was actually born in Szentendre, created by a man named Mátyás Szamos, and visitors to the museum can learn all about how the confection came to be and also see some amazing Marzipan creations.
There are also many churches in Szentendre, owing to the variety of the population over the years. A climb to the Roman Catholic church, sitting a little above the town, offers gorgeous views and the building is supposedly the oldest in Szentendre.
The Blagovestenska Orthodox Church, in the main square, is well worth a visit and has a beautiful interior. You can also visit a tiny synagogue at the Szántó Memorial House, which is apparently the smallest in the world.
For foodies, there are many options to try here (besides Marzipan), including local gelato, traditional lángos, goulash, and Serbian platters (if you’re really hungry!). There are many restaurants, cafes and food stalls dotted around the town, particularly around the main square. There are also some along the river if you want a nice view to go with your meal.
TOP CITIES TO VISIT IN HUNGARY’S SOUTHERN COUNTIES
By Mark from Voga Tech
Located in the south of this country, Szeged is the third-largest city in Hungary. Its modern university center lies on the banks of the Tisza River, full of charming squares that are some of the most beautiful in Central Europe.
In Szeged, you’ll find a lot of spas, but Forras with its wellness center, saunas, open-air swimming pools, and indoor waterpark is the most popular one. That said, this city is packed with beautiful architecture, museums, and shops, so it’s not just a destination for young people looking for fun.
The squares are one of the most famous things in Szeged, and one of them stands out from the others. If you ever visit the city, it is a must to see this square rich in statues made of white marble and bronze – the central square called Szechenyi.
Another important square is called Aradi, where the famous Bolyai Institute is located. Near the square, you’ll also find the Gate of Heroes and the Music Clock, a symbol of medieval universities.
Last but not least – Turkish baths? In Szeged? YES! Szeged was under the rule of the Turkish Empire in the distant past. The beautiful Anna Furdo Thermal Bath is located in the heart of the city and is an ideal place to relax and sum up your impressions after a memorable tour of Szeged.
By Yasha from Dare 2 Go
The historic city of Pecs (population around 140,000) lies in the south-west of Hungary, close to the Croatian border and halfway between Budapest and Zagreb – an ideal place to visit if you are traveling that route, maybe taking a road trip through Hungary.
The most important landmark in Pecs is the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs. These underground tombs from the 4th century are part of the cemetery of the ancient Roman town of Sopianae.
Other interesting sites in the city include:
- Zéchenyi Square, surrounded by beautiful historic buildings.
- The Mosque of Pasha Qasim, right at the top of the square.
- Bishopric of Pecs, including an impressive cathedral.
Alternatively, you can just wander its charming cobbled streets and discover its delights.
BEST CITIES OF HUNGARY’S EASTERN AND CENTRAL COUNTIES
By John from Carpe Dien Eire
Debrecen takes the title of Hungary’s second city. Located around 2.5 hours from Budapest, it is reached by trains from Nyugati station in Budapest and road links via the M3 motorway. The city provides an attractive center to appease its visitors and also serves as a gateway to the Hungarian Great Plain.
Approaching the city by Piac Utca, the street is lined by several stunning secession age buildings. Kossuth Ter, the broad square at the city’s heart, is overshadowed by the huge neo-classical Great Church. The church is defined by its twin clock towers, that can be climbed for exhilarating views.
The nearby Deri Museum has as its centerpiece, paintings by Mihály Munkacsy known as the Christ Trilogy, and these are the masterpieces of Hungarian art.
Within reach of the city, lies the Great Plain. As a World Heritage Site, it affords visitors a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the cowboys who once roamed here. Much more awaits to those who travel to Debrecen.
The perfect time to visit the city is around the 20th of August, as on this day, the annual flower festival takes place.
By Milos from Happy Frog Travels
Though Kecskemét is halfway between Budapest and Szeged, most tourists overlook it. Quite a misfortune, since this middle-sized city has a lot to offer!
Its position in the middle of the Great Hungarian Plain made it an important agricultural and wine-producing center. The country’s famous Palinka brandy is from here. At the turn of the 20th century, the city became more urban, with elegant Art Nouveau (Secessionist) palaces mushrooming everywhere.
Kecskemét’s main sights include several secessionist palaces. The grandest of them all is the monumental City Hall, inspired by the English and French renaissance. Other interesting palaces are: the colorful Cifra Palota, the Transylvanian inspired New Calvinist College and the small Otthon Cinema.
Additionally, people of different denominations have been praying in their beautiful temples for ages. You mustn’t skip the Cathedral, the Lutheran Church, Szent Miklos Church, the Orthodox Church, and the former Synagogue.
Trains connect Kecskemét to the rest of Hungary and Europe. These depart from Budapest’s Nyugati Station every hour. The journey takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The same train arrives in Szeged an hour later.
Although it’s Hungary’s fourth-largest city, chances are you haven’t heard of Miskolc. This industrial city is a great destination for those who are looking for an alternative European getaway and also want to see some nature and enjoy the countryside. Plus, it’s easily reachable by train from Budapest.
Inside the city itself, you can visit the 12th-century Castle of Diosgyor, the unique thermal cave baths, the Pannon Sea Museum dedicated to prehistoric plants and animals, and quite a few beautiful churches.
Only a few miles away, you’ll find the enchanting town of Lillafüred. If a combination of a castle-like hotel, a lake, a waterfall, forests, and mountains sounds good to you, you’ll love this place. Bonus: If you like scenic train rides (who doesn’t?), get to Lillafüred with the Forest Train.
BEST CITIES IN HUNGARY’S WESTERN COUNTIES
By Monique from Trip Anthropologist
Sopron is a well-kept secret and one of the best cities to see in Hungary! So much world history has occurred here, not to mention so much goulash, dumpling-making, and eating!
A simple drive from Vienna airport, Sopron lies on the border of Austria and Hungary. Many centuries ago, Sopron was the Roman city of Scarbantia. In the very heart of Sopron adjoining the main square are the remains of Scarbantia’s Forum and its ancient walls.
Sopron has endured invading Turks, a devastating fire in 1676, bombing in the Second World War, and occupation by the Red Army. It has been called the most loyal city in Hungary, after voting in 1921 to remain in Hungary rather than be a part of Austria.
It is full of Roman ruins and baroque buildings and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful forests in Europe where you can find monasteries and wineries hidden in the surrounding foothills. It was also where the first mass escapes occurred across the Iron Curtain that led to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall.
A beautiful city, full of wonderful food and wine, buildings, overflowing with history and surrounded by natural beauty – Sopron is a memorable ancient town.
By Anna from Green Mochila
The beauty of Keszthely is the close proximity of Lake Balaton, the biggest lake in Central Europe. Although Keszthely is the largest city by the lake, it doesn’t feel big at all.
It’s a great place to spend a few relaxing days for someone who’s fond of sweet water, digestible amounts of culture, and is curious about a Hungarian off-the-beaten-path destination. Yes, Keszthely is quite under traveled, while Budapest wins the vast majority of international tourism.
The number one attraction of Keszthely is Balaton, which offers a magical scenery and activities throughout the year. In the summer, prepare for a lazy day at the beach filled with cooked sweet corn, crepes, and the oh-so-Hungarian lángos, fried dough topped with soured cream and cheese.
Especially in the winter, opt for indoor fun provided by the modern spa at Héviz, the town next door. Fans of baroque style architecture shouldn’t miss the Festetics Palace in Keszthely, which belongs to one of the noble Hungarian families, and its exquisite rooms exhibit of noble life in Hungary in the 18th-19th centuries.
Keszthely is easily accessible from Budapest by train and bus in 2.5 hours, or from Vienna and Bratislava.
By Megan from Megan & Aram
One of the most underrated destinations in Hungary is the city of Gyor. I found myself in Gyor while looking for a day trip from Bratislava and finding that Slovakian transportation just wasn’t working out domestically. I hopped on a bus to Gyor, and the city blew my mind! I had no idea what to expect.
I found a Hungarian city with really stunning architecture – a city hall dating back to 1900 that had architecture similar to that of many of Europe’s most renowned cities.
I also found several squares, such as Szechenyi Square, that were lined with outdoor cafes and many traditional Hungarian restaurants, waiting for travelers to pass through. The travelers rarely come though as the city is so unfortunately overlooked.
One of the other things you’ll find in Gyor is gorgeous churches. In the city center, you will see the Carmelite Church and Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, two of my favorites in the western Hungarian city. All of the churches had a hidden and unique appeal to them. It really made my trip to Gyor memorable and worthwhile!
If you’re seeking a city to visit in Hungary that is a bit off the beaten path and unknown, I highly recommend visiting Gyor. It was one of my favorite discoveries to date!
By Giulia from Travelling Sunglasses
The town of Tapolca is one of the best places to visit in Hungary outside Budapest, perfect for a day trip from the Hungarian capital or as a stop during a road trip.
Located approximately 15 km north of Lake Balaton, it is easy to reach from Budapest in about 3 hours by train or 2 hours by car. With just 15,000 inhabitants, it is very quiet during the winter, and more lively during the sunny months of spring, summer, and autumn.
The small city center is all cozied up around the main square Fő Tér and Malom Lake. In the main square, you will certainly recognize the statue of the Little Queen (Kiskirálylány) – the same sculpture is located on the Danube promenade in Budapest! The Malom Lake, surrounded by colorful buildings and a water mill, looks like it popped out of a fairy tale.
If you’re a street art lover, look for the stairs ‘Halas Lépcső,’ brightly decorated with fish and nets.
The hills around Lake Balaton are famous for the production of Hungarian wine. When having lunch at Hungarian restaurants such as Topart Bistro or Hotel Gabriella, make sure you request some local wine!
Last but not least, discover the magical Tavasbarlang Lake Cave, an underground circular cave with crystal clear water, navigable by small rowing boats. It’s very popular, so be sure to book a ticket in advance.
I challenge you to pronounce the name of this city, which was a royal residence and the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary back in the Middle Ages.
Located right between Budapest and Lake Balaton, Székesfehérvár is one of the most beautiful cities in Hungary, perfect for exploring on foot. With its colorful old town streets, fairytale Bory Castle, unusual museums (such as a clock museum and a toy museum), and other fun attractions and sights, it makes an ideal day trip from Budapest (easily reachable by train).
Wouldn’t you like to visit the oldest city in Hungary, which dates back to Roman times?
Although it’s not filled with Roman ruins as you’d expect it to be, there are more than enough places to visit and ways to learn about the city’s ancient history. Those include the Savaria Museum, the Iseum Museum, and the Savaria Historical Carnival, a Roman-themed festival taking place at the end of August.
Szombathely is also home to some lovely gardens and parks, amazing restaurants and bars, beautiful churches, and even a former synagogue. It is located close to the border with Austria, so you can get there by train from Vienna or the Hungarian city of Győr.
Also known as ‘The City of Queens,’ Veszprém is located about a 2-hour bus ride away from Budapest. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Hungary, and in the past, the queens of Hungary were crowned there by the bishops of Veszprém, hence the name.
One of the top things to do in this city is to visit the Veszprém Castle, which dates back to the 10th and 11th centuries. The castle district is where you’ll find most of the city’s sights including the Dubniczay Palace (which is now a fine arts museum), St. Michael’s Cathedral, and the Fire Tower – a watchtower from which you can get exquisite views over Veszprém.
There’s also no shortage of other lookout points in the city like the terrace next to the statues of Stephen I and Gisella and the Benedict Hill Cross.
If that’s not enough to intrigue you, Veszprém also hosts many festivals like the Spring Festival of Dance, Gizella Days Arts Festival, and the music festival VeszprémFest.
By Destiny from Appetite for Adventure
You can easily get to Siofok via a 1.5 train or bus ride from Budapest. Perched right on Lake Balaton, this city is all about lake life. Here you can enjoy the most amazing views along with tons of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to choose from.
It’s too easy finding good food and drinks here. There are so many options for refreshing drinks containing fresh fruit, so be sure to grab a cocktail (or a mocktail, if you choose). For great food, head to Johnny’s Bistro, and if you’re into salads, get the Denver Salad (be prepared to dream about it every day you have to live without it going forward).
Back to the lake – you can engage with so many fun activities like paddleboarding, disco cruises, and the Bebo Waterpark, just to name a few! The cool thing about the lake is that it’s moderately shallow – the average depth of Lake Balaton is only 10 feet (most lakes average around 30 feet)!
If you really want to get wild, the town of Zamardi is right next door. Balaton Sound, a five-day EDM (electronic dance music) festival right on Lake Balaton, is held in Zamardi every summer. Expect exciting lineups with big names such as Afrojack and Tiesto.
If you’re looking for a laid-back getaway where you can just wander around a new city without necessarily going sightseeing, consider visiting Kaposvár.
Apart from a few sites like the Csiky Gergely Theatre, the Rippl-Ronai Museum, and the Kaposvár Cathedral, the colorful streets of the city center packed with Art Nouveau architecture are the ones that’ll steal your heart.
Kaposvár also hosts quite a few festivals like the carnival in February, the spring Daffodil Festival, the Kaposfest music festival, and even a honey festival.
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