Hungary has plenty of hidden gems beyond Budapest that most people miss. From ancient forts, wineries and natural thermal spa’s. To traditional folk villages, stunning churches and serene outdoor spaces. To help you get inspired, we’ve shortlisted 16 towns and cities in Hungary that you should explore.
Esztergom is a picturesque city located near the Slovakian border in Northern Hungary. Before Budapest, it was Hungary’s capital city and home to the royal seat. Even the coronation of St Stephen, Hungary’s first King, took place here. Most of these powers left Esztergom for Budapest in the 13th Century. Today, the Hungarian city is a popular day-trip for mostly domestic tourists and also the spiritual home of the catholicism in Hungary.
Things to See
Esztergom Basilica – Completed in 1869, it’s the largest church and also the tallest building in Hungary. With its iconic blue-domed structure dominating the skyline, symbolising the city’s central role for Catholicism in Hungary.
Mária Valéria bridge – This iconic bridge connects Esztergom in Hungary with Štúrovo in Slovakia. It was initially completed in 1895 and named after the fourth child of Austro-Hungarian Emporer, Franz Joseph. It’s an impressive structure, upon which you’ll find one of the best alternative viewpoints of the Esztergom Basilica.
If you’re driving from Budapest, it takes approximately 1 Hour 10 minutes to get here via Route 10. If you’re using public transport, Get the G72 or S72 buses at Nyugati Railway Station, which takes around the same time.
Héviz is a popular spa-town located just West of Lake Balaton that’s home to Europe’s largest natural thermal lake. People have come here to bathe in its medicinal mineral-rich waters since the roman era. Times may have moved on, but more popular than ever before.
Things to Do & See
Lake Heviz – The therapeutic effect of this thermal lake is down to a combination of its mineral content and thriving flora-fauna biodiversity. The water fully replenishes every 72 hours, even sitting at a very respectable 24 °C at it’s coldest. It’s an ideal place to bath all times of the year, with a day ticket setting you back 6000 HUF. However, they have several payment options, so check their websites for more info.
Church of the Holy Spirit Hévíz – Aside from the spa, there is little else to see in Heviz. If you do want to venture out and explore, then be sure to check Church of the Holy Spirit Hévíz. This beautiful blue church stands out like a sore thumb. Resembling something you usually see in a Disney movie.
If you’re coming from Budapest by car, it’ll take you around 2 hours to get here via the M7 Motorway. If you’re using public transport, get the 1188 bus from Népliget Bus Station which should get you to Hévíz in close to 3 hours.
Szentendre is a cosy little town located situated just North of Budapest. With its cobbled paths, colourful buildings, baroque architecture and scenic square providing an ideal setting for a day trip out of Budapest.
Things to Do & See
Szabadtéri Néprajzi Múzeum – Hungarian folk culture consists of a unique set of ancient traditions influenced by both Asian and surrounding Slavic nations. The Skanzen Village Open Air Museum is the perfect place to get the full Hungarian folk experience. Inside you’ll find traditional folk artefacts on housing, farming practices, music and much more. A must visit if you’re a cultural explorer.
Mjam – This cosy Caribbean inspired eatery is located just around the corner from the towns main square (Fő tér). On offer is mouth-watering mix of Caribbean, Asian and Hungarian fusion cuisine. A genuinely unique gastronomical experience from the usual fare. The food is top draw, the vibes are relaxed and the price not too heavy on your wallet.
If you’re coming from Budapest by car, it’ll take you around 25 minutes via Route 11. If you’re using public transport, get the H5 Train from Batthany Ter which will get you to Budapest in 50 minutes.
Etyek is an ideal day trip if you’re looking to learn more about Hungary’s rich wine culture. The village is part of the lesser-known Etyek-Buda wine region, which covers an area of around 5600 Hectares. With its mineral-rich limestone soils and colder climate creating an ideal environment for growing white grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and chardonnay. Surprisingly only 25% of the region has functional vines. A result of the stop-start effect political turbulence has had in the past few centuries.
Things to Do & See
Go-Wine Tasting – The Etyek-Buda wine region is renowned for producing sparkling and slightly more acidic white wines. So it’d be rude not to sample some of the spectacular sips provided by the areas best wineries and estates. The Etyeki Kúria Borgazdaság, Rókusfalvy Estate, Hernyák and Nádas Borműhely come highly recommended.
If you’re driving from Budapest, it’ll take you around 40 min via the M1 Motorway. If you’re using public transport, get the 760 Bus from Kelenföld Subway station.
Tata sits in a valley between the Gerecse and Vértes mountains of Northern Hungary. Historically, it has been subject to much turbulence caused by invading forces. With each one leaving its mark. From the Romans who created the towns man-made lake (Öreg-tó) for storing fish. To the Ottomon’s who attempted multiple coups, and the Habsburgs, who burned down the towns historic castle. With such an eventful past, Tata is an idyllic destination to visit if you want to learn about Hungarian history, in a peaceful and tranquil setting.
Things to see
Tata Castle – This has been the centrepiece of this Hungarian town since the 14th Century. Supposedly the favourite residence of King Mátyás I, the fort you see today isn’t the original. With only one surviving column from the initial structure that was burnt down by the Habsburgs. The rest is a reconstruction, but impressive nonetheless even more so at sunset or sunrise, where you’ll get a stunning view across the water of Öreg-tó.
Fényes Spa & Nature Trail – This is a must-see if you fancy escaping into the outdoors after you’ve seen Tata Castle. With a walking trail where you’ll see the areas unique flora and fauna and natural thermal waters. Some of which feed an open-air swimming pool and are popular bathing spots amongst locals.
If your driving from Budapest, take M1 route and you should get to Tata in around 1 Hour 10 Mins Max. Suppose you use public transport, then get RJX60 bus from Keleti Station to Tatabánya. Then the 8400 bus which will get you to the town of Tata. The whole journey usually takes around 1 hour 45 mins.
Lake Velence is the third biggest lake in the country, and a popular holiday destination for anyone looking to spend some relaxing days by the water. Also known as Sunshine Lake, it’s one of the warmest lakes in Europe, with the sunny area and the shallowness resulting in 27-28 degrees water temperature during summer. Besides the beach and fresh eateries, there’s a strand for dogs, boat hire, pedalo rental, and much more to try.
Things to Do
Go to the beach – Gárdony is a popular destination due to its abundance of quaint swimming spots. Some offer watersports, while you can enjoy a massage at others. The free beaches are a bit more limited, but restaurant and buffets are almost everywhere.
Cycle around the lake – As featured in our guide to biking routes around Budapest. The renovated path here circumnavigates the lake and takes around 3 hours to complete in a relaxed tempo. There’s no ideal starting point, jump on your bike wherever you feel.
It takes less than 45 minutes from Budapest on the M7 route by car. If you’re using public transport, then take the train Z30 towards Székesfehérvár. You can get there in around 45 minutes by public transport.
Eger is a medival city that sits at the foothills of Bükk mountain range in Northern Hungary. Most famous for its historic castle, therapeutic thermal springs, and exceptional wines. Take a stroll on the cobbled stone paths here, and marvel at the magnificent architecture of the buildings that line them. The majority of the buildings have a baroque style, but you’ll also notice some Christian, Classicist and Ottomon inspired features. A reminder of the different eras and invaders who passed through here.
Things to Do and See
Go wine tasting – Eger is one of the iconic wine-producing regions of Hungary. Take the opportunity to meet the winemakers of Eger’s most famous wines, including the iconic Bulls Blood (Egri Bikavér). Explore the wine cellar routes and taste the best red & white wines in Hungary.
Uncover Eger Castle – Eger Castle has a mighty past, serving many purposes throughout history. The most crucial happening here was in 1552 when the castle was used by iconic Hungarian István Dobó and his army to defeat the attack of invading Ottoman forces. An event that fills pride inside Magyars to this day. The castle has undergone reconstruction over the years and now houses a museum filled with facts and info.
Take the M3 route if you’re travelling from Budapest by car. It’ll take around 1 hour and 45 minutes to get here. If you’re using public transport, get Bus 1050 and 1054 take you to Eger from Puskás Ferenc Stadion. The route is around 2 hours.
Gödöllő is a relatively small town renowned for its long-standing association with royalty, rich cultural heritage, ornate buildings and charming atmosphere. The centrepiece of this historic town has to be the beautiful Royal Palace. A magnificent structure built when Hungary was under Habsburg rule. Rumour has it that this royal palace was the favourite residence of the beloved Queen Elisabeth (Sisi).
Things to do and See
Royal Palace of Gödöllő & Queen Elisabeth Park – Completed in the 18th Century, this baroque beauty was initially the home Grassalkovich family. After changing hands multiple times, it became the summer residence of Habsburg Royals, Queen Elisabeth and Francis Joseph. The palace is still in immaculate condition. So you can marvel at the beautiful baroque architecture or learn more about its history at the palace museum. Be sure to venture out and explore the stunning Elisabeth garden.
Arboretum of Gödöllő – A walk through the Botanical Garden of Gödöllő is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. The town’s Foresty Team founded it to research flora and fauna of the area. Today, the garden boasts a selection of around 800 different trees, shrubs and plants. Jump on your bike to explore this natural wonder on two wheels or take a blanket with you for a nice picnic under the trees.
If you’re driving from Budapest, it takes 40 minutes to get to Gödöllő on the M3 motorway. If you’re using public transport, they have a train service every 30 minutes from Budapest Keleti station to Gödöllő. It takes about 25 minutes to get there without any changes.
Tapolca is a tranquil little town located close to Lake Balaton. In recent years it’s become a popular destination for Hungarians looking to relax and recharge. With its charming atmosphere, enchanting surroundings, breathtaking lake, and underground cave system providing the perfect escape from the busyness and stress of everyday life.
Things to Do and See
Lake Cave Tapolca – Tapolcathis lake runs beneath streets of this town and first opened to the public back in 1912. Explore the bluish thermal waters and mysterious atmosphere of the 4th largest underground cave system in Hungary. Boat rentals and guided tours are available.
Malom-tó (Mill Pond) – This body of water is in the centre of town, surrounded by majestic buildings on all sides. There are some excellent restaurants and cafes around the area worth checking out as well.
If you’re driving from Budapest, the trip takes around 2 hours via route M7. If you’re using public transport, take the bus 1216, 1212 or 1190 from Újbuda Központ. The route is around 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Located in South-West Hungary, Pécs is a charming old city steeped in history, tradition and culture. The Celts were the first to settle in the area around 6000 years ago. Since then, the Romans, Hungarians, Ottoman Turks and Soviets have all occupied the city and surrounding areas. With remnants of their presence visible in the buildings, ruins and sights dotted around. It’s one of the must-visit cities in Hungary if you’re culturally curious and want to learn more about the turbulent Magyar history.
Things to Do and See
Pécs Cathedral – This stunning Romanesque-style Cathedral is a prime example of the complex and turbulent history of Hungary. It began as a church, before being conquered and converted into a mosque by invading Ottomans in the 16th Century. After their defeat, it began operating as a church once again. Today it’s a place of worship and museum, home to the most eclectic collection of Romanesque art in Central Europe.
Zsolnay Cultural Quarter – This a cultural complex site on the former site of the iconic Zsolnay porcelain factory. If you visit, make sure to check out the Zsolnay exhibition and Gyugi Collection, which has 700 Zsolnay porcelain pieces on display. They also have some decent artisan shops worth browsing if that’s more your thing.
Mosque of Pasha Qasim – This beautiful 16th-century mosque is a remnant of a time when the region was under Ottoman rule. With its unique domed roof standing out from the surrounding buildings. Although it’s now a roman catholic church, quranic scriptures are still dotted around inside.
The car journey here takes around 2 hours and 15 from Budapest via route M6. If you’re using public transport, get an intercity train from Keleti Pályaudvar. It takes around 3 hours to get there.
Szilvásvárad is a beautiful little village located near Bukk National Park. Famous for its fish lakes, forest railway, and incredible waterfalls. It’s an idyllic destination to retreat into the serenity of nature to experience real peace and tranquillity.
Things to Do and See
Szalajka Valley – This is one of the best hiking trails in the whole of Bukk National Park. Along the hike, you’ll come across trout-filled lakes, the crystal clear Szikla spring and the iconic Fátyol waterfall. Don’t worry if hiking isn’t your thing. There is a charming forest railway that runs through the valley, making it accessible to all.
Try some trout – Trout is one of the native species of Szilvásvárad. So make sure you stop by one of the eateries along the Szalajka Creek to try it. Our insiders reccomend Pisztráng Buffet, Csobogó Restaurant and Sáfrány Pisztráng Garden.
It’s a 2-hour car drive from Budapest on route M3. If you’re using public transport, take one of the trains from Budapest Keleti to Füzesabony. There you’ll have to continue by bus. The route takes around 3 hours, but you have to change at least once, so calculate with the extra waiting times too.
Hollókő is a small village located 100Km North East of Budapest. A listed world UNESCO heritage site, it offers visitors a rare glimpse into the life of people living in rural Hungary during the 17th Century.the village is packed full of historical artefacts that will help you help you experience the traditional Palóc folk culture. From the traditional architecture, folk art, farming, food and much more. Although it may seem like an open-air museum, residents still inhabit the white bricked brown thatched roof houses to this day. So if you do visit, don’t be that annoying tourist and show some respect.
Things to Do and See
Wander the old Village – Walk around the historical street of Hollókő and explore the Palóc traditions. Listen to folk music, visit open houses and stop for a second to observe the uniqueness of the buildings and interiors.
Eat at the Muskátli Restaurant – Sample some traditional Palóc and Hungarian dishes Hollókő at the authentic Muskátli Muskátli Vendéglő
You can reach Hollókő by car within an hour and a half via route M3 from Budapest. If you’re using public transport, take the bus 1010 from Újpest Városkapu. You’ll have to change at least once. The route takes 2 hours and 30 minutes overall.
Tihany is a picturesque village located on the Northern shores of Lake Balaton. With its iconic orange-tiled buildings, stunning landscape and enchanting scenery making it a highly desirable destination for domestic tourism. Beyond the views and natural beauty, the village has a vibrant history. Having first appeared on the map in 1055 AD as a Roman settlement established by András I. It’s an ideal place if you’re looking to escape the business of life and experience some real peace and tranquillity.
Things to See
Tihany Abbey (Tihanyi Bencés Apátság) – This beautiful Benedictine Monastery has been a permanent fixture in Tihany since 1055 AD. Although initially created as a place of worship, the church has had many functions throughout history. It became a castle during the Ottoman era and housed elderly in communist Hungary. A must-visit place to experience some Hungarian history and capture one of the most beautiful views of Lake Balaton.
Echo – The echo is a peculiar phenomenon that has had people amazed since the 19th century. If you stand and shout from the Echo hill towards the abbey, your words will return seven times from the northern wall of the building. The echo can be heard best in quiet and bright evenings.
Lavender Fields – Sandwiched between súcs-hegy and Apát-hegy, the old lavender fields at Tihany are an Instagrammers dream. With the perfect purple plants visible in all directions and as far as the eye can see.
It takes around 1 hour 45 minutes by car from Budapest on the M7 route. If you’re using public transport, get the Kék Hullám train from Déli pályaudvar to Balatonfüred. There you’ll have to change for the 7355 to Tihany.
Veszprém is an enchanting little town located near the North shore of Lake Balaton. It’s one of the oldest urban areas in Hungary and was supposedly a favourite of St. Stephen’s wife, Queen Gisella. Hence it’s also known as the “City of Queens”. With its curvy slopes, narrow streets majestic views and romantic charm making it an ideal escape for a weekend break.
Things to Do and See
Veszprém Fire-watch Tower – This striking structure started as a watchtower, before becoming a fire alarm lookout. Today, you can climb the spiral staircase to the top, where a breathtaking view awaits.
Visit the Castle area – Slap bang in the centre of Veszprém is the iconic Castle District. Medieval buildings, marvellous sculptures and an old church lead the way to the top, where a fantastic view of the city unfolds in front of you.
Margit romok – These are the ruins of an iconic 13th-century church that housed nuns of the Dominican order. The ruins you see today are the result of significant excavation and reconstruction after the original structure collapsed during the Ottoman invasions.
If you’re driving from Budapest, the trip takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes on route M7. If you’re using public transport, take the bus 1216, 1212 or 1190 from Újbuda Központ. The route is around 2 hours.
Sopron is a historic city that was part of the significant Amber trading route during Roman times. It’s known as the ‘Western Gate of Hungary due to it’s proximity to the Austrian border. Although not as popular as some other cities in Hungary. Its rich history, wine culture and baroque architecture draw in visitors from all over. With remnants of the past visible in the monuments and buildings that line the narrow cobbled pathed streets.
Things to Do and See
Fire Tower (Tuztorony) – The fire Tower is an official symbol of Soprons loyalty to Hungary. It was initially used as a lookout point to catch criminals or people trying to smuggle non-Sopron wine into the city. Walk up the 161 step spiral staircase where you’ll get a breathtaking birds-eye view of Sopron, and it’s surrounding areas.
Stroll Around the Old Town – Few cities in Hungary can boast a well preserved historic centre like Sopron. Walk along the labyrinth of narrow streets and cobbled paths, where you’ll stumble upon some hidden gems. From beautiful churches, informative museums and majestic colourful baroque buildings. A picture-perfect stroll and setting made even better with a nice glass of the iconic Sopron wine.
Drink Some Soproni Wine – Sopron has been a big player in the Hungarian wine scene since Roman times. Most famous for its red wines made using the iconic Blaufränkisch grape variety. You can sample the very best of the Sopron wine region (Soproni borvidék) at one of the city’s many wine cellars. Gyógygödör Borozó or Cézár pince are our insiders’ top picks.
It takes 2 hours and 30 minutes from Budapest by car via the M3 line. If you’re using public transport, get the train from Kőbánya Kispest towards Sopron. The route takes around 3 hours by local train or 2 hours and 30 minutes if you travel by intercity.
If you liked this article, then stay tuned. We will be heading up and down the magnificent land of the Magyars to uncover the best idyllic spots for you to explore. In the meanwhile, why not get up to speed on the Hungarian culture by checking out the articles we’ve already written.