Are you traveling to Hungary soon? Then this is the perfect blog post to find the best places to see in Hungary beyond Budapest. Of course I understand if the beautiful capital is going to be your base and you start traveling around the country from here. Lately I did the same, took a flight to Budapest, enjoyed the city and left on a road trip. In this blog I will tell you all about the Hungary sights to make the most of your holiday in this country. Including a sample itinerary.
A landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordering 7 other countries. Hungary is most famous for its goulash and of course Budapest, its magical capital. Hungarian is the official spoken language the almost 10 million inhabitants speak. Don’t try it! It is impossible to learn. Budapest draws tourists from all over the world and lets the other tourist attractions in Hungary far behind. To me to show you that the countryside of this country has a lot to offer. There are many things to do in Hungary and I will show you the best places to go.
History of Hungary
Don’t worry I will keep it short! I know you are here for the best places to see in Hungary, but as the countryside of Hungary is full of castles a little history won’t harm you.
It all started with the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan, which eventually divided Hungary into 3 parts in 1526: The Kingdom of Hungary, Transylvania and the Ottoman Empire. It took till 1718 until the Kingdom of Hungary could finally strike back and pushed the Ottomans back into the Balkan. After some civil unrest in the country in the previous years, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was formed in 1867. This empire became the new leading power in Central Europe and led to major economic and industrial development. Budapest became one of the most prominent European cities in that decade and became known for the first underground in Europe.
In both World Wars the Hungarians chose the side of Germany which led to devastating loses. The fallen apart country was then taken over by the communists, the economy collapsed dramatically and resulted in many protests. Though only with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the Republic of Hungary was proclaimed on October 23th. Since 2004 Hungary is part of the European Union.
Best time to visit Hungary
It is no secret that traveling to Hungary is best in the European summer months June till August. Hungary gets cold in winter and wet in autumn, but the good thing about traveling in Hungary is that even though summer is peak season, it still feels of the beaten path in Europe. Most tourist attractions in Hungary are not discovered by mass tourism yet, so visiting Hungary in summer still is the best time of the year. That said my last trip to Hungary was in December 2018 and all the photos in this Hungary travel blog are taken in that time. Weather plays an important role when choosing the best time to travel, but as long as it is dry, you are going to have a blast. Mind you that in winter the days in Hungary are very short and there is basically only 8 hours of day light. Nevertheless I had an awesome time traveling in Hungary in December 2018.
My Hungary trip
It was my second time in the country and I was lucky to see more than just Budapest this time. When I did some research for my Hungary itinerary and cool places to see I found out I actually did not know that much about Hungary tourism. My first Hungary trip was actually just to Budapest. On the internet I found that Hungary holidays could be filled with medieval castles, lovely countryside villages, lakes and thermal baths.
First I stayed a couple days in Budapest before starting my Hungary itinerary. All the below listed places to see in Hungary are totally worth checking out. I rented a car for a week and ended up ticking off all the things to do in Hungary. I would recommend you travel to Hungary for a t least a week. It is going to be difficult to put all the below sights in a 1-week itinerary, so you will have to make choices otherwise. I hope this Hungary travel blog points you in the right direction.
This is my proposed itinerary for Hungary for you. Depending on how long your Hungary holiday lasts you can pick the by you preferred tourist attractions and best places to see in Hungary.
The numbers on the itinerary map correspond with the numbers of the things to do in Hungary below.
14 Best places to see in Hungary
Even after visiting almost 100 countries and countless cities around the world Budapest is mind blowing. This city is full of historical landmarks and fabulous buildings, palaces and churches. The Danube river splits the city in two and beautiful bridges connect the Buda and the Pest side. Most tourist attractions in Budapest are free and walking around feels like strolling through a museum. Don’t forget to check out one of the hot springs and thermal baths in the city center. One of the best places to visit in Hungary surely is Budapest, but there is more.
Just 30 minutes North of Budapest you will find the charming village of Szentendre. A lovely local village that is listed in every list of what to do in Hungary. The cobblestoned narrow streets of the cute old town are perfect for window shopping and buying souvenirs. It is a popular escape from the capital and people looking for day trips from Budapest. Most people that visit Hungary will end up an afternoon in Szentendre.
Also popular for people on day trips from Budapest. The Visegrad castle is a famous Hungary tourist attraction and the hike to the top makes you appreciate the spectacular views even more. Combine a visit to Szentendre and Visegrad. First visit Szentendre and then continue to Visegrad and watch the sunset from the Visegrad Castle. There is also a bobsled track to spice up your Hungary holidays a little bit.
Right on the border of Slovakia you can’t miss Eszetrgom on your trip to Hungary. This city is mostly known for its majestic basilica.
Add some adventure to your hungary holidays and climb up to the top of this church. The views are splendid from up here.
Also stroll through the narrow streets of the old town and climb up to the hill opposite the basilica. Here you will find a cool viewpoint and the Sorrowful Virgin Chapel. Combine Szentendre, Visegrad and Esztergom on your road trip. These Hungary sights are all within 1 hour drive. If you are going on a day trip from Budapest consider staying overnight in Esztergom.
5. Lake Balaton
Not to miss when you are ticking off the best places to see in Hungary is Lake Balaton. A popular tourist destination in summer for Western Europeans. There are many things to do around the lake, such as hiking to the Balaton Uplands (totally recommended), bike tours, climb the Aurora mast, hang gliding and all kind of water sports. But making a skydive from a helicopter sounds like on of the best things to do in Hungary to me. Lake Balaton is also famous for its well known festival Balaton Sounds. I want to go some day!
About 2 hours southwest of Budapest you find the 5th biggest city and another great place to see in Hungary: Pecs. Most tourists have never heard of it and that makes it a great off the beaten path destination in Hungary close to the Croatian border. Highlight of a trip to Eger is the Mosque of Pasha Qasim which is converted into a catholic church.
7. Holloko Castle
Holloko village was the first place I visited on my Hungary itinerary. My road trip led me to this quaint village on the rural countryside of the country, about 2 hours northeast of Budapest. This picture perfect little town was super quiet. Of course it was winter and totally off season, but I enjoyed strolling through this place.
I got myself a hot tea before I hiked up through the forest all the way to the top of the hill to watch the sunset over the castle.
8. Egerszalok Thermal Baths
Thermal baths and Hungary are like oil and the middle east. Everywhere around the country you can find thermal baths and they form one of the most amazing places to visit in Hungary. The one in Egerszalok became a tourist attraction because of its Salt Hill. Thermal water from deep in the earth finds its way out at the Southside of Egerszalok village. This 65 degrees mineral water built white rock formations over the years and formed a white karst hill of salt. It is a unique site in the world as there are only two similar places like this: Pamukkale in Turkey and one in Yellowstone National Park in the US. The nearby Sallris Resort & Spa became a real tourist attraction in Hungary.
Another one of those unknown cities to visit in Hungary. Eger has the potential of becoming a tourist attraction in Hungary, but still you will find yourself pretty much being the only foreign tourist in the off season. Don’t miss the charming streets of Eger Old Town. The colorful houses and the many terraces make this the most vibrant place in the city. People watching in Eger Old Town is one of the best things to do in Hungary. A clear remnant of the Ottoman Empire is the minaret in the center of Eger and the coolest thing about it is that you can climb to the top. Definitely the best Hungary travel tip I got from a local.
10. Caves of Aggtelek
A UNESCO world heritage site with more than 1,000 caves over a relatively small area on the border of Hungary and Slovakia. Visiting the Caves of Aggtelek is one of the best things to do in Hungary for adventurers. There are many tours that lead you into the dark below the earth's surface. The Baradia Domica cave is one of the most popular tourist attractions and is 21 kilometers long. From Budapest to the Caves of Aggtelek takes about 3 hours in a car.
11. Fuzer Castle
All the way northeast on the Slovakian border there is a town called Fuzer. Bare in mind that there is nothing to do, apart from the Fuzer Castle. When you are planning to visit Hungary add this to your road trip itinerary. The drive towards Fuzer will lead you through numerous small villages and is scenic all the way. The castle is built on top of hill looming large over the village below. It is an impressive Hungary sight.
The views from the top are great. Parking the car is about €1, the entrance fee for the castle is €4. Visiting Fuzer Castle was one of my Hungary highlights on my latest trip.
12. Megyer-hegyi Tengerszem
Probably one of the most odd places to visit in Hungary. How best to describe this tourist attraction in Hungary? It is a hidden lake, somewhere up on a hill in the middle of a forest. It is a popular hiking destination in summer, a spooky place in winter. Reaching it was already an adventure, but on an almost getting dark afternoon in winter the setting was a bit creepy. I bet it looks better in summer!
13. Boldog Castle
I got to know this place through Instagram. Or actually I knew about the castle but never knew where it was. When I was setting up my Hungary itinerary I stumbled upon Boldogko Castle. To me it is one of the best things to see in Hungary. I was super excited when I finally got there myself but then found out it was closed. On the internet is says it is open every day, but not when I was there. To get to the famous photo spot you can actually just climb a little hill. It was a bit risky with my expensive camera gear, but totally worth it. After all the effort I decided to stay until sunset, it was freezing, but one of my best memories from my trip to Hungary.
The second biggest city in Hungary and a hidden gem close to the Romanian border. in the east. A quaint city not yet overrun by tourists where you can experience the authentic Hungarian lifestyle. I was visiting in winter and there were Christmas markets throughout the city. I indulged on the many local delicacies and mulled wine and found refuge from the cold in many different coffee cafes. These are the best coffee cafes in Debrecen: Cut & Coffee, Black Sheep Microroastery, Vintage World Cafe and Menta Coffee. I also found a vegetarian restaurant called Kis Padlizsan which was the best restaurant in Debrecen.
15. Lake Tisza
After Lake Balaton, Lake Tisza is the second largest body of water in the country. The lake has formed quiet wetlands and multiple little islands across the lake. It is a playground for many species of flora and fauna and heaven for birdwatching. Relaxing is the best thing to do here, but Lake Tisza also offers active Hungary holidays: canoe trips, horse riding and bike tours.
Flights to Hungary
Budapest is a very well connected destination in Eastern Europe, especially since the low-cost airline Wizz Air made Budapest its main hub. Wizz Air serves over 60 destinations alone already from BUD airport. Air fares are cheap but remember to play by the rules and expect to pay for check in luggage. Ryanair also flies directly to Budapest. Getting to Budapest was never this easy and if you are only traveling with hand luggage you can already find one-way tickets for just $10! Then rent a car and let your adventurous Hungary holidays begin!
Best places to stay in Hungary
Luxury hotels in Hungary can be pretty affordable. There are not always many accommodation options available when on a road trip through the countryside. Still I mostly found some cool places to stay. Budapest obviously has a wide array of luxury hotels and loads of amazing mid-range options. I stayed in a chic modern apartment in the middle of the city for just $50 a night. In the countryside you will mostly only find pensions and bed & breakfasts.
Claim $30 free AirBnb credit
Sign up through this link and get $30 off your first Airbnb booking! Already having an account then create a new one with a different email address! Here this easily means 1 night for free on your trip to Hungary.
Hopefully all the above information about the best places to visit in Hungary were helpful and you were able to create your own Hungary itinerary based on my tips. Please consider helping me by sharing this blog link somewhere on the internet. A tweet, a pin, or a post in a Facebook Group, anythings would help me a lot. Thank you very much!