Hungary, while not one of the largest countries in Europe, has one of the continent’s highest densities of historic sites and tourist attractions, as well as stunningly beautiful scenery. Given Budapest’s location – close to the center of the country on the banks of the Danube River, the capital is the perfect place to get out and explore. Across the country, countless cities, towns and cities have managed to preserve their historical roots, reflecting a huge variety of influences from the Romans to the Ottoman Empire. And they’re all worth visiting, whether on a day trip or, if a little further afield, as part of an overnight stay in one of Hungary’s unique accommodation choices.
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1 Eger’s Baroque Heritage
The town of Eger, 140 kilometers east of Budapest, on the southern slopes of the Bükk Mountains, is one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe, with 17 baroque churches, thermal baths and a Turkish minaret. The lovely Eger Basilica , built in 1837 in the classical style, has twin towers and a wide staircase leading to the portico, as well as beautiful views. Other highlights include the Dobó Castle Museum and the Baroque Lyceum, with its 53-meter tower and revolving dome offering more scenic views.
Be sure to explore the narrow streets of the old town, home to a large central marketplace and the impressive Church of Saint Anthony, built in 1773. Finally, no sightseeing visit would be complete without seeing the medieval Eger Castle . Built in the 11th century, it was expanded many times over time.
2 The Danube Bend and Vác
Between Esztergom and Szentendre, in western Hungary, the Danube River makes a sharp turn to the south before flowing through Budapest. Vác, in the middle of the curvature on the left bank, 34 km north of Budapest, has retained the charm of an attractive small baroque town. You can enjoy a beautiful view of the silhouette of the city, with its characteristic church towers, from a river cruise or from the Danube Island, accessible from Vác by ferry. The historic center of the city is dominated by the huge Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary and Saint Michael and Március 15 tér (March 15 Square) to the north, surrounded by fine old merchant houses. The road from Budapest crosses the twin-arched 18th-century bridge with its fine statues and spans the Gombás River.
A good way to see this most scenic part of the Danube is on a Danube Bend Day Trip from Budapest, a full-day guided tour that begins with a scenic drive through the countryside, stopping with your guide to visit the medieval fortress of Visegrad, Esztergom Cathedral and the craft shops of Szentendre before cruising back to Budapest along the romantic Danube River.
3 Paleis van Gödöllő
About 30 km northeast of Budapest is one of Europe’s largest baroque palaces, the favorite summer retreat of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Queen Elisabeth (known as Sisi). The 250-year-old palace is a masterpiece of Hungarian Baroque architecture, built in the 18th century when the Grassalkovich estate was counted and later owned by the Habsburg monarchs. You can take a tour of the palace, learn the palace’s fascinating history, and explore the extensive park, gardens, and royal stables on a four-hour Godollo Castle day trip from Budapest.
Address: Gödöllő, Grassalkovich Castle
Official site: https://www.kiralyikastely.hu/main_page
4 Castle Nagytétény and the Museum of Applied Arts
Nagytétény, Budapest’s southernmost district and only a few minutes away by car or public transport, is located on the Buda side of the Danube in a largely agricultural region once favored by the Romans. Here you will find the beautiful old baroque castle Nagytétény, built in the 18th century on the remains of a 15th century palace. It was rebuilt after World War II and now houses the Furniture Museum of the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest . Of particular note are fine German and Hungarian furnishings from the 15th to 19th centuries, along with a collection of stoves, works of art, porcelain and Roman artifacts.
Address: H-1091 Budapest, Üllői út 33-37
Official site: www.imm.hu/en/contents/nagytetenyi
5 The Hungarian Open Air Museum
Just 23 km from Budapest, the Hungarian Open Air Museum faithfully recreates the rural architecture and lifestyle of ten different 18th-century Hungarian settlements. Buildings typical of the region are scattered across the gently rolling landscape and connected by paths. As well as visiting the quaint houses, you will see several working areas, mills, stables, barns, a blacksmith shop, a weaver workshop and a village church.
Address: 2000 Szentendre, Sztaravodai út
6 Aggtelek National Park en de Baradla grot
Aggtelek National Park is almost 200 km² in size and is largely protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located on the Slovak-Hungarian border, about a 2.5-hour drive from Budapest. In addition to unique flora and fauna, the park is famous for an excellent network of marked trails that attract hikers from all over Europe. However, the main attraction here is the Baradla Cave. It is more than 25 km long and extends into Slovakia and is one of the largest and most impressive stalactite caves in Europe. The main tunnel stretches for 7 km, with several wide passages formed over thousands of years as rain and melting snow penetrated cracks in the limestone. The water dripping through the chalk has carved bizarre shapes, with giant icicle stalactites hanging from the roof and rainbow colored stalagmites towering from the floor. There are several cave tours available.
Address: Directoraat Aggtelek Nationaal Park, H-3758 Jósvafő, Tengerszem side. 1
7 Pécs and its picturesque regions
A small town just two hours south of Budapest, Pécs is a popular tourist destination due to its mild climate and location on the slopes of the Mecsek Mountains. The many first-class historical and cultural attractions range from early Christian burial chambers to Turkish mosques, medieval buildings and contemporary art galleries. The most popular destinations in the fortified Old Town are the Cathedral Precincts surrounding the beautiful Cathedral of St. Peter. Built between the 11th and 12th centuries with many later alterations, the church also served as a mosque during the Turkish occupation. Under the Cathedral Square and in the courtyards of the old houses are tombs from the 3rd and 4th centuries, the most important surviving examples of early Christian culture in Hungary. Be sure to discover Szénchenyi tér , a pretty medieval marketplace in the heart of the old town.
8 Szentendre’s Slavic Influences
This small town on the hilly right bank of the Danube, 20 km north of Budapest, is one of the most popular getaways for people from the capital. Highlights include Blagovescenska Church , a Serbian Orthodox prayer hall built in 1752. The doorway is a focal point, with its Baroque arched balcony and a fresco above the side entrance depicting the Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena holding the cross of Christ. Visitors can also admire Fő tér , the main square, with its Merchants’ Cross built after a plague, and the lovely old church square with architectural influences from the Catholic Croats of Dalmatia who settled around the church.
9 Gyor’s Vienna Gate Square
Gyor, 123 km west of Budapest, is located at the confluence of the rivers Mosoni-Duna (Danube), Rába and Rábca, in the middle of the Little Hungarian Plain. The Old Town , with Cathedral Chapter Hill and the Royal Town, is one of the most beautiful Renaissance and Baroque townscapes in Hungary, comprising 170 listed buildings and monuments. The city’s most famous feature is the Vienna Gate Square , a beautiful baroque square surrounded by well-preserved houses from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the impressive Carmelite Church.
Other things to do include a visit to the Bishop’s Castle , with its museum and 14th-century tower and later residence of Bishop Kálmán (his coat of arms still adorns its front). Also look for the 11th-century Cathedral of the Virgin Mary ; the eight-meter-long Ark of the Covenant Monument, built at the request of Emperor Charles III and depicting two angels carrying the Ark of the Covenant ; the famous Iron Cockerel atop the bank of the Mosoni Danube, the city’s emblem; and Széchenyi tér , the 17th-century Hungarian retirement home still in use.
10 Esterházy Castle Fertőd
Fertőd, 180 km west of Budapest, near the border with Austria and Slovakia, is the Eszterházy Palace, the largest and most beautiful mansion in Hungary. Often referred to as the “Hungarian Versailles,” this Rococo house was built between 1760 and 1767, an impressive estate with a beautiful wrought-iron gate and courtyard fountains, as well as the beautiful two-story side wings that connect to the main building. dominated by a central tower. A highlight is the spectacular view from the garden balcony overlooking the remaining park of the estate. Inside, the Chinese Salon, the Green Salon and the Maria Theresia Room are all decorated with fine Rococo furniture and fireplaces. One of the estate’s most famous guests was composer Joseph Haydn,
Address: 9431 Fertőd, Joseph Haydn út 2, Hungary
Official site: www.esterhazy-palace.com/en/home.html
11 Kecskemet en de grote vlaktes van Puszta
Kecskemet en de grote vlaktes van Puszta
The southern region of Hungary’s Great Lake is a picturesque land of rivers and lakes, wheat fields and grasslands, characterized by rustic farmhouses. At the heart of it is the small town of Kecskemet, known for its colorful Art Nouveau architecture. After a scenic drive to Kecskemet and a tour of the sights, guests on the Puszta Great Plains and Kecskemet Day Trip from Budapest continue to Lajosmizse, where Puszta horsemen perform in a show. After a carriage ride through the Puszta, a traditional Hungarian meal is served in a rural tavern with gypsy music.
There are 12 Royal Basils in Székesfehérvár
Few cities are as closely associated with the beginnings of the Hungarian monarchy as Székesfehérvár , which also owns the former burial and coronation church of the Hungarian kings. The Székesfehérvár is located between the foothills of the Bakony Forest and the Velencei Mountains, just 45 minutes southwest of Budapest. It has a well-preserved downtown. Highlights of a visit include Városház tér and the Bishop’s Palace , the City Hall and Hiemer House , all built between the late 17th and 18th centuries. Another must-see is the Romanesque Royal Basilica, a triple church with a semicircular apse, founded by King Stephen in the 11th century and rebuilt several times since then.
13 Diósgyor has seven castles
It is thought that the invading Magyars built the first fortress on the site of today’s Diósgyor Castle near Miskolc, 180 km northeast of Budapest. Built in 1340 and modeled on the castles of southern Italy, it is flanked by four towers and protected by an outer ring of fortifications. Although largely ruins, the outer foundations have been exposed, and parts of the inner fortifications have been reconstructed, and visitors can now see the size of the great Knight’s Hall in the north wing and the castle chapel in the east wing. Three of the four corner towers have been reconstructed and in the southwest tower the Late Gothic vault of the corner chamber has been rebuilt. Some of the stone masonry and other castle finds can be seen in the castle museum in the northeast bastion.
Address: 3534 Miskolc, Vár St 24, Hungary
14 Historic Castle Hill – Esztergom
Esztergom is one of the oldest cities in Hungary and is located about 60 km northwest of Budapest, where the Danube breaks through the Hungarian central highlands. It’s an area easily accessible from the capital, both by car and public transport, and well worth the effort. Highlights of the historic Castle Hill area next to the Danube include the ruins of the 10th century Hungarian Royal Palace , the imposing cathedral with the entrance marked by two tall towers and several Corinthian columns and the adjoining Christian Museum with its collection of Hungarian Italian Renaissance works artists. If you visit Esztergom by car, you should definitely take a look at the Pilis Mountains. Located in the loop formed by the Danube Bend, this chain of mountains, an official nature reserve, is known for its caves and fossils. Add to the mix are mountainsides covered mainly in forests of beech and oak with steep and picturesque chalk cliffs, and it’s a popular area to explore on foot.
15 Hortobágy National Park en de Puszta
Hortobágy National Park en de Puszta
Between the Tisza River and the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen stretches the Hortobágy, or Puszta, a low-lying prairie of grass-covered steppes and meadows famous for its cattle, sheep, and horses. Much of the area has been preserved in the Hortobágy National Park, an area of 690 km2, to protect its diverse flora and fauna and to preserve the traditional farming methods used here since the 14th century. As a result, it is the perfect place for a drive and to explore the many small towns and cities in the area. It is also very popular among bird watchers, who travel from afar to see only migratory birds such as various species of herons, spoonbills, white geese, reed warblers, waders, rare black storks, falcons and eagles.
16 The medieval reformed church of Nyírbátor
In the Middle Ages, this rural town 260 km east of Budapest on the Romanian border belonged to the Báthori family – princes from Transylvania who became great feudal lords. As a result, Nyírbátor boasts two beautiful medieval churches of which St. George’s Church, now the Reformed Church , is one of Hungary’s most important Late Gothic structures. Báthori’s coat of arms is still visible above the west door, with a projecting tower on the side, while the Renaissance-style door is on the south side. Inside, the eye is immediately drawn to the filigree reticular vault. The tomb in the choir is that of the writer István Báthori, who died in 1605, and the founder of the church is buried under a marble tombstone in the crypt.
17 Pannonhalma Archabbey
Visitors travel to Pannonhalma largely to see the famous Abbey of St. Martin, the focal point of the Benedictine order in Hungary. Monks still live here, and since 1997 the monastery, along with the Lady Chapel, Mount Calvary and the surrounding cultural region, has been listed as a World Heritage Site. Located on a high point known as Mount St. Martin, this massive complex can trace its roots as far back as the 10th century. It is also a very popular destination for cultural programming, including jazz festivals and organ recitals. For those looking for a fascinating place to stay, accommodation packs are available.
Address: 9090 Pannonhalma, Vár 1, Hungary
Official site: https://bences.hu/lang/en/en
18 Het Savaria-museum in Szombathely
Szombathely, about 220 km from Budapest on the eastern edge of the Alps, is home to the excellent Savaria Museum with its excellent collection of Roman antiquities. The lapidarium in the basement is of particular interest and contains statues and mosaics from Savaria as well as ornaments from the church in Ják. On the top floor are extensive archaeological exhibitions and the natural history of the Szombathely region. Afterwards, be sure to visit the area around the Iseum , a reconstruction of the ancient Roman temple that once existed in the city.
Address: Kisfaludy Sándor utca 9, Szombathely, Vas 9700, Hungary
19 Koszeg and the Church of St. James
The most important historical building in Koszeg, 220 km west of Budapest, is the Church of St. James, built in late Gothic style in 1407 using the remains of a Romanesque Minorite church. The front and furnishings were redesigned in a baroque style in 1758, while the tower dates back to the 15th century. The interior of the three-aisled building is Gothic and the cornerstone of the groin cellar in front of the choir bears the coat of arms of the founder Miklós Garai. Along the south side of the chancel are niche seats with pointed arches, and a Gothic Madonna and infant Jesus above the tabernacle date from about 1500. Also Gothic are the murals on the end wall of the south aisle depicting the Magi, an outsized St. Christopher and a protective Madonna. The heart of the old town, the well-proportionedJurisics Square with the town hall, two churches and medieval mansions with characteristic enclosed facades is also worth a visit.
20 Nádasdy castle and museum in Sárvár
Built on the site of a 12th-century fortress, Nádasdy Castle is named after the wealthy family who owned it for centuries. It is designed in a pentagonal renaissance style. In Sárvár, about 200 km west of Budapest, the Renaissance tower has been preserved in its original style from 1598 and inside is an impressive palatial room with frescoed frescoes decorating the walls. The ceiling paintings depict the Nádasdys as commanders in the Turkish wars, and the walls depict scenes from the Old Testament. The allegorical paintings in the tower room are a continuation of the frescoes from the palatial room. Also of interest is the Ferenc Nádasdy Museum dedicated to the history of the family, regional folk art and the history of the city.
21 Kasteelwijk, Veszprém
The walled castle quarter of Veszprém, 120 km west of Budapest – known as Várnegyed by the locals – includes a number of historical sites worth visiting. A highlight is the Romanesque Revival Heroes’ Gate , erected in 1936 on the site of the former medieval gate, and home to a small museum of Várnegyed’s history. Another highlight is Gisela Chapel. Built in 1230, it served as a private chapel for the bishop, as well as the queens who lived here, and the small interior contains fine cross-vaulted vaults with original paintings and striking keystones. On the north wall, original frescoes depicting six apostles and ghostly floating figures suggesting Byzantine influence were exposed during restoration. Another highlight is St. Michael’s Cathedral , built on the foundations of a bishop’s church founded by King Stephen and first documented in 1001.
22 St. George’s Church in Ják
The village of Ják, 230 km west of Budapest, is a treat for those interested in art and church architecture. One of Hungary’s notable Romanesque churches, the impressive St. George’s Church has a history dating back to the early 1200s, and although extensively restored in the late 19th century, elements of the past can still be seen. Opposite the western front of the church, a plan map shows the small, two-story building St. James’ chapel built in 1260. The rounded decorations on the double windows of the upper floor complement the motifs on the windows of the abbey church and the relief on the tympanum above the south door shows the Ghent Altarpiece between two dragons.The interior of the chapel is Rococo and the altar from the mid-18th century is also striking.
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