I spent about nine months in Hungary teaching English, and to this day, the country remains one of my favorite countries that I’ve traveled to. Too often, visitors only do a quick stop through Budapest on a tour of the rest of Eastern Europe, but although Budapest is an amazing city, there’s so much more to explore! Best of all, most of the cities and towns are connected along the country’s extensive rail network, making it easy to get out and see everything that this beautiful country has to offer. Here are some of my favorite places to visit:
Budapest is one of my favorite cities in the world. It feels all at once Western European…but not. From the delicious food to the low prices to the unique architecture, you’ll find plenty to love about it. As for sightseeing, you’ll have a full schedule while you’re there. I recommend heading up to the castle for the best views of the iconic Parliament building. Also check out Saint Matthias Church, Hero’s Square, and the House of Terror museum. And you definitely won’t want to forget the thermal spas as well!
There are plenty of festivals to visit, too, including the wine festival in the early Fall and the Christmas markets during the month of December. No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to have an incredible time. And in the evenings, if you’re looking for a good time out, you’re sure to find it at one of the city’s iconic ruin bars or beyond.
Not too far outside of Budapest, you’ll find the artsy town of Szentendre. Located along the banks of the River Danube, it’s a short and easy train ride over from Budapest, and if you have limited time in Hungary, it’s one of your best bets to see a charming Hungarian village. It can be especially great around Christmas time, when you’ll find a little Christmas market as well as plenty of galleries full of great paintings, carved wooden boxes, jewelry, and other handicrafts to gift to all your loved ones.
Pro tip: don’t forget to try langós, the famous Hungarian treat of deep-fried dough topped with sour cream and cheese. Szentendre is said to make one of the finest versions of this savory treat, and although it may sound like a heart attack waiting to happen, you’re sure to be delighted by the heavy concoction. Just maybe grab a couple friends to indulge with you!
This university town down in the southeastern part of the country is nearly as happening as Budapest, but with a somewhat more traditional feel to it. In fact, there are plenty of people who prefer Szeged to bustling Budapest. If you’re coming from Budapest, Szeged is only a few hours away by express train.
As with Budapest, there are plenty of festivals that you’ll want to take part in, the most famous of which is the summer Open-Air Festival, which brings theater to you at a low price. I also recommend visiting the Pick Salami and Szeged Paprika Museum to get a true taste of Hungary (pun intended!). But the town is also just fun to visit. As a university town, there’s always something going on, so definitely don’t hesitate to get out and explore.
You may not have known this, but Hungary is actually relatively famous for its wines, the best of which can be found in the small city of Eger. And Eger is a pretty enough city to walk around, with its castle and impressive basilica. But the real reason to visit Eger is to spend a day at the nearby caves and touring the wine cellars. The most famous wine from the region is Eger’s Bull’s Blood wine. But Eger also serves as a gateway to other parts of Hungary’s wine region, including Tokaj, which is famous for its sweet white wine.
Famous for its music festival, Lake Balaton is a popular place for Hungarians no matter what time of the year it is. Given that Hungary is a landlocked country, it’s one of the few places where you can really get out on a beach during the summer, and the little towns along the edge of the lake are picturesque and incredibly charming. There’s a ton of hiking in the area as well, and if you’d like to go camping or anything like that, this is definitely the place!
These are my favorite places to visit in Hungary, but of course this is just scratching the surface. Have you visited Hungary? What are your favorite places?