Top ten places to visit in Hungary
Top 10 places to visit in Hungary. You can imagine how much I love this country.
So let’s see the list. To choose 10 places out of the hundreds is indeed a tough task, but don’t take it too seriously, people differ by taste, one like this, other likes that, but we try to list the very best options:
1. Budapest – Top 10 places to visit in Hungary
Budapest is an extremely popular tourist target, it was a 25th most popular city in the whole World two years ago, with 4.3 Million tourists per year. Last year there were 2 million tourists in the first 4 months.
Several huge project is on their way in Budapest, such as the new museum district, the Buda castle bazaar, the Racz baths, the target can be for Budapest to be in the top 20 cities in the world. Why is Budapest so popular ? Lots of history, cheap (compare to the competition) and good quality food and drink, beautiful natural surrounding, safe, friendly, romantic, thermal water in abundant measures.
General opinion on Foreign forums that Hungarians are very friendly and helpful with tourists and speaks better in English than in other countries in this region. Main attractions: Danube panorama which is a World Heritage site, three Turkish spas, one of the biggest Parliament building as well as the biggest spa in Europe, 90 museums, Margaret island, Buda Castle District on a hill – also listed among the World Heritage sites, Buda hills, Opera House, Synagogue, City park with the Vajdahunyad Castle, Heroes Square, Millennium Underground, Central Market Hall, caves, islands. You can find more detailed information about Budapest here: aboutbudapest.net
2. Lake Balaton cities ( Siofok, Tihany, Keszthely, Balatonfüred, Fonyod, Zamardi and many others)
The Lake Balaton is an interesting place. First the Holiday season in July – August, this is the time most people come to have a holiday. If we lucky end of June can be warm enough as well. Sometimes very hard to find any accomodation in main season if we don’t book in advance, even for Hungarians who knows the secrets of finding places in the last minutes.
Even the places not next to Lake can be full. For young people the Lake Balaton can be a strange place, because it is not packed with newest glass buildings, but more of like a green resort area from the 80’s. No petrol driven engine allowed to use on the Lake, the water of the Lake is a drinking quality. You can find anything (main attractions, things to do and see, natural values, hotels, best restaurants, beaches, wineries, thermal spas, shopping, wildlife, castles, settlements) about Lake Balaton at above link.
Here the nature is in harmony with people. Unlike lakes of Austria or Switzerland, the Balaton is a quite shallow lake, the average depth is 3m. The area of the Lake is almost 600 km2. The South shore is usually very shallow and has continuous line of beaches all along the shore, it is good for small kids and because in summer it is easily can get warm.
The North shore is more wild, no beaches everywhere, and there are some hills there as well. The upland area is part of the National Park because it has unique natural and landscape values.
Tihany is a very nice picturesque place at the shore of Balaton with lots of natural beauties and Historical buildings. Vulcanic structures, beautiful forests, a 1000 year old monastery, nice vineyards can be seen here at the peninsula.
It is recommended to be visited mostly in summertime. Other attractive places in Lake Balaton: Balatonfured, Keszthely, Fonyod, Badacsony, Szigliget, Siofok.
See more about Balaton here:Lake Balaton
3. Thermal baths – The most popular locations are : Heviz, Hajduszoboszlo, Bük, Zalakaros, Sarvar, Gyula
The picture shows the Miskolctapolca cave bath.
Most tourist go for thermal baths in Hungary, I mean Hungarian tourists, people from abroad mostly visit Budapest first. There are approximately 200 thermal water baths in Hungary. The majority of them are located in smaller towns in beautiful natural surrounding. There are several in Budapest as well. You can check them in detail ( No of pools locations, slides ) in the Main menu Spas in Hungary tab.
a unique hot water lake can be found.
Heviz is one of the most known city of Hungary, located not far from Lake Balaton. It has a unique termal lake rich in minerals, its temperature varies among 24 – 38 C making it ideal for winter bathing as well. The 410 liter/second water production enables the thermal water to be changed completely in every 3 days. The city itself is quite clean and organized. Several wellness hotels can be found here. See more about Heviz here
is located in East Hungary. In Hajduszoboszlo the biggest Spa complex can be found in Europe. There is an adventure bath, open bath, thermal bath, medical bath here. Otherwise Hajduszoboszlo is a smaller, enjoyable city, near the Hortobagy National Park area. Hajduszoboszlo is one of the top target for local tourists.
Admittedly it is one of the most beautiful places in Hungary. Lillafured is quite a small settlement, actually to small to be considered a town. It is near Miskolc, in the Northern part of Hungary. Beautiful hills, lake, caves, waterfalls, rivers, forests can be found here with a 4* Castle hotel. In fact the Anna stalactite cave is just below the Hotel Palace. The cave entrance is from the garden of the Hotel.Lillafured
5. Sopron – Top 10 places to visit in Hungary
Sopron is a middle sized city in the North West part of Hungary, not far from Lake Ferto (the Lake is situated in both Hungary and Austria) which is a World Heritage Site. It is a beautiful city packed with Museums, Cultural and Natural values. It also has very good restaurants. One can easily spend a pleasant week here. See more about Sopron here: Sopron
6. Eger – Top 10 places to visit in Hungary
Eger is a historical city with famous wine cellars in the Northern hills. Eger has a renown Stronghold where the small Hungarian army stopped the huge Turkish invaders back in the 16th century. It is not a crowded city, has a nice spa and lots of Museums. You have to try the delicious home cooked bakery, “retes” if you come here. Another romantic place worth visiting in the area is Szilvasvarad, just 30 km away from Eger: a lovely little village in the valley of Bukk National Park. read more about Eger here
7. Pecs – Top ten places to visit in Hungary
Pecs is a little bit mediterranean city and has numerous Turkish memorials due to the 150-year Turkish Rule in Hungary. It is situated in the Mecsek hills in the Southern part of Hungary with significant historical and cultural values along with a zoo on the hill. It was chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2010. Its ancient Christian tombs are a World Heritage site. Pecs Hungary
8. Visegrád and the Danube Bend (other popular cities within easy reach of Budapest are Szentendre and Esztergom)
Many Hungarian kings chose this area as his royal residence. There is a beautiful view from its 333 m high Castle over the Danube river. Though it is a small settlement it has lots of historical values. Simultaneously it has beautiful forests and waterfalls nearby.
See more about Visegrad here: Visegrad
9. Gyor – Top ten places to visit in Hungary
Gyor is a city of waters in the northwest part of the country. Several rivers meet here: the Danube, the Raab and the so called Mosoni Danube. It is also a city of students as it has a university. Nice bridges, great thermal bath and a pleasant city can be found here. It appears that everything is in good balance. I would recommend it to all as it is a very attractive place to visit.
10. Szeged – Top ten places to visit in Hungary
Szeged is a quiet, peaceful city next to River Tisza. The city was flooded and mostly destructed in the 19th century. In the reconstruction the Grand Avenues of the City were named after those cities which had helped in the reconstruction of Szeged. So the parts of the Grand Avenue are called: Berlin, Brussels, London, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Temesvar, Vienna avenues. Szeged is famous for the high quality kayak and canoe courses and its plenty of interesting lakes where thousands of cranes gather in Autumn. The inner city is very nice and the Outdoor Theater has performances during the summer. Szeged has a Pick Salami and the famous Paprika Museum. See more about Szeged here
If I can give one extra cities it would be
See the article about Tokaj here:Tokaj
If it is too complicated I can simplify to eight spots, where to spend a longer holiday
A car would be nice to have for a longer holiday, otherwise it can be little complicated to get out the most from each destinations.
So the locations and what is nearby:
1. Budapest and the Danube bend – Visegrad, Esztergom, Szentendre
2. Lake Balaton Heviz, Tihany, Zalakaros, Siofok, Balatonfured, Zamardi
3. Pecs and the South Transdanubia and the Mecsek hills, Harkany spa, Abaliget cave, lake Orfu and other lakes
4. West Hungary Sopron, Buk, Hegyko, Koszeg, Lake Ferto, Sarvar spa and Castle, Orseg area
5. Eger and the Northern hills, Aggtelek cave, Lillafured, Tokaj, Miskolctapolca cave spa, Matra hills, Egerszalok spa, Boldogko, Fuzer
6. East Hungary – Hajduszoboszlo, Debrecen, Lake Tisza, Hortobagy, Berekfurdo
7. Szeged Gyula spa and Castle Southeast Hungary, Morahalom spa
See also abouthungary.net – Spas in Hungary Here is a map about the Spas in Hungary, and several destinations in the sub-menus, where there is a Spa
See also abouthungary.net – Where to go in Hungary Here can be seen several destinations in the sub-menus
Top ten places where there is a spa:
In 2013 44 million people visits Hungary, out of which 97% coming from Europan countries. 76% of the visitors come for one day (33 million), 24% for more days(11 million). 85% of the longer visits have exclusively touristic reasons. The number of days of longer visits grows by 3.1% compare to the previous year. The most popular places according to 2013 official statistics:
A. Among foreign tourists
B. Among local tourists
To Sum it up 1. Budapest 2. Balaton (Heviz, Siofok, Balatonfured) 3. Spa cities (Hajduszoboszlo, Heviz, Buk, Sarvar, Zalakaros, Gyula) 4. Other cities (Eger, Sopron, Gyor although there is a Spa in Eger and Gyor as well, but the tourists not go there primarily for the thermal water).
Unesco World Heritage sites in Hungary
8 Unesco World Heritage sites can be found in Hungary, as you can see below. By clicking on the picture you can read the article about the specific site. The Budapest article can be found on another website, the aboutbudapest.net which is all about Budapest (informations, tourist targets, shopping, sports, museums, what to do, where to go, and more). Some of the articles about heritage sites are under process, I hope they will be included soon.
The Hortobagy plains located near Debrecen, Hajduszoboszlo area. In South Berekfurdo borders the vast 80,000 hectare grassland. Apart from grasslands, there are several fishing lakes and marshes here as well with abundant wildlife.
Around 250 bird species recorded here, and I guess more than hundred breeding here, like Red-footed falcons, Rollers, Bee-eaters, Pygmy cormorants, White tailed eagles and many more. In Autumn Spring period tens of thousands of Grues spend the winter here in the shallow fishing ponds.
The Archabbey story is started in 996 when Geza settled Czech monks on the small hill of Northern Transdanubia. I Stephen (970-98 BC – 1038 AD) who started to built Hungary, and introduced Christianity also visited the place several times.
Apart from the clerical buildings there is a botanical garden and a winery there as well.
Location: Pannonhalma, Vár 1, 9090
Telephone: (96) 570 100
Tokaj wine growing area
Tokaj is located in the North-east part of Hungary. It is most famous about it’s sweet dessert wine called Tokaji Aszu. The area is not huge where it is possible to produce this special drink. The special humid microclimate of the region helps the noble rot to develop this grape, which is unique in the whole world, nowhere apart from Hungary (and some neighboring areas of Slovakia) can this wine be produced.
Tokaj is not just attractive about the dessert wine though. The River Tisza, Hungary’s second biggest river joins the picturesque river Bodrog next to the city. Bodrog river is one of the most popular place for river cruises. Both rivers goes through or next to the city. In the river Tisza there is a sandy beach at Tokaj, which is quite pleasant with restaurants and other services in sunny weather.
We spoke a little bit about Budapest in the beginning of the article. Budapest is the center of the country and by far the most people live here. Around 1.7 million people live here constantly, 2.5 million with the commuters (only works in the city, or moving in and out). Budapest is loved by many things: the beautiful romantic Danube panorama is certainly one of them. Many people mention the Architecture of the city, many interesting Buildings in different styles, the Castle district with the National Gallery, the Mathias church and the Fishermen’s bastion, the St Stephen cathedral, the Parliament, the Opera, the Szechenyi baths, the West railway station designed by August de Serres and Gustave Eiffel and many new buildings as well.
Budapest is formed in 1873 by joining the hilly Buda and the plain Pest. The Danube separates the two parts of the city. There is a city in between as well, even many people live there. Where ? Budapest has many island in the Danube, the four most known are the Obudai Sziget (Sziget festival in August, Europe’s most popular festival), the Margaret island, the Csepel island and the Szentendre island. The Obuda island is one of the smallest, the size of the island is about 1km2, the Margaret island is a popular park, recreation area, with a 5.35 km jogging lane around. The Csepel and the Obuda island is the two biggest with an area of 257 and 56 km2 respectively. You may wonder how these two islands can have a place in the 525 km2 area of Budapest, or more specifically in the Danube ? Both these islands just partly belongs to Budapest, one is at South the other is at North. There are several other settlements on these islands apart from the Budapest area.
Budapest also has many caves the Palvolgyi and the Szemlohegyi caves are the two biggest with several km under the city. Both have a paved lighted visitor area of 400m. For adventure seekers there are more adrenaline-calling cave tours as well without lighting or pavement.
The Aggtelek caves can be found in the Northern part of the country. Aggtelek is a very small settlement (with around 600 inhabitants ) famous about it’caves. There are many very long caves in this Karts region. The most known and visited is the Baradla cave, which has three estabished entrance by the National park (Aggtelek, Vorosto and Josvafo). It is a stalactite cave with huge formations formed by Millions of years. There are different tours are available the longest is app 10km. The cave has a very good acoustic so sometimes classical music is heared here as well.
Apart from the cave the area has an abundant wildlife sometimes bears and wolves appearing, besided imperial eagles, but not in the cave but in the abandoned areas next to the Slovakian border. There are some nice lakes as well in this part of the country.
Lake Ferto/Neusiedler see
Lake Ferto is located in the Northwest part of the country just next to Austria. The Lake’s bigger area now belongs to Austria. This is a shallow Steppe lake, the one is located in the most Westwards. The area of the Lake is around 309 km2. There are many different datas hovering about it, I think it is the most correct although I not measured myself. The Lake is mostly interesting about it’s nature and wildlife, as it is mostly covered by reeds. On the Austrian side there are more beaches though. Huge space, which is very nice, clean air, and lots of birds. Not everywhere it is possible to reach the water though. In the area the finest Baroque castle of Eszterhazy family the Fertod Castle can be found. There are many more Eszterhazy Castle in Hungary and Austria as well. There is a popular thermal bath in Bukfurdo and Hegyko. Sopron is the city in the region I recommend to visit. It is a very nice place.
The National Park has several locations in the region both in Hungary and Austria as well. One of them in Sarrod near Fertod.
Pecs ancient Critian tombs
Pecs is a little mediterranean little Turkish city in South Transdanubia. It is one of a bigger city in Hungary with it’s 150-170,000 inhabitants. Pecs is located in the Mecsek hills region which is a very nice place. Pecs has a zoo in the Misina hill in the city, and it has a viewpoint as well. There are several very nice lakes here (for example in Orfu) as well in this region. Pecs has the most Turkish heritage sites in Hungary. There is a former Mosque here, and a remains of the former Turkish bath. Pecs also famous about it’s unique Zsolnay porcelain. The Zsolnay well is a must see in the city center which made from this unique Eozin material, and several buildings in Budapest as well, for example the Roof (tiling) of the Museum of Applied arts. In Pecs there are several very nice museums which worth to look at for example the Museum of Csontvary Kosztka Tivadar a very famous Hungarian painter and Victor Vasarely who was born in Pecs and later migrated to France. He is making very interesting paintings of geometrical forms, called op-art.
Holloko old village
Holloko is a small village and the only Unesco World Heritage site of it’s kind. Holloko is located in the Northern hills in Hungary. Holloko is famous about the traditional old Houses of the older part of the village, in Kossuth and Petofi streets. It is a Unesco site because the village kepth the lifestyle of the 17-18th century very well. It is a one main road type village, there is a one main road and the streets are starting from that road. There is a small Castle at the end of the village as well. The biggest event is the Eastern here when traditinally boys pour buckets of water on girls for fun in the morning. (More fun for the boys I think)
Top ten places for nature lovers in Hungary
Despite no huge mountains here, Hungary is incredible rich in natural values. There are many beautiful places here with plentiful wildlife.
1. Hortobagy plains
The Hortobagy plains is a huge plain area in Hungary, belongs to the Hortobagy National park, established in 1973. The area is app. 80,000 hectare. There are some fishing lakes at the area, where many rare species can be found, mostly birds. There are hardly any average sized settlements there, only small villages, and the center is a small place also called Hortobagy. There is a visitor center here for tourists, a unique bird hospital, a pastoral museum, wildlife park, fair in the city, and several other attractions mainly for tourists. There are also huge fishing lakes there for plentiful wildlife. There is a small train as well goes along the shore. There are many birdwatching towers along the Lake shore. Once a year they drain off the water from the Lakes, as there are several of them there.
2. Lake Tisza
It is not really one Lake, but more lakes, channels, the main riverbed, backwaters, islands together. The total area of the water covered surface is 127 km2.
The best place to start is an organized canoe tour, which starts at Poroszlo, or Tiszafüred Tiszaörvény. During the tour, it is possible to see the different locations, and plentiful wildlife of the man made reservoir. read more about Lake Tisza here
3. Salty lakes of Kiskunsag area
The Kiskunsag area can be found between the River Tisza and River Danube. It is mostly sand covered area. The shallow salty lakes, and sand dunes has many rare birds, and other animals as well but in hot summers sometimes the lakes get dry. Most of the area belongs to Kiskunsag National Park.read more about Kiskunsag here
4. Gemenc forest
The forest has unique wildlife with lots of rare species, like White tailed eagles, Black storks, Wild cats and many others. A train goes through the forests, but for wildlife photographers needs to look elsewhere for beautiful images. There are fantastic places are there, including islands, wooden houses on the water, beautiful backwaters.
5. Forests of Somogy county
The Somogy county can be found under the Lake Balaton till the country border. Most of the area covered with dense forests. There are many interesting places there with abundant wildlife.
6. Forests of Bakony hills
The Bakony hills can be found in the Middle of Transdanubia, North from Lake Balaton. The most interesting areas can be found in Csesznek, Fenyofo, Bakonybel area. Lots of wildlife there in the green environment. The valley of Cuha spring is beautiful here, a small train also goes there.
7. River Bodrog
8. River Drava
The River Drava is the border river at South between Hungary and Croatia. This is a dangerous river, only can use a boat with a special permits, which needs to apply for in advance. Next to the river huge forests can be found, with abundant wildlife.
It is a real nature here once we went in the forest and almost cannot get out of it. The forest along the river is quite long.
9. Northern hills
The Northern hills has relatively huge area in Hungary, started the North Middle part of Transdanubia till the Eastern part of the country. The most abandoned places are in the Eastern region.
10. Lake Ferto
The Lake Ferto can be found at the Austrian border. In fact majority of the Lake’s area now at the Austrian area. The Lake Ferto area is a Unesco World Heritage site. The area has a very nice atmosphere, and the shallow lake and the neighboring areas has an abundant wildlife.
Biggest cities in Hungary / Main cities in Hungary
These are the biggest cities in Hungary but not necessary the ones that attract most tourists.
Budapest has 1.7 million inhabitants. About Budapest I listed the information at the top of this page regarding tourist points of interest. It is a romantic city with great food, if you want it can be cheap, but if you don’t care can be very expensive as well.
Debrecen has little bit more than 200,000 inhabitants. Debrecen is also called the Calvinist Rome. In size Debrecen is a lot smaller than Budapest, this is especially noticeable in night life. The streets gets empty around 9 pm if there is no festival there. Debrecen is situated in the Great Plain at East part of Hungary, near the Hortobagy plains. Debrecen is close to Hajduszoboszlo, where you can find the biggest bath complex in Europe. There is a bath in Debrecen as well, called Mediterranean bath. The bath is in the “Big forest” area of Debrecen. Here there is a new modern Soccer stadion and a Zoo as well. Debrencen is a university town with more faculties. Debrecen is situated in a completely plain area. The main event is the Flower carneval here, usually around 20th of August, where they put millions of flowers on carriages. Theses carriages after going on the Main street of the city.
Miskolc was a traditional city of heavy industry (not anymore). Miskolc can be found in the Northern hills area of Hungary. Miskolc not the most attracting place in Hungary regarding tourism but there are some top targets around like Lillafured and Miskolctapolca. The inner city of Miskolc which is recommended to visit is relatively small compare to the city size. There is a huge Castle also there, and a Zoo just in front of Lillafured in natural environment. In Miskolctapolca a unique cave spa can be found. In Aggtelek one of Europe’s biggest cave system can be found, a Unesco World Heritage site see above in detail. Miskolc landscape is dominated with socialist block houses and beautiful surrounding hills area.
Miskolc and Szeged perhaps can be in other direction regarding population size, which is bigger at the moment.
Miskolc has around 160,000 inhabitants
Szeged can be found in South, just next to River Tisza, the second biggest river in Hungary. The river Tisza is crosses the City. Szeged is famous about it’s paprika, which is a trademark of the Hungarian cuisine. In the last century the river flooded almost all Szeged. Szeged also has a new Thermal baths, and a very nice international Kayak Canoe track. In Hungary the number of sunshiny hours here is the highest. North from Szeged interesting fishing lakes can be found with plentiful wildlife. Szeged is also a university town, with a nice botanical garden, and one of the best zoo in Hungary. The inner city is also quite enjoyable with nice huge trees and beautiful buildings. Szeged also has around 160,000 inhabitants.
Pécs has around 150,000 inhabitants. Pecs is situated in the South part of the Western part of the country in the Mecsek hills area. Pecs is a little mediterranean city of Hungary. The most Turkish heritage can be found in Pecs with lots of Museums, and a unique Unesco World Heritage site of Ancient christian Tombs. There are lots of very nice natural areas around Pecs, several lakes and caves, nice forests and hills.
Győr has around 120,000 inhabitants. Gyor has a nice Thermal baths, a nice city center, and University district. Several rivers joins in Gyor. The famous Audi car factory is also can be found here. All Audi engines produced here.
Nyíregyháza is located at East Hungary, South from Tokaj, not so far from Debrecen. A Nice Themal bath and a nice Zoo can be found here. Nyíregyháza has around 120,000 inhabitants.
Kecskemét has 112,000 inhabitants, and can be found in the Kiskunsag sandy area between Hungary’s two biggest rivers. In Kecskemet a photography museum can be found, a newly built spa, and the new Mercedes factory is also built here. Kecskemet is relatively close to Budapest app 60km is South-East direction.
Székesfehérvár has around 100,000 inhabitants. Szekesfehervar is located on the way between Lake Velence and the Lake Balaton in Southwest direction from Budapest. The distance between Budapest and Szekesfehervar is 70 km. In the past Kings was crowned here. Szekesfehervar has lots of museums, a unique Castle made by an Architect and Scultor Jeno Bory, several nice buildings, a village museum.
Szombathely has around 78,000 inhabitants. Szombathely is most famous about it’s Roman era Ruins. Szombathely was called Savaria at that times. Szombathely is located near to the Austrian border. Szombathely has a very nice botanical garden called Kamon arboretum on the Gyongyos spring.