Thinking about visiting Hungary? Wondering what are the things to do in Hungary, because you wanna see beyond Budapest? You’re at the right place! Hungary is a wonderful country: the landscapes are breathtaking, the food is delicious and the thermal baths are relaxing. The nature lovers will like Hungary, there are many national parks. Icing on the cake, the cost of living is low there!
There’s an interesting mix of culture in Hungary. Indeed, the Romans, Ottomans, Mongols, Czechs and the Soviets have all been through Hungary and ruled the country at some point. Anyway let’s see what to do in Hungary, then I’m gonna list several Hungary travel tips.
Things to do in Hungary
We don’t even introduce Budapest anymore, the capital of Hungary. There are numerous things to do there: admire the Hungarian parliament, cross the chain bridge, or relax at the Szechenyi baths. It’s not surprising we call it the pearl of the Danube. I wrote a detailed article if you plan to visit Budapest.
Pecs is a multicultural city that you cannot miss! It was ruled by the Romans, the Christians but also the Ottomans. Unsurprisingly you’ll find cathedrals, synagogues and mosques there. The first university in Hungary was founded in Pecs in 1367. To this day there are still many students living there. Have a walk in the cobbled streets, admire the Pasha Qasim mosque, and enjoy the nightlife there!
Founded in the 10th century by king Saint Stephen, he built a cathedral on top of a hill, and the city grew around the cathedral and the king’s castle. Today, the city is known for its baroque buildings, its Turkish minaret (Torok Kori), but above all the Valley of the Women, which prodices a delicious red wine. Don’t forget to take some time to relax in one of the thermal baths of the city.
Second largest city of Hungary, Debrecen served as Hungary’s capital twice in the past. This city is considered an important cultural center. You’ll find there many museums, especially the Deri museum exhibiting Egyptian artifacts. Debrecen offers a real mix of history and culture and thanks to the numerous students living there, it’s a lively city. Don’t miss the cathedral, Kossuth square and if you go to Debrecen in the summer, you have to attend the Flower carnival, which takes places every year on August 20th.
Located 5 miles away from the Austrian border, Sopron is called the little Prague because of its resemblance with the Czech capital. Those who like history have to go to Sopron to admire its medieval buildings, its cobbled streets, and the influence of Celt, Roman, German and Slav cultures. Go to the Firewatch Tower, the town hall, and one of the numerous vineyards of the area.
The lake Balaton
The lake Balaton is the largest freshwater lake in Europe, and it’s called the Hungarian sea. The lake Balaton is very popular in the summer, there are numerous beach resorts around the lake, including Siofok if you want to party. Keszthely is another beautiful city around the lake. It’s possible to enjoy water sports, and also go wine tasting in the region.
Located in the eastern part of Hungary, not far from Hungary, Tokaj is literally heaven on earth for the wine lovers. Tokaj is the main town of the area which is home to 28 villages. In Tokaj, you’ll mostly find vineyards. Enjoy a wine tasting session and taste the local dishes and desserts. In spring, there’s a popular wine festival there.
Only 12 miles away from Budapest, Szentendre is the city of Hungarian artists. A not so popular city among tourists but very popular among locals. You’ll see there cobbled streets, museums, galleries, antique dealer stores and numerous coloful Baroque houses. Don’t miss the open-air ethnographic museum, exhibiting numerous Hungarian collections.
Visegrad comes from a Slavic language and means “high castle”. This city is mostly known for its royal palace in ruins. This is where king Matthias used to live in the summer. There’s also a medieval citadel. We learn a lot about the history of Hungary there, because the palace has its own museum. In Visegrad, you also hae to see the Solomon tower, which dates back to the 11th century. Get on top to have a nice view of the city.
In Heviz, you’ll find one of the largest thermal lakes in the world. According to the locals, bathing in lake Heviz can heal he body, and it has restorative properties. Located close to the lake Balaton, Heviz is known for its numerous spas but also its mud baths. There’s a farmer’s market to buy fresh products, an aquarium, gardens and hiking trails. Moreover there are few tourists there. Don’t miss it!
Aggtelek National Park
Located in the northern part of Hungary, you’ll find in this park the Baradla cave, one of the largest stalactite caves in the world. Some parts are open to the tourists, others are closed. There are guided tours there and it’s even possible to listen to a concert in the cave! Those who like fauna and flora, and the spelunkers have to see this park!
Esztergom is located in the north of Hungary, and it was the capital of the country from the 10th to the 13th century. You’ll find there the Esztergom basilica, the largest church of the country. Its museum has an impressive collection of Christian relics. There are also charming narrow streets, a castle you have to see and the Watertown area, where the influence of the Ottomans is still present.
Tihany is located next to the lake Balaton, and it’s a historical city of Hungary. Tihany is mostly known fot its abbey which was established in 1055 and still functioning to this day! There are almost no cars there, so having a walk there is really enjoyable. Avoid getting there in the summer because it’s crowded at this time of the year.
People mostly go to Holloko to admire its peculiar architecture. It’s a Paloc village, but the Mongols and the Ottomans came here in the past, which explains the mix of styles regarding architecture. Since 1987, this village is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Go there to see its castle, the museum of the village and St. Martin church. Around Easter every year, there’s a ritual where men throw buckets of water on women.
Hortobagy national park
Located on the eastern part of the country, Hortobagy national park is Hungary’s first national park, it opened in 1973. You can admire wonderful sunsets there but people mostly go there to watch the wild horses. There are also oxen, water buffalos, cowboys and more than 300 species of birds. Don’t miss the Nine Arch bridge and the folk art museum!
Third largest city in Hungary, Szeged is known for the numerous students living there, the parks and the cafés. There are also many thermal baths in Szeged and festivals all year round. Admire the university, one of the oldest of the country and the churches for their beautiful and unique inside design.
These were the places to visit in Hungary! Now here are a few Hungary travel tips!
- Accommodation is not expensive in Hungary. A night in a hostel dorm will cost around 3200HUF ($10) per night. A night in a budget hotel costs around 10,000HUF ($32) per night. If you want to stay in a mid-range or luxury hotel, the prices start at 15,000HUF ($48) per night.
- Food is not expensive either. A dish at the restaurant costs around 2,000HUF ($6.50). For a multi-course meal, you’ll pay around 5,000HUF ($16). Fast food costs around 1,5000HUF ($5). Beer costs about 500HUF ($1.50).
- Regarding transportation, you’ll pay around 350HUF ($1) for a one-ride bus/tram/subway ticket. An intercity train ride costs between 2,000 and 4,000HUF ($6.50 and $13), depending on the trip. Same for the bus. Renting a car costs around 6,500HUF ($21) per day.
- Regarding activities, it varies a lot. Going to thermal baths costs around 5,500HUF ($17.50). Going to the museum costs betwee, 1,500 and 3,000HUF ($5 and $10).
Basically, if you’re traveling on a budget, you can get by with 30 euros per day. Otherwise you’ll spend about 75+ euros per day.
How to get around in Hungary
In the big cities there’s public transportation. Otherwise for intercity trips, the train network goes all over the country. The trains are not fast but efficient. There’s also the bus, Volanbusz is the main bus company in the country. You can also rent a car or try hitchhiking.
Best time to visit Hungary
Most people go to Hungary between June and August. Temperatures are high (25-30°C/77-86°F) and there are many events and festivals. However prices are higher during this time of the year. Winter can be hard, temperatures hover around 0°C/32°F but there are Christmas markets at the end of the year. Ideally you should go to Hungary in May or September. The weather is nice and the prices are not too high.
Visa policy of Hungary
If you’re an European citizen or coming from a Western country, you don’t need a visa to get to Hungary. You can find all the details here.
Safety in Hungary
Hungary is not a dangerous country. However in the tourist areas of Budapest, watch out for pickpockets and scams targeting tourists. Here’s a list of common travel scams. Keep an eye open on your belongings if you take the bus or a night train. Only bring enough cash for the night if you’re heading to the bar.
If you rent a car, don’t leave your valuables in it, unattended. You never know. Finally, you need to know the LGBT community is not always welcomed… Generally speaking, always trust your instinct. And don’t forget to get travel insurance. It will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. Click here to get one.
Packing list for Hungary
I’m not gonna list all the things to pack for Hungary. I don’t know how long you’re gonna stay there, where you’re going in Hungary, what you’re going to do and when you’ll visit. Take all the necessary clothes, toiletries, and also:
- hand sanitizer
- combination locks
- a money belt
- a security cable lock
- a travel plug adapter
- a stainless steel water bottle
- a lifestraw (a water bottle with a purifier)
- a menstrual cup (for the ladies)
Here’s a full list of travel accessories, which can be useful!
What to eat in Hungary
Hungarian dishes are quite heavy. People eat a lot of meat and potatoes there, stew and dumplings. There’s of course the goulash, a soup with bell pepper, onions, beans and paprika. There’s also the halaszle, a hot and spicy fish soup with paprika. Try the libamaj (a foie gras Hungarian style), the paprikascsirke (chicken with paprika) or the fruit pastries.
That’s it! You have all the information needed to travel to Hungary! Everything will go smoothly thanks to this guide!
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