Things to see and do in Hungary
Attractions in Hungary
Brace yourself for brandy at Kecskemét
En route to Szeged from Budapest, Kecskemét is an attractive town with several museums and a fine selection of art nouveau architecture. At the centre of Hungary's fruit growing region, the town is renowned for its many varieties of pálinka (fruit brandy). "In small amounts a medicine, in large amounts a remedy," the locals tend to slur.
Discover both halves of the capital
Explore Buda's elevated cobbled streets and take in the spectacular view of the Danube from the Fisherman's Bastion. In Pest, admire the Hungarian Parliament and Museum of Applied Arts, or unearth the treasures at the Hungarian National Museum. Fans of Socialist-era statuary should take a trip out to the suburbs to visit Memento Statue Park.
Explore a former European Capital of Culture, Pécs
Pécs, the fifth largest city in the country, is also home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and has many fine examples of architecture from the Ottoman period, most notably the 16th-century mosque of Gázi Kászim Pasha. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Early Christian Necropolis is also located here, alongside many fine examples of Habsburg period buildings.
Explore the architecture of Eger
Pay a visit to Eger in northern Hungary, one of the country's oldest and most colourful cities, which boasts around 200 historical monuments that include a castle, a 14-sided Ottoman minaret and a classically-finished basilica, complete with outstanding frecos, domed ceiling and mighty columned entrance.
Find fine fishing at the River Tisza
Fish in the River Tisza, regarded as one of Europe's premier angling spots. At points, wide and wild, it can seem like you have the whole river to yourself. Accommodation for anglers is readily available, and guides can be hired if required. Species such as carp, bream, pike, trout and tench are abundant.
Get to know glorious Györ
In the northwest of Hungary, close to the Slovakian and Austrian borders, Györ has cobbled pedestrian shopping streets and an attractive baroque city centre. Just an hour and a half by train from Budapest, the city makes for a pleasant day trip from the capital.
Hark back to Hungary's rural heritage at Hollókő
Travel back in time at Hollókő, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed ethnographic village. Spread over 145 hectares (358 acres), the settlement has been deliberately preserved as an example of life before the agricultural revolution. Northeast of Budapest, there is around 60 wattle and daub houses and the substantial remnants of a 13th-century castle.
Hike the heights of Hungary
Go hiking in Hungary's mountainous northeast region. The Zemplén, Bükk and Mátra ranges northeast of Budapest are popular for their stunning verdant landscapes, with the latter containing Hungary's highest peak, Kékes (1,014m/3,327ft). For easier terrain, head to the hills north and south of Lake Balaton.
Keep your hawk's eye peeled at Hortobágy National Park
Go birdwatching in Hortobágy National Park, a vast area of grassland in eastern Hungary. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1999, around 350 species have been spotted here, including storks, warblers, eagles, herons and rare great bustards. Motorised vehicles are not allowed in some parts of the park, while other parts require a guide.
Luxuriate in Budapest's beautiful baths
Relax at one of Budapest's thermal springs and medicinal baths, of which there are over 100 in the city. The elegant Gellért Baths, with a domed hall and frescoed ceilings, are the most famous. Other good options include the Király Medicinal Baths, which date from the Middle Ages; the historic Rudas Medicinal Baths; and Széchenyi Baths' splendid outdoor pools.
Ride the Great Plain on horseback
Take to the saddle and explore the Great Hungarian Plain. Head to Puszta, home to several stud farms and the infamous "Putszta Five" technique, where a single rider stands to gallop five horses simultaneously. Excursions along horse riding trails can be arranged through riding schools all over the country. Worry not: saddles are included.
Seek out Szeged for a spot of sunshine
Visit Hungary's sunniest city is the lively university town of Szeged. Straddling the Tisza River, this cultured city is home to many fine churches and a pleasant, pedestrianised cafe culture. Each summer, below the twin-towered Dóm tér, its main square transforms into a large open-air theatre.
Sink your teeth into Sopron
Head west to the delightful medieval cities of Sopron and Kőszeg. Sopron boasts 240 listed buildings, including the 12th-century Firewatch Tower, Storno House and the Gothic Goat Church, while Kőszeg's Jurisics tér contains a treasure-trove of baroque, renaissance and Gothic architecture. With over 300 clinics, Sopron is also the self-proclaimed 'dental capital of the world'.
Sip Hungary’s famous Bull's Blood wine
Spend time exploring the Szépasszony Valley vineyards, one of the country's numerous wine regions, where Hungary's famous Bikavér (Bull's Blood) wine can be sampled. Some of the country's very best reds can be found around Villány in the far south, whilst Miskolc in the northeast (part of the Tokaj region) is famous for its distinctive dessert wines.
Soak yourself healthy in Hévíz thermal lake
Soak away the stress in the large thermal lake at Hévíz near Lake Balaton. The soothing waters, which rarely drop below 23°C (73°F) in winter and 33°C (91°F) in summer, will certainly leave you feeling refreshed – some even consider them to have health-giving properties.
Stay outside for culture at Sóstói Open-Air Museum
Get a taste of the rural Hungary of old at the Open-Air Museum at Sóstói, a suburb of the city of Nyíregyháza in eastern Hungary. The architecture here preserves the rural traditions and culture of the region and the museum also holds several festivals each summer.
Take a beach break at Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton in Hungary's Transdanubian region is Central Europe's largest freshwater lake. Visit one of the resorts that surround the shores such as Siófok, popular with the young for its beaches and nightlife; or the more sedate market town of Keszthely, with its elegant Festetics Palace. Lake Balaton also has plentiful sandy beaches that bustle in summer.
Travel around the Danube Bend
Visit the historic towns along the Danube Bend. Szentendre is famous for its south European atmosphere, large artists' colony and numerous museums. Visegrád has a small castle and the remains of an early Renaissance palace. Esztergom is home to the impressive Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven and St Adalbert, Hungary's tallest building.
Hungarian National Tourist Office (HNTO) in the USAAddress: 447 Broadway, 5th floor, New York, 10013
Telephone: (212) 695 1221.
By appointment only.
Hungarian National Tourist Office (HNTO) in the UKAddress: 46 Eaton Place, London, SW1X 8AL
Telephone: (800) 3600 0000 (24-hour English-language free enquiry line).
By appointment only.