The Must-see Cities in HungaryRuss Bily
The attractiveness of Hungary concerning tourism and recreation cannot be overestimated.
The geographical position and climate of this country, its history, as well as the mentality of its inhabitants attract many tourists from all over the world.
Hungary is one of the most ancient countries in Europe. It is a resort country, famous for its hot thermal waters. Hungary is located in a temperate climate zone and therefore trips to this beautiful country can be made throughout the year. Budapest is considered the international capital of therapeutic bathing. So visiting a thermal bath in Hungary is a must for every traveler. Moreover, the Balaton lake is one of the largest lakes in Europe, while Heviz is the most significant thermal lake in Europe.
Hungarians are very careful about their history and culture. They respect their national heroes, kings, politicians, and artists. Many streets, squares, and cathedrals are named after the heroes of Hungary. Even in the ruins of ancient temples, castles, and fortresses, museums are organized, festivals, concerts, and theater performances are held.
In this article, I’m going to show you the best cities in Hungary, the country of rich history, beautiful nature and relax.
The capital and the largest city of Hungary is recognized as the most visited place. Divided into two parts by the Danube River, Budapest includes seven river islands, the largest of which is Margaret Island or Margitsziget, famous for its health resorts.
In my article “Best Things to Do in Budapest in 3 Days”, I gave some tips on where to go and what to see in the capital of Hungary. So if you are interested in Buda and Pest and its famous and exciting places, please visit my blog for the detailed information.
I have already written that Budapest is one of the most beautiful European capitals. What is worth a visit? There are a lot of sights, such as Buda Castle, recognized as a world heritage site, where you can fully feel the medieval atmosphere and dive deep into Budapest’s history.
Go from the Buda Castle to the underground Castle Labyrinth, then to the Museum of Music History, the Museum of Telephony, and then to the Fisherman’s Bastion, a neo-Gothic terrace that looks like a structure taken straight out of a fairytale. Visit the Royal Palace, a home to the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum, as well as a considerable number of various cathedrals and churches. You’ll find there’s almost no end to what you can learn about Budapest’s past.
In the evening, take a river cruise or walk along the beautiful bridges over the Danube, visit ancient city quarters, and wonder the most massive parliament building in Europe. You will also be charmed by its most famous and beautiful Chain Bridge, especially when it is all lit up.
As the most beautiful view of Budapest opens from Gellert Hill, plan your time to visit this truly mystical place. Here is the Citadel, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Besides fantastic views over the Danube, here you can also visit the Philosophical Garden, a quiet and cozy place.
Everyone knows that Budapest is famous for its thermal waters. There are almost 70 springs, located either in ancient palaces or among unscrupulous landscapes. The most popular bathhouses are Gellert and Széchenyi. Equally popular in Budapest are the restaurants, where you will be served the dishes of national cuisine with incredible taste, such as paprika or goulash in combination with local wine.
By the way, the best shopping in Hungary is in Budapest, mainly on Grand Boulevard. In my article “Shopping in Poland and Hungary. What to bring as a souvenir?”, find out the best places to go shopping in Hungary for yourself.
Related: Travel from Vienna to Budapest
If you are planning to stay in Budapest for a few days, be sure to take the opportunity and visit Gödöllő, which can be reached in just 20 minutes by taking the train on the Pest side. Until the 1830s, Gödöllö was a small settlement, until Earl Antal Grassalkovich intended to build a magnificent palace here. As a result of the construction work, which lasted more than 25 years, one of the most beautiful buildings in the country was erected, a masterpiece of the Hungarian Baroque.
The palace is known for the fact that for a long time it was the official residence of members of the imperial court of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Empress Elizabeth called Sisi, who was beloved by the Hungarians, loved to spend time here.
In addition to the magnificent Gödöllö Palace, it is also famous for its large creative workshop, founded here in the early 20th century. Its members were engaged in painting, sculpture, graphics, illustrated books, painted frescoes, created works of art from colored glass. Unusual works of artists of the workshop can be seen in the City Museum in Gödöllö.
By the way, every year, this city attracts many fans of Formula 1, because there is one of the stages of this most prestigious ring racing championship – “The Great Prize of Hungary.”
Another most significant spa town in Hungary is Eger. It is located in the northern part of the country, at the foot of the Bükk mountain range. Picturesque surroundings, beautifully preserved historic buildings and a quiet atmosphere makes Eger one of the most beautiful and cozy Hungarian cities.
An invaluable contribution to the development of the balneological culture of Eger was made by the Turks who came here in the 16th century. They built a lot of baths here, many of which function even today, combining the best traditions of European spa resorts with an oriental flavor. In addition to recreation, Eger can offer its guests an impressive cultural program.
One of its most important attractions is the fortress of the 12th century, which became part of the country’s history. A perfectly preserved system of underground casemates attracts travelers more than other places of the fortress. There is a museum of tortures with original medieval exhibits, watching which the blood becomes cold in veins.
Eger is also famous for its perfect wine cellars. Because of its climate and surroundings, a great red wine “Egri Bikavér,” whose name translates as “Eger bovine blood,” is made here.
In my article “The Best Way to Travel Between Prague, Budapest, and Vienna,” I recommended visiting Győr, the Hungarian city of rivers, on your way.
It is worth a visit as it’s the largest city in the Western Transdanubian region. Due to its position, on the confluence of three rivers, Danube, Rába, and Rábca, it’s rich in thermal waters.
Györ’s business card is a set of beautiful closed balconies adorning its buildings. The heart of the city and its most ancient part is Káptalan Hill. There are many old city attractions and a cozy atmosphere.
It is necessary to look in any of the museums of the city, as their collections store a lot of valuable and unusual objects of art. For example, you can visit City Art Museum, Xantus Museum, and Diocesan Treasury, the richest in Hungary, where you can see many masterpieces of church art.
You can also look at Bishops Castle and Episcopal Palace that crown Káptalan Hill. Visit Basicila of Győr, Carmelite Church, and Benedictine Church. The City Hall is worth visiting as well, especially at night, as this beautiful Neoclassical building is lit up in gold lights.
Also, therapeutic thermal waters attract people all over the world. The Rába-Quelle Bath creates excellent opportunities for an active holiday, recovery and relaxation.
The most patriotic Hungarians live in the Western Transdanubian Sopron, near the Austrian border. Its symbol is the high Fire Tower, known for its gates with bas-relief sculptures. The history of this tower is the following: after the First World War, when reviewing the borders, the residents of Sopron had the opportunity to decide whether they want to be a part of Austria or Hungary. The townspeople voted in favor of Hungary.
The center of Sopron fascinates with its beauty and fantastic atmosphere. Its low two- and three-story houses seem to have descended from the pages of fairy tales. The roofs are covered with cozy tiles in warm tones, with small balconies full of flowers. In some places, there are ground floors with windows in the form of arches.
It is often said that Sopron is a city-museum and a city of museums. Indeed, here almost every house is an architectural monument. For example, in the House of Fabricius, you can see the furniture reflecting the tastes of the bourgeois estate of the XVII-XVIII centuries. Elegant Baroque House of Storno received its name in honor of the dynasty of collectors who owned it. Here you can find the most precious collection of antiquities collected by the representatives of this family. Beautiful furnishings and apothecary rarities are collected in the Pharmacy House.
Like almost every city in Hungary, Sopron is famous for its wine called “Pinot Franc,” which can be tasted in one of the many wine cellars of the city.
Settled among the hills, Veszprém was founded the legendary Hungarian King Istvan I (Stephen I). The city is famous for the coronations of Hungarian queens in the magnificent building of St. Michael’s Cathedral.
The most exciting area of Veszprém is the unique Castle Hill. Everything here is preserved in the same form as many centuries ago: the houses of wealthy citizens, the Baroque building of the Episcopal Palace, the ancient chapel of Queen Gisella, and so on.
Veszprem is often called the city of wind and bell-ringing, and this romantic name perfectly corresponds to the ancient appearance of its historical part. Locals say that the bell-ringing here can be heard only when the winds are strong. But at the highest point of the Castle Hill, they always blow, as if whispering stories about ancient historical times.
A day trip to Székesfehérvár is a must when traveling to Hungary, as it’s the Hungarian hidden gem. This town is located between Budapest and Lake Balaton, and it’s one of the oldest cities in Hungary. In fact, in the Middle Ages, it was a royal residence and one of the most important cities of Hungary. The name Székesfehérvár means “white castle with a chair.”
If the coronations of the Hungarian queens were held in Veszprém, Székesfehérvár has been considered the city of kings for a long time. Once the Basilica of St. Istvan (St. Stephen) was the main temple of Székesfehérvár. Coronations and Weddings of Hungarian kings were held in it, and they are buried here. Unfortunately, the basilica has not been preserved, only its foundation remains. You can see it in the so-called Ruin Garden, which is located on the central square of Székesfehérvár and is a Hungarian national shrine.
Also visit Clock Museum here, the collection of watchmaker Kovács Jenő, Hetedhét Toy Museum, located in the beautiful Baroque Hiemer-house, Museum of the Diocese, commemorating the former bishops of the Diocese, saints and Hungarian kings, City Gallery, and Pharmacy Museum.
The symbol of Debrecen is the Great Church, located in the city square. This is a vibrant place where you can find shops and restaurants, as well as a beautiful Christmas market during the winter holidays. Make your way to the top of the church and admire Debrecen in all its splendor.
If you like modern and contemporary arts, the MODEM center is definitely for you. This is the time to discover marvelous works of art from Central and Eastern European artists. The beauty of the center is that it has ever-changing exhibitions. Thus you will never see the same thing twice.
Deri Museum is lovely to visit. Although the museum is quite small, there has been quite a lot of effort put into making it exciting and more appealing to the general public. You will find many great attractions, paintings, as well as the Egyptian and Japanese exhibitions.
Debrecen University is one of the best universities in the country, being renowned for its high-class medical school. Although not specifically open to the public, you can go around and have a wander around. It is the oldest continuously operating institution of higher education in Hungary, since 1538. There are almost 4000 international students attending the University of Debrecen.
Hortobagy National Park and Debrecen Zoo are an adventure in itself. You can go on the wagon ride, filled with narratives about the culture, traditions, and animal breeds. There is a small museum as well as a fairly large open-air market nearby.
After walking around and exploring historical Debrecen, nothing is better for relaxing than going to a thermal spa! The complex Spas looks modern and inviting. You should go for the sauna and the therapeutic massages.
Among the most colorful cities in Hungary is Pécs, located among the picturesque hills of the South Transdanubian region, at the foot of the mountain range Mecsek. For the peculiarities of the climate and the peculiarity of the local architecture, Pecs has been nicknamed the city of the Mediterranean atmosphere. In its many cafes, life boils from morning till late at night, and fig trees grow in the gardens.
Home to the largest Turkish ruins in Hungary, Pécs is a city of art and history. Pécs is also a famous university town with many students, giving the city a youthful profile.
The evidence of the centuries-old event-rich history of Pecs is numerous monuments of different eras and cultures, organically adjacent to each other. The most famous of these attractions is the Early Christian Burial Chamber, entered by UNESCO on the World Cultural Heritage List.
Visit the Barbican, the ruins of the medieval castle and the walls that once encircled the old city, which can still be viewed. Near the Barbican, there is the Cathedral, under which archaeological excavations are still conducted. Several hundred found by archaeologists burials allow to assert that this is one of the most extensive early Christian cemeteries in Europe. Pecs is also famous for the fact that here is the world-famous porcelain factory Zsolnay with a museum. Besides, wine tourism is also very popular in Pécs.
If you are going to Hungary, be sure to make a trip to the ancient cities of this country. Small and very cozy, they attract travelers with a lot of interesting sights and old buildings.
When planning a trip to Hungary, do not limit yourself to Budapest and other popular tourist routes. After all, in every corner of this beautiful land lies its charm: in tiny villages, stretched among the green hills, and in ancient cities that were witnesses of many historical events, and in large modern developing megacities. In general, traveling through Hungary can be long, and at the same time, the change of impressions is guaranteed.
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