If you’d like to head outside of Budapest for a day or a weekend-away there’s no shortage of options. Here are 5 trips that will have you exploring a bit more of Hungary, whether it’s culture and traditions, rest and relaxation or simply a change of scenery that you’re after.
Szentendre is only about an hour from central Budapest and makes the perfect day trip. Walk through its cobble-stoned streets, peruse the galleries and shops, eat Hungary’s famous fried dough at one of the many lángos stands and climb to one of the look-out points for a view of the town and Danube. For most of the year - but especially during summer - Szentendre is a very popular tourist destination. To take a break from the tourists, take a stroll along the bank of the Danube and see this mighty river from up-close. The nearby “Skanzen,” an open-air museum, presents the Hungarian way of life from the late 18th to early 19th century. It introduces traditional architecture, interior decoration, farming, dress and culture. Many original objects make up this museum and houses have even been arranged in old settlement patterns to give an authentic experience of typical village life.
How to get there: From Batthyány Square take the HÉV commuter train to Szentendre - a journey of just about 40 minutes. To head to on to the Skanzen, take the local bus from Szentendre’s HÉV station.
Lake Balaton – Tihany and Füred
Lake Balaton is most popular with tourists during the summer, but all throughout the year Tihany and Füred can be beautiful spots to visit. Enjoy some fresh air and a view of what locals call the “Hungarian sea.' Füred, which is one of the most glamorous spots on the Balaton has a beautiful tree-lined promenade, picture-perfect sailboats moored at the marina, restaurants and cafes aplenty, plus green parks to enjoy. Another option is to head to the nearby Tihany where the famous Tihany Abbey is a picturesque spot for a stroll. To explore the region further a bike ride is a good option, and this is a great base from which to explore local wineries. More information on this whole region can be found at We Love Balaton.
How to get there: Trains depart from Déli Railway Station and take about three hours to get to Füred. To get to Tihany there are buses that depart from Füred train station and take about 20 miniutes to get there.
Hollókő is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed little town that packs a big punch. The town prides itself on preserving a traditional way of life and a visit to Hollókő can provide a glimpse into Hungarian traditions that can be hard to find elsewhere. The main sites include the Hollókő castle, the village museum, and the village homes that have been preserved. There are also opportunities to see authentic examples of pottery and weaving by local craftspeople. Although Hollókő is worth seeing any time of the year, Easter is a time when thousands of visitors flock to the town. During Easter traditional Hungarian costumes are worn by the townspeople and you can see first-hand incredible Easter traditions such as men throwing buckets of water on women after reading them special Easter poems. The Hollókő official website has more information in Hungarian.
How to get there: Hollókő is just an hour’s drive from Budapest. Buses also go to Hollókő leaving from Puskás Ferenc Stadion, these also take about two hours to get there.
Heading out to Eger in eastern Hungary is well worth it. The many reasons to visit include Eger's castle, Turkish minaret, historic buildings and of course the region’s famous red wines - perhaps the most well-known of which is Bull’s Blood (Egri Bikavér). Make sure you leave enough time to explore the middle age castle, which was the site of a Turkish siege - it’s a place of significance because it’s where the Hungarians defeated the Turks in the 1500s. In Eger it’s also worth strolling through the heart of the old city including Dobó Square and the pedestrianised Széchenyi Street, which is lined with restaurants, cafes and shops.
How to get there: Trains depart from Budapest’s Keleti Railway Station and take about two hours to get to Eger. There are also regular buses from the Stadionok bus depot which takes about the same time to get there.
Hévíz thermal lake
Europe’s largest thermal lake at Héviz is just a two hour drive from Budapest. The lake’s waters are 30°C, so even in winter – even if the snow’s falling – you can bathe outside. The healing waters and mud have several therapeutic benefits and there’s a huge wooden complex built onto the lake, which houses other services such as massage, facials, mud packs and more. If you’re lucky you can see pink water lilies in full bloom on the lake. Of course, while wellness holidays are the main reason many go to Héviz, culinary delights also await with many restaurants serving delicious local cuisine, paired with local wines of the Zala region. Other leisure activities including bike riding, hikes and hot air ballooning. All in all, Héviz really is the perfect getaway if you need some rest and relaxation.
How to get there: Trains from Déli Railway Station go to Keszthely from where buses go to Héviz. Alternatively buses from Népliget bus terminal take about three hours hours.