While the majority of tourists who visit Hungary focus on Budapest only, the country has so much more to offer.
And obviously, Budapest is a stunning city, one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe, but there are more beautiful towns and cities in Hungary, as well as other natural Hungary attractions such as lakes, thermal springs, caves, and more. The list of amazing places to visit in Hungary is actually pretty long and can be surprising with the variety of tourist attractions.
For years I’ve been visiting Budapest only too, can’t really count how many times I’ve been there, but with each trip there I neglected other things to see in Hungary. Finally, last year I gave the country a chance and spent a week there, exploring more of Hungary’s tourist places (but avoiding Budapest).
And I was enchanted! I enjoyed it so much that this year I returned to Hungary with the intention to find even more Hungary tourist attractions. During this trip, I based myself in the capital and went for many day trips to Budapest, enjoying each and every place that I visited.
As a result of these trips and my research for future travels, I put together this list of the best places to visit in Hungary. It will show you that the country offers so much more than Budapest only and that it’s worth spending more time visiting Hungary, to see the places beyond the capital too!
Hungary is Central Europe at its finest and no matter where you go, chances are you will be impressed with the country, its monuments, history, and vibe.
Best places to visit in Hungary
So now, without any further ado, here is a list of 35 great places to visit in Hungary, in no order in particular.
Budapest, the capital and the largest city in Hungary, is one of the must-visit places in Europe. The city is vibrant and diverse and everyone will easily find something for their taste there.
Until 1873 Buda and Pest were two different cities (with the third one, Obuda), and still today you can feel the difference between the two parts of the Danube river. Buda is hilly and that’s where you find major Budapest monuments, such as the Castle, Fishermen’s Bastion, or St. Matthias Church (all parts of the UNESCO World Heritage List) while Pest is flat and attracts visitors with its stunning art-nouveau architecture and vibrant atmosphere.
Budapest is also known for its thermal baths, so make sure to spare some extra time during your stay there to enjoy these.
When sightseeing, try to see some interiors, even of random townhouses, as there are some real gems of architecture hidden inside. Some of the best-known are historical cafes but you can easily find more spectacular places.
Budapest is also a popular destination for parties and nightlife so if you want to have some fun, this is a place to be. The capital of Hungary is so packed with attractions and activities that you will need at least a few solid days to get to know it and enjoy the best things the city has to offer.
Read more about Budapest:
This sixth-largest city in the country is often known as the Baroque Jewel but the place has actually a much longer history, dating back to the 5th century BC. However, when you visit Gyor you will definitely focus on the stunning Baroque architecture as that’s the style many of the important buildings in the city were built in.
In Gyor you will find a few hundred buildings that are considered monuments, fortunately, the majority of them are located in the center so you can easily see them. The city is also a perfect place to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of a typical Central European city where you can wander around the charming old town or spend time in one of the many cafes.
Due to its location, Gyor can be visited on a day trip not only from Budapest but also from Vienna or Bratislava.
Read more about Gyor: Gyor, Hungary – the Baroque Jewel on the Danube
For me, Sopron is among the most underrated places to visit in Hungary. Located right at the border with Austria, it’s actually easier to get here from Vienna than from Budapest, but no matter where you are coming from, the city is definitely worth a trip.
The Old Town of Sopron might be small but it’s the prettiest with cobbled streets and beautiful houses. When wandering around, you will find various architectural styles, from Roman Empire to Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque structures.
The biggest attraction of Sopron is the Firewatch Tower from where you can admire a beautiful panorama of the city. In Sopron, you can also find important remnants of the Jewish community that used to live here, including two synagogues from the 13th and 14th centuries.
Read more about Sopron: 30 Pictures to Inspire You to Visit Sopron, Hungary
Pecs is one of the most interesting places to visit in Hungary, with numerous attractions including the UNESCO-listed ancient necropolis. The city has a long and turbulent history, dating back to the 2nd century, and you can see it reflected in the impressive monuments.
In Pecs you can find one of the most spectacular cathedrals in Hungary, the former mosque converted into a Catholic church, a beautiful synagogue, or some really impressive buildings surrounding the main square, Széchenyi tér.
But Pecs is more than just its monuments. The city has this cool, vibrant yet laid-back atmosphere that is so easy to enjoy.
Read more about Pecs: 10 Great Things to Do in Pecs, Hungary
Szeged is known as the art-nouveau gem of Hungary and this title is very accurate. The city is packed with stunning architecture in that style, you will find it all over the center.
Numerous palaces that used to belong to the noble families (and were named after them) were designed in this style but the two most impressive art-nouveau buildings in Szeged are the town hall from 1883 and the synagogue from the very beginning of the 20th century. It is one of the most stunning synagogues you will ever see, a true architecture masterpiece, both from the outside and inside, a peculiar mix of Art Nouveau and Moorish Revival styles.
Besides the art-nouveau architecture, Szeged is also home to one of the largest churches in Hungary, the Votive Church (Cathedral of Our Lady of Hungary) dominating the centrally located Dóm square.
With the numerous monuments, Szeged is a pleasant city to wander around and enjoy the Central-European atmosphere.
Read more about Szeged: What to See in Szeged, Hungary – the Art-Nouveau Gem of Europe
Eger, a small town located in the north of Hungary, is just packed with attractions. Even if it is a popular day trip from Budapest, it’s worth staying there overnight, enjoying the place when most of the tourists are gone.
The main attraction of Eger is the 13th-century castle, towering on the hill above the city. Inside you can visit the museum telling the story of the castle and the town or go to the undergrounds but the main reason to go to the place is to see the beautiful panorama of Eger from above.
One of the most unique places in Eger is the minaret, the north-most located Turkish monument and the only remnant of the mosque that used to stand here. You can climb the very narrow staircase of the minaret (which itself is a thrilling experience) to see the town from the very narrow balcony.
Eger is also home to numerous impressive churches, including the Minorite Church considered the most beautiful Baroque building in Hungary.
Just outside of Eger you will find “Valley of the beautiful women”, known as one of the best wine regions in Hungary.
Even if Miskolc doesn’t have all that many monuments, it’s still worth stopping in the city when you are exploring northern Hungary.
The area of Miskolc was inhabited already in BC times and since the 15th century, it was the royal town, later under Turkish rule. Since it was largely destroyed during WW2 and then went through major industrialization, only a few interesting buildings remained today.
The main street, Széchenyi st., is a picturesque long avenue with beautiful architecture. But the top attractions in Miskolc are its numerous churches, in different styles, and of various religions.
Most tourists who visit Miskolc come here to enjoy the cave bath located in the Miskolctapolca area of the city. Miskolc is also a good base or starting point to explore the beautiful Bükk Mountains surrounding the city.
One of the most interesting places at the Lake Balaton shore is Keszthely, located at the western tip of the lake. The town has a long, a few hundred years, history which can be seen in the variety of architectural styles displayed in the buildings of Keszthely.
The biggest attraction of the city is the stunning and impressive Festetics Palace from the 18th century, one of the largest buildings of that kind in Hungary. Today the palace is home to the museum but you can find more attractions on the estate and wander around the pleasant gardens.
The lakeside promenade is another fine place for a stroll as is the center of the town with numerous monuments and attractions.
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe and the biggest water reservoir in Hungary, bearing the name of the “Hungarian sea” (since the country is landlocked). This is the main recreational area in the country and a top holiday destination among Hungarians so if you are looking for a fun and relaxing getaway, Lake Balaton is your place.
There are many towns and villages along the lake, some of them are more interesting than others. Top destinations at Lake Balaton are Siofok (the capital of Lake Balaton and the most popular holiday resort), Balatonfüred (known as the town of artists), the picturesque Tihany peninsula, and Keszthely.
Besides water activities, you can also go hiking in the hills on the northern shore, explore caves, or tour local wineries. Getting around Lake Balaton is easy as there are numerous train connections along both shores of the lake as well as boats operating on the lake.
Probably the most picturesque place on Lake Balaton, the peninsula with the abbey located on the hill above the shore is a popular day trip destination among tourists staying at the lake.
The Benedictine Tihany Abbey was founded in the mid-11th century and rebuilt in the Baroque style in 1754. Besides its huge cultural and religious value it’s worth visiting the place for the spectacular views of Lake Balaton (which are best enjoyed from the cafe located next to the abbey).
Kecskemet is another art-nouveau gem of Hungary, located halfway between Budapest and Szeged. The stunning architecture is the main reason to come here and it definitely lives up to the hype.
The most impressive building is the town hall but the whole central part of Kecskemet is the art-nouveau heaven (although you will also find there beautiful and interesting buildings in other styles).
Don’t also miss the Hungarian Photography Museum, the only one in the country, located in the former Orthodox Synagogue.
Located 60 km away from Budapest, with frequent direct trains from the capital, Szekesfehervar is a perfect day trip destination.
The city is known as the first capital of Hungary since it was the royal seat of King Saint Stephan in the early 11th century. Even if the majority of medieval monuments were destroyed during the Turkish occupation, Szekesfehervar was rebuilt in the 18th century and today the center is a real gem of architecture from that period.
The central part of the city, where you can find most of the monuments and attractions, is rather compact so you can easily see everything in a few hours. Some of the most important places include the Bishops Palace, the Saint István Cathedral, and Medieval Ruin Garden (the area of Hungary’s most important church in medieval times that was later destroyed by Turks).
Szekesfehervar is yet another really pleasant city in Hungary where it’s best to just wander around the old town to feel its atmosphere.
The main reason to go to Gödöllő is to visit the impressive Royal Palace of Godollo, built in the Baroque style in the mid-18th century. It served as the summer residence for the Habsburgs, especially Franz Joseph and Queen Elizabeth (known as Sisi).
The beautiful palace was neglected after World War 2 and only in recent years has it been restored to its former glory. It’s definitely worth visiting the palace inside to see some really impressive interiors as well as the Baroque Theatre (one of the oldest in Hungary).
Set some time to explore the palace gardens too as they are a perfect place to relax. If you are lucky you might also enjoy the concert in the palace’s courtyard.
Probably the most popular place for a day trip from Budapest, Szentendre is located only 20 km north of Budapest and easily reachable by public transport.
The charming town is known as the artistic oasis and picturesque winding lanes are packed with art galleries and ateliers. The architecture here is also slightly different since the town has been inhabited by Serbian refugees (the Serbian Blagovestenška Church from the mid-18th century is one of the town’s biggest attractions).
Since Szentendre is a very popular destination it’s best to visit it on the weekday or in the morning, to avoid crowds and fully enjoy the place.
Visegrad (not to be confused with Visegrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina) is another sleepy town a bit further north of Budapest along the Danube river.
The biggest attraction of the town is the impressive medieval castle located high on the hill from where you can admire breathtaking views of the Danube bend. The town was also home to the royal house, firstly owned by King Charles I of Hungary in the 14th century. Today you can visit the reconstructed royal palace in the lower part of the town.
Visegrád Group, the political alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia was named after the town.
Esztergom, located at the Danube, right at the border with Slovakia (which is across the river from the town) is known for its basilica, the largest one in Central Europe. The place is really enormous and impressive with its size and beautiful interior.
It’s worth going for an independent tour through all the basilica’s important places: the crypt, the treasury, the cupola, and of course the main area. In the upper parts of the basilica, you can even find the cafe from where you can look across the river to Slovakia.
Besides the basilica, Esztergom has other attractions too, mostly churches and various museums as well as the castle. The center of the town is a pleasant place with the architecture typical for the region.
Hortobagy National Park
The largest (and the first) national park in Hungary, part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, is located in the eastern part of the country, on the Great Plain, the largest steppe in Central Europe.
The most popular place in the national park is the Nine-holed Bridge (built in the 19th century), another distinctive part of the landscape in Hortobagy is the T-shaped sweep well strewn around the area.
Hortobagy National Park is a perfect destination for those who are interested in nature as you can find there numerous endangered species.
The second-largest city in Hungary, located in the eastern part of the country, not far from Hortobagy National Park, is known as the “capital city of the Great Hungarian Plain” or the “Calvinist Rome”. And indeed, the city’s biggest attraction is the large Calvinist Great Church, with the largest bell in Hungary.
There are also numerous other churches as well as museums that are worth visiting, Debrecen is also a pleasant place to spend some time in.
Located near Lake Balaton, not far from Keszthely, Heviz is known mostly for its lake which is the world’s second-largest thermal lake. The water in the lake comes from the thermal spring and never drops below 24°C, not even in the wintertime. Lake Heviz is also a popular spa destination since the water has some fine healing properties.
Aggtelek National Park
The Aggtelek National Park is located in the northern part of Hungary, right on the border with Slovakia. It’s worth visiting especially for its cave system with around 280 caves strewn around all over the park.
Together with the Slovak Karst National Park that is across the border, the region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most popular cave is the Baradla cave (known also as “Domica” cave in Slovakia) which is the largest stalactite cave in Europe.
A short trip away from Miskolc you will find Lillafured, a small gem hidden in the Bükk Mountains. The resort town is known for its picturesque location and the impressive neo-Renaissance Palace Hotel built shortly before World War 2, with the hanging gardens just below the hotel building.
There are also a few caves and the artificial lake that just adds up to the charm of the town. But above all, Lillafured is a perfect destination to relax and enjoy beautiful nature.
Located not far from Lake Balaton, Tapolca is popular for its Lake Cave – the underground water system under the center of the town. It is possible to rent the boat and explore the cave from this unique perspective.
Besides the Lake Cave, Tapolca has also a pleasant center with the Main Square which used to be a trade center in ancient times.
Another attraction of the town is the so-called “garden of ruins” where the medieval center of Tapolca used to be. One of the remnants of that time is the church originally built in the 13th century in the Roman style, destroyed and rebuilt afterward.
The most popular wine region of Hungary (part of it is located across the border in Slovakia) that’s been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2002. If you are interested in wine you simply can not miss it when visiting Hungary.
The region has a few centuries-long wine traditions, focused today in 27 towns and villages in the area. It is possible to tour the vineyards, learn more about local wines or attend one of the local wine festivals if you plan your trip carefully.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hungary, Hollókő is a traditional, preserved village located in the northern part of the country. Everything looks and feels here just like it used to at the beginning of the 20th century and this traditional charm is the reason why Hollókő is one of the popular tourist destinations in Hungary.
The village has one main street from which you can access houses (there are 67 of them), many of them are home to museums or workshops now. You can also hike up to the ruins of the castle from the 13th century.
Located right at the border with Austria, Kőszeg is a beautiful town dating back to the 13th century, that is often called “the hidden jewel of Hungary”. The place is packed with monuments, including the impressive Jurisics Castle, numerous churches and museums, historical houses, and a charming Old Town with a medieval vibe.
Veszprem is one of the oldest cities in Hungary that became the first episcopal seat in the country, at the very beginning of the 11th century. The legend says that Veszprem, just like Rome, was founded on seven hills.
The main attraction of Veszprem is the Castle District with magnificent St. Michael’s Cathedral (its origins date back to the 10th century). This is yet another place in Hungary packed with monuments and historical buildings.
Since Veszprem is located only 15km away from Lake Balaton, it’s very easy to visit the city on a day trip during your holidays.
Lake Bokodi was created in 1961 for the local Oroszlány Thermal Power Company and thanks to the use by the power plant, the lake never freezes.
What makes it worth visiting is the complex of the picturesque small wooden cottages on silts built on the shore of the lake, with the power plant in the background. Lake Bokodi is also a popular destination among fishermen.
The Zemplén Mountains in the very northeast of Hungary is a wild and remote area, perfect for hiking.
One of its best points is Megyer-the tarn, located in the former millstone mine. This picturesque spot was chosen as “the most beautiful natural wonder in Hungary” in 2011. That’s also where you will find the longest via Ferrata in Hungary and numerous other attractions for adventurous souls.
Szombathely is the oldest city in Hungary, founded by the Romans already in 45 AD as Colonia Claudia Savariensum. There might not be as many monuments and attractions as in other places to visit in Hungary, but it’s still worth stopping in Szombathely and enjoying the beautiful architecture and nice vibe of the city.
Another pleasant city in Hungary is located in the southern part of the country. Even if the city dates back to the early 11th century, it developed only in the second half of the 19th century, when the railway line between Budapest and Zagreb was opened.
In Kaposvár you can find some really beautiful buildings, typical for the Central European style of the former Austria-Hungary Empire, including one of the largest theaters in Hungary, Gergely Csiky Theatre.
Hajduszoboszlo, located near Debrecen, is one of the most popular destinations in Hungary for spa tourism. There is a large water park with numerous swimming pools, slides, thermal pools, and other water attractions.
Vac is another easy and good day trip destination from Budapest. The town is located less than 50 km away from the capital, connected by frequent trains and buses, as well as the boat.
The Március 15 tér in Vac is considered the nicest square in Hungary with buildings (all of them protected monuments) in various styles, mostly Rococo and Baroque. Other interesting places in Vac include the cathedral, the Triumphal Arch, and the Town Prison.
Tata, located halfway between Budapest and Gyor, is easily reachable from the capital by train. The town is worth visiting for its castle with its picturesque location at the lakeside.
The castle originally dates back to the 14th century but was rebuilt in the 19th century, when Emperor Franz Joseph was about to visit the town.
Besides the castle, don’t miss the Esterházy Palace, the synagogue, and the center of the town with old churches and other historical buildings.
Sümeg, located only 20 km away from Lake Balaton, is known for its fortified castle, towering on the hill above the town. It was built in the second half of the 13th century and expanded in later times. Sümeg Castle is Hungary’s most well-preserved fortress, well worth a small detour from Lake Balaton.
Contributed by Iris Veldwijk from Mind of a Hitchhiker
If you’re looking for a pleasant Hungarian town that doesn’t see many international visitors, Baja is the place to be. Some 170 kilometers downstream from Budapest, you’ll find Baja in Hungary’s south on the left bank of the majestic Danube River. It’s not far from the borders of Serbia and Croatia. This region has seen many empires come and go, which contributed to the history and many identities you’ll find inside this town.
The historic core of Baja has been revitalized, which has a walkable center and many restaurants and cafés close to old churches (Szent Miklós), fountains, museums (Bunyevác Tájház), and galleries (István Nagy). Walk to Petőfi island to enjoy the sunshine and eat Europe’s spiciest native dish, a fish soup called Bajai halászlé.
Baja is also an excellent base for nature lovers, as it’s not far from the Gemenc floodplain forest and other parts of the Danube-Dráva National Park. There’s a tiny train that goes through the forest that departs from Pörböly, only 10 kilometers west of Baja. It’s also possible to rent a kayak/canoe and explore the backwaters by yourself.
Map of the best places to visit in Hungary
To give you a better perspective of places to visit in Hungary, here is the map with the locations of all the places mentioned above.
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