Here’s the ultimate itinerary to Hungary’s best day-trip destinations: Szentendre, Visegrád, Esztergom, Eger, and Tihany.
Budapest offers plenty of things to do all year round, but if you’ve seen it all from city tours and viewpoints through culinary treats to museums and thermal spas, rest assured that Hungary has many other towns to explore. Just a few hours from the buzzing capital, many charming little towns with colorful history await. To get you on the right track, we’ve collected the 5 best day trips from Budapest. No matter which season you come, you’ll definitely love the Insta-perfect streets of Szentendre, the Medieval citadel of Visegrád, the monumental Basilica of Esztergom, the wine of the historical town of Eger, and the view over the Lake Balaton from the lavender scented hills of Tihany. Located not too far from Budapest, any of these towns can provide just the perfect day trip you need. Take your pick, or explore them all, and let’s the journey begin!
Located just outside Budapest, Szentendre is probably one of the most popular day-trip destinations from Budapest – even so, that you can take a boat tour from the capital. Famous for its charming village vibes with colorful Baroque buildings and winding cobblestone streets, the town got well-known for an artists’ colony in the 1920. The remnants of that are still visible in Szentendre’s many galleries and hand-crafted shops. And if you’d like to dive deeper in history, head to the outskirts of the town and explore Szentendre’s enormous Open-air Ethnographic Museum – it’s truly one of a kind (but keep in mind: visiting the museum may very well take the whole day). Alternatively, if all you need is just a casual stroll, make sure to walk along Szentendre’s idyllic riverside promenade, and finish off the day at the National Wine Museum, sipping good wine and learning about winemaking in Hungary.
How to get there: You can get to Szentendre by suburban train H5 from Batthány tér. By car, it’s approximately a 30-minute drive.
Further north from Szentendre lies another spectacular small town by the Danube Bend, called Visegrád. Best-known for its Medieval Citadel and the remains of the Renaissance Lower Castle of King Matthias, Visegrád is nothing short of history and stunning views. For the adventurous at heart, we recommend the hike up to the citadel – the path leads through a nice forest. From the top, the panorama over the river and the Börzsöny hills is smashing in any season. Alternatively, you can take a city-bus service from the ferry station up to the castle. If you’re also interested in the history of the area, don’t miss out on the permanent exhibitions of the Citadel, such as the Holy Crown exhibition, the Historical exhibition, the Panopticon, the Medieval History of Weapons, and the Royal Hunting in the Middle Ages exhibition. And once you know it all about King Matthias and the Middle Ages, you can finish off the day at Visegrád’s tiny pálinka museum.
How to get there: To get to Visegrád, you can take regional buses either from Árpád-híd bus station or Újpest-Városkapu bus station, or trains from Nyugati railway station. By car, it’s a 30-min drive from Budapest.
The next stop on our list of day trips from Budapest is Esztergom, located still by the Danube in County Komárom-Esztergom. The town used to be Hungary’s crown capital until the 13th century when the king moved his seat up to Buda. As kings once resided here, Esztergom has its own castle and palace built in Romanesque style, as well as a majestic Classicist Basilica – the view from the top definitely is worth the climb. And if you’d like to marvel at its monumental size and breathtaking beauty, take a walk across the Maria-Valeria Bridge and look back at Esztergom from the other side of the Danube. Crossing the bridge is also recommended to those who would like to tick another country off of their bucket list because by Esztergom the Danube acts as a natural border across Hungary and Slovakia. It means that by crossing the bridge, you are setting foot in Slovakia. And once you’ve seen all the must-see sights in Esztergom, you can chill at the cobblestone streets of the Watertown (Víziváros) neighborhood by the banks of the Small Danube.
How to get there: You can get to Esztergom by train from Nyugati railway station. By car, it’s an hour drive from Budapest.
Having seen three towns by the Danube, it’s time to explore another Hungarian region, namely County Heves and its capital Eger. If you ask a Hungarian about Eger, no doubt, the first thing they will say will be about Eger’s castle and its legendary battle against the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century. Although primarily victorious, Eger, with the rest of the country, eventually fell victim to the Ottoman invasion, the remnants of which are still visible in Eger, such as the Turkish bath and the Medieval minaret, coloring Eger’s Baroque architecture. Besides its historical past, which has also been immortalized in Géza Gárdonyi’s novel, “Eclipse of the Crescent Moon”, Eger is also famous for its dark red wine, the Bull’s Blood (egri bikavér). To get a sip or two, you’ll want to head to the outskirts of the town, to the Valley of Beautiful Women (Szépasszonyvölgy), which is the local vineyard with wine cellars carved into the rock. To prepare your thirst for the day trip to Eger, you can also go to a wine tasting in Budapest.
How to get there: You can get to Eger by train from Keleti railway station. By car, it’s 1.5 hours from Budapest.
Last but not least, let’s explore the Balaton region because no day-trip list in Hungary can be complete without mentioning Lake Balaton. This time, we’ve decided to pick Tihany, a place of peace, quiet, and true relaxation in nature. Formed by an ancient volcanic crater, the Tihany Peninsula is well-known for its trademark echo sounds, the sweet scents of lavender fields, and the Benedictine monastery atop the hill that offers a panoramic view over the Balaton. The little town of Tihany is also worth a walk, and if you’re up for exploring more, you can look for a series of man-made caves from the 11th century, called Hermit’s Caves.
How to get there: You can take regional buses to Tihany from Budapest Újduda Városközpont bus station (via Örvényes), or trains from Déli railway station (to Balatonfüred). By car, it’s 1,5 hours from Budapest via M7 road, but the traffic can be heavy during the summer season.
- What are the best destinations for a day trip in Hungary?
- Since Hungary is a small country with relatively small distances, there are many towns in the countryside that are worth a visit, such as Esztergom, Visegrád, Szentendre, Eger, and the Balaton region. For longer trips, you may also want to check out Győr, Szeged, Pécs, and Debrecen.
- What is Szentendre famous for?
- Szentendre is a charming little town north of Budapest, famous for its colorful houses, an artist’s colony from the 1920s, and an open-air ethnographic museum.
- What is Visegrád famous for?
- Visegrád is best-known for its Medieval Citadel and the remains of the Renaissance Lower Castle of King Mathias. From atop, you can get a panoramic view over the Danube Bend.
- What is Esztergom famous for?
- Esztergom used to be Hungary’s capital, the sacred town where kings got crowned and ordained until the 13th century. The Basilica of Esztergom is a majestic sight near and far, while the winding streets of the Watertown neighborhood are perfect for a riverside stroll. Crossing Maria-Valeria Bridge from Esztergom, you can also set foot in Slovakia.
- What is Eger famous for?
- Eger is most famous for its legendary battle against the Ottoman Turks who invaded Hungary in the 16th century. The heroism of the soldiers of Eger is immortalized in literature, while remnants of the eventual Turkish invasion are still visible in Eger, such as the minaret and the Turkish bath. Besides history, Eger is also famous for its red wine called Bull’s Blood.
- What is Tihany famous for?
- Tihany is the most peaceful part of the Balaton region, famous for its echo sound, infinite lavender fields, and a Benedictine monastery with a panoramic view over Lake Balaton.