You can taste Eger’s famous wines at many places around town, including at restaurants at the base of the castle and in commercial cellars like Fúzio Wine Bar & Cellar and István Cellar. But why bother drinking in town when you can do the same in the cellars of the evocatively named Valley of the Beautiful Women? Here, more than two dozen pincék (cellars) have been carved into the horseshoe-shaped rock. For an average of 100Ft you can have a one-decilitre taste of a range of reds, such as Bull’s Blood, and whites, such as olaszrizling, leányka and hárslevelű. The choice of wine cellars can be a bit daunting, so walk around and have a look yourself. (Hint: the ones on the west side have big terraces and better seating; the east cellars are busier.) They're not to be missed.
The valley is a little over 1km southwest across Rte 25, off Király utca. Catch one of the vans, including those from Evergreen, from Egészségház utca south of Kossuth Lajos utca. A taxi costs about 1200Ft.
Much of the Bükk range of hills forms the 431-sq-km Bükk National Park (www.bnpi.hu). The range takes its name from the beech (bükk) trees growing here. Karst formations, upland plateaus, thick pine forests and abundant wildlife attract hikers and cyclists to hillside villages such as Szilvásvárad, famous for its Lipizzaner horses. Southern slopes support wine production, including the famous Bull’s Blood red. Sample it in Eger, the baroque treasure of a town. To the east, the valleys around industrial Miskolc have been scarred by ore mining. But you needn’t linger here when you can visit verdant resorts such as Lillafüred.
Nearly in the dead-centre of Bükk National Park, Répáshuta (www.repashuta.hu) makes an excellent base for exploring nearby caves and, further afield, the Bükk Plateau. The long and windy hillside village has a handful of guesthouses and private rooms, a game restaurant, a grocery store and a folk-craft exhibition in a traditional tájház (country house). Just 24km from Lillafüred, buses connect to Miskolc (560Ft, 1¼ hours, 30km) between two and six times a day. The hilly drive from Eger through Répáshuta to Miskolc is extremely enjoyable, but the bus only makes the journey once weekly, on Sunday at 9.10am.
Cartographia (www.cartographia.hu) puts out a 1:40,000 Bükk map (No 29; 1350Ft).