- 10 Days
This itinerary offers you the best of Hungary and will give you a taste of the country's historical wealth and natural beauty. It takes in all four corners of the land, from the Danube Bend and Sopron to Pécs, Szeged and Eger, plus the Bereg region, Hungary’s last bastion of folk culture.
From Budapest, make your way north to the towns of the Danube Bend: picture-postcard Szentendre, royal Visegrád and holy Esztergom. The road continues west along the Danube past some stunning scenery to Sopron, Hungary’s finest medieval city, replete with worthwhile museums and churches. Travel south to Lake Balaton and recharge your batteries at lovely Keszthely and nearby Hévíz, which boasts its own thermal lake where you can bathe year-round. Pécs, Hungary’s 'Mediterranean' town, is south; it's a treasure trove of early Christian and Turkish sites. From there carry on east to Mohács, the site of Hungary's famous defeat at the hands of the Ottomans in 1526. A car ferry will take you to the right bank of the Danube and the road eastward to Szeged, the university town that is forever young. Should you pass though in July or August, catch a performance at the Szeged Open-Air Festival. Kecskemét, city of apricots and art nouveau architecture, is to the north. Had enough of the flatlands of the Great Plain? Head for the northeast and the Bereg region. This is the richest area for folk traditions left in Hungary and is well worth a detour off the beaten track. From there head southwest to delightful Eger, a much-loved city, celebrated for its Bull's Blood (the region's ruby-red wine), baroque architecture and dramatic hilltop castle (from where the good folk of Eger were able to repel the Turks, at least for a while). Head west back to Budapest, stopping at Gödöllő, the summer retreat of Emperor Franz Joseph and his beloved consort Elizabeth, whose renovated private apartments are now open to the public.
- 1 Week
This road trip of Hungary's west has something for everyone: castles, churches, palaces, thermal spas, rolling hills and Hungary’s biggest lake. It’s mostly an easy drive, and you should be able to do it comfortably in a week or even less.
From Budapest head north through the Danube Bend region to the former artist colony of Szentendre, before carrying on to Esztergom, Hungary’s most sacred city, with both an important basilica and a castle. Head southwest to Pannonhalma, where the awesome (and still very much active) abbey is on Unesco's World Heritage List. The scenic northern coast road of Lake Balaton is your next port of call, with its towns of Balatonfüred and Tihany; the latter boasts a beautiful Benedictine abbey and some lovely hillside walks. Follow the north shore of Lake Balaton and head southwest for Őrség National Park, where Hungary’s westernmost region converges with Austria and Slovenia in forest and farmland. Turn to the southeast and make tracks for Pécs, the jewel of the south, before returning to the capital.
Over Hill, Over Dale
- 1 Week
Hungary’s 'northern uplands' are not dramatic mountains but rolling hills that retain a gentle beauty all their own. Nestled within these hills are important historical towns and traditional villages. We've included part of the Great Plain too, so you'll get the 'ups' and 'downs' of northern and eastern Hungary on this trip.
From Budapest head north through the hills to Balassagyarmat, capital of the traditional Palóc region, which is rich in folk culture and boasts a fine museum largely dedicated to the subject. Continue southeast to Hollókő, a 'museum town' of folk art with more than five dozen traditional houses still standing. Lovely Eger, with its hilltop castle and basilica, awaits you at the end of the road. It’s then on to Tokaj and its traditionally sweet wines before heading south to Debrecen, nicknamed the 'Calvinist Rome' and Hungary's second-largest city. For a taste of Hungary’s Great Plain go west through Hortobágy National Park to watch the cowboys do their heart-stopping stuff before heading back to Budapest.