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Many people who travel to Hungary stay in Budapest, without realizing there are so many worthwhile towns and cities outside of the capital to experience. Hungary is a country rich in history and culture (not to mention delicious food), and well-worth exploring! While there are many beautiful places to visit in Budapest, these 25 best day trips from Budapest will give you a taste of what Hungary has to offer without the hassle of straying too far from the capital. They’re all very easy, doable as a group or perhaps on a solo trip to Budapest.
Want a ‘stay-cation’ while in Budapest in lieu of a day trip? Check out this itinerary for the ultimate day of relaxation in Budapest.
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Vác is a town located just outside Budapest. Many day-trippers overlook it in favor of Szentendre or Visegrád to explore the Danube Bend region, but Vác has a lot to offer. Popular things to do include the epic cathedral, the White Church and Monastery, the Town Hall, the Wine Museum, the Tragor Ignac Museum, and the Diocesan Library.
Vác is reachable by train and takes just over 40 minutes. There are two trains leaving per hour from Budapest Nyugati station. After arriving in Vác, it’s a 10 minute walk to the city center, and all attractions are accessible on foot.
Szentendre (‘St Andrew’ in Hungarian) is one of the most popular day trips from Budapest. It’s one of the most quaint towns on this list and is teeming with visitors who come to admire its charm. It was formerly an art colony but now primarily caters to the tourists who visit.
Some of the most popular things to do in Szentendre include the Art Mill, Ferenczy Karoly Museum, Amos-Anna Museum, and the Belgrade Cathedral.
Szentendre is easily reached on the H5 HÉV suburban railway line from Batthyány tér in Budapest. Trains depart every 10-30 minutes and take 40 minutes to reach the town.
Gödöllő is a city east of the capital, frequently visited as a day trip from Budapest. It’s home to a large Austrian royal palace, the former home of Emperor Franz Josef and Queen Elisabeth. The royal palace is definitely the most popular site in Gödöllő, but there are a number of other things to do as well. Be sure to stop at Queen Elisabeth Park, the Arboretum, the forest railway, and check out the World Peace Gong. There’s also a Bear Farm, where you can get (somewhat) up-close and personal with bears, wolves, and reindeer.
The train from Budapest takes under 40 minutes and leaves twice per hour, giving you ample leeway in terms of scheduling your day trip.
Visegrád is a small town north of Budapest, situated on the right bank of the Danube River. It’s most well-known for the remnants of the Early Renaissance summer palace of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary as well as the adjacent medieval citadel. Be sure to also check out the Ruins of Pone Navata while you’re here!
The train from Budapest will leave you on the opposite side of the Danube, from where you can take a ferry to reach Visegrád. The entire journey takes around an hour, including time on the ferry.
Less popular than the famous Lake Balaton, Lake Velence is a great option if fewer crowds appeal to you. Because of the high duration of sunshine hours per year (2,500) coupled with the shallowness of the lake, it’s one of the warmest in all of Europe.
Aside from taking a dip in the warm waters, there are a number of other things to do in the area. There are bicycle paths surrounding the lake’s perimeter to enjoy the scenery and natural beauty. There are also a number of hiking trails in the Velence Hills, which are somewhat arduous. If you’re not in the mood to sweat, stick to the flat area on the lake’s southern shores.
In the lakeside towns and villages, you can visit museums, Castle Park, Ethnographic museums, and mansions of royal Hungarian families.
By train, you can depart from Budapest and arrive in Velence in under an hour – the trains leave hourly.
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Esztergom is a border town separating Slovakia and Hungary. It’s situated on the right bank of the Danube, and boasts the largest basilica of Central Europe.
The Esztergom Basilica is the biggest attraction in town, both literally and figuratively. Széchenyi Square is another popular tourist site, with breathtaking Baroque buildings, fountains, and many restaurants and cafes to satiate your hunger. The most beautiful views of Esztergom are seen from the Slovak side of the river.
Nyugati train station is the Budapest station that serves Esztergom. After you arrive, it’s about a thirty minute walk from the station to the river. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Arpad in Budapest which brings you to Esztergom centre. The journey from Budapest will take around an hour and thirty minutes.
Siófok is a charming town on the southern shores of Lake Balaton, and is one of the most popular resorts in all of Hungary.
The lakeside town is renowned mainly for its epic nightlife and the seemingly endless parties, particularly on summer weekends. In fact, it’s often referred to as the ‘party capital of Hungary,’ putting the capital city to shame. Outside the center of town there are many stretches of peaceful beaches and places to rent rowboats if you’re looking for something more relaxed.
Direct trains from Budapest leave hourly and take just under an hour and thirty minutes.
Kecskemét is a town in central Hungary renowned for its secessionist architecture, museums, and for being the birthplace of composer Zoltan Kodály.
There are many things to do in Kecskemét. Main sites of interest include the Ornamental Palace, a great example of secessionist architecture which now houses an art gallery. There is a beautiful moorish-style synagogue that is home to the House of Science and Technics. Bozsó Gyűjtemény features Hungarian folk art and furniture from the local residents, the Museum of Hungarian Naive Artists depicts rural peasant life. Another treat in Kecskemét is the Toy Museum and Workshop, which has a large collection of peasant toys of Hungary, including a wooden pinball machine. Workshops at the Toy Museum are great treats for the little ones. Finally, be sure to check out the Zwack Fruit Brandy Distillery if you’re into spirits and craft cocktails!
If you happen to be in Kecskemét in March, check out the Tavaszi Festival, which features local art and performances.
Direct service from Budapest leaves from Nyugati hourly, with the ride taking an hour and twenty minutes.
Győr is located near the Slovakian and the Austrian borders in northwestern Hungary and is one of the best day trips to take from Budapest.
Of the many things to do in this relatively large Hungarian city, the most popular include visiting the reliquary of King Laszlo I, the Basilica of Győr, the City Hall, and the Baroque Gardens in the main square. If you’re there after dark, the City Hall Square is best seen at this hour, with twinkling gold lights illuminating it from one end to the other.
Although Győr is the sixth largest city in Hungary, its main attractions are in the city centre, and everything is accessible on foot.
The train from Budapest takes only an hour and fifteen minutes.
Eger is mainly known for its mouthwatering Hungarian wines, thermal baths, and historic buildings. This is by far one of my favorites on this list, so if you can only take one day trip from Budapest, seriously consider Eger.
Eger is home to Egri Vár, a castle housing exhibits of varying sorts as well as a series of underground passages that you can tour. Here, you’ll also see the northernmost medieval minaret in Europe. You can climb the minaret to the top, but be forewarned that the stairs are narrow and uneven. If you’re not into heights or confined places, just admire it from the outside.
Eger is also home to the Valley of Beautiful Women, which is the main stretch of wineries in the town. From the center, it’s about a twenty-minute walk – just follow signs that say ‘Nice Woman Valley’. Bring your own (empty) bottles, and the vendors will fill you up. Most vendors sell plastic jugs as well. Don’t count on all of the vendors speaking English, as many do not. Google Translate is your friend. If you do stumble across an English-speaking vendor, be sure to ask about the history of Eger’s infamous ‘Bull’s Blood’ wine.
Trains from Budapest leave Keleti each hour, with the trains departing at odd hours being direct. They take about two to two and a half hours. When you get off the train, you’ll have to walk twenty minutes to the city center. Head towards the Basilica.
Miskolc is located in the northeast of Hungary, just east of Bükk mountains. The most popular things to do here include Széchenyi ut. and Városház tér, with 19th century houses and a myriad of different shops to explore. Just outside the city, you can find the partially restored ruins of medieval Diosgyor Castle. There are several exhibitions here, including archaeological findings, medieval weapons and two waxworks. Medieval reenactments are held annually in May and August. You can also visit Ottó Herman Museum and the National Theatre of Miskolc.
From Budapest, there is an hourly train that departs Keleti and takes two hours.
Hollókő is a preserved traditional settlement in Hungary and the first UNESCO World Heritage Site on our list. It’s a relatively small village, with just one street. On both sides of the street you’ll find museums and craft shops. At the end of the main road, there’s a pathway to the Hollókő Castle – the hike takes roughly twenty minutes to reach the top of the hill, which is well-worth the epic scenery it provides.
The village is home to some phenomenal celebrations. If you happen to be in Hollókő for Easter, you’ll see residents adorned in ornately decorated folk costumes and partake in Easter customs. There is a Raspberry Festival each July, and a Castle Tournament in August. Also in August is the annual grape harvest, which is celebrated with folk performances in both the castle and Hollókő Church.
From Budapest, you can reach Hollókő by bus from Budapest. The bus leaves the main station once daily, at 8:30, arriving at 11. The return bus departs Hollókő at 16:00, returning to Budapest at 18:30.
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Pécs is an enjoyable college town that has remarkably avoided communist architecture and mass tourism. It’s the second on our list of day trips from Budapest that are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2010, Pécs was named one of the European Capitals of Culture. The fact that it isn’t more inundated with more tourists is nothing short of astounding.
The Mosque of Pasha Quasim is among the most popular attractions in Pécs. It was renovated as recently as the mid-20th century, restoring its iconic Turkish character. On the interior, there are gemstone-hued frescoes depicting quotes from the Qur’an that date back to the 16th century.
The Cathedral of Pécs is the second most-visited tourist site in the city, dating back to the 11th century, and is well-worth visiting for its Romanesque style and iconic beauty.
The journey from Budapest to Pécs can be as fast as two hours and forty minutes on an express train, but much longer if taking an alternative method of transportation.
Bratislava is the highly underrated capital city of Slovakia, but one of the most epic day trips from Budapest. One of the perks of staying in Budapest is that it is so well-connected to other European capitals, so you have ample opportunity to visit other countries, even for a short while. Bratislava has a very pleasant medieval inner city with narrow, cobblestone streets, a hill-top castle perched on the bank of the Danube, and many iconic churches and historical buildings to explore.
Noteworthy sites in Bratislava that are worth a visit include St. Martin’s Cathedral, Bratislava Castle, the SNP Bridge and the Old Town. When you go to the SNP Bridge, be sure to check out the flying saucer restaurant aptly called ‘UFO’ – there’s an awesome rooftop observation deck that gives its visitors spectacular views of the Old Town and the communist-era apartment blocs. From the SNP Bridge, you can catch a twenty minute bus ride to Devin Castle, a must-add item to your Slovakia bucket list.
From Budapest, the first direct train departs at 5:41 and the last at 15:41.
The Austrian capital is a gigantic city with plenty to stay entertained for a day (or more). As its stately former home of the Habsburg court and its multiple empires, the city still retains the nickname ‘the Imperial City’. Its stunningly beautiful (and clean) historic city center is a noted UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Vienna is teeming with history and rich with culture. It’s without-a-doubt the cleanest and most beautiful city I’ve had the pleasure of visiting in all of Europe. There’s an abundance of museums and historical sites to visit. I have my personal list of favorite things to do in Vienna, but there’s something for everyone here. St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Ring Road, Schönbrunn Palace, and the Vienna Riding School are all well-worth a visit. Should you be here during the holiday season, Vienna has some of Europe’s most magical Christmas markets.
Trains depart Budapest East or Keleti frequently each day, and tickets include the return journey (within four days). If you do plan on spending an extended amount of time in the Austrian capital, there are a number of day trips and weekend excursions from Vienna as well. The train ride takes just under two and a half hours.
Hévíz is Hungary’s most renowned spa town, and with good cause. It is home to Gyógy-tó, Europe’s largest thermal lake. A dip in this lake fraught with water lilies is a must for anyone visiting the region, in search of some aquatherapy.
There are plenty of other things to do in Hévíz aside from soaking in the lake. There’s culture, gastronomical delights (Hungarian food is nothing short of excellent), period architecture, water sports, local wine, hiking, or hot air ballooning over the treetops.
From Budapest, the best way to reach Hévíz is by car, taking under two hours. If public transport is your only option, the bus takes just about three and a half hours. It’s on the ambitious side, for a day trip, yet doable. Spending a night here is an excellent option as well.
The intimate town of Tapolca just north of Balaton offers something special on this list. Interested in an underground boat trip? This gives an interesting day trip alternative for rainy days while still having the adventure aspect of an outdoor activity.
The cavern was discovered accidentally in the early 20th century, when a laborer was digging a well. Upon further investigation, an extensive network of underground caves was discovered beneath the town. There’s also a cave crawl for the little ones and a petting rock exhibit designed to test the senses.
The tour and boat trip total about one and a half hours, making it easily doable if you’re taking a day trip from Budapest.
If you prefer to stay above ground (I can’t say I blame you), head to the Mill Pond (pictured) for a bit of old world romance, with charming cafes and small boutiques fringing the perimeter of the pond.
By car, Tapolca is accessible in under two hours from Budapest. If you’re relying on public transportation, the journey by train takes three hours.
Badacsony is one of Hungary’s most famed wine regions. It’s best known for its full-bodied mineral whites. Badacsony has a unique volcanic terroir that leads to its wines most interesting (and appreciable) qualities.
The region is filled with uniquely shaped hills, interesting buttes and former volcanoes, and small terraced plots of land with houses and villas. It’s the equivalent of a Hungarian version of Tuscany.
Wine tasting in Badacsony is certainly a unique experience to have in Hungary, making it one of the best day trips from Budapest.
Badacsony is accessible from Budapest by train, taking just under three hours. A bus ride will take around the same amount of time.
novi sad (serbia)
Novi Sad is a city in northern Serbia that makes for one of the numerous international day trips from Budapest on this list. It’s actually the capital of Vojvodina, which is an autonomous region of Serbia.
There’s a lot to see and do in Novi Sad, including the Fortress of Petrovaradin, which houses the city museum. The Old Town, the Novi Sad Synagogue, and the multiple museums that decorate the city will leave you craving more Serbian culture.
If you happen to visit Novi Sad in July and are into international music festivals, be sure to secure your tickets in advance to EXIT. EXIT Festival features a wide variety of music genres (think Electric Castle or Coachella-type lineups). In the past, it’s featured Wu Tang Clan, Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, The Cult, and numerous DJs. In 2004, EXIT Festival was named the biggest cultural event in Southeastern Europe.
Novi Sad is accessible as a day trip by car only – the drive takes under three hours. However, if you require public transportation, you’ll need to stay a night or two to make it worth the trip. An indirect bus ride will take just under six hours. Make sure you have your passport, as Serbia is not a Schengen state (nor is it an EU member country).
Debrecen is the second largest city in all of Hungary with important historical connotations with regard to Hungarian Protestantism.
The Nagytemplom, the Reformed Great Church of Debrecen, is a must-see and easily accessible. As for museums, the Déri Museum is definitely worth a trip, but how much time you want to spend exploring museums in Debrecen strictly depends on how much appreciation you have for Hungarian art. Most of the major attractions are in Nagyerdő, the city park, which makes for a pleasant place to spend an afternoon or evening. Debrecen has a stunning botanical garden located next to the university as well.
If you happen to be in the city during August, be sure to visit Virágkarnevál, the Flower Carnival. It’s an entire celebration dedicated to the summer season and national holidays, with virtually everything made of flowers and plenty of festivities for young and old alike to enjoy.
One place you absolutely must visit in Debrecen is Csokonai restaurant, which is a steak house specializing in Hungarian style steaks. It’s located right in front of the Opera House.
Trains depart Budapest hourly and take two and a half hours to reach Debrecen. Leave from Nyugati station – Keleti offers trains to Debrecen, but these take an hour longer.
Prédikálószék, aka the Preaching Chair, is one of the Visegrád Mountains that border Komárom-Esztergom county and Pest county.
For lovers of nature, this is a perfect option for best day trips from Budapest. The Preaching Chair has an altitude of 639 meters, making it the ninth highest point of the mountain range.
Its summit offers one of the most beautiful panoramas of Hungary, unfolding a breathtaking view of the Danube Bend, Börzsöny, Nagymaros and Visegrád.
Getting there from Budapest is slightly tricky without a car. From Budapest, take a train to Nagymaros (approximately forty-five minutes) and from there, take an hour-long taxi. If you can hitch a ride with someone or have rented a car, you can get there in under an hour from the city center.
aggtelek national park
Aggtelek National Park is located in the northern part of Hungary along the border of Slovakia. This is where you want to come if you want to explore caves, wilderness, and wildlife.
Aggtelek boasts over 250 caves that span the boundaries of the park. They vary in size as well as in features. Some offer iconic stalagmites and stalactites (the Baradla Cave, for instance) while others are more renowned for their therapeutic properties (such as the Peace Cave). The entire network of caves is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Aggtelek is much more than just its caves, however. The area is rich in castles, palaces, forts, ruins, museums, and interesting wildlife. If you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of wolves, lynx, deer, and wild boars (among others).
Driving to Aggtelek is the most time-efficient method, with a drive taking under three hours. If you must resort to public transportation, be prepared to wake up early, as it’s a four hour journey by train or bus.
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I know you’re thinking that these places can’t possibly be doable as a day trip if they take so long, right? Well, if you’re ok with getting up early and sleeping on the train, trust me, they’re doable!
The Eastern Slovak city of Košice has had a vibrant history. It’s a colorful university town with one main stretch of street to explore on foot in one day.
There’s plenty to do in Košice on a day trip. The most noteworthy things to do in Košice include Saint Elizabeth’s Cathedral, which is the largest in Slovakia and one of the easternmost Gothic cathedrals in Europe. You can climb to the north tower, giving spectacular views of the Old Town. St. Michael’s Chapel, Saint Urban’s Tower, the State Theatre, the Singing Fountain, the Plague Column, Jacab’s Palace, and the East Slovak Museum are all highlights worthy of your time. For a coffee or snack, head to Halmi Place. For a more formal meal, Med Melina is my recommendation – both are located along the main street.
Košice was named European Capital of Culture in 2013, but is still an underrated and underappreciated gem in eastern Slovakia.
From Budapest, the train takes three and a half hours, and runs twice daily.
brno (czech republic)
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, and a fantastic option for a day trip from Budapest if you’d like to experience an international destination. The city sits between the beautiful South Moravian vineyards and the Moravian Karst in a scenic natural environment.
The city is brimming with pastel-hued buildings, cafes and restaurants, and charming city squares. It’s an ideal springtime destination, when flowers are blooming and the air is permeated with the aromas of freshly baked Czech pastries from the local bakeries.
Popular things to do in Brno include visiting Freedom Square, Špilberk Castle, the Moravian Museum, and UNESCO World Heritage Site Villa Tugendhat. This short list is by no means exhaustive, there are a countless number of churches and museums to visit in Brno.
From Budapest, the train takes just under four hours. If you want to trim an hour off your travel time, hitch a ride with a local or rent a car.
hortobagy national park
The Hortobagy National Park is where you want to visit to explore the vast Hungarian plains in the east. It’s best-known for its interesting wildlife and rich cultural traditions. This is also where you want to go if you’re interested in horseback riding or seeing the renowned Hungarian riders in Puszta.
There’s a wide variety of flora and fauna in the national park, and is especially popular with bird watchers, who love to visit to see various species migrations.
From Budapest, there is a train twice daily and takes under four hours. If you want to stay longer at Hortobagy National Park, check out Patkos Csarda for cozy rooms in thatch-roofed buildings. The attached restaurant will not disappoint!