Things to do in Hungary

As one of Europe's most fascinating countries, Hungary offers a wealth of sightseeing attractions. Visitors to beautiful Budapest marvel at its architecture, operas and music concerts, all the while taking in the romance of the Danube River and the capital's famed spa baths.

Budapest has many celebrated tourist attractions and is a useful transport hub for exploring the rest of the country. Tourists can visit Hévíz and soak in the world's second largest thermal lake, Gyógytó, or stop by Momento Park, one of the world's most bizarre attractions, where hundreds of giant statues are kept after being banished at the end of the communist era.

Also popular is a trip to Szentendre for a spot of shopping, and a visit to the old university town of Keszthely to enjoy the quaint tree-lined streets, trendy cafes and busy markets.

The best season to visit Hungary is in the summer, between April and September, when the days are long and the weather warm.

Most towns and cities in Hungary have reliable and affordable public transport, but the best way to see the country is to hire a car and experience it all at a leisurely pace.

Buda Castle photo

Buda Castle

Buda Castle is the royal complex of past Hungarian monarchs. Sitting atop Castle Hill in the picturesque Castle District of Buda, the royal palace was first inhabited by King Béla…

Buda Castle

Buda Castle is the royal complex of past Hungarian monarchs. Sitting atop Castle Hill in the picturesque Castle District of Buda, the royal palace was first inhabited by King Béla in the 13th century. Its strategic location straddling the Danube offered whoever controlled the city a defensive position and potential control of the main waterway. The castle has a mixture of architectural styles, ranging from Gothic to Baroque. Today, it's the country's most important cultural centre, housing numerous museums with the majority of the buildings being historical monuments. The Budapest History Museum contains an exhibition explaining the history of the city, as well as archaeological remains of the palace. Also within the palace complex are the Hungarian National Gallery, the National Library and the Ludwig Museum.

Address 1 Szent, György tér

Fisherman’s Bastion photo

Fisherman’s Bastion

Built in 1905 on the medieval castle walls, the ramparts of the Fisherman's Bastion were so named after those whose duty it was to defend this side of the hill during the Middle Ag…

Fisherman’s Bastion

Built in 1905 on the medieval castle walls, the ramparts of the Fisherman's Bastion were so named after those whose duty it was to defend this side of the hill during the Middle Ages. The Romanesque Revival-style ramparts are purely ornamental, with gleaming white cloisters and stairways connecting seven turrets symbolic of the Magyar tribes that conquered the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century. Set back from the ramparts is an equestrian statue of King Stephen, a memorial to the founder of the Hungarian nation. The view from Fisherman's Bastion is outstanding at day or night, looking over the Danube, the Chain Bridge and the Parliament Buildings with Pest stretching out into the distance.

The Great Synagogue and Jewish Museum photo

The Great Synagogue and Jewish Museum

Situated within the charming old Jewish Quarter of Pest, the Great Synagogue is one of the largest in the world. Its style is Byzantine-Moorish, with patterned brickwork in the red…

The Great Synagogue and Jewish Museum

Situated within the charming old Jewish Quarter of Pest, the Great Synagogue is one of the largest in the world. Its style is Byzantine-Moorish, with patterned brickwork in the red, blue and yellow colours of the city's coat of arms. Gilded domed towers, splendid archways and beautiful windows make this one of Budapest's finest landmarks. The splendid interior glitters with lights and gilded arches while balconies line the walls, while the ceiling is covered in Stars of David and the floor is tiled in decorative stars. On Jewish festivals, it's packed with Jews from all over Hungary who come to celebrate within its splendour. Next door is the Jewish Museum, containing a Holocaust Memorial Room and relics from the Hungarian Jewish Community. In the courtyard is the Holocaust Memorial in the shape of a weeping willow tree, each metal leaf engraved with the names of those who have passed away.

Website www.greatsynagogue.hu

Hungarian Parliament photo

Hungarian Parliament

On the bank of the Danube stands the beautiful Hungarian Parliament, an imposing sight and a prominent feature of the city skyline. With its red dome, white stone lace ornamentatio…

Hungarian Parliament

On the bank of the Danube stands the beautiful Hungarian Parliament, an imposing sight and a prominent feature of the city skyline. With its red dome, white stone lace ornamentation and sharp spires, it's the city's most decorative structure. Stone lions flank the entrance guarding a rich interior of marble and gold, statues and columns. Magnificent artefacts are seen on guided tours, such as the 1,000-year-old crown of the first Hungarian King. The grand edifice, stretching for 250 metres (820ft) along the embankment, is one of the biggest national assemblies in the world.

Website www.parlament.hu

Memento Park photo

Memento Park

A popular yet bizarre attraction, Memento Park contains the giant figures of the communist era that once filled the streets of Budapest. Among them are the forms of Lenin, Marx and…

Memento Park

A popular yet bizarre attraction, Memento Park contains the giant figures of the communist era that once filled the streets of Budapest. Among them are the forms of Lenin, Marx and Engels, as well as memorials to Soviet soldiers and communist martyrs. There are also exhibitions detailing the history of the Soviet occupation in Budapest, contributing to a unique collection of artefacts and a fine location to educate oneself on the nature of communism.

Website www.szoborpark.hu

Heviz photo

Heviz

Lake Hévíz is the world's largest thermal lake, a most extraordinary sight with its huge milky blue surface covered in water lilies and steam. The warm water wells up from a volc…

Heviz

Lake Hévíz is the world's largest thermal lake, a most extraordinary sight with its huge milky blue surface covered in water lilies and steam. The warm water wells up from a volcanic crater spring about 40 metres (128ft) below the surface, with the recommended maximum time in the water during any session being one hour. The mud is said to be slightly radioactive and good for various medical conditions, but only in small doses. A pavilion in the centre is reached by a covered bridge, and indoor swimming takes place in an area enclosed with plexiglas. Gaps in the plastic lead to the rest of the lake where swimmers can float among the water lilies and swim between platforms bobbing on the surface. There are also various other spa and health treatments on offer.

Website www.heviz.hu/en

Eger Castle photo

Eger Castle

Eger Castle overlooks its town namesake and is one of the most popular and famous attractions in Hungary. The original buildings included a cathedral and the Bishop's Palace, datin…

Eger Castle

Eger Castle overlooks its town namesake and is one of the most popular and famous attractions in Hungary. The original buildings included a cathedral and the Bishop's Palace, dating back to the 13th century. The castle was later fortified and the walls provided the cover for its determined defence by a small and outnumbered army against a Turkish force. The women who fought alongside the soldiers claimed their place in national consciousness during this much-celebrated act of heroism. The popular Dobó István Fortress Museum in the restored palace has exhibitions on the history of the town and castle. Also within the castle grounds is the Heroes' Hall, which holds the grave of the celebrated leader, Dobó István, as well as the Prison Museum, Waxworks and the underground rock-hewn artillery enclosures.

Website gotohungary.com/about-hungary/-/netaview/1484173/castle-of-eger

Szépasszony Valley (Valley of the Pretty Woman) photo

Szépasszony Valley (Valley of the Pretty Woman)

With its rolling vineyards and century-old cellars and taverns, Szépasszony Valley is a favourite attraction in Eger. Wine producers welcome visitors into their quaint old cellars…

Szépasszony Valley (Valley of the Pretty Woman)

With its rolling vineyards and century-old cellars and taverns, Szépasszony Valley is a favourite attraction in Eger. Wine producers welcome visitors into their quaint old cellars, hollowed out of the porous rock hundreds of years ago. Here, some of the country's finest red wines can be tasted, including the unique Bull's Blood. The rows of cellars are numbered and each has a particular charm, whether it's the chequered tablecloths of an underground tavern or the wooden barrels of fermenting grapes in an uneven rock passageway. It's even possible to book a visit to the Godly Cellar, the oldest in the region. It operated as a secret church during the Turkish occupation, and the stone altar and religious artworks still remain.

Keszthely photo

Keszthely

Keszthely is a university town settled during Roman times, enjoying trendy cafes, tree-lined streets and busy market areas. Its most important sight is the Festetics Palace, with t…

Keszthely

Keszthely is a university town settled during Roman times, enjoying trendy cafes, tree-lined streets and busy market areas. Its most important sight is the Festetics Palace, with the Helikon Palace Museum and Library both in one of its Baroque wings. Varosi Strand is great for travelling families, with its beach and amusement area. It has water slides, a big pool and various play spaces, as well as nice lawns, a beach and loungers. Keszthely likes to describe itself as the capital of Lake Balaton and it's the best town from which to explore the lakeside surroundings, including the thermal lake at Hévíz and the nearby Kis Balaton, a wetland reserve perfect for birdwatching.

Website www.keszthely.hu/en/

Szentendre photo

Szentendre

Szentendre is a quaint old market town situated on the slopes of the Pilis Mountains. Meandering cobbled lanes, red-tiled roofs and brightly painted houses, along with small town s…

Szentendre

Szentendre is a quaint old market town situated on the slopes of the Pilis Mountains. Meandering cobbled lanes, red-tiled roofs and brightly painted houses, along with small town squares and Orthodox churches give it a charming and picturesque setting. Serbian refugees inhabited the town in medieval times and built numerous churches, with their style contributing to the town's haphazard charisma and Balkan flavour. In the 1900s, the town became a favourite retreat for painters and sculptors, resulting in a wealth of museums, galleries and art collections. Being close to Budapest, the town is a popular excursion and summer weekends can get rather crowded.

Visegrad photo

Visegrad

Situated on the loop of the Danube beneath steep hills, Visegrad was once a Roman stronghold on the border of the Roman Empire and the second home to Hungarian royalty in the 14th …

Visegrad

Situated on the loop of the Danube beneath steep hills, Visegrad was once a Roman stronghold on the border of the Roman Empire and the second home to Hungarian royalty in the 14th and 15th centuries. On the banks are ruins of the magnificent palace, one of the finest ever built in the country and now the open air King Matthias Museum. As this intriguing history suggests, the village is a delight for history buffs and retains an old-world feel. Visegrad is also a good base for outdoor activities in the lovely surrounding countryside and there is an excursion centre behind Castle Hill which organises activities such as hiking, canopy trails and cycling.

Esztergom photo

Esztergom

Esztergom combines captivating history with riverside charm. One of Hungary's most historically important towns, it was the capital for over 250 years and the birthplace of their b…

Esztergom

Esztergom combines captivating history with riverside charm. One of Hungary's most historically important towns, it was the capital for over 250 years and the birthplace of their beloved first king and saint, Stephen, who was crowned here in the 11th century. It remains the religious centre of the country, with Hungary's largest church dominating the hill next to the ruins of the medieval royal palace. The colossal basilica was the first cathedral in the country, offering wonderful views from its enormous dome and contains a crypt and priceless treasures. Below is the pretty Watertown District, with its uneven cobbled streets winding up the hill towards the castle.

Website www.esztergom.hu

Vác photo

Vác

Vác is a pretty Baroque town on the east bank of the Danube Bend. Despite its many attractions and charms, it's wonderfully less crowded than some of the other famous towns along …

Vác

Vác is a pretty Baroque town on the east bank of the Danube Bend. Despite its many attractions and charms, it's wonderfully less crowded than some of the other famous towns along the river. The stunning cathedral founded by the first Hungarian King is its most popular attraction, while a more macabre attraction awaits in the Memento Mori Crypt, housing a number of naturally mummified corpses and their well-preserved clothes and decorated coffins. This World Heritage Site is a significant archaeological discovery, enabling several breakthroughs in science and ethnography. Vác also has a wonderful pedestrianised town square, surrounded by colourful buildings and a splendid promenade along the Danube River.

Kecskemet photo

Kecskemet

A 53-mile (86km) drive from Budapest, Kecskemét makes for a wonderful excursion. While this garden city is quite large, the place has a uniquely small-town charm. Walking around t…

Kecskemet

A 53-mile (86km) drive from Budapest, Kecskemét makes for a wonderful excursion. While this garden city is quite large, the place has a uniquely small-town charm. Walking around the scenic city centre is pleasant, with the abundance of open squares and avenues peppered with colourful Art Nouveau buildings. There are a number of attractions in Kecskemét that visitors enjoy, including the distillery tours at the Pálinka Museum, the Hungarian Museum of Photography and the Museum of Hungarian Folk Art and Handicrafts, as well as the beautiful architecture and art collections at the city hall. Kecskemét has existed in some form since at least the 14th century, so it's no surprise that it holds so many old and hidden gems.

Balatonfured photo

Balatonfured

Balatonfüred has been the most fashionable resort on Lake Balaton since the 18th century when the medicinal centre was established, with people still drawn to its healing thermal …

Balatonfured

Balatonfüred has been the most fashionable resort on Lake Balaton since the 18th century when the medicinal centre was established, with people still drawn to its healing thermal waters. While the mineral baths are reserved for patients, Balatonfüred remains popular with tourists as there are three good beaches for swimming, sunbathing and yachting, and there is also a number of cycle tracks along the lake and through the surrounding region. A wine tasting festival is held in August annually and the famous Anna Ball takes place on the weekend closest to 26 July (Anna Day) at the Anna Grand Hotel.