I truly love Budapest and I believe that it is one of the most beautiful and livable capitals in Europe. Perfect destination for visitors at any age or interest. Therefore I can totally understand that most of the people do not visit any other towns or villages in the countryside even tough they arrive for longer period or even move to Budapest for a while. But let me tell you that they miss a lot. Hungary is a little country but full with hidden treasures waiting for get explored.
Here is a list of my personal favorites:
1. Upper Balaton region: Tihany & Badacsony
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe and called ‘The Hungarian Sea’ among Hungarians. If you would like to go there during hot summer days for sun, swim and fun I would recommend the southern part of the lake. But if you want to taste great wines, visit cute villages, and get some idea about the Hungarian culture, you should definitely have a trip in Upper Balaton region.
Tihany is a lovely village on the northern shore of Lake Balaton on the Tihany Peninsula. The whole peninsula is considered as a historical district. What makes it even more interesting is the Benedictine Tihany Abbey, which is situated in the centre of the Peninsula and was founded in 1055 AD by András (Andrew) I.
Best time to visit: Spring or early Autumn. If you like flowers, colors and don’t mind a bit crowd around you visit there during Lavender Festival in the end of June/begin of July.
Believe it or not but Hungary has 22 wine regions. All of them has different specialties, tastes and many of them different grape types even. Egri Bikavér (dry red wine) and Tokaji aszú (sweet white wine) might sound familiar to you but frankly speaking I don’t really like any of them. I prefer wines from Balaton Region, one of my favorites is Olaszrizling from Badacsony.
Bacsony hill is a natural form that everybody can easily recognize. If you like stories behind the places read it’s legend.
Best time to visit: During the grape harvest and wine festival season in September.
+ 1 insider tip: cycling around Lake Balaton is an awesome program if you have at least 3 days and like biking. It is the best during summer when you can have a refreshing swim if it gets too hot or early autumn when every single village organize it’s own wine festival. Enjoy the great wines but stay at the safe side during the biking tour 🙂
2. Sopron – Kőszeg
Sopron is situated near the Austrian border of Hungary, at the foot of the Alps. Beside of it’s historical sites such as Gate of Faith, Storno House, The Holy Trinity Statue, Goat Church, the surrounding natural environment with it’s hiking routes, wooded hillsides, mountain springs and Lake Fertő make the town one of the most unique destinations in Hungary. Sopron is also famous of it’s wine (mainly red wine) culture which gets back to ancient Roman times.
Kőszeg is a real jewel-box of Hungary situated 45 km south from Sopron. This charming little town will make you feel like the time has stopped. Have a walk on it’s lovely streets and visit famous cultural sights like the Sgrafitto House, the Gothic Sacred Heart Church, the eldest Town Hall of Hungary, or the Baroque-styled Parish House which is also known as ‘Lada House’.
If you like hiking check out the National Blue Trail’s route which starts from here. I’ve started in the beginning of this year and it is amazing.
Best time to visit: whenever you feel the weather is nice enough for longer walks.
3. Aggtelek Natural Park
Aggtelek Natural Park is a national park in Northern Hungary. The greatest values of the park are the special surface formations and underground caves. It consists 280 caves with different sizes and some of the caves have different specialties such as the Peace Cave. It has a sanatorium which helps treating people suffering from asthma. Aggtelek Natural Park is the member of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1995 together with the Slovak Karst caves.
Best time to visit: from May until October
4. Miskolc-Tapolca + Lillafüred
The Cave Bath of Miskolc-Tapolca provides a unique bath experience in any season. The Cave Bath is waiting for it’s guests with 6 pools, 30 °C warm thermal water and with the pleasing climate of the cave.
Lillafüred is 12 km far from Miskolc. It is one of the places where I feel myself like Alice in wonderland. One of the most beautiful hotel The Palace Hotel is situated there. Not just look like a stunning castle from the middle ages but one of the restaurants of the hotel is a Renaissance restaurant named after King Matthias. The highest waterfall in Hungary so called hanging gardens are below the hotel. Together with the cave at the bottom (Anna cave) is a must see if you are around there.
Best time to visit: during autumn and winter
Szarvas is called as the pearl of the Great Plain. It was the geographic center of Hungary before the Treaty of Trianon and it’s my hometown as well. This town has really something in the air which makes people feeling relaxed, happy and balanced so they visit back to here time to time. Szarvas is situated 180 km far from Budapest between Kecskemét and Békéscsaba in Békés county. This lovely town full with cultural and natural heritages will be a love at first sight for you too. Exciting mixture of the Hungarian and Slovak culture, habits and food. Water sports, cycling, horse riding or ice skating. Summer parties, open air theater, museums, castles, natural park, thermal water pool and rural hospitality are just some of the things what Szarvas has on it’s list for all visitors and locals.
Best time to visit: Anytime. However during summer and autumn you can select between more events.
+ 1 Őrség (National Park and the villages)
I’ve never been there but it is on my list. Őrség (in English “guide”) region is in the southwest corner in Hungary. Whenever I see a picture from this land I find it wonderful and mysterious at the same time. A hidden treasure, seem to be one of the wildest and most romantic area of the country. It is a wonderful land with forests and meadows where guardians were settled during the Hungarian conquest.
Best time to visit: It seems that autumn is the best time to explore this wonderland.
There are much more marvelous places in this little country. The ‘best place to visit’ might be changing according to your preferences and the actual season, but I guarantee that the Hungarian countryside will not disappoint you.