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Budapest has become one of the hottest international travel destinations in the world because of its affordability, amazing sightseeing opportunities, exciting nightlife, and quirky vibe. Many travelers fly right into Budapest and never leave the city, which is understandable since there is so much to see and do here. However, it’s also enlightening to take a day trip or two from Budapest to experience other parts of Hungary that the average traveler never sees. Here are our top picks for day trips from Budapest to help you really get to know this region.
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Esztergom was once the capital of Hungary long ago and is packed with historical sites that are definitely worth taking a day trip for. This city is northwest of Budapest and less than 1.5 hours away by car or public transportation. For a more scenic journey, you can also make this day trip by boat. Top sightseeing stops for the day are the Hungarian Royal Palace Ruins and the iconic cathedral in town. Points of interest also include the Maria Valeria Bridge and Statue of King Saint Stephen.
Every visitor to Hungary owes it to himself or herself to explore the Danube Bend region. One essential stop along the path of this river is Visegrád, which is a castle town that feels like something out of a fairytale. Here you can see King Béla IV’s 13th-century citadel and either hike or take a taxi to the top of the hill. The palace ruins and the Zugfozde Palinka Museum are popular places to visit for the day in this area. If time allows, go for a hike in this area for unforgettable views and photo opportunities. From Budapest, you can get to Visegrád by bus in about an hour and 15 minutes or by boat if you have a little more time to spend.
The second largest city in Hungary after Budapest is Debrecen, and it’s filled with local history and culture to explore. Top city attractions to visit here are the Great Reformed Church, Hortobágyi National Park, and the Nagyerdei Water Tower. If you visit in August, you can attend the popular flower carnival here that features beautiful flower arrangements along with traditional music, art, and dancing. The Déri Museum, Ferenc Medgyessy Memorial Museum, and the Flower Clock are also popular attractions in Debrecen. Meanwhile, the Aquaticum baths allow you to soak in soothing waters alongside tropical plants and water playground features for the kids. Here you can relax in the Jacuzzis and also book spa treatments for a little vacation rejuvenation. Debrecen is within 2.5 hours of Budapest by car and public transportation.
This small town is close to Budapest and home to the Royal Palace of Gödöllő, which was once a residence of Emperor Franz Josef. The palace is an architectural masterpiece that offers guided tours. Day trip visitors enjoy walking around the palace grounds and seeing all the impressive silk and crystal inside. To get to Gödöllő, you can hop on a train from the Keleti station in Budapest and arrive in about 30 minutes. Erzsebet Park, the World Peace Gong, and the Lazar Equestrian Park are other local things to see and explore here.
The town of Szentendre is a perfect place to visit for the day if you enjoy art, culture, and charm. Here you’ll find colorful buildings, artistic inspiration, and some lovely markets to browse for artisanal masterpieces. Szentendre continues to be an artist hub today after an art colony was formed here in the 1920s. A train from Budapest will get you here in about an hour, and it is reachable by boat in the summertime as well. Boat rides take about an hour and a half, and buses from Budapest will get you here as well.
Eger is another top day trip from Budapest and accessible by train. Here you can see the city’s lovely cathedral, central plaza, many baroque churches, thermal baths, and a charming Old Town area to wander around. See the Eger Basilica, the Dobó Castle Museum, and the Baroque Lyceum when you take a day trip here. Or for a less scheduled day, you can simply wander around the central market at Old Town and observe everything around you. Located in northeastern Hungary, Eger is also well-known among wine enthusiasts. The red blend, Egri Bikavér, is particularly popular here, although some wonderful white wines are locally made as well. This region’s wine history dates back hundreds of years, so plan to tour a winery or two and partake in some tastings. Buses and trains from Budapest will get you to Eger in about two hours.
For something entirely different, head to the Hungarian town of Hollókő to experience how locals lived rural lives many years ago. Here you’ll find traditional buildings that commemorate this way of life and maybe even get to attend a local festival. The festivals here celebrate artisan craftsmanship and local traditions. Easter is a particularly charming time to visit here because of the holiday festival, for example. It’s also fun to watch the famous castle games in town. If you have time in your day, see the Paloc Doll Museum, Szent Marton Church, and Holloko Var here. This town is about 55 miles northeast of Budapest and easiest to reach by car.
The city of Győr is best known for Vienna Gate Square, which is home to the Carmelite Church and many historic homes from the 17th and 18th centuries. Győrhas an Old Town area where you can see Baroque and Renaissance architecture and marvel at the beauty. Other top sights here are Bishop’s Castle and the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary that dates back to the 11th century. Another great thing about visiting Győr is that it’s about halfway between Budapest and Vienna, making it an excellent stop for the day as part of a longer vacation. A day trip from Budapest to Győr takes about an hour and a half by car or public transportation.