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Hungary: Cobbled streets, charming castles and historic churches
June 4, 2017, 5:02 pm

From beautiful Budapest - the city of lights - to its many quaint villages and fantastic scenery, Hungary evokes a strong sense of history and tradition at every turn. Yet while Budapest, justifiably compared with cities like Prague and even Paris, is by far the country's biggest tourist draw, be sure to spend time traveling beyond the capital. 

Cities and towns of all sizes have preserved their classic old historical attractions, many of which exhibit influences from various cultures, including Turkish invaders and Italian Renaissance designers. And Hungary's countryside includes some of the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere in Eastern Europe.

In fact, wherever you are in Hungary, you are never far from spectacular mountains and lakes, beautiful river scenes - the awesome Danube runs right through the country - and lush valleys, all providing great opportunities for hiking and other fun outdoor activities.


Situated on both banks of the Danube, Budapest unites the colorful hills of Buda and the wide, businesslike boulevards of Pest. Though it was the site of a Roman outpost during the 1st century, the city was not officially created until 1873, when the towns of Óbuda, Pest, and Buda united. Since then, Budapest has been the cultural, political, intellectual, and commercial heart of Hungary.


Just 64 kilometers south of Vienna and eight kilometers from the Austrian border near the eastern foothills of the Alps, Sopron is a popular destination for day trippers. Much of its allure stems not just from its attractive surroundings, but also from its many well preserved medieval and Baroque buildings. All told, the town boasts 115 officially-listed monuments and 240 protected buildings, one of the largest such collections in Europe. All the buildings in the Old Town are found within the confines of the medieval town wall built on Roman ruins. Many of these are of particular interest as they contain features added from other historic periods.

Historic Spa Towns:

If you are looking for a vacation that combines some down time with a rich cultural experience, Hungary delivers. There are many historic spa towns and facilities throughout the country offering everything from simple bathing in regenerative waters to longer stays in lovely spa resorts.

The Danube:

The spectacular Danube River flows through Hungary from north to south, and as it passes through Budapest splits the city in two. One of the best sunset views of both Buda and Pest is from the lovely Freedom Bridge, a favorite spot among locals. Other great places from which to view this majestic river is at the Danube Bend, one of the country's most popular recreational and excursion spots. This is where the river winds its way through the heavily wooded Visegrád Mountains before turning sharply south towards Budapest.

The Buda Hills:

There is so much to like about beautiful Budapest, and so much to explore, including its numerous open spaces and parks. The Buda Hills, on the western outskirts of the city, is one of the most popular of these areas. Rising to heights of more than 518 meters, the hills are crisscrossed by a comprehensive system of trails, perfect for walking or biking. Once there, you can explore numerous caves, and afterwards take a ride back to town on the classic Cog-wheel Railway.


This is one of the most popular holiday resorts on Lake Balaton. Originally an island, this tiny peninsula - covering just eight square kilometers - boasts some of Hungary's most extraordinary scenery. Designated a nature reserve, the southwestern section is closed to traffic and is wonderful to explore on foot along the well-marked trail network. A must-visit landmark in the town itself is the beautiful 17th-century Benedictine Abbey with its spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding area.

The Caves of Lillafüred:

Lillafüred in the Bükk Mountains is another very popular spa destination in Hungary. It is also famous for its many spectacular caves, all within an easy walk of the town. Some of the most interesting to explore are the István Cave with its fantastic stalactite formations, and the Petofi Cave, famous the world over for the impressions of extinct plant species left in the limestone walls. For a more adventurous hike, take the trail to the Szeleta Cave with its relics from the Ice Age, including skillfully made arrows and spears.

Buda Castle:

This historic landmark - now a UNESCO World Heritage Site - ranks right up there with Versailles in terms of its majestic proportions and wonderful design. Built on the site of a palace destroyed during the Siege of 1686, this newer structure was rebuilt in the 18th century for the Habsburg monarchy and includes more than 200 rooms. Its spectacular symmetrical layout focuses on the lovely 61-meter-high central dome facing the Danube, from where amazing views of the castle can be enjoyed.

Visegrád Royal Palace:

Located above the beautiful old town of Visegrád in the Danube Bend, just 40 kilometers north of Budapest, the ruins of Visegrád Royal Palace and the old citadel make for an easy day trip from Hungary's capital. The first Royal Palace was built under Charles I, and was extended a hundred years later with many Italian flourishes, gaining it a reputation as one of the finest palaces in all of Europe. While now largely ruins - the legendary palace was only rediscovered in the 1930s - the palace impresses with its dimensions and incredible views over the Danube and the surrounding area.

Cathedral of St. Peter:

Dominating the northwest corner of the fortified Old Town of Pecs lies the Cathedral of St. Peter. Built on the site of an ancient Roman burial chapel, the cathedral, like many historic attractions in Hungary, shows influences from many different cultures. Inside, many unique religious artifacts from throughout Hungarian history have been collected and are on display. 

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