Hungary map & highlights

Follow the Danube to see some of Hungary’s most beautiful towns and cities or, in the case of Komarom, places that also straddle the border with Slovakia. Small group tours and cycling holidays typically cross the border from Austria or Slovakia, while trains can whisk you between Budapest and far-flung capitals such as London and Istanbul. In Budapest, explore on foot, bus or by orange tram – just do it out of high season. Anyone keen to spot birds and see some Hungarian countryside should head north-east of Budapest, for the national parks around winegrowing Eger.

1. Budapest

A city of two halves – Buda and Pest – taken as a whole, Budapest packs in extravagant architecture, homegrown wine and wide boulevards into its Danube-straddling footprint. Catch a funicular to Castle Hill for spectacular views of the Gothic Revival Parliament Building and soak in Gellert Baths –a bit like swimming in an Art Nouveau arcade. Avoid the creeping coach and cruise crowds by timing things right
Bukk Mountains

2. Bukk Mountains

Hungary is a popular place for twitchers. Guided birding holidays are often based at Eger, which has a huge variety of habitats and birds on its doorstep. Bukk National Park is mainly woodpecker-friendly deciduous forest, Lake Tisza and Heves Plain are home to storks and eagles, while Hortobagy National Park, Bodrogzug and the Tisza Floodplains teem with wetland birds and the raptors that prey on them.
The Danube

3. The Danube

The Danube careers into Hungary via its northwest border with Austria and Slovakia, steers around the mountainous Danube Bend towards Budapest and waves goodbye at the corner of Croatia and Serbia. The best way to explore its floodplains and fortified towns isn’t on a crowded river cruise, but via the Danube Cycle Path. It ploughs through borders passport-free – and, thanks to Schengen, so can most travellers.

4. Eger

In the hills of the Bukk Mountains, Eger is famed for its castle and wine. Try some Egri Bikaver – Bull’s Blood – before (or maybe after) climbing the 40m-high minaret and relaxing in one of the thermal baths, all a legacy of Turkey’s 91-year rule of the city form the late 16th century. Move over, Liverpool – there’s also Egri Road Beatles Museum here.

5. Esztergom

The former capital of Hungary, Esztergom is the seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church and is chock-full of architectural gems such as the Royal Castle Palace and Vizivaros – or Watertown – so named for its hot springs. The must-see and can’t miss sight, though, is the Basilica, the third largest church in Europe, on the banks of the Danube overlooking Slovakia.

6. Gyor

Halfway between Budapest and Vienna, the baroque city of Gyor sits at the confluence of three rivers including, you’ve guessed it, the Danube. The city’s ancient core is Kaptalan Hill, but don’t miss the impressive Town Hall, Becsi Kapu Square, and picturesque Kiraly Street. Cycling holidays typically cruise through here en route to Esztergom and Budapest.
Travel Team
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Hungary sample itineraries

Vienna to Budapest self guided cycle ride (8 days)
Vienna > Petronell-Carnuntum Roman ruins > Bad Deutsch-Altenburg > Hainburg > Bratislava > Mosonmagyarovar > Halaszi > Gyor > Tata > Esztergom > Danube Bend > Szentendre > Budapest

Hungary bird watching tour (7 days)
Budapest > Eger > Bukk National Park > Lake Tisza & Heves Plain > Hortobagy National Park > Bodrogzug & Tisza Floodplains > Budapest

Eastern Europe cultural tour (14 days)
Budapest > Eger > Valley of the Beautiful Woman > Maramures > Cluj Napoca > Transylvania > Sighisoara > Brasov > Bran Castle > Bucharest > Veliko Tarnovo > Sofia > Plovdiv > Istanbul

Europe by train (4 weeks)
London > Amsterdam > Berlin > Prague > Vienna > Bratislava > Budapest > Zagreb > Venice > Florence > Rome > Paris > London

Hungary travel times

The following times give you a rough idea of the travel times between the main attractions in Hungary.
Vienna to Budapest: 2 hours 40 minutes by train Budapest to Szentendre: 1 hour by ferry Eger to Hortobagy National Park: 1 hour 30 minutes by car The Danube Cycle Path from Esztergom to Budapest: 2 (leisurely) days by bike Walk up Castle Hill, Budapest: 10 minutes
Photo credits: [Page banner: Peter Gyure] [Budapest: Ibolya] [Bukk Mountains: Istvan Berta] [The Danube: Dan Novac] [Eger: Steve Talas] [Esztergom: Villy] [Gyor: Slashme] [Travel times: Jorge Franganillo]