The first picture that probably comes to mind when you hear about Hungary is, of course, its capital - the wonderful Budapest, which is a very popular tourist destination for many around the world. Other large cities in the country, such as Debrecen and Szeged, also make the cut for the map of recommended tourist attractions, but at the same time know that Hungary's greatest source of magic is hidden in its small towns and picturesque villages that extend from Balaton Lake in the western part of the country to the edge of The Danube River in the north - where thousands of years of history, culture and traditional Hungarian life are preserved in the most authentic and fascinating way. So if you want to get to know Hungary in depth and get out of Budapest to enjoy a local, pleasant and picturesque experience, visit the following 10 places.
A cluster of bright red tiled roofs will greet you when you reach Tihany, a beautiful and peaceful village on the northern bank of Lake Balaton - the largest lake in Hungary and Central Europe. Apart from a fun day on the lakeside that you can enjoy here, a visit to the ancient district of Tihany is a recommended experience, where you’ll see a beautiful ancient Benedictine monastery built more than 100 years ago. In addition, you’ll find a local spice market and a stunning lavender field.
The small and graceful town of Gödöll sits in the suburbs of Budapest, a 40-minute drive from the center of the beloved capital city, so the visit can certainly be made as part of a short and refreshing day trip. The main attraction in the town is the royal palace of Gödöll, built in the 18th century, in which lived the emperors of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Franz Josef I and Karl I. The palace is one of the finest and most refined remains of the Austrian influence on this area.
You can spend a particularly sweet day in the small and ancient town of Szerencs in northeastern Hungary, visiting the city's sugar museum and touring the historic Rákóczi Castle, which was built in the 16th century and was home to the noble Rákóczi family, who ruled Transylvania at that time. In addition, you’ll find a number of impressive churches, belonging to three different denominations in Christianity: a Roman Catholic Church, a Calvinist church of Protestant Christians and a Greek Catholic church.
If your body and mind desire a little relaxation, then come to Hévíz, a spa town near the hot spring lake that goes by the same name, and enjoy a steady stream of tourists coming to wade in its waters known to possess health benefits. Bathing in the lake is recommended and pleasant throughout the year, with the water staying between 24 and 38 degrees. Swimming in Hévíz lake is undoubtedly the best leisure activity you can take part in while here.
Peace dwells in the streets of this small hidden town which is located in a flourishing valley between the Gerecse Mountains and the Vértes Mountains, about 70 km from Budapest and near the Slovak border. Tata is affectionately known as the "Water City" and is known as one of the most romantic towns in Hungary, and this is because it is draped in green and sits on the bank of Lake Öreg - the ancient lake.
Next to Lake Balaton, which we mentioned earlier, you will also find the beautiful Tapolca, in which several historically famous Hungarian artists, poets, and writers were born. Beyond wandering through the colorful and soothing streets of this town, you can enjoy a pleasurable cruise on Tapolca’s Lake Cave - a hidden 3.3 km long tortuous cave system with clear waters and a unique and interesting rock trail.
In the town of Vác, about 35 km from Budapest, history is visible from every corner of the town: from the Baroque palaces built here by the Habsburg royal family that once ruled Europe to the remains of ancient Roman houses and the magnificent façade of the Dominican church located in the center of the city. A beautiful natural landscape can be found here, as Vác sits on the banks of the Danube River, which crosses Hungary, and provides wonderful sights even on a short trip along it.
A short hour's drive from Budapest and you are in Visegrád, a picturesque medieval town that should not be missed, even if it's just for a short day trip. The main attraction here is the impressive, towering castle built in Visegrad in the 12th century at the initiative of King Béla IV, as well as the magnificent royal palace, which was founded for the first King Charles I of Hungary.
If you want to take a break from studying the fascinating history of Hungary and visiting all those ancient villages and towns which the country is abundant with, and instead want to simply enjoy the beach and take a dip in the water, head for Siófok, one of the most popular resorts in Hungary. In Siófok, considered the "capital of Balaton" by many Hungarians, locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy the modern hotels built here and the pleasant beaches.