Hungary is fast becoming one of the most popular countries to visit in Europe. I may be biased as I have Hungarian ancestry and spent many of my teenage summers there, but it is truly one of the most beautiful countries I have visited. There are low mountains to the north, the Great Northern Plain to the east, 10 rivers and beautiful lakes. The country has a rich cultural history that can be seen in the stunning architecture you will find when you visit any of the cities in Hungary.
The capital, Budapest, was previously two cities, Buda on the Danube River’s west and Pest on the east. In 1840, the Szechenyi Bridge was built connecting them and in 1873, Buda and Pest became one city. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with its elegant boulevards and striking buildings. It also has 80 geothermal springs and Budapest’s thermal baths and spas have become famous worldwide. In fact, there are many mineral spas all over the country, harking back to the influence of the Romans and Ottomans.
The cuisine in Hungary is hearty. You have probably heard of goulash; meat and dumplings are often served in traditional Hungarian restaurants. The spice, paprika, is lavishly used in many savoury dishes. It is not the most vegan or vegetarian-friendly country, but things are changing, and now you will find interesting food to suit any diet in the major cities of Hungary.
Most visitors head to Budapest and while it is a fascinating city, other Hungarian cities have a lot to offer too. Many can be visited on a day trip from Budapest allowing you to see more of the country. Here are the best towns and cities in Hungary to tick off your to-visit list.
20 Towns And Cities In Hungary
Cities in Hungary
1 – Budapest
Budapest is a fascinating city, rich in history, with great shopping, many restaurants and cafes, and legendary nightlife ranging from ‘ruin’ bars to lavish cocktail venues.
The Hungarians know how to party.
The city has three UNESCO World Heritage sites, which is no mean achievement, with the highlight of the Buda side of the Danube being the grandiose Buda Castle.
It was built in the 13th century, although most of the Baroque Palace now occupying the site was built between 1748 to 1769.
The castle was the home of the Hungarian monarchs until the last king, Charles IV, was deposed after WWI.
You need to reserve at least half a day to visit the castle because, as well as visiting some of the stately rooms, the castle also houses the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery.
The castle sits on top of Castle Hill, and from here, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the Danube.
While you are at the castle, take the time to visit nearby Matthias Church, where two kings of Hungary were crowned.
In Pest, the highlight is St Stephen’s Basilica, constructed in the 1850s.
It has a colonnaded entryway and a facade adorned with carvings of the 12 apostles.
Hungary’s first king, Stephen I, is buried here; you can see his tomb.
You will have stunning views over the city if you climb to the top of the basilica’s dome.
The Jewish Quarter is also in Pest, and here you can visit the largest synagogue in the world, the Dohany Synagogue.
The narrow streets here are interesting, with street art, interesting shops, restaurants and cafes.
For rest and relaxation, visit one of the spas in the city.
Szechenyi Baths are one of the largest spas in Europe and offer several large pools with different temperatures, a steam room, a sauna, a gym and massage services. Skip the line and reserve your tickets here.
Debrecen is Hungary’s second-largest city and houses the country’s oldest continuously operating university.
The city’s centre is Kossuth ter, a large square surrounded by important public buildings.
The highlight, however, is the enormous neo-classical Reformed Great Church with twin clock towers which can be climbed for beautiful views over the city.
It has great historical significance as it was here that Lajos Kossuth made the Hungarian Declaration of Independence in 1848 during the Hungarian Revolution.
It is also a symbol of the Protestant religion in Hungary and there is an adjacent museum where you can learn about the Calvinist history of Debrecen.
Close to the square is the Deri Museum, which houses paintings by the famous Hungarian painter Mihaly Munkacsy, including the Christ Trilogy.
There are also archaeological finds and local craft displays in the museum.
If you take a short drive to the west of Debrecen, you will find yourself in Hortobagy National Park, part of the northern Great Plains region and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
At one time, cowboys lived here, and you can glimpse their lives with carriage rides in the wilderness and horseback riding.
Cycling and taking a small train ride to the game park and bird hospital is also possible.
If you are lucky to be there in the autumn, you may see the spectacular crane migration.
The Deri Museum is at Deri ter 1 4026. You can also visit this city as a day tour from Budapest. Find out more here.
Szeged is Hungary’s third-largest city and sits on the Tisza River on the border with both Serbia and Romania.
It is another university city and is full of charming squares.
Dom Square is where locals and tourists gather in the many cafes and restaurants lining the square.
There is always a lively atmosphere with street performers entertaining you.
Music concerts are held at different times of the year, food and wine festivals, and, in December, a Christmas market.
The square is surrounded by important landmarks such as the Votive Church and the Domotor Tower, which you can climb to get spectacular views over the city.
Another must-see square is Szechenyi Square.
Here you will find photo-worthy statues made from white marble and bronze.
The Reok Palace was built in the early 20th century and is adorned with stunning stained-glass windows, intricate carvings, and ornate decorations.
It was built to be lived in, but it is now an art museum housing paintings by famous artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt, Chagall, Goya, Toulouse Lautrec, and Gustav Klint.
The Reok Palace Art Museum is at Magyer Ede ter 2 6720.
Esztergom, in northern Hungary, exhibits many signs of its Mediaeval past as it was the country’s capital from the 10th until the 13th centuries.
The first sight you will be presented with when you arrive in Esztergom is the Basilica with its spectacular domes.
The Basilica is the largest in Europe and houses the world’s biggest canvas painting, an altarpiece celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Other treasures include a deep Egyptian-style crypt and the red marble Bahccz Chapel.
Climb up the Dome for fantastic views over the city and surrounding countryside but be warned that there are 400 steep steps, so don’t undertake the feat unless you feel you are fit enough.
After visiting the Basilica, head to the Vizivaros neighbourhood, which dates back to the 13th century.
You’ll find an eclectic mix of Neoclassical buildings, Ottoman architecture and European parks here.
Relax in Szechenyi Square in one of the many cafes where you can people-watch and admire the Baroque, Rococo and Neo-classical architecture.
The square was once a Mediaeval marketplace and still is a hubbub of life in the city.
The Basilica is at Szent Istvan ter 1 2500. Join a walking tour here.
Eger, in northern Hungary, deserves a visit of more than a day as there is plenty to keep you occupied.
If you are looking for rest and recuperation, there are thermal baths in the city where you can relax in the calming and healing waters.
However, the castle is a must-see if you want to and is famous for repelling an attack by the Turks in 1552 during the siege of Eger.
The castle houses a history museum, a wax museum with Mediaeval figures, a dungeon museum, an art gallery dedicated to Hungarian masters, a coin museum and the ruins of a 10th-century cathedral.
There is so much to see that you need at least half a day to explore the castle.
The Eger Minaret, dating back to the 17th-century occupation by the Turks, is the northernmost European minaret.
There were 10 minarets in the city, but the other nine were destroyed when the occupation ended.
Brave the steps for great views of the city.
Eger is also a famous wine-producing region and here you can find some of the best Hungarian wines.
There are wine shops in the city where you can go for a wine tasting; try Egri Bikaver or Bull’s Blood, a spicy and fruity medium-bodied wine.
Eger Castle is at Var 1 3200. Book the Eger: Countryside, Culture, and Wine Private Tour.
For more about Hungary read:
Pecs is in the country’s south, close to the border with Croatia, and became a UNESCO European Capital of Culture in 2010.
It has a backdrop of the beautiful Mecsek Hills, and on one side of the city are rolling plains and on the other, the Drava River.
The city was founded by the ancient Romans and there are landmarks dating back to that time, such as the early Christian Mausoleum where you will find beautifully frescoed tombs.
Pecs Cathedral was completed in the 12th century and it features Romanesque carvings which are quite spectacular.
At the highest point of Szechenyi Square is the Pasta Gazikazim Mosque, now a Catholic church.
Hungary’s most remarkable example of Turkish architecture was built in the 16th century.
- Pecs Cathedral is at Dom ter 2 7621.
- The Pasta Gazikazim Mosque is at Hunyadi ut 4 7621.
- Day Tour of Pecs and Siklos – with Villany Wine Tasting
Gyor is in the northwest of the country and is the sixth largest city in Hungary.
It is a beautiful city that is often overlooked but don’t make this mistake as it is full of splendid Baroque buildings and lovely squares such as Beci Kapu and Szechenyi, where you will find many cafes and traditional Hungarian restaurants.
There are plenty of churches to visit in Gyor, such as the Basilica of Gyor, which is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and is a Catholic church.
It was originally an 11th-century Romanesque church but was destroyed by the Mongols.
In the 15th century, it was reconstructed in the Gothic style and now houses the Golden Letter of Saint Ladislaus, which contains his skull and sacred relics.
Wander into the old town on the Moson arm of the Danube to admire historic monuments and buildings, such as the spectacular Town Hall built in the Baroque style in the 19th century.
Gyor Cathedral is at Kaptalandomb 12 9021.
Keszthely lies on the western shore of Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Hungary.
The city was built in the 13th century and was developed to be a market town which it still is.
Head to Plac ter where vendors display their goods daily and you can buy fresh vegetables, flowers and honey.
Have a coffee in one of the many cafes in the main square, Fo ter and visit Our Lady of Hungary Church.
It was built in the 14th century in the Gothic style and houses the largest Gothic frescoes in the country.
The biggest attraction in Keszthely is Festetics Castle, about 10 minute’s walk from Fo ter.
It was built between 1745 and 1885 in the Baroque style with an English-style garden.
It is a beautiful palace and now houses the Helikon Palace Museum, where you can see some of the treasures belonging to the Festetics family, including a library containing a massive number of books, portraits, and horse carriages.
If you want a relaxing day, head to the beach at Lake Balaton, where you can sunbathe, swim, or cruise.
Here you can enjoy delicious Hungarian treats such as barbecued sweetcorn and langos, which are fried dough balls with sour cream and cheese.
Festetics Castle is at Kestely u 1 8380. Join a walking tour here.
Just north of Lake Balaton is Veszprem, also known as ‘The City of Queens’ because the bishops crowned the queens of Hungary here.
The city’s highlight is Veszprem Castle, built in the 10th and 11th centuries.
Most of the city’s landmarks are in the castle district, including Dubnicszay Palace, now a fine arts museum.
Visit St Michael’s Cathedral and climb the Fire Tower for a great view.
Veszprem hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the Spring Festival of Dance and Veszpremfest, a music festival held in July.
Veszprem Castle is at Var utca 33 8200.
Sopron lies on the border with Austria and was originally the Roman town of Scarbantia.
Ancient Roman ruins are throughout the city, including Scarabantia’s Forum and ancient walls close to the main square.
Sopron is considered the most loyal city in Hungary, as it voted to be part of Hungary in 1921 rather than become part of Austria when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismantled.
You will see some beautiful Baroque buildings in the city and lovely forests surrounding it where you can find hidden monasteries.
Sopron is an important wine-producing region and unusual for Hungary as it produces red and white wine while most wineries in the country produce one or the other.
The main grapes grown here are kekfrankos for red wine and tramin for white wine.
There are many wineries in the area that you can visit for a tour and tasting. Join a city highlights walking tour.
Kecskemet lies in the heart of the Southern Great Plain and is surrounded by vineyards and orchards.
It is where the Hungarian apricot brandy, Barackpalinka, is produced, and you must try a glass.
It is delicious, and you may want to take a bottle home for a taste of Hungary long after your holiday.
Kecskemet offers a host of museums to visit, including the Museum of Hungarian Native Artists and The Toy Museum & Workshop, which houses an extensive collection of slightly spooky 19th-century dolls, wooden trains and board games.
As well as the museums, take a look around some of the churches.
Many different denominations are represented, including Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox and Jewish.
Kecskemet is right next door to Kiskunság National Park so if you fancy a bit of outdoor life, you can spend some time here.
It is a pleasant place to walk or take a longer hike if you feel more energetic.
You can also visit a 10th-century reconstructed village depicting life when the Hungarians conquered the Carpathian Basin.
The Museum of Hungarian Native Artists and The toy Museum are at Gaspar Andras, utca 11.
Miskolc is an industrial city, but there is still plenty to do, such as touring the rooms and courtyards of the 12th-century Castle of Diosgyor.
There is also a museum where you can learn all about the castle.
If you are lucky to be in Miskolc at certain times of the year, you might be able to attend a concert, a historical festival, or watch a costumed Mediaeval tournament.
In Miskolc, you can have a unique experience by bathing in thermal cave baths.
Many swear by the curative powers of these baths.
The water is a lovely temperature, and the air is clean and clear.
Another place worth visiting is the Pannon Sea Museum, where you can learn about prehistoric plants and animals.
- The Castle of Diosgyor is at Var u 24 3534.
- The Pannon Sea Museum is at Gorgy Anir u 28 3525.
In the Middle Ages, Szekesfehervar was the capital of Hungary, and the royal residence was in this city between Budapest and Lake Balaton.
The fairy-tale castle, Bory Castle, was constructed in 1912, the architect was Jeno Beryi, a famous sculptor of the time.
You will find hundreds of statues and paintings and a beautifully sculptured garden to stroll in.
The city also offers unusual museums such as a clock museum and a toy museum.
Bory Museum is at Mariavolgy 54 8000.
Szombathely is the oldest city in Hungary, dating back to ancient Rome, but don’t be surprised if you don’t find many Roman ruins.
There’s more than enough on offer relating to ancient history, such as the Savaria Museum, where a fantastic collection of Roman artefacts and treasures from the Bronze Age are displayed.
The Iseum Museum contains remains of a Roman temple and holds outdoor concerts and plays during the summer months.
There are some lovely gardens and parks to stroll around for a bit of fresh air.
At the end of August, Szombathely holds a Roman-themed festival, the Savaria Historical Carnival, which has a historical parade in the main square, gladiator fights and Roman theatre.
- The Savaria Museum is at Kisfaludy Sandor utca 9 9700.
- The Iseum Museum is at Kakoczi Ferenc u 6 -8 9700.
Towns In Hungary
Siofok is right by Lake Balaton and, not surprisingly, life here focuses around the lake.
Apart from swimming, you can paddleboard on the lake or go on a cruise.
Visit the Bebo Waterpark, which offers water slides, wave pools and swimming pools.
Climb the Siofok Water Tower for fantastic views over Lake Balaton.
Because of Lake Balaton, Siofok has become one of the top holiday resorts in Hungary.
You won’t find it hard to find good food and drink in town and some restaurants even offer vegan options.
There are bars, restaurants and nightclubs to choose from and you will find the nightlife exciting.
Just 5 km (3.1 miles) from Siofok, Bella Animals is a great place to take kids for its petting zoo, horse, pony and camel rides.
Tapolca is a small town that is lively and well worth visiting.
Life focuses on the central square, Fo ter, and Malom Lake.
In the square, you will see the statue of the Little Queen (Kiskiralylany), a replica of one in Budapest.
Lake Malom is very attractive, with cafes, colourful buildings and a water mill.
Visit the Lake Cave, which is in a system of underground caves in the lake accessed by rowing boat.
The water is completely transparent, and the rock formations are stunning.
Above the cave is a geology exhibition where you can learn about Hungary’s geology, geography and history.
The hills around Tapolca are famous for producing excellent wine, so be sure to ask for local wine when you go out to eat.
17 – Lillafured
Lillafured is a lake town in northern Hungary built as a tourist resort for the wealthy in the 1890s at the instigation of Count Bethlen.
The town’s highlight is the Lillafured Palace, built in the 1930s overlooking Hamori Lake, where you can rent a boat.
The palace is now a 4-star hotel and a lovely place to stay if you want a little luxury.
Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, have a meal in the Matthias restaurant or a drink in the lobby bar.
The restaurant is beautiful, with stained glass windows depicting many of the castles and fortifications to be found in the country.
Next to the hotel are Lillafured’s hanging gardens with winding streams and an artificial waterfall, which, at 10 metres (65.6 feet), is the highest waterfall in Hungary.
There are also caves to explore in the area.
The Szent Istvan Cave has an impressive Mediaeval-style gate carved into the rock.
If you enjoy train travel, ride on the narrow-gauged Lillafured State Forest Railway for a scenic journey through the Bukk Forests.
The Lillafured Palace Hotel is at Erzsebet Setany 3517.
Koszeg is called ‘The Jewel Box of Hungary’ because the town has many historical monuments and well-preserved Mediaeval buildings.
It is at the foot of the Alps, close to the border with Austria and is known for having lovely clean air due to the air from the Alps being pushed down by the western winds.
Jurisics Castle is worth visiting.
The Gothic early-Renaissance hallway has beautiful examples of Hungarian architecture while the Great Hall hosts cultural events regularly.
There is a permanent exhibition depicting the history of Koszeg in the castle.
Climb the western tower for spectacular views over the old town and the nearby hills.
If you have the energy and enjoy hiking, walk to the Irottko Lookout Tower, which is a staggering 883 metres (2896 feet) high.
It is the longest hiking trail in Europe, and we only suggest you take this on if you are fit and healthy.
Jurisics castle is at Rajnis Jozsef 9 9730.
Szentendre is north of Budapest and called the ‘Town of Artists’ because of its beautiful and decorative architecture.
You will find colourful houses, narrow cobbled streets, independent art galleries, museums, and elaborately decorated churches.
The main square, Fo ter is the centre of life in the town and is where you can find most of the galleries and museums, shops and cafes.
Just off the square is the elaborate 18th-century Greek Orthodox Church, Blagovestenska.
One of the unique museums in the town is dedicated to the evolution of marzipan.
Marzipan was created in Szentendre by Martyn Szcemos, and here you can learn about marzipan and view some elaborate creations.
Of course, there is a shop where you can buy some delicious treats.
Szentendre is heaven for foodies, and you will find many restaurants, cafes, and food stalls throughout the town and by the river.
Traditional Hungarian langos and goulash are popular here, as well as local gelato.
Quite a few Serbians are living in the town and restaurants serve meat-orientated platters which don’t skimp on portions.
The Marzipan Museum is at Dumtsa Jen u 14 2000. You may like this Danube Bend and Szentendre Day Tour from Budapest.
Tokaj is a small historical town in the north of Hungary famous for being in the centre of the Tokaj-Hegyalja wine district.
The famous Tokaj wine is a very sweet dessert wine produced here.
Naturally, there are tours and tastings available at different wineries.
One of the wineries that stands out is Erzebet Winery on the outskirts of the town, where you can join a winery tour and taste a selection of wines overlooking the vineyards.
The town has a small museum where you can learn about wine production.
It also houses an exhibition of local artists and old ecclesiastical items.
There are also some interesting small churches to visit in town.
- Erzebet Winery is at Bem Jozsef 16 3910.
- The museum is at Bethlen Gabo ut 7 3910.
For more cities in Europe, read: