Plus weekend trips from Hungary to Croatia and Poland
The capital of Hungary is home to impressive historical landmarks, gorgeous architecture, jaw-dropping street art, and bustling nightlife or dining scenes. However, beyond its city limits, the country has much more to see. Therefore, I teamed up with other travel bloggers to bring you not only some of the best day trips from Budapest but also weekend getaways.
Best Day Trips from Budapest in Hungary
Eger is a not so touristy town couple of hours bus ride from Budapest. There are a lot of historic buildings, churches and a couple of museums to explore in the town. The first major attraction you will come across is the magnificent Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Apostle next to the bus station. The cathedral interior is decorated with numerous sculptures and remarkable stained-glass windows.
A few minutes walk from the church is the main square of the town, the Dobo Square which is dominated by a statue of Istvan Dobo the commander of the castle. Numerous cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops surround the square.
One of the top things to do in Eger is to explore the Eger Castle. The historic castle sits on a hill overlooking the town of Eger. There are several permanent and temporary exhibitions in the castle where you can learn more about the history of the town.
For someone looking for a relaxing weekend getaway, there is also a thermal bath in the town. It’s also known as a wine region where the Wine Valley boasts of more than 200 wine cellars. There are several Baroque buildings and churches in the town which you will come across if you just wander around the town.
There are two buses every hour from Puskas Ferenc Stadion station in Budapest which is on M2 metro line. Make sure you have enough local currency as they accept only local currency to sell the tickets. And Eger is a small town so you find some shops and cafes which do not accept Euros.
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Check out The Travel Leaf’s post on Where to Stay in Budapest for Any Budget Traveler
Another great option for day trips from Budapest is Szentendre, located very close to the city. Known for its cute houses, artisan shops, and churches, Szentendre won’t leave you disappointed.
You can take HEV 5 from Batthyány tér metro stop (on M2, red, on the Buda side). Even if you have a travel day card (or for multiple days) you still pay an add-on when you travel outside of Budapest Metropolitan area. You can get this add-on on the train. The ride takes about 45 min.
Once you get off in Szentendre, just follow the signs towards the center and you’ll soon come upon the cute downtown.
Should you prefer to rent a bike, there’s a path that departs from Budapest – close to Aquincum site – and follows the Danube River. The path is scenic and offers quite a lot of picture-taking opportunities.
Whether you plan to check out the churches or stores, one of the things to do in Szentendre is to visit the Marzipan Museum. The entire museum is filled with Hungarian artifacts made of marzipan. And when you are done exploring, stop to taste the marzipan, too. In May 2018, the ticket price was 450 HUF/ 1.60 USD per adult.
While walking in the cute downtown you will find a lot of opportunities to take photos. And even more to spend money on various things.
There are a lot of places to eat. If you are vegan – like me – aim for vegetarian dishes and ask them to take out the cheese and eggs. Unfortunately, I found out fast, that for the local restaurants “vegan” means “no meat, right?”.
If you visit during the warm months, make sure to bring a water bottle with you. Wear comfortable walking shoes, as well as shades. The sun can be brutal, so sunscreen is also recommended.
And yes, English can be used here. Just be prepared to explain several times what you want.
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One of my favorite cities, Esztergom, makes a perfect choice for day trips from Budapest. The city is situated on the Danube bend, among other beautiful towns like Vác, Visegrád or Szentendre.
The best part is that you can get to Esztergom from Budapest by a hydrofoil! You can go on a trip to visit several cities in the Danube bend every day of the week (except Monday): the hydrofoils leave Budapest’s Vigadó tér at 10 AM, reaching Esztergom at 11:30. Keep in mind that the hydrofoil is available from April 28 till September 30. The price of a round-trip is 8000 HUF.
While you can get there in 1 hour and 20 minutes by train or car, going there with a hydrofoil is quite an experience!
This town is one of the most historical places in Hungary: there isn’t a decade in the 1000-year-old Hungarian history where Esztergom’s name is not mentioned. The first Hungarian king, Stephen was crowned in this town. Esztergom served as the center of the Hungarian state and religion throughout history.
One of the most visited places in Esztergom is the Basilica: the monumental church built between 1822-1869 is Hungary’s tallest building. For an amazing view of the Danube bend, climb on top of the Basilica!
Don’t skip visiting the Cathedral Treasury: it’s Hungary’s richest religious treasury with golden masterpieces dating back hundreds of years.
Other important landmarks include the Mária Valéria Bridge, the Christian Museum, the Esztergom Castle Museum. Our favorite thing to do included exploring the city center and walking on the Danube bend. A perfect way to spend a day in Esztergom!
Day Trips from Budapest outside of Hungary
If you follow the Danube to the west, you’ll come across an adorable city called Bratislava. Only a quick two-hour drive or three-hour train ride from Budapest, the capital of Slovakia has much to offer for any visitor.
Known as a melting pot of many European cultures and religions due to its location in almost the exact center of Europe, the atmosphere in Bratislava feels very all-encompassing with Austrian, Bulgarian, Croat, Czech, German, Hungarian, Jew, Serb, and Slovak influence seen throughout the city and country.
I had the pleasure of visiting Bratislava during Christmas time whilst on a European Christmas market road trip, and it was probably my favorite stop. There are about 5 Christmas markets in the city each year, all with amazing food, treats, and trinkets to buy!
The city itself is beautiful, with an old-world charm, but so clean! The 18th-century pedestrian area is perfect for wandering and taking in the sites of the ancient buildings. There are many amazing cafes to stop into and try the incredible Slovak food.
While exploring the old city, be sure to stop in Hlavne Namestie, the main square, and also see St. Martin’s Cathedral. It’s so much fun just to wander the old streets and take in the view. Some of the best streets you can’t miss in Bratislava are Michalska, Farska, Kapitulska, Venturska, Panska, and Laurinska.
Be sure to visit Michael’s Gate, the only city gate that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications in the old city. Built about the year 1300, it’s an impressive sight!
You can climb the hill to see the imposing Bratislava Castle, which overlooks the Danube. You can tour the castle museum and take in the sites from there.
Bratislava, Slovakia is an excellent choice for a day trip from Budapest and will allow you to see an additional country during your trip. Also, if you plan on doing a day trip to Vienna, Bratislava is right on the way!
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Vienna, another historical city of Europe makes it a perfect spot to include in your day trips from Budapest itinerary. Located only 2:30h drive or 3:30h train ride, the capital of Austria is home to splendid architectural landmarks, historical sites, beautiful parks, and gorgeous castles to name a few. It should be noted, that one day is not enough to explore all of Vienna, so you need to be smart and pinpoint all the locations you want to visit.
To make your travels here as budget-friendly as possible, you can buy a Vienna Pass or a Vienna City Card. Both of them offer various discounts to museums, sights, shops, and dining venues. Vienna Pass has more free entrance to the museums and sights, than the City Card. However, the latter has more discounts on different venues. The prices also differ; for a day trip, Vienna Pass costs 59 Euros, while Vienna City Card only 17 Euros. But, again, check out their pages to choose which one best suits your travel needs.
What to see in Vienna exactly? Start your trip from the First District, or Innere Stadt. The area is full of historical buildings you can admire for free. While walking through those streets and looking at the architecture, you’ll feel as if you traveled in time.
Then continue your way towards royal palace Hofburg, one of the largest palace complexes in the world. It was the home to the Habsburgs monarchy until 1945, and today houses the office of the President and his cabinet. Go inside the Sisi Museum to view more than 300 personal objects of Empress Elisabeth Sisi.
Another palace worth seeing is the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located a bit far from the city center. This 18th-century summer residence built in rococo style is absolutely mindblowing. There are daily tours that take you through the history and gorgeous halls of the complex.
If you are an art lover, don’t forget to visit museums at the Museum Quarter, along with the Belvedere Museum and Albertina.
As I said above, it’s hard to see everything in a day in Vienna, as the city has lots of interesting things to do and visit. However, these are other tourist attractions not be missed: Hundertwasser House, Karlskirche, Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel, Rathaus, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, State Opera House, and Spanish Riding School to name just a few.
Weekend Trips from Budapest outside of Hungary
Zakapone, a small resort town in the south of Poland, is one of the great options for weekend trips from Budapest. Located at the base of the Tatras Mountains, Zakopane is filled with stunning natural landscapes, exciting outdoor activities and amazing food. And, you can make the most out of this winter wonderland even if you are on a tight budget.
In Zakopane, you can book a dorm bed for as low as 7 euro at Target Hostel. If you are not keen on sharing a room, book a double or a twin at Gazdówka u Janka for just 13 euro. As for restaurants, your best bet is the long line of wood-paneled eateries that line Krupowki. Here, you can get some hearty portions of sausages and pork.
If you are not keen on eating meat, you can go for a vegan burger at Mountain Bar. You can also get a huge portion of goulash in a bread bowl for just 3 euro at Restauracja Pstrąg Górski. You can also nibble on some smoked goat and sheep cheese which you can easily find in market and street stalls.
Hit the ski slopes of Bialka Tatrazanska or Kasprowy for just 15 to 28 euro or head to one of its thermal baths like Bialka Tatrazanska and Terma Bukowina for just 7 euro. There are also several museums to look out for in the area if you want to know more about the town’s history and crafts.
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Croatian capital, located only 3:30h drive or around 5h bus ride from Budapest, makes a great weekend trip from Budapest. Zagreb sees fewer tourists compared to the country’s all-time popular destinations like its islands, Dubrovnik, or Split. Therefore, if you don’t like crowded cities then it’s a great place to be.
Most of the attractions here are free or have a very low entrance price. Start with exploring the city center and continue your way towards the Kaptol district to visit some of the remaining landmarks of the past. Don’t forget to pop in the cathedral and admire its architecture from inside. Then ride the shortest funicular I have ever ridden to go up a small hill which leads to the St. Mark Cathedral, the iconic landmark of the city.
On your way to the cathedral, visit the Museum of Broken Relationships. It’s such a cool place!
Next day, come to Dolac Market in the morning to buy some fresh fruits, souvenirs or have a seafood lunch at one of the restaurants.
As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments down below, or connect with me on my social media channels. I will be happy to assist you as much as possible.