Plus two day trips from Budapest to Croatia, Poland & Ukraine
Hungary’s capital 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 some of the best day trips from Budapest and weekend getaways.
- 19 awesome & free things to do in Budapest – your perfect itinerary
- Where to stay in Budapest – best neighborhoods and accommodation for any traveler
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Best Day Trips from Budapest in Hungary
Eger is a not so touristy town couple of hours bus ride from Budapest. There are many 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 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 town’s history.
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 more than 200 wine cellars. There are several Baroque buildings and churches in the town, which you will come across if you wander around the town.
There are two buses every hour from Puskas Ferenc Stadion station in Budapest, which is on the 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.
By Go Beyond Bounds
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 the Budapest Metropolitan area. You can get this add-on on the train. The ride takes about 45 min.
Once you get off in Szentendre, 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 the 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 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, aim for vegetarian dishes and ask them to take out the cheese and eggs. Unfortunately, for the local restaurants, “vegan” means “no meat.”
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.
By Look n Walk
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 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 Hungary’s most historical places: 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 Esztergom’s most visited places 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!
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Hungary and nicknamed the “Hungarian Sea” by the locals. It is the most popular place in the country in the summers. It’s one of the easy day trips from Budapest as it takes only two hours to drive. It’s also accessible by train or bus too within the same time.
The lake’s closest corner to the capital is Siofok, a busy holiday town and a great place for relaxation. In the summer, everyone can enjoy a refreshing bath, followed by a delicious local fish meal accompanied by a chilled drink.
More adventurous visitors can sign up for a hiking trip coupled with wine tasting, which involves many stations with local wine cellars on the way. Due to the unique soil around Balaton, wine gets fantastic volcanic notes. Get an entry ticket to Dobosi Winery to enjoy local sausage and wine tasting.
Fans of history and architecture should visit Tihany – the peninsula of Lake Balaton.
The most famous sight is the Tihany Abbey, constructed in 1055. Set on the highest hill of the village, providing the most beautiful panoramic views of its surroundings. The Abbey is open to tourists with exhibitions promoting the Christian and Hungarian culture.
Lake Balaton is a beautiful place to spend a day trip, although it is also perfect for longer holidays in late spring or summer as there are so many things to see and do.
If you want to avoid the hassle of planning, join a full, 10-hour day trip from Budapest with stops at small towns and a short trip by nostalgic train.
Visegrad is another great town to explore as a day trip from Budapest. It’s only about half an hour away by car and an hour journey by train. The town’s historical and cultural heritage is vast, and everyone can find something they like about it.
The best and most popular place to start is the Castle of Visegrad or the Citadel, as Hungarians refer to it. Nestled on the town’s highest point, enjoy a gorgeous view of the Danube and the surrounding area from the terrace. The castle is also home to many exhibitions like the Holy Crown of Hungary and the History of the Castle.
Make sure you stop at Palinka Factory to learn more about the local Hungarian drink and even have the chance to taste it.
Another incredible sight is the Tower of Salamon, which is one of the busiest tourist attractions. From spring to autumn, something happens almost every day. The Tower is the host of many traditional knight’s tournaments and is often a venue for weddings and receptions. It is close to The Citadel, so it’s easy to visit them on the same day.
If there is any time left, explore the Royal Palace. The 700-year-old building is home to several more exhibitions, and guided tours are available for history lovers. The Palace is open from the 1st of March until the 31st of October.
Any of these historical sights are an excellent opportunity to learn about medieval Hungary and see a bit of the countryside after the buzz of Budapest.
By The Landloper
When planning your trip to Hungary, consider Tapolca as one of the options for your day trips from Budapest itinerary!
The town of Tapolca is southwest of Budapest, approximately 15 km from Lake Balaton. It is easy to reach from Budapest in about 3 hours by train or 2 hours by car: this will require you to wake up quite early and come back late.
Just 15,000 people live in Tapolca, which makes it quiet during autumn and winter, and more lively during spring and summer, when the weather is warm and sunny, and tourism is more active.
What to do in Tapolca? It is pleasant to walk around the center, taste some wine and Hungarian food, and visit the unique Lake Cave.
Start with one of the main reasons to visit Tapolca – the magical Lake Cave Tavasbarlang, an underground lake shaped in a circular cave. After seeing an exciting science museum, the crystal clear water is navigable by small rowing boats. Make sure to book a ticket in advance at jegymester.hu!
The small city center of Tapolca revolves around the Main Square Fő Tér and Malom Lake.
The Malom Lake looks like a fairy tale, surrounded by colorful buildings and a water mill. Find tucked in a corner the stairs called Halas Lépcső, painted with a decoration of fish and nets, an incredible piece of street art.
In the Main Square, find the statue of the Little Princess Kiskirálylány. It’s easy to recognize as the same sculpture located on the Danube promenade in Budapest!
Many Hungarian wine varieties are produced on the hills surrounding Lake Balaton. A day trip to Tapolca is perfect to taste some local wine while having lunch at Topart Bistro or Hotel Gabriella with a Malom Lake view.
By Travelling Sunglasses
Located in the far south of Hungary, bordering Romania and Serbia, lies the charming city of Szeged. The third-largest city in Hungary is an easy 90-minute drive or train ride away, making it one of the popular day trips from Budapest for locals.
With fabulous regional food and a youthful vibe (it’s a university town after all!), Szeged boasts superb public parks and squares, as well as the pretty Tisza River, making it perfect for exploring on foot.
Stroll through Dom Square to discover the twin spires of the landmark Votive Church, the historic Domotor Tower, and the Bridge of Sighs walkway. Hunt for heritage buildings, with plenty of magnificent examples of art nouveau architecture for which the city is so famous. Make sure not to miss the Reok Palace with its water-lily design and the onion-domed Unger-Mayer House.
Stop at one of the pretty riverside eateries on the Tisza River banks to sample the city’s famed fisherman’s soup, or wander the wide boulevards around Klauzal Square, the heart of Szeged’s café scene.
Explore Szeged’s many parks and squares, lined with big, shady trees, or pop into one of the city’s fascinating regional museums. Try the Szeged Paprika Museum to learn all about the country’s most popular spice. And don’t forget to finish off the day with a soak in the eclectic Anna Thermal Baths for its famed medicinal waters – you can even bring a refillable bottle to take some of the legendary waters home with you!
By A Life Without Borders
Debrecen, the second-largest city in Hungary, is in the Eastern part of the country, around 230 km away. However, you can still make a perfect day trip from Budapest by train or renting a car.
An express passenger train called “intercity” runs once every hour from the Nyugati Central Station to Debrecen. The journey takes two and a half hours. The last “intercity” from Debrecen back to Budapest departs at 7:23 pm.
Most and foremost, Debrecen is famous for its lovely historical downtown. Its delicate architecture from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries will fascinate architecture buffs. The old city center’s charming main square is full of fountains, greenery, and colorful flowers in summer and sparkling lightning in the winter.
The city center’s key highlights are the Reformed Great Church, as the largest protestant church of Hungary, the Dery Museum where you can learn about Hungarian culture and history, and the Csokonai Theatre.
You can also marvel at Debrecen’s compelling architecture from the terrace of one of the cafés or restaurants on the main square while taking an excellent Hungarian rest with traditional Hungarian delicacies.
There are several good restaurants in the main square where you can try Hungarian meals, such as rascal burger (betyár burger) or Hungarian stuffed crepes (hortobágyi húsos palacsinta). There are also vegetarian options such as fried cheese (rántott sajt).
If you want to have a cocktail, beer or coffee, hit Simonffy Street and Halköz, where you can find excellent restaurants, bars, and cafés. They all have tables outside.
Debrecen also boasts one of the top universities in Hungary. It was founded in the 16th century when its magnificent and majestic main building was built in Nagy Erdő (Big Forest of Debrecen).
Last but not least, a wide selection of wellness options is available in Debrecen. The best one is the Aquaticum Spa, which was renovated and expanded in 2020. The new complex has fantastic swimming pools, a Mediterranean Aqua Park, thermal baths, a sauna world, and a wellness island. A day ticket for all thermal baths, aquapark, and saunas costs only 5500 HUF.
Aggtelek National Park
A beautiful national park worth visiting in Hungary is Aggtelek National Park, an excellent choice to consider as one of your day trips from Budapest.
Situated in the northern part of Hungary, close to the border with Slovakia, this beautiful national park is home to hundreds of underground caves that all look different from the inside. Because of its unique cave system, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The largest one is the Baradla Cave – 26 kilometers long.
Apart from caves, Aggtelek National Park offers plenty of hiking trails, castles, forts, and museums. If you are looking for a place with fantastic nature and something special underneath it, Aggtelek National Park is the place to go. Note that the caves are open throughout the whole year!
The easiest way to get to Aggtelek National Park is to rent a car via highway M3 to Miskolc and then follow the signs. The drive takes about 2.5 hours.
Alternatively, you could take the bus 1054 and get out at the stop Aggtelek. However, this will take much longer and not convenient for a day trip from Budapest.
Day trips from Budapest to Slovakia
If you follow the Danube to the west, you’ll come across an adorable city Bratislava. Only a quick two-hour drive or three-hour train ride from Budapest, Slovakia’s capital, 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.
Visiting Bratislava during Christmas as part of the European Christmas market road trip is quite enjoable. 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, stop in Hlavne Namestie, the main square, and see St. Martin’s Cathedral. It’s so much fun 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 making a day trip to Vienna, Bratislava is right on the way!
By Wanderlust Crew
Day trips from Budapest to Serbia
Located in Northern Serbia’s autonomous Vojvodina region, Subotica is synonymous with Art Nouveau architecture. It’s a must-do on any Serbia itinerary – and because of its proximity to the Hungarian border, it can quite easily be visited as a day trip from Budapest as well.
Subotica is located 200km south of Hungary’s capital and can be reached by bus in a little over 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a direct train from Budapest to Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city, and backtrack to Subotica by local bus.
Subotica was part of Austro-Hungary until the end of WWI, and you immediately notice many similarities with smaller Hungarian cities, particularly Szeged. The main things to see and do revolve around architecture. The Subotica Synagogue (pictured) is one of the most celebrated in Europe, known for its incredible interior that was designed by Budapest architects Dezso Jakab and Marcell Komor and finished in 1903. Note that it’s closed on Mondays.
A self-guided audio tour of Art Nouveau Subotica will lead you to more of the city’s iconic facades, including the beautiful Raichle Palace. Be sure to break for lunch at Boss Caffe in the palace courtyard – they serve a great range of European and Balkan dishes. You can take a local bus to the nearby Palic Lake in the afternoon, a former summer retreat for the Austro-Hungarian elite. Here you can see yet more impressive architecture, including several summer houses, and find scenic hiking trails.
Day trips from Budapest to Austria
Vienna, another historical city of Europe, makes it a perfect spot to include in your day trips from Budapest itinerary. Located only a 2:30h drive or 3:30h train ride, Austria’s capital is home to splendid architectural landmarks, historical sites, beautiful parks, and gorgeous castles, to name a few. With so many things to do in Vienna, it should be noted that one day is not enough to explore everything, 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 at different venues. The prices also differ; Vienna Pass costs 59 Euros for a day trip, 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 historic 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. And when you get hungry, make sure you try some of these Austrian foods.
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 President and his cabinet’s office. 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; however, if you’ll decide to stay here for a night, here’s your 2-day Vienna itinerary. And make sure not to miss: Hundertwasser House, Karlskirche, Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel, Rathaus, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, State Opera House, and Spanish Riding School, to name just a few.
Day trips from Budapest to Romania
Visiting Timisoara in Romania is another option for a day trip from Budapest. The fastest option is to drive the 300km, which will take you about 3:30 hours. There is also a bus option, or you could go by train, but they are much slower, and you could do that if you plan to spend one night in Timisoara too.
Timisoara is a place to enjoy. It has an extensive pedestrian area uniting four squares full of restaurants and coffee shops. The best time to visit is from May to October, when you can sit outside on a terrace, admire the architecture and watch the world go by.
Start your walk in Union Square and have a look at the Secessionist buildings in the piazza. The buildings have pastel colors, and you can visit the two cathedrals in the square, the Catholic and the Serbian Orthodox one.
Then, make your way through the historic center to the large Victory Square with the Orthodox Cathedral at the far end.
Just behind the cathedral, you can walk through the Roses Park to the Bega River. A boat ride on the river is one of the popular things to do in Timisoara during the summer.
One of the lesser-known attractions in Timisoara is the tiny museum of the Communist Consumer. You will have a glimpse into what life was like in Romania before the revolution started in Timisoara in 1989. The three rooms display things that people had access to before that moment, anything from electronics to toys or newspapers.
By Travel for a While
Two day trips from Budapest
Zakopane, a small resort town in the south of Poland, is one of the great options for weekend trips from Budapest. Located at the Tatras Mountain base, 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 Euros 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 Euros. 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 Euros at Restauracja Pstrąg Górski. You can also nibble on some smoked goat and sheep cheese, which you can easily find in the 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.
By Travel Poland Tours
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 than 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 meager entrance price. Start with exploring the city center and continue your way towards the Kaptol district to visit some of the past’s remaining landmarks. 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 that 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!
The 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.
Traveling to Uzhgorod in Ukraine may seem like a bit of a stretch for a day trip. However, if it is a weekend trip, it can work out perfectly fine.
It is around 3 hours one way by car, and most of it is via Hungarian tolls. Alternatively, it takes about 2 hours to fly from Budapest to Lviv and catch a local bus to Uzhgorod.
So, why go there?
A small town hidden in western Ukraine, Uzhgorod is seriously under-the-radar, and it truly deserves more exposure. Its downtown is a mix of old and colorful buildings from the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The narrow streets are home to modern hipster cafes serving cherry strudels. The secret is to have this legendary pastry with a cup of coffee. Ukrainians love their coffee, and they know how to make it in a unique local style. The term for it is zalyvana kava (kava means coffee).
The list of attractions in Uzhgorod includes the old city hall, the linden promenade (one of the longest in Europe and gorgeous in spring and fall), the quest to find small monuments hidden around downtown, and the Skansen.
Skansen is a unique open-air museum. On display are the wooden huts and churches, original buildings dating back to the 18th century, brought to the museum from villages around Ukraine, and re-assembled on site.
The area around Uzhgorod is filled with lots of attractions, too. These may be perfect for the second day. The activities include visiting old vineries and cheese farms in the nearby villages and exploring the gorgeous Shenborn Palace or the old town Mukachevo with its medieval castle Palanok and hiking in the Carpathians.
By Through a Travel Lens
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Hungary travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
- Book affordable flights on Skyscanner, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
- Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Hungary, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
- Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda
- Pre-book a private transfer from Athens Airport to your hotel
- Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road
- Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here