One of the best things about Budapest is that it is surrounded by the most beautiful little towns and natural wonders. This is why there are so many great options for day trips from Budapest if you want to escape the city even for a few hours. One of my favourite ones so far is Visegrad, a stunning castle town situated on the right bank of the Danube river and just 30km away from the Hungarian capital.
How to get to Visegrad from Budapest?
The best way to reach Visegrad is by taking a train from Budapest’s Nyugati train station. The ride is approximately 45 minutes long and costs 1120HUF for a one-way trip. The trains leave quite frequently, you can check out the timetable or even book a ticket at MAV-START website which is an official Hungarian railway website.
It is important to note that the train will arrive at Nagymaros-Visegrád station which is on the other side of Danube and Visegrad is across the river. But don’t worry, there is a ferry system that will take you to the town without any problems. The timetable for the ferry is timed accordingly to the train schedule. This means that after your arrival, the ferry will leave 15 minutes after your train.
You can reach the river bank from the train station in less than 5 minutes, so it leaves you a plenty of time to get tickets and look around. When you reach the river bank, look for a small chalet-style booth with a ‘Penztar Cassa’ sign over it. This is where you’ll be able to get your ferry tickets for about 1.5 EUR. If you’re a student, be sure to use the discount that the ferry offers.
While buying the tickets, make sure to check the timetable for the ride back, so you won’t need to wait an hour for the next ferry. Ticket booth for the ferry back will be located right beside Plintenburg Restaurant on the river bank in Visegrad. Again, look for a sign that says ‘cassa’ and you’ll be good to go.
What to do and see in Visegrad?
Since Visegrad isn’t a big town, you can easily see all the main attractions in one day without breaking your wallet. One most of the sites, it is recommended to combine a few towns that are situated on the Danube bend for a day trip. However, if you don’t want to feel rushed, it’s definitely better to take it slow and spend one day in one town, especially if it’s Visegrad.
The first thing that I recommend to check out when in this picturesque town is the famous castle on the hill (Ed Sheeran, anyone?). Visegrad castle once was a summer palace of King Matthias I and it was the exact place where ‘Visegrad Four’ alliance was created, for all of you, history fanatics.
Since Visegrad offers incredible landscapes for nature lovers, the best way to reach the castle is definitely by following marked hiking trails. After getting off the ferry, you can instantly see signs that show various hiking paths and how long will they take for you to complete. Look for ‘Fellegvar’ (Hungarian word for the castle that literally translates to ‘in the clouds’) and follow the marked trail (it will be marked by dark blue colour).
The hike isn’t difficult, so it is suitable for children and older people as well. Just keep in mind that some parts of the hike are a bit steep, so make sure that your shoes are suitable for the hike. It will take around one hour to reach the castle by this trail but you won’t be disappointed that I can assure you. The views that open up from that trail will be worth it.
The castle itself is not free and you have to pay 1400HUF for the entrance. There are discounts for seniors and students as well, so we were very happy about it (broke student over here). In the castle, you can find various exhibitions such as armoury and hunting equipment. You can also pose with medieval clothes or try archery.
We decided to look around the castle first and then sit down and have a little snack with a lovely view of the Danube Bend. I can assure you that the view will blow your mind away and you won’t want to leave the castle any time soon. At least I didn’t want to.
Summer bobsleigh / Alpine coaster tracks
You are never too old to have some fun. Visegrád Toboggan Park is within walking distance from the castle and I would definitely recommend checking it out no matter what your age is. There are two different tracks one for summer bobsleigh and another winter edition that you or your kids can enjoy. The prices are very affordable and maybe that’s why it is popular among tourists and locals as well. Also, you can find a small snack bar and picnic tables in the park, as well as take some souvenir photos that will capture you while on the track.
The visiting hours vary according to the season, which you can find out on their website. I recommend following another hiking trail to reach the bobsled or you can use Google Maps to reach the place. Just keep in mind that the map will most likely show you directions by the road.
After having a bit fun at Toboggan park, we took another hiking trail to go back to the city centre. It was marked the same dark blue colour and the sign said ‘Visegrad centre’. By going this trail, you’ll see Salamon Tower which is the lower castle of the whole castle complex. You can also go up the tower to have a look around of the town but we decided to skip on that as we were sure that the view won’t be better than it was from the upper castle, Fellegvar.
Where to eat in Visegrad?
The whole trail back to the town centre took around one hour and we were a bit tired from all the walking and a tab bit hungry, so we decided to find a place to eat by wandering around the town. We were surprised to see that there are quite a few options to choose from when it comes to restaurants. There is this Renaissance Restaurant that offers a unique medieval feast experience. Keep in mind that it is very medieval food meaning lots of meat.
So we decided to stop at Don-Vito Pizzeria & Restaurant and we were not disappointed. The whole design of the restaurant was giving this Italian mafia vibe which I absolutely loved and the posters on the walls were very vintage. Of course, we ordered pizza and let me tell you that it was probably one of the most delicious pizzas I’ve ever eaten. The crust and amount of cheese were perfect, so my inner food critic was jumping from joy.
Tips for visiting Visegrad
Overall, we had a wonderful time in Visegrad and I can say that it definitely takes the whole day to actually experience the town and have a hike or two. We reached the town at around 11:30 a.m. and came home to Budapest at 7 p.m.
Some of the tips that I’d want to share are:
- Wear comfortable attire and shoes that are suitable for hiking. You will be walking quite a lot and it is important to be prepared to experience this beautiful town without any problems.
- Bring some snacks. Snacks are always a good idea, so bring lots of them and don’t forget to stock up on some water as you’ll be hiking for at least 2 hours. Stay hydrated!
- Have some cash on you. It is quite a small town, so not a lot of places might accept cards. We paid for the castle and the ferry with cash. While I’m sure you can get ferry tickets with a card, I cannot vouch for the castle entrance.
- Take marked hiking trails instead of following Google maps directions. Google is most likely to show you the directions that are on big roads and it is much nicer to explore the town while hiking in the woods rather than walking on the boring road.
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