Best day trips from Budapest - Kosice, Slovakia

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Budapest has the name of being a central destination in Hungary. But if you are looking for something beyond Budapest’s stunning architecture, there are lots of fantastic day trips which you can take from the Hungarian capital.

Budapest is a perfect base from which you can plan and travel to a variety of must-visit historical wonders, cities, towns that are worth seeing in Central Hungary and beyond the borders.

After all, Hungary is called Spice of Europe for a reason.

I had the pleasure of living in Budapest for 5 months and during that time I managed to have quite a few day trips outside of the city that were just as memorable as Budapest itself. So I asked a few fellow travellers to share their Budapest day trips suggestions and compiled this epic list which might come insightful for anyone planning a trip to Budapest for more than a few days.

Related: 3 Days in Budapest: The perfect Budapest itinerary

Here are the top 12 day trips that you can take from Budapest according to travellers.

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Day trips from Budapest within Hungary

If you’re looking for a bit more of Hungarian landscapes, culture and history, these day trip destinations within Hungary are just for you.

Visegrád

A Day trip to Visegrad from Budapest | www.thenerdyme.com

This is easily one of the best day trips from Budapest for all nature and history lovers.

Visegrad is a small medieval town nestled right on the Danube’s bend. It is located less than 1 hour away from Budapest can be reached by train or by car.

The town is mostly famous for its charming medieval castle on the hill and the stunning view of the Danube bend. But it’s not all, you can easily spend the whole day exploring Visegrád by taking a short hike, visiting Visegrád Toboggan Park which is home of Summer bobsleigh / Alpine coaster tracks or having a medieval feast at one of the town’s restaurants.

You can read more about Visegrád and how to get from Budapest to Visegrad in this Visegrad day trip travel guide which I wrote based on my own experience there.

Eger

View from Eger castle

Eger is a perfect day trip for any wine lover. But the best part of this day trip is that it combines almost everything Hungary is famous for – wine, thermal baths and charming medieval castles.

The city of Eger is located around 2-hours away from Budapest but the beautiful scenery that you pass when driving or taking a bus to Eger is worth every minute on the road.

Eger itself is mostly known as the location where the Hungarians defeated the Turks, so you can imagine how much history this place has. On your day trip from Budapest to Eger, you can visit the castle of Eger, see the famous Minaret, wander around Dobo square and the streets of the colourful old town.

If you feel like relaxing a bit, you can even take a dip at the thermal baths and learn more about Hungarian wine in the Valley of Beautiful Woman.

Here is an extensive guide on how to have a fantastic day trip to Eger from Budapest.

Siófok

Siofok day trip from Budapest

Siófok is a beautiful town near the coast of Balaton Lake which is sometimes named as the Hungarian sea. The town is 100km away from Budapest and you can reach it by car or by train.

Siófok is a port town and has one of the most gorgeous beaches nearby called the Golden Beach. During your time there, you can cruise on the beach, take a swim in the lake or get a drink with lunch from lots of buffets, pubs, snack bars there.

If you’re looking for a bit more fun, there is also a Ferris wheel and water bikes which you can rent.

Also, Siófok is a great party day trip destination. There is a promenade full of clubs which is the heart of the nightlife there. Every year the biggest musical performers of Hungary have concerts in Siófok.

The town also has a lot of beautiful gardens and parks which are nice for a more relaxed afternoon. The most iconic and the highest building in the town is the water tower. Now the tower acts as a coffee bar from which you can get an awesome view.

So if you are looking for summery destination, Siófok is a perfect day trip idea.

Contributed by Szabolcs from Gabriella B & B

Szentendre

szentendre - day trip from Budapest
Photo credits: Travel with a Spin

Probably the easiest and most common day trip from Budapest is to the tiny town of Szentendre. At the same time, it will reward visitors with a friendly atmosphere, interesting architecture, fascinating views and creative handmade objects that one can take home.

Szentendre is to Budapest what Montmartre is to Paris, just a little bit farther. It reunites more than 200 painters, musicians, poets, wood-carvers and potters from Hungary and beyond.  

Besides this, once upon a time there lived an important Serbian community. Even if today they only make 1% of the population, the Balkan influences can still be seen in the architecture of the buildings and the many Orthodox churches in the town center.

One of the most interesting museums is Micro Wonder Museum, a small room with art pieces that one can only analyze using a magnifying glass. Other museums that can be found on the cobbled streets are the Marzipan Museum, the National Wine Museum and several independent art galleries. Outside the city centre, there’s a huge open-air ethnographic museum. One can see there more than 300 buildings from different regions in Hungary.

Another area of interest is Donau riverfront. One can walk along or take a bicycle. The views as spectacular and some creative details were added by the many local artists. Szentendre features a slow-paced atmosphere and has a lot of pretty cafes to sit and enjoy it, both at the Donau and in the town centre. 

Szentendre is just 25 km from Budapest and can be easily reached by public transport. One can either take the train or the bus for around 40 minutes and 2 euros in order to get there.

Contributed by Raluca from Travel with a Spin

Esztergom

Photo by Imre Benedek from FreeImages

One of the most memorable day trips from Budapest is one to the city of Esztergom. It is a city with a very interesting history as it is one of the oldest cities in Hungary.

When you walk through the city you will find beautiful old architecture everywhere. There are historic attractions throughout the city. So if you like history, this is a great city to visit!

One of the highlights of Esztergom is the Basilica of Esztergom. This Basilica is the largest church in Hungary, which is impressive to see. Other great sights in the city are Esztergom Castle, the Museum of Christian Art, and St. Stephen’s Square.

Also, it is very easy to get to the city of Esztergom from Budapest. The distance between the two cities is only 40 kilometres. The fastest way to travel is by car. This takes about 50 minutes. Besides that, you can travel by train or bus, and it takes about 1 hour and 1.5 hours, respectively.

Contributed by Dymphe from Dymabroad

Aggtelek National Park

If you’re looking for adventure with nature, a day trip to the Aggtelek National Park would be an excellent idea. Although it may be a long drive to this region, the beautiful scenery, especially the magnificent underground caves, makes the journey worthwhile.

Getting to this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site will take about 2.5 hours by car so it’s best to start the trip early in the day. If you’re taking the train or bus, you’ll get there in 4.5 to 5.5 hours, respectively.

One of the best things to do in Aggtelek is to explore some of the over 250 caves within the national park. These caves vary in lengths, depths, and sizes, and the most notable of them is the Baradla Cave, the largest stalactite cave in Central Europe.

The cave tour duration varies from one hour to as long as seven hours. The view inside the caves is incredible but another unique experience would be to listen to musical performances in the concert hall inside the caves. You can enhance this experience by being mindful, tuning in to your senses to appreciate the amazing acoustics inside.

Some tips for travellers: note that the official cave tour is offered in Hungarian only. However, English-speaking guides are available from other tour agencies. Also, inside the caves can be very cold so bring a jacket to keep warm.

If underground cave exploration is not your cup of tea, there are other fun activities to do in Aggtelek, including cycling and horseback riding.

Contributed by Lucile from Lucile HR

Heviz

Heviz day trip
Photo credits: Slovenians Travel

Hévíz is a small town on the western end of Lake Balaton in Hungary. If you want to visit it from the capital Budapest, calculate around 2 hours by car and 3,5 hours by bus or train.

Hévíz is really worth visiting because it is the home of the world’s second-largest thermal lake and the biggest biologically active natural lake. Around 38 meters underground lie the cold and warm springs, which determine the temperature of lake Hévíz: the water in summer can be as hot as 37 °C (99 °F) and in winter it doesn’t cool down below 24 °C (75 °F).

As you can see, you can swim there year-round, especially in winter it provides a spectacular and memorable experience. The lake is in the middle of town, but it is fenced, so you must go to the main entrance and pay a reasonable entrance fee.

Once inside you can use all the facilities, including the inside and outside bathing area (it is really cool how they managed to build an inside area in the middle of the lake), just the wellness and spa areas are extra.

When swimming outside, it is so cool to swim past lotus flowers and now and then something will tingle you underwater – don’t worry, it’s just water plants. The thermal waters are rich in carbonic acid, sulphur, calcium, magnesium and hydrogen carbonate, which are all considered healing but have a significant smell. So next time, when you’re in Hungary, consider visiting Hévíz and do something good for your health.

Contributed by Simona from sLOVEnians Travel

Debrecen

Debrecen-Hungary-The-Globetrotting-Detective-1
Credits: The Globetrotting Detective

Debrecen is the second-largest city in Hungary. It’s situated 230 km east of Budapest. The two best ways to get to Debrecen from Budapest is either by train or car.

The express passenger train, called “intercity” departs hourly from the Nyugati Central Station to Debrecen. The train ride takes two and a half hours. The ticket costs 4000 – 4500 HUF (11-13 €). The last “intercity” from Debrecen back to Budapest leaves at 19:23.

Most and foremost, Debrecen is famous for its historical center. Its architecture from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries will definitely fascinate architecture lovers. The main square of the city center is full of fountains, greenery, and colorful flowers summers, and glowing lightning winters.

The best things to see in the historical downtown are the Reformed Great Church, the biggest protestant church of Hungary, the Dery Museum where you will learn about Hungarian history and culture, and the Csokonai Theatre.

Going up to the tower of the Great Church from which you can admire the entire city center costs 1000 HUF (3 €) and the entrance fee of Dery Museum is 1800 HUF (5 €).

You can also marvel at Debrecen’s compelling architecture from the terrace of one of the cafés or restaurants enjoying traditional Hungarian delicacies.

Moreover, in Debrecen, you can find one of the most prominent universities of Hungary. Its magnificent main building was built in the 16th century in the greenest part of Debrecen, in the Big Forest.

Today, approximately 30,000 students including about 6,000 international students study there.

Last but not least, a wide spectrum of wellness options is available in Debrecen. The most popular one is the Aquaticum Spa. You will find there a brand new complex with fantastic swimming pools, a Mediterranean Aqua Park, thermal baths, sauna world, and wellness island. A day ticket for all thermal baths, aquapark, and saunas costs 5500 HUF (16 €).

Contributed by Diana Lesko from The Globetrotting Detective

Tapolca

Photo by Matze Bob on Unsplash

Tapolca is a cute small town located in West of Hungary near the Lake Balaton. The town manages to attract a large number of tourists each year because of its surrounding lush hills and a charming atmosphere away from crowds and major Hungarian atrractions.

However, what Tapolca is most famous for is Tapolca’s lake cave which is situated right in the heart of the town and is a part of 3km long underground cave system. You can take a boat ride through a mineral healing underground cave and listen to the guide as he introduces you to the most fascinating facts of this underground gem.

If boating through the underground lake is not enough, there is also the Castle of Szigliget about 15 minutes by car from the centre of Tapolca. Located on the hill, the castle offers some of the best views of Hungarian hills and beautiful rural landscape.

You can get to Talpoca by car and it would take you around 2 hours to reach the town via M7 and Route 77. There are also buses and trains that can take you from Budapest to Talpoca but it would take you a bit longer, approximately 3-4 hours one-way.

Day trips from Budapest outside Hungary

What is great about Budapest’s location is that you can travel to another country in just about 2 hours. So here are all the amazing day trips from Budapest which you can take outside Hungary.

Bratislava

Credits: PlacesofJuma

A really beautiful destination, which can be reached wonderfully from Budapest on a day trip, is the city Bratislava in Slovakia. It takes about 2 hours to drive from the Hungarian capital to the Slovakian capital. Especially if you have more time, then you should combine a visit to these two great cities.

Although Bratislava is not as big as Budapest, there are a lot of cool things to experience. There are so many amazing things to do in Bratislava.

You can enjoy numerous fantastic viewpoints, stroll along the beautiful Danube promenade and drink coffee in one of the many hip cafes and bars. But watch out, because on the way you’re sure to come across one or two famous bronze statues!

These are something like the trademarks of the city. The most famous is the “Cumil”, which cheekily peeks out of a manhole cover and is a popular photo motif in town.

Another must-see is the white Bratislava Castle, as it is the city’s main attraction. This landmark is located on a hill and can be easily reached on foot from the Old Town. Once at the top, the beautiful castle garden with its fantastic view over the roofs of the city invites to linger.

Contributed by Jürgen & Martina from PlacesofJuma

Kosice

Best day trips from Budapest  - Kosice, Slovakia
Photo credits: Kami & the rest of the world

Kosice, the second-largest city in Slovakia, is one of the most underrated cities in Europe.

Located some 3 hours away from Budapest, there are so many great things to do in Kosice that will keep you busy for the whole day. You can visit the easternmost Gothic cathedral in Europe, wander around the charming old town, see the spectacular gold treasure found during the renovations in the centre or enjoy an exceptional culinary scene (you can try their wine from the Slovak Tokaj region, less popular than the Hungarian one but also very good).

In 2013 Kosice held the title of the European Capital of Culture and still today you can find some unusual cultural institutions like the art gallery in the former swimming pool or the creative hub in the old tobacco factory.

You can travel between Budapest and Kosice by public transport (train or bus) or by car – this seems like the best option time-wise.

Contributed by Kami from Kami & the rest of the world

Vienna

Carriage in Vienna | Vienna guide

You can find yourself in Vienna on a day trip from Budapest in a little over 2.5 hours by train.

The Austrian Capital has a population of just under 2 million people and many more visitors every year. Everywhere you go there is another amazing building with history, dating back hundreds of years waiting to be explored.

Some of the main Vienna attractions include the Hofburg Palace and treasury, Schonbrunn Palace and Zoo, The Prater, St Stephans Cathedral, Vienna Time Travel and more.

The Prater is one of the oldest Amusement Parks in the world and a firm favourite with locals and visitors. The Regal Hofburg and Schonbrunn Palaces were both home to the Hapsburg Royal family.

Food in Vienna is heavily meat-based and borrows from its neighbour Germany. Figllmuler in Vienna has been making giant plate-sized Wiener Schnitzels for over 100 years, while at Schwizerhaus at the Prater serves one of the best Pork Knuckles anywhere in the world.

There are many great attractions in Vienna and all its old-world charm make it well worth a visit from Budapest.

Contributed by Mark from Wyld Family Travel

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