16 day trips from Budapest: explore Hungary’s hidden gems

Only Once Today is a reader-supported website. We might earn a commission if you purchase something through one of our links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

What we talk about in this article

Hungary is a country that boasts of rich cultural heritage, scenic landscapes and beautiful architecture. While Budapest, the capital city, may be the most popular destination for tourists, there are many other hidden gems waiting to be explored just a short day trip away. Here are 16 day trips from Budapest that will add an extra dose of adventure and inspiration to your travel itinerary.

So, if you’re looking for a change of scenery or an adventure outside the bustling capital, this post is for you.

But before venturing out of the beautiful city of Budapest, make sure that you have seen all the highlights in the city during a 2 or 3 days itinerary through Budapest.

1. Escape to the Sunlit City of Szeged

Szeged, known as the Sun City, is a charming city adorned with Art Nouveau architecture, located at Hungary’s Great Plain or Puszta. Every street corner echoes with rich history and the city’s squares bloom with cafés and restaurants, offering a taste of authentic Hungarian cuisine.

Fun fact: Szeged is renowned as the sunniest city in Hungary, receiving more sunlight hours than any other city in the country!


How to get to Szeged from Budapest?

By Car: Driving is a convenient option, with a journey of just under two hours via the M5 highway.

By Train: If you prefer public transit, trains run regularly from Budapest to Szeged, with a journey time of approximately two and a half hours.

Things to see and do in Szeged

  • Explore the majestic Votive Church of Szeged, a fine example of Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture.
  • Stroll around Dóm Square, the heart of the city teeming with monuments and cafés.
  • Enjoy a tranquil walk beside the Tisza River, especially beautiful at sunset.
  • Taste the traditional fish soup, Szeged’s gastronomic pride, at a local restaurant.

Explore more things to do in Szeged or find out where to spend the night in Szeged.

2. Visit the Fairytale Castle of Bory

Bory Castle in Székesfehérvár, Hungary is a secret gem that embodies one man’s audacious dream and undying perseverance. Engineer and architect Jeno Bory spent 40 summers crafting this eclectic, fairy-tale castle, which houses elegant sculptures, stunning frescoes, and romantic towers.

Fun Fact: Bory Castle was essentially a love letter, with many sculptures crafted as homages to Bory’s wife, a celebrated opera singer.

Did you know: Bory Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Hungary!

Bory Castle - day trip from Budapest
Bory Castle - Day trip from Budapest

How to Get There

  • By Train: From Budapest, take a direct train to Székesfehérvár – a journey of just under an hour.
  • By Car: Set your GPS to Székesfehérvár. The castle is about an hour’s drive from Budapest via the M7 highway.

Things to Do

  • Explore Bory Castle’s numerous towers for breathtaking views of the city.
  • Wander through the verdant courtyard, complete with intricate, towering sculptures.
  • Visit the art gallery housing masterpieces from Bory and his wife.
  • Visit the city of Szekesfehervar, while you’re already there!

Want to stay longer? You can spend the night in a boutique hotel in Szekesfehervar.

3. Go on a journey to Debrecen

Immerse yourself in Hungary’s history, culture, and natural beauty in Debrecen, the second-largest city in the country. With its charming streets, beautifully preserved Historic Protestant Great Church, and vibrant art scene, Debrecen is full of experiences awaiting your discovery.

Fun fact: The city is often referred to as “the Calvinist Rome” due to its historical significance to Protestantism.


How to get to Debrecen from Budapest?

  • By Car: Travelling by car is a convenient option, as it’s approximately a 2-hour drive.
  • By Train: For those who prefer public transport, a train journey from the capital typically takes around 2.5 hours.

Things to see and do in Debrecen

  • Explore the historic Protestant Great Church – a symbol of the city’s heritage.
  • Visit Hortobágy National Park – the largest protected area in Hungary.
  • Dive into contemporary art at the MODEM Centre for Modern & Contemporary Arts.
  • Relax at the Aquaticum Mediterranean Pleasure Baths for a unique spa experience.
  • Wander through the vibrant Piac Street with its numerous shops and restaurants.

Want to stay longer? Spend the night in a stunning boutique hotels in Debrecen!

4. Escape to Szentendre: A Jewel by the Danube

Enveloped in the embrace of the Danube, the picturesque town of Szentendre has it all: art, culture, and tranquility. This charming riverside town, with its cobbled streets, colorful houses, and a rich artistic heritage, offers a fun escape from the hustle and bustle of Budapest. Szentendre is a living art exhibit that resonates with the creativity of the numerous artists who found their home and inspiration here!


How to get to Szentendre from Budapest?

  • By Car: The distance from Budapest to Szentendre is approximately 25 kilometres, a comfortable 30-minute drive away.
  • By Train: Alternatively, you can take a train from Batthyány Square in Budapest, which will get you to Szentendre in about 40 minutes.

Things to see and do in Szentendre

  • Explore the Marzipan Museum, which showcases a sweet art form.
  • Stroll down the quaint, cobbled streets lined with art galleries and boutiques.
  • Visit the Open-Air Ethnographic Museum, offering a glimpse into traditional Hungarian life.
  • Enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Danube River.

5. Take a trip to Esztergom, The Cradle of Hungary

Go on a day trip to Esztergom, an ancient gem on the banks of the beautiful Danube River. Brimming with history and crowned by the country’s largest church, Esztergom is a testament to Hungary’s rich past. It’s here that Saint Stephen, the first King of Hungary, was born – a fact that lends this charming town a sense of national prestige.


How to get to Esztergom from Budapest?

  • By Car: A scenic drive of about an hour takes you to Esztergom.
  • By Train: For those preferring public transit, the train journey is approximately 1.5 hours from Budapest.

Things to see and do in Esztergom

  • Explore the majestic Esztergom Basilica, the largest church in Hungary.
  • Stroll through the historical and cultural hub, King’s Street.
  • Visit the Christian Museum, home to the most significant ecclesiastical collection in Hungary.
  • Explore the Royal Palace ruins and take a journey through Hungary’s past.
  • Take a walk on the Maria Valeria Bridge, offering panoramic views of the Danube River and Slovakia on the other side.

Want to stay a little longer? Spend the night a one of the beautiful boutique hotels or choose a relaxing stay in one of the Esztergom wellness hotels.

6. Dive into the Tranquil Waters of Héviz

Héviz holds a gem like no other – home to the world’s second-largest thermal lake, this enchanting town is one of the best-kept secrets in Europe. Immerse yourself in the warm, medicinal waters of Lake Héviz, surrounded by water lilies and lush greenery. The lake’s water changes daily, filled by springs deep underground, making it a unique, natural spa experience. Heviz is a serene escape from the bustling streets of Budapest.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the healing waters of Lake Héviz are rich in minerals and said to help alleviate joint pains and other ailments?


How to Get to Heviz from Budapest?

  • By Car: A scenic drive of approximately two hours will transport you to the tranquil shores of the lake.
  • By Train: Alternatively, comfortable train services are also available and take around three hours, offering beautiful sights of the Hungarian countryside along the way.

Things to See and Do in Héviz, Hungary

  • Indulge in a therapeutic bath at the world-renowned Lake Héviz
  • Explore the charming town on foot or by renting a bicycle
  • Visit the local farmers market to taste Hungarian delicacies
  • Spend the night in one of the many spa hotels in Héviz
  • Take a peaceful stroll in the verdant woodland around the town.

7. Exploring Gödöllő: The Royal Escape

Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambience of Gödöllő, a delightful gem just a stone’s throw away from the capital. This charming town, known for its royal past, is a perfect day trip for those seeking a blend of history, culture, and nature. Walk through time as you explore the spectacular Gödöllő Palace, the former summer residence of Queen Elisabeth and Emperor Franz Joseph. Bask in the town’s quaint streets, verdant parks, and charming cafes, each telling a different tale of the past.

Fun Fact: Gödöllő Palace is one of the largest Baroque Palaces in Hungary.

Gödöllő - city centre

How to get to Gödöllő from Budapest?

  • By Car: The city is located approximately 30 kilometres northeast of the capital, making it an easy and scenic drive of around 30 minutes.
  • By Train: If you prefer public transport, regular trains from Budapest’s Ors vezer tere station can get you there in approximately 40 minutes.

Things to see and do in Gödöllő, Hungary

  • Visit the magnificent Palace and its beautiful gardens.
  • Explore the town centre and its charming cafes.
  • Take a relaxing walk around Erzsébet Park.
  • Visit the Royal Stables and the Historical Railway Exhibition.
  • Take part in a traditional Hungarian craft workshop at the local museum.

8. Embark on a Timeless Journey to Visegrád

Go on a trip to Visegrád, a hidden gem on the bend of the Danube River. It offers a remarkable journey into the country’s history and natural beauty. As you step into this picturesque town, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled back in time. Set against the backdrop of the Pilis Mountains, it’s a haven for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

A fun fact to ignite your wanderlust: Visegrád boasts the highest point in Hungary, Dobogókő, offering breathtaking panoramas of the Danube Bend.


How to get to Visegrád from Budapest?

  • By Car: It is approximately a 45-minute drive. The scenic route along the Danube River is an adventure in itself.
  • By Train: For those who prefer public transport, consider taking a train to Nagymaros-Visegrád. From there, a short ferry ride will take you directly to Visegrád.

Things to see and do in Visegrád

  • A visit to the Royal Palace, a remarkable historical site.
  • Take a hike up to the Visegrad Castle, where sweeping views of the Danube Bend await.
  • Engage in thermal bathing at the local wellness centre, an ideal way to relax after a day of exploring.
  • Try your hand at archery in the medieval playground, a fun-filled activity for all ages.
  • Walk along the Danube promenade, a serene spot to watch the sunset and reflect on your day’s adventure.
  • Enjoy a peaceful stay in one of the renowned Viségrad wellness hotels.

9. Surround yourself with the Charm of Pécs

Beyond the bustling capital of Hungary, an enriching day trip to Pécs is an unexpected surprise. This charming Hungarian city, filled with historical and cultural treasures, is a hidden gem not many venture to explore. Once a Roman city, Pécs is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its fascinating blend of cultures – Roman, Ottoman, and Hungarian.

Did you know? Pécs was named the European Capital of Culture in 2010, a title well-deserved. This culture, you can also find it in the beautifully designed boutique hotels in Pécs.


How to get to Pécs from Budapest?

  • By Car: On average, it’s about a 2-hour drive.
  • By Train: You can also opt for a 3-hour scenic train journey.

Things to see and do in Pécs

  • Explore the captivating Cathedral, a beautiful representation of the city’s religious history.
  • Visit the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, and immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture.
  • Take a stroll around the charming main square, Széchenyi.
  • Visit the Early Christian Mausoleum, a fascinating archaeological site dating back to Roman times.
  • Finally, enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the city’s many charming cafes, taking in the relaxed pace of life that Pécs has to offer.

10. Eger: An Escape into Hungary's history and charming vineyards

Eger, a charming town in Northern Hungary, captivates with its harmonious blend of baroque architecture, rejuvenating thermal baths, and renowned vineyards. Nestled in the heart of the town, the magnificent Eger Castle beckons, inviting visitors to embark on a journey through time as they explore its grand halls and immerse themselves in the rich history showcased in its various exhibits, such as the impressive armory room.

Fun Fact: Eger is renowned for its ‘Bull’s Blood’, a robust red wine blend that played a role in the town’s heroic defense against the Ottoman Turks in 1552.

Castle of Eger

How to get to Eger, Hungary from Budapest?

  • By Car: The journey is approximately 139 km, taking around 2 hours via the M3 route.
  • By Train: Trains depart regularly from Budapest Keleti to Eger, with journey times averaging about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Eger is a bit of a longer trip. Consider spending the night in one of the wellness hotels in Eger. Or alternatively, select a beautiful design hotel for your stay in Eger.

Things to see and do in Eger, Hungary

11. Experience the Serene Beauty of Lake Balaton

Escape the city and venture into the serene beauty of Lake Balaton, the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe. This idyllic haven offers a picturesque landscape, dotted with quaint vineyards, charming villages, and sandy beaches. A day trip to Lake Balaton is like stepping into a postcard.

Fun fact: Did you know Lake Balaton is often referred to as the Hungarian Sea?

Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton

How to get to Lake Balaton from Budapest?

  • By Car: The journey is approximately 1.5-2 hours, depending on traffic.
  • By Train: Trains run frequently, with the journey taking around 2-3 hours.

Things to see and do in Lake Balaton, Hungary


Want to stay longer? Spend the night at one of the wellness hotels or boutique hotels around Lake Balaton!

12. Embrace the Wild at Hortobágy National Park

For those of you with a keen sense of adventure and a love for the great outdoors, here are some beautiful nature-filled day trips from Budapest. So pack your hiking boots, prepare your picnic basket, and get ready for a day filled with natural beauty and unforgettable adventures!

Step into the wilderness of Hortobágy National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest protected area in Hungary. This oasis is a haven for bird watchers, home to around 342 bird species, and offers a unique look into Hungary’s traditional pastoral life. The flat Puszta, iconic drawbridges, and the sight of Hungarian grey cattle grazing provide a refreshing break from city life, making it a perfect day trip.

Make sure to check out the other national parks in Hungary, especially if you want to explore local nature.

Fun fact: Did you know that Hortobágy National Park is a star-gazing hotspot due to its minimal light pollution?

How to get to Hortobágy National Park from Budapest?

  • By Car: The journey takes about 2 hours by car.
  • By Train: By train, expect to travel for approximately 2.5-3 hours to reach the park.

Things to see and do in Hortobágy National Park, Hungary

  • Marvel at the diverse bird species, including the iconic Great Bustard.
  • Visit the Hortobágy Wild Animal Park to encounter indigenous animals.
  • Take a traditional horse-drawn carriage ride across the Puszta.
  • Explore the Shepherd’s Museum to learn about pastoral life in Hungary.
  • End your day by stargazing under the clear, unpolluted skies.

13. Discover the Magic of Danube Bend

Swap the urban charm for a day in the tranquillity of the Danube Bend. In this region, the Danube river takes a dramatic turn amidst a landscape adorned with castles, churches, and charming small towns. Every view seems to leap out of a postcard and that makes your visit unforgettable.

Located at the picturesque Danube Bend, you’ll find a collection of Hungarian cities including Viségrad, Esztergom, Vac, and Szentendre. Many tours offer the opportunity to visit these places in a single day, allowing you to experience the best of each.

Fun fact: The Danube Bend is often referred to as the ‘Hungarian Grand Canyon’ due to its beautiful and dramatic river landscapes.

Danube Bend Hungary

How to get to Danube Bend from Budapest?

  • By Car: The journey takes about 1 hour by car.
  • By Train: By train, expect to travel for approximately 1.5-2 hours to reach Danube Bend.

Things to see and do in Danube Bend, Hungary

  • Explore the medieval Visegrád Castle and soak in the panoramic views of the Danube.
  • Visit the iconic Esztergom Basilica, the largest church in Hungary.
  • Wander through the charming streets of Szentendre, a riverside town known for its galleries and museums.
  • Cruise down the Danube and marvel at the stunning landscapes.
  • Dive into history with a visit to the open-air Ethnographic Museum in Szentendre.

Want to spend more time in the Danube Bend? Esztergom has quite a few hotel options, like wellness hotels and boutique hotels. And Visegrad is famous for its spa hotels.

14. Discover the underground realm of Aggtelek National Park

Journey into nature at Aggtelek National Park. Hidden among the Northern Hungarian hills, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to Europe’s largest stalactite cave system. Here, you’ll find a subterranean wonderland of geological formations and unique wildlife.

Fun fact: The park’s Baradla Cave is not just a feast for the eyes, but also for the ears, with underground concerts held in its echo-rich chambers.

How to get to Aggtelek National Park from Budapest?

  • By Car: A road trip to Aggtelek National Park will take you approximately 2.5 hours.
  • By Train: If you prefer train travel, brace yourself for a 4-hour scenic journey.

Things to see and do in Aggtelek National Park, Hungary

  • Explore the breathtaking stalactite formations of the Baradla Cave.
  • Embark on a guided tour of the enchanting Rákóczi Cave.
  • Take a leisurely hike around the park, capturing its diverse flora and fauna.
  • Enjoy an unforgettable underground concert in the Baradla Cave.
  • Visit the educational exhibitions at the Jósvafő Visitor Centre.

15. Experience the Serene Wilderness of Kiskunság National Park

Take a day trip from Hungary’s bustling capital to the tranquil surroundings of Kiskunság National Park. This hidden gem in the Great Hungarian Plain, offers a pristine oasis with diverse flora and fauna. Immerse yourself in the park’s unique biosphere reserves, where the Great Bustard – one of the world’s heaviest flying birds – roam freely.

Fun fact: Did you know that Kiskunság National Park is one of the oldest national parks in Hungary?

How to get to Kiskunság National Park from Budapest?

  • By Car: The scenic drive from will take approximately 1.5 hours.
  • By Train: It takes a leisurely 2-hour train journey.

Things to see and do in Kiskunság National Park, Hungary

  • Go on a bird-watching tour to spot the majestic Great Bustard.
  • Visit the Hortobágy Salt Lake for a rejuvenating mud bath.
  • Attend a horse show at the traditional Hungarian farmstead, Bugac Puszta.
  • Explore the park’s botanical garden in Fülöpháza, showcasing the park’s diverse flora.
  • Set up a picnic by the idyllic Lake Kolon, a perfect spot for relaxation and spotting wildlife.

16. Discover Bükk National Park

Bükk National Park is the country’s largest and most enchanting forest reserve, featuring a wealth of hiking trails, captivating caves, and exceptionally rich biodiversity. While you soak in the peacefulness of the park, let yourself be embraced by the stunning view of limestone mountains and lush beech woods.

Fun fact: Bükk National Park is home to Hungary’s highest peak, Mount Istállós-kő, standing tall at 959 metres.

How to get to Bükk National Park from Budapest?

  • By Car: The journey takes approximately 2 hours by car.
  • By Train: Sit back and enjoy the countryside views on a 2.5-hour train ride.

Things to see and do in Bükk National Park

  • Delve into the park’s abundant cave systems, including the unique Anna Cave and István Cave.
  • Conquer the park’s highest peak, Mount Istállós-kő, and enjoy the panoramic views.
  • Explore the Bükk Plateau with its diverse flora and fauna.
  • Enjoy a peaceful picnic by the Szalajka Valley streams.
  • Visit Lillafüred, the cute little mountainous village near Eger

Map - Excursions from Budapest

The coolest day trips from Budapest

As the sun sets on your day trip to Bükk National Park, you’ll leave with your adventurer’s spirit satisfied. To fuel your wanderlust even further, make sure to check out our comprehensive blog post on other must-visit National Parks in Hungary. But remember, the beauty doesn’t end here. For more captivating destinations, don’t miss our blog post on cool cities in Hungary.

And when you return to Budapest, allow yourself to be enveloped in luxury by choosing from some of the best boutique hotels in the city. Or, if you’re seeking relaxation after your adventurous day, check out our recommended list of wellness & spa hotels in Budapest. Stay curious and keep exploring!

Already have your Budapest itinerary worked out?

Do you have your itinerary for Budapest all drawn out? Or are you still planning? 

Read our complete guide to the city of Budapest to make sure you didn’t miss a spot!

Explore more - A few other things to see and do in Hungary!

Hungary has a lot of things to see and do beyond visiting the capital Budapest!

Keep reading to find more interesting and fun excursions and activities.

Start planning your trip

Plan your trip

Step-by-step guide to plan your trip

Find accommodation

Upgrade your trip & sleep comfortably

Get travel insurance

The best travel insurance for Europeans

Get a global travel card

Get cash & pay anywhere

"I need 6 months of holiday, twice a year"

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse on this website, you accept the use of cookies for the above purposes.