My wife and I will be visiting her relatives in Budapest in early April of 2018 and we are looking for another city to tack on the front end. The reason I exempted Vienna is that we combined it with our last trip to Budapest in '07. Looks like we will be traveling during Holy Week and as practicing Catholics this will be exciting. We will be in Europe for approx. 12 days and will plan on at least 6 days in Budapest. Not entirely ruling out entire stay in Hungary or going back to Vienna but just curious. Thanks for all the future feedback.
Prague, a wonderful, beautiful and lively city!
On the front end, meaning on the way to Budapest? I try and do the difficult to reach that have direct connections to Budapest on the front end of our trips. For a complete list you can go to Google Flights, type in Budapest as point of origin, One Way, Non Stop and Europe as the destination. This will give you a map with every non stop flight to Budapest. As a lot of flights are specific to the day of the week you will want to search each potential day of the week to see what comes up. Okay, now you have the connection backward. Once you find a few interesting places make them the origin and Budapest the destination.
Most every Balkan country now has direct service to Budapest so you will find Sofia, Tirana, Skopje, Podgorica. But these are better country tours. My favorite city right now, non stop to Budapest, is Kiev. Depending on how many days Kiev and Odessa are great together.
If you want to keep it local, then get an apartment in Budapest and do day trips and overnights out of Budapest. That way you just carry what you need for the night. Pecs, the Archabbey at Pannonhalma (and the town of Gyor) and Eger and three good overnight trips. Each would be a separate trip as all the trains in Hungary run outward from Budapest and do not connect the towns with out first returning to Budapest.
Thank you all. I think I am leaning more towards a Hungaro-centric trip(did I just invent a word?). My father-in-law grew up in Szeged so he wants to take us there, plus Eger, Pecs, and Gyor all look appealing and easy to get to. I think we can find plenty to do. We've already done the Danube Bend but might do again. Maybe Balaton.
Pecs is fascinating.
I suggest Krakow Poland, a lovely city with so much to see and do. It looks far from Budapest, but by air they are actually fairly close together.
I don't think you can fly direct from Budapest to Krakow. Wish you could. But in the fall you will be able to fly Ryanair direct from Budapest to Lviv for under $100 and that's a great deal to a fascinating City.
I really liked Pecs and Vac. Pecs is about 3 hours from Budapest and so is much better as an overnight. Vac is quite close to Budapest and makes a great daytrip. The mummies under the main square are fascinating (yes, you read that right - they were discovered during the square's renovation).
We loved Lake Balaton. We stayed at the Mala Garden Hotel and had a great experience.
enjoy! you have lots of great options!