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2 weeks in Hungary

Hi all,

We are thinking about our 2014 2 weeks holiday for October. We (wife and myself) are thinking of going to Hungary, but unfortunately its not a destination that you can easily find good itineraries for it. We will not be driving, as heard that its not too safe, and I have never drove abroad as I'm used to RHD and a small country (Malta). So have some questions: Is the train system efficient and good for travelling? Apart from Budapest (so not to spend all days there) what other location or 2 locations do you suggest to stay as a base. The bases must be easy to do short trips to other places (between 1hr and 1.5hours travelling). We like architecture, scenery, museums and good food. We will arrive in Budapest and depart from Budapest.

Posted by
12323 posts

Driving is safe in Hungary. The highway system isn't half bad and the crime rate in Hungary is among the lowest in Europe. So that should not impact a choice to drive. The last time i drove on your side of the road it was a bit of a disaster so i wont be doing that again anytime soon so i understand that consideration. The train system is fairly modern, fairly comfortable and fairly well laid out. I would say that in two weeks you might want to look overnight stays in three of these five places:
Pecs
Eger
Tihany
Gyor
Fort Monostor

That will give you a week on the road and a week in Budapest which is a pretty good mix. Gyor is about 1.5 hours by train, Pecs and Eger are about 3 hours by train and Tihany is easiest by car and its about 1.5 hours. Fort Monostor is also best by car and is about 1 hour.

Posted by
42 posts

Hi James,

Thanks for your feedback.

I was thinking of 5 nights in Tihany (Lake Balaton), 5 nights in Eger and 5 nights in Budapest, that gives me 4 full days in each location, to explore the city and surroundings. If I had to go beginning of October will it be good? Is public transport/trains good in Tihany and Eger? Can I do easy day trips to other locations from there? I know that Budapest I can do day trips, so not worried much about Budapest, I'm more worried about the other 2 bases. Pecs doesn't look like I can do easy day trips.

Posted by
12323 posts

Budapest it’s self won’t be boring for most folks even after 4 solid full days. Then as you observe there are some nice day trips like the Danube Bend and Godollo or Spelunking if that interests you.

There is a nice direct train to Eger and a couple of lovely places to spend the night. I like the Senator Hazs. Eger it’s self you can walk. If you are a big wine aficionado and if you hire a guide or rent a car you can possibly spend some time in the wine country or in the wine cellars or go on to Tokaji. The drive from Eger to Lillafüred through the mountains of the national park is reportedly beautiful as is Lillafüred its self. If the narrow gauge train is still running that’s a fun trip into Miskolc from where you can get a train back to Budapest.

Tihany is one of the most beautiful little towns in Hungary. It is tougher to get to as you take the train to Balatonföldvár then the ferry across. I love it. But remember it is October and it might be cool. Not exactly outdoor sport weather. So Day one Arrive at Balatonfüred and take the ferry across to Tihany then a half day in Tihany, Day two Tihany, Day three depart to Balatonföldvár for a night and then on day four back to Budapest. Or there are several other interesting towns on the lake you can visit. When I pretend to know about a place like Tihany I really do know about it. When I have never been to a place, like Balatonföldvár or any other place on the lake then I am honest about that too. And again, remember you are talking about October.

Pecs also has some nice wine country and wine towns like Villany and some Puszta attractions like the horse shows within easy reach. Pecs is a great town on its own and worth a couple of days to explore. Pecs is another place I am glad I visited and I want to return to very soon.

Another option you might consider is to spend a few nights in Gyor. It’s about 1.5 hours by train. The town itself is good for a couple of days and it is near the Archabbey at Pannonhalma which I think is fantastic. Another day trip out of Gyor is Vienna (about 1.5 hours by train) or Soporon or the fortress at Komarom. In October I would do this instead of the lake.

Figure out what interests you and then we can figure out the trains and busses and the occasional hired car to get you there.

Posted by
819 posts

Hi,
I built a map of Budapest that many people have found useful. I am at wmcca@hotmail.com. Just ask for the Budapest map I will send it.

My wife and I never tire of Buda. Pest...maybe we don't know enough to get to the really interesting locations. Don't miss the "city baths". They are speled something like Schenyi Furdos. But I have on my anyway.
wayne iNWI

Posted by
1437 posts

You can easily spend more than 4 days in Budapest.

Personally, 3 days in Eger was enough for me. Eger is really best for a week-end visit - Friday and Saturday nights (even in October) are fun and busy in the valley of the wine cellars! One visit in late October, the wine shop in the little plaza in from of the Senator Haz hotel provided wool blankets to drape over my lap while I sat outside sipping wine... it's a very pleasant way to wile away an hour or two in the afternoon!

From Budapest, I would highly recommend joining a tour to Godollo and "Sissy's Palace" - some of these tours also include what is best described as a Hungarian cowboy show. It's an excursion that I enjoyed very much. Another great day tour from Budapest is to the Danube bend.

I also joined a Jewish Heritage walking tour that included the Dohany Great Synagogue, the Holocaust Memorial and access to a small museum. Although not Jewish, I found the tour very enlightening and moving.

If you like wine, the Agricultural Museum (near Heroes Square) had a neat small wine museum in the basement.

I also had fun finding a few of the street sculptures by the artist Imre Varga, including the famous umbrella statues in Obuda.

The indoor food market was the best place for lunch (and to pick up small souvenirs, like paprika).

The thermal baths are a big reason why I like Budapest so much! Usually around 4-4:30pm, everyday I headed to one of the thermal baths. I liked the Lukács bath best and I'm really looking forward to trying the newly opened Veli Bej (Császár Baths) when I go back next May. The Veli Bej should be the one which I think should top anyone's list to try, if time only allows one. Both the Lukács and Veli Bej are on hospital grounds and have therapeutic waters - perfect for sightseeing- and travel-sore bodies! ;-)

Getting there is relatively easy by tram or bus, with a short walk from Margit hid. By taxi, you must use the word "furdo" after whichever bath's name that you picked to go to.

When you buy your entrance ticket, this is also the time when you can book a massage - which I also recommend at either of the two baths mentioned above. Before the big reno (when I was there), Lukács had rare tourists and was very institutional. During one of my earliest visits, I had a communist era-style massage by a great lady (who had obviously been trained by 'Olga'/"I will pound you until you feel better!") - LOL, but it was good!

I am hoping that the renovated Rac baths will be opened by May (but likely not, since that project seems to be a bit jinxed). Tuesday is Ladies' day at Rudas and "mixed" days are on Friday and Saturday - I found this one to be the most atmospheric of the Turkish baths. I found the Gellért, Széchenyi, and Király just OK; with the first two quite touristy, IMO. The mineral thermal waters share health benefits on the Buda side. Széchenyi's waters, on the Pest side, had to be drilled for deep and doesn't have the same minerals. This has to do with the Buda side's karst geology.

BTW - I did get good value out of the Budapest Card on my first visit.