Travel Guide: Experience the Best Sights in Hungary and Its Rich Thermal Bath Culture

The country of Hungary, located in Eastern Europe, rich in history, is often put in the frame by its magnificent capital, Budapest. Balathon lake joins the charm of the blue waters created by the Danube river. Hungary is defined by the Roman, Ottoman, Mongol, Czechs, Soviet and Hungarian nuances in the colorful palette of cultures.

Known as Magyarország by locals, Hungary is the country where food like goulash and paprika play the game. If described by its language, it seems like Hungary doesn’t belong to Europe.

Hungary is a country famous for classical music and its compositors like Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and Franz Liszt. Thermal springs are abundant in number and define the culture of Hungary.

Budapest has almost a dozen thermal baths thanks to the water rich with minerals discovered by Roman settlers. Many of them are centuries old and derive from the Ottoman hammams. The spa culture in Hungary is a natural wonder.

Budapest- The Glittering Capital of Hungary

Budapest is a city where life flows into two parts. In the past known as the two towns- Buda and Pest. The magnificent Danube river separates them by beautiful bridges. Nine of them have their own significance and role. Buda is nestled on the hill on the western side with many beautiful castles. The Royal Palace from 1265 is the most renowned one. Pest on the eastern side is filled with modern buildings leading to the downtown.

Amazing sunset over the Danube river with the view of Budapest
Amazing sunset over the Danube river with the view of Budapest- Credit: Swedishnomad.com

The Danube river ornates the beauty of Budapest with the best views from the Freedom Bridge.

Vajdahunyad Castle gives the charm to the City Park with amazing lake views. It gives a lovely promenade after visiting the nearby Szechenyi thermal baths.

The vintage funicular of Buda hill leading to the castle is an experience of its own. A pretty unique church in Budapest is Gelert Hill church, located inside the cave.

Fisherman Bastion & the Parliament- Major Touristic Attractions

The most touristic attraction of the city is the Fisherman’s Bastion, which once shaped the city walls. It offers the most scenic panorama of Budapest and the Danube river. Located near Buda castle, this amazing fortress dates back to 1895. Now it represents the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Budapest. Mathias Church inside the Fisherman’s Bastion is a Gothic edifice of splendid decor.

The beauty of Budapest is glorified by its Parliament, the third largest in the world. This Gothic structure is rich in decor and especially beautiful at the night. Budapest is also home to the second world’s largest synagogue.

Thermal Baths

Budapest is the city of the world’s largest thermal water cave system. Not only Budapest, the hot springs and baths of the whole of Hungary are more than 2000 years old. Many Turkish baths hammams across the country date back already to the 16th century. The largest thermal lake in Europe is the lake Hévíz, located 8 km from the town of Kestel near Balathon. Szechenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest are one of the most famous and picturesque spots in the city. The city of Miscolz holds a spa complex set in a natural cave existing since 1959.

Gellért Thermal Bath in Budapest is pretty popular, designed in the Art Noveau style. The fascinating mosaics and stained glass windows reveal the royal atmosphere.

Danube Bend

The Danube bend is another scenic viewpoint embraced by the charming little towns just north of Budapest. This is a popular area for hikers and nature lovers that leads to the Visegrad mountains. Visegrad, Esztergom and Szentendre are the historic towns at the touch of the ancient castles, churches and pretty houses. Many river cruises, including the Danube, blend into their itineraries.

Lake Balathon- The Hungarian Sea

The Hungarian sea is among the top touristic attractions in the country. This is the perfect getaway for locals at sandy or grass beaches or enjoying the views of rustic vineyards. The easiest way to take a view of the picturesque vineyards is by taking a ferry from Fonyod to Badacsony. It’s among the largest lakes in central Europe, covering almost 80 km. The charming towns full of history and ancient fortresses are mostly scattered along the northern shores.

Lake Balathon in Hungary filled with sailboats
Lake Balathon in Hungary filled with sailboats- Credit: Swedishnomad.com

Siofok- The Party Capital of the Lake

The largest town at the Balathon lake is only 104 km away from Budapest. The enticing beaches are its main attraction, nestled at the sandy ground though artificially. The popular promenade Petofi bursts with bars and restaurants.

The Water tower and Mineral Museum are among the rare touristic sites. Siofok offers a large panorama of cultural events. Many of them are happening at the South Balathon Cultural Centre, including the various seasonal celebrations and jazz music festivals.

The city hosts several churches, among which is the Evangelic Great Church, which attracts with eyelashes covered in a special design. This is the artwork of the legendary Hungarian architect Imre Makovecz.

Tihany town

The medieval town of Tihany is nestled at the top of the peninsula, capturing fascinating views. This tiny place is close to traffic, made to stroll along the historic streets. The beautiful Benedictine Abbey of the 17th century scatters the panorama of delight. It’s built at the place of the old Medieval castle. Almond trees in early spring and lavender scents in June fill the atmosphere with even more charm.

Szigliget Castle

Szigliget castle in the town of the same name tells the story of its volcanic origin. Crowning the Várhegy hill, nowadays we can see only the ruins of the castle from the 13th century. It covers the stunning views of the lake Balathon slowly gaining its original glory due to renovations in 2019/2020.

Festetics Palace

This Baroque palace near the gracious town of Keszthely and Lake Heviz is bathed in splendid gardens and elegance. The Palace dates back to the 18th century, standing as a threshold to the cultural treasure of Keszthely town.

Tapolca Town

The medieval town of Tapolca is known for its cave network that can be explored in the waters in the underground. The colourful buildings embrace the main square with the water wheel from the 13th century.

Balatonfüred Town & Tagore Promenade

The stylish beauty of the Balatonfüred town is the heritage of the European aristocracy. Tagore Promenade got the name of the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, who planted the first tree here after the treatments at the Cardiology hospital.

Pecs – The Ancient City in the South of Hungary

The ancient city of Pecs in southern Hungary is the place where the Roman ruins (like the Roman Forum) left its traces, where Ottomans ruled for ages. Nowadays, it’s the place of multiculturality and different ethnic groups gathered together in this UNESCO City of Peace. Pecs is the place of the first university in Hungary, dating from 1367.

The street of Pecs and its soft colours
The street of Pecs and its soft colours- Credit: HappyFrogTravels.com

Famous for its Zsolnay ceramics, Pecs keeps the memory of the founders at the Zsolnay fountain from 1908. Four ox heads around the fountain offer drinkable water.

One of the most fascinating buildings in Pecs is the Mosque of Pasha Qasim. It was built after the Turkish occupation of Hungary in the 16th century. Nowadays, it’s a Christian church which blends Christian and Islamic designs.

Pecs is the place of traditional theatre performances. The impressive building of the National Theatre has existed since 1895. Kirali Street hosts many stylish shops and cafe bars.

Eger – The Baroque City of Hungary

The fascinating city of Eger is the second largest in Hungary. Its Baroque houses and castle dominating the hill determine the soft appearance. Baroque art traces its origins to the ancient history of aesthetics. The city originates in the 10th century thanks to Saint Stephen, the first Christian king.

The castle and the adjacent Cathedral are the majestic signs of history and tourism. The Valley of the Women holds wine cellars and charming streets. Once served as the storage for wine, now these are the beautiful tunnels.

Thermal baths at Egerszylok near the Eger city
Thermal baths at Egerszylok near the Eger city- Credit: VisitEger.com

The Lyceum or the University of Eger is a gracious Baroque edifice with stunning frescoes inside. It dates from the 18th century.

Eger is also known for the thermal spas which are situated on Eger’s outskirts. They contain seven pools, including three therapeutic pools and a dreamy castle with waterfalls in the children’s pool.

Gyor- The Baroque City in the Transdanubia Region

The rather underrated city full of Baroque architecture is Gyor in the North of Hungary. The historical influences of Gyor trace back to the Mongols, Czechs, Ottomans and Magyars.

It’s the place that blends three rivers in the Transdanubia region. The best viewpoint of the Danube, Rába and Rábca can be found at Káptalan Hill. The medieval castle and basilica capture the attention of Gyor.

Statue of Jedlik Ányos and Czuczor Gergely in the city of Gyor-
Statue of Jedlik Ányos and Czuczor Gergely in the city of Gyor- Credit: Meganstarr.com

The colorful streets of Gyor host several Baroque churches, the majestic Városháza or the Town Hall and many museums. The House of iron stump is a vibrant yellow edifice and, with lovely decor, now hosting a museum.

Esterházy Palace is the delight of the 18th century with the municipal art museum.

Pannonhalma Archabbey is an abbey located 20 minutes south of Gyor and entitled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Picturesquely located on the top of a hill, it’s one of the oldest monuments in Hungary.

Debrecen – The Former Capital of Hungary

Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary and its cultural heaven. In the past, it was even entitled as the capital of Hungary.

The largest protestant church in Hungary is the soft yellow building. The roofs of the towers were later reconstructed in the Baroque style. The wonderful view spreads from the West tower after 210 steps.

The large protestant church in Debrecen
The large protestant church in Debrecen- Credit: PrettyWildWorld.com

Stunning flower decorations invite visitors every August during the Flower Carnival. Deri museum elegantly touches the neo-baroque style and ancient Egyptian artifacts.

Lake Fancsika is a peaceful day trip outside of Debrencin and a popular fishing spot.

Hortobágyi National Park is situated close to Debrecen, known as one of the largest national parks in Hungary. The park covers the traditional Hungarian agriculture demonstrating the way of farming developed in Hungary. Many wild species inhabitate the area.

Sopron – The City at the Austrian Border

Sopron has shared Austrian and Hungarian possessions throughout the years. Finally, it became Hungarian in 1921, entitled as Hungary’s „most loyal town“.

This  colourful town gives praise to the Gate of Allegiance and Firewatch Tower. The Firetower stands in the place of the ancient Roman walls, giving the wonderful panorama of the town. Storno house (now an art museum) and Goat church are the most recognizable buildings.

The colourful building in Sofron
The colourful building in Sofron- Credit: TasteHungary.com

In the treasure of the sights, Sofron will enchant you with the medieval castle, Taródi-vár. The ancient fortified city can be explored through the Bailey Promenade.

Lake Fertő or Neusiedl in Germany creates the border between the two countries. The castle Esterhazy on the southern shores captures the glamour reminiscent of Versailles. Kőszeg town, which is located even in the southern, is the medieval jewel of the lake. Jurisicz castle from the 13th century is its most charming sign.

Caves of Aggtelek

The Art of Nature created 712 caves (out of which 273 are in Hungary) at the Hungarian-Slovakian border. The largest stalactic cave in Europe is nestled here. Since 1995, it’s been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The incredible caves at Aggtelek National Park
The incredible caves at Aggtelek National Park- Credit: National-Parks.org

These caves create the blend of tropical and glacial effects shaped through the millions of years of history.

The most significant cave system is Baradla-Domica, rich with stalagmites and stalactites. Once inhabited by the Bükk people, these caves represent their archeological site. Baradla sometimes becomes the concert hall, which is a unique experience.

The wildlife of the Aggtelek National Park is rich in discoveries which can be explored on several educational trails. The nearby villages lead to the ruins of Szádvár Castle.

Tengerszem (Tarn) Lake and Aggtelek Lake display the stunning colours and rock formations.

Hungarian Open Air Museum

Szentendrei Szabadtéri Néprajzi Múzeum or Hungarian Open Air Museum is situated only 20 km away from Budapest on the threshold of the Pilis Mountains.

Traditional houses at the Hungarian Open Air Museum
Traditional houses at the Hungarian Open Air Museum- Credit: Bestbudapesttourguides.com

The traditional Hungarian life engraved its signature here with a panorama of cultural activities. Plenty of walking trails lead to the eight sections with different regions and time periods.

Various workshops are the lure for tourists and the most popular is the blacksmith workshop.

Conclusion- Underrated Treasures and Best Sights of Hungary

The richness of thermal baths in Hungary compensates for the lack of sea and invites you to uncover this surprising fact. Egerszalok are the stunning thermal pools that resemble Pamukkale in Turkey or Saturnia in Tuscany. Located in northeastern Hungary, this open-air spa is rich with minerals and natural wonders.

Several hiking routes around Balathon are pretty popular, even if Hungary doesn’t have high mountains. The Bakony Hills at Balathon formed by volcanic eruptions are pretty fascinating.

The history of Hungary is a colourful palette seen inside its charming towns. The picturesque castles and medieval towns capture the hidden treasure of the country.

Hortobágyi is the most famous National Park in Hungary, but nature surprises in the most unexpected places. Kiskunsag National Park is a treasure of wildlife listed as a UNESCO site. The Bukk National Park covers a rich panorama of waterfalls and caves.

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