Hungary Travel Tips – Explore At Your Own Pace
Hungary is as interesting as it is diverse, located in the middle of Europe this landlocked country has a long and varied history. Visitors to Hungary will be enamoured by the landscape, the architecture, the people, the cuisine and the culture.
As with most countries, starting off at the capital is often the best idea. For Hungary that would be Budapest but the city is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, merged into one. The city is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world and has rightfully earned the nickname Queen of the Danube. The original Roman settlement of Aquincum can still be found overlooking the city and is definitely worth exploring. The rest of the city, such as Castle Hill, Andrássy Avenue and Margaret Island are also worth checking out. Budapest itself has a wide range of transport options available and is easy to get around. However, if you want to discover the country at your own pace, hiring a car is an excellent option.
Hungary Car Hire Tip – The roads in Hungary are usually excellent, although in the larger cities the heavy traffic does cause a bit of disrepair.
Heading east along the M3, past Kékes (Hungary’s highest mountain) you’ll find Eger. This is a nice historic town and is worth spending half a day exploring. The town is famous for its castle, the thermal baths and above all its fine red wine.
Carrying on further you’ll eventually come to Miskolc which is the 3rd largest city in the country. The city’s downtown is quite nice and fun to explore but the main attraction is the unique cave thermal spa at Tapolca, about 5kms south of the city centre. The surrounding mountains also make for an excellent skiing destination.
Hungary Car Hire Tip – The speed limit is 130km/h on motorways, 90km/h on main roads, and 50km/h inside in towns. Like most of the continent, driving is on the right hand side.
Turning south and crossing the Tisza River you’ll eventually come to Debrecen, the 2nd largest city in Hungary. The city is located in the middle of the Great Hungarian Plain and the Hortobágy National Park is located close by, definitely worth a visit. The city also has a number of museums and several interesting buildings
Hungary Car Hire Tip – Drink Driving is a very serious offence and the legal limit is ten times lower than in the British Isles or Ireland. If you think you might be driving, simply don’t risk it.
Heading back west and crossing the Tisza River again you’ll arrive in Kecskemét. This city is located, more-or-less, in the exact centre of the country. The city is renowned for a number or reasons, including its Art Nouveau architecture, its lively music scene and its Palinka (a type of fruit brandy/vodka). Kiskunság National Park is also located close by.
Hungary Car Hire Tip – In order to drive on the motorways you’ll need to display a sticker on your windscreen. Buying the sticker is not enough; it has to be displayed on the windshield. You can get them for 9 days, monthly or yearly. These are not too expensive and can be bought in most big petrol stations and other venues.
Turning south along the M5 will get you to Szeged, which is sometimes referred to as the Sunshine City due to its status as the sunniest city in the country. The city is a university city and so has a very active nightlife, and during the day there are also a number of thermal baths you might like to visit.
Travelling east and crossing the Danube, you can VISIT the city of Pécs. This is another university city so has a very active nightlife as well. But during the day there are still plenty of museums and buildings to see. The city’s main export is its sparkling wine which is well worth sampling. Pécs has been selected to be the European Capital of Culture in 2010 along with Essen and Istanbul.
Hungary Car Hire Tip – If you’re travelling from east to west (or vice versa) bare in mind that there aren’t that many bridges across the Danube outside of Budapest. There may be some ferries but most motorways converge in Budapest anyway.
Turning north you can head towards Lake Balaton which is the largest lake in central Europe. It’s sometimes referred to as Europe’s biggest puddle as the mean depth of the lake is only 3.2 metres! As the largest body of water in Hungary it’s a popular watersports venue in the country. There are also some thermal spas located in the surrounding areas.
Located to the north and east of the lake, back up along the M7, you can find the city of Székesfehérvár. This city was the seat of power for King Saint Stephen and also many other rulers of the country, so it’s of great historical importance to Hungary. There are simply loads of historical buildings located in the town that are worth of inspection, too many to mention, so try your best to visit as many as possible.
Hungary Car Hire Tip – Driving with your lights on is compulsory at all times.
Finally, in the extreme northwest of the country, just off the M1, about half way between Budapest and Vienna you’ll find Győr. This city is the home of the Audi TT and many of its main sights are well worth exploring such as the reliquary of King Ladislaus I in the Cathedral of Győr or the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma which is located about 20kms to the south of the city.
If this is a country you would like to visit, check out our Car Hire Hungary page.
Remember to give us a shout via the comment box below if you have any questions or if you’ve any tips on hiring a car in Hungary…enjoy your trip!