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Budapest, the beautiful capital of Hungary is one of the most aesthetic cities in Europe. This is a city that’s cut in two by the mighty Danube River, and on one side, the towering cliffs and Baroque palaces of Buda rise magnificently, while on the other side, elegant avenues connect green parks, while the architectural majesty of the parliament, the opera and of course, the local spa houses, have long drawn in visitors.
While the city itself is famous, less well known are the excellent sights and attractions that await you outside of Budapest. There’s a wealth of history, culture and fun to be discovered, and it’s all just a day trip away from Budapest!
Take the train across borders to Vienna or Bratislava! Take the family out for a day of outdoor adventure at Lake Balaton, or take your partner on a romantic cruise along the Danube and into the Hungarian countryside!
There are a lot of fantastic day trips from Budapest, and to inspire your trip to Hungary, here are the best of them!
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Okay, so it’s not in Hungary, but Vienna is one of the most magnificent cities in all of Europe, and it’s just a train ride away from Budapest!
The fastest trains take two and a half hours from Budapest’s Keleti station to central Vienna, and along the way, you’ll pass through the rolling landscapes of Central Europe until you reach the rising mountains of Austria. It’s a beautifully scenic journey, and when you alight in Vienna, you have the whole day to spend exploring this marvellous part of the world!
Vienna has been the capital of mighty European Empires, from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the Habsburg Kingdoms, and centuries of resplendent architecture and culture can be found within the city.
Start your day out in Vienna visiting the palatial grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace, a vast royal residence built by the Habsburg Dynasty and continually enlarged and refined since the 16th century. There are thousands of rooms inside, and the Baroque style is uniquely Viennese in style and flair, while the extensive gardens are perfect for a summer walk.
Next up, visit the Hofburg, a former Habsburg palace that’s now the seat of the Austrian president, and after that, if you’re not completely palaced-out, then call into the magnificent Belvedere Palace where you can find a vast array of European art on display!
You can also visit the Vienna Opera House, one of the best opera’s in Europe, while there are plenty of museums and galleries to explore too, in the Austrian capital!
Bratislava is another great European city that’s located around two and a half hours away by train from Budapest. The Slovakian capital is easily one of the most underrated cities in Europe, and compared to the likes of Vienna and Budapest, sees far fewer tourists.
That makes this an excellent place to visit if you are looking to get off the beaten track and to uncover one of Europe’s hidden gems. Bratislava might have an enduring reputation as a grey, concrete leftover of the Eastern bloc, you’ll quickly find that times have changed here and that in fact, there’s a lot more to the city than uniform apartment blocks and bachelor parties!
When you step off at the Bratislava train station, make your way to the city’s historic fortress, Bratislava Castle, which was once the seat of the Hungarian royal family in centuries past. Tour through the restored Old Town, which with colourful buildings and cobblestone streets has become somewhat of a vibrant hangout for tourists in the city!
You can sample some unique local food at traditional Slovakian pubs and taverns, where the most famous dishes on offer usually involve a hefty dose of sheep cheese!
If you have time left after uncovering Bratislava’s city centre, then take a trip along the Danube, and outside of the capital, where on the river that forms the border with Austria, you can find Devin Castle, a dramatic fortress which dates back to the 9th century AD and which has long guarded the frontiers of Slovakia.
Get an early start and you’ll be able to make it east to Debrecen, a journey of three hours by train from Budapest!
Debrecen is one of Hungary’s largest cities, and you won’t be crossing over any international borders on this day trip, but you will be seeing a fascinating, and different side of the country. Debrecen is very different from Budapest, Hungary’s glitzy and romanticised capital, and you’ll see a city that few other tourists make their way to!
This is Hungary’s second city, and this is the heart of the Great Plains, or the Hungarian steppe, where much of traditional local history and culture was refined over the centuries. The city’s importance nationally is recognized in the fact that it has served as the country’s capital on several occasions, and today you can find a wealth of cultural institutions that will help you delve into Hungarian heritage!
Visit the colourful, yellow stylings of the Great Reformed Church, before heading into the maze of streets that form the Old Town of Debrecen. The local Deri Museum will give you an insight into local history, while you can also call into the old Tanner’s House, the theatre and perhaps if you’re lucky, you can catch a cultural folk show too!
If you’re looking for a day trip by train that’s a little bit closer to Budapest, then you might want to hop on the suburban HEV train to the small city of Godollo, which is under an hours ride east of the capital!
Godollo is a place that’s steeped in royal history, and it makes for both an elegant and fun place to spend the day. Godollo is home to one of Hungary’s most splendid and opulent palaces. Godollo Palace is a marvellous, royal residence that dates back to the 17th century when it was built by a local Count.
In the 19th century, the ruling monarch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Josef, took over the palace to be used as his summer getaway, and it became a favoured retreat for the Habsburg dynasty.
During the communist era, the palace was taken over by the state, but after the fall of the socialist government, it was restored to its former glory and has since become one of the most important tourist sites in Hungary!
The city of Godollo is often overshadowed by the palace, but it’s well worth calling in to see the heritage museums and to stroll through the local parks!
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The Danube River is one of Europe’s most iconic waterways, and the wide river stretches for hundreds of miles and through 10 countries as it flows from Germany, east towards the Black Sea. The Danube cuts Budapest in half, and it has for centuries connected the Hungarian capital with Central Europe’s other great cities.
The river is central to the city and to Hungary, and one of the best trips you can make as a couple is a cruise along its beautiful banks. There are plenty of options, and you can cruise from the city and out into the countryside, to stop at small towns and villages and to explore old castles and royal palaces.
If you’re looking for real romance though, then you’ll want to join a dinner cruise, where you’ll be taken in comfort along the Danube, past Budapest’s most famous sights and beyond, while you enjoy a fabulous meal and perfectly paired drinks and cocktails!
You’ll also get to enjoy some excellent entertainment as you sit back and drink and dine. Local entertainers will perform traditional Hungarian folk songs and dances, as you watch the sights pass by on the Danube!
What could be better than spending the day exploring Hungary’s wineries and drinking some of the best vintages along the way? Not much, except sharing the experience with your partner of course!
Get romantic as you leave Budapest and head into the countryside to visit the small village of Etyek. It’s a big change from the big city life, and you’ll find yourself in quiet surroundings, with none of the bustle of the capital!
Etyek is just half an hour by car from Budapest, and this is the heart of Hungarian wine country. The wineries here though, aren’t exactly well known internationally, and most of the bottles are sold locally. That makes this a truly authentic experience, and you’ll find that the wines are absolutely outstanding, despite the fact they rarely leave the borders of Hungary.
Learn from the local families who own the wineries how the grapes are grown and how the wine is bottled, enjoy learning about the local history of Hungarian wine, and experience the beauty of rural Hungary just a short journey from the capital!
The River Danube is lined with charming destinations, and one of the most romantic spots to travel to is Szentendre, which makes for the perfect day out as a couple from Budapest!
Szentendre is found to the north of Budapest, and you can even catch a relaxing boat cruise along the river to reach the town. Szentendre is part of the famous Danube Bend, where you can find an exceptional concentration of Hungarian history and culture along one bend in the river.
Enjoy the cruise as you travel from Budapest, and in the summer, sit out on the open deck and take in the fresh air of rural Hungary as you leave the city and journey through the countryside.
You’ll disembark the boat at Szentendre, where you can spend the rest of the day exploring the ramshackle and extremely colourful streets of the town. Szentendre has a reputation for artistry, ad the town has produced and been the home of many of Hungary’s finest creatives over the centuries. Considering how small the town is, you’ll have an exceptional array of art museums and art galleries to peruse here!
As well as art, you can enjoy great food too. Pop into the Marzipan Museum for a little bit of food history, and explore underground wine cellars and try out the local cafes and bakeries. At the end of the day, head back down to the harbour to jump on the return boat to Budapest, and revel in the delights of the cruise as the sun sets on the way back to the Hungarian capital!
Not yet booked? Take a look at our favorite hotels in Budapest!
Lake Balaton is one of Hungary’s most legendary destinations, and it’s a must visit while you are staying in Budapest. This is one for all the family and all ages, and it’s the perfect place to take the kids!
Lake Balaton is Hungary’s largest lake. It’s the largest lake in Central Europe too, and the largest freshwater lake on the entire continent!
From Budapest, the lake is at least an hours drive away, but that depends on how far you want to explore, as it stretches far to the west of the capital. Stop off at the many small towns and villages that line the lake, including the likes of Balatonfured, where you can find charming streets and a lovely, relaxed tourist train that lets you enjoy the wonderful scenery!
You can take a cruise across Lake Balaton, to really experience the lake in all its glory. Hop on the local ferries or hire a boat for a few hours and take things at a leisurely pace. In the hot Hungarian summer, the lake is perfect for swimming, and you can jump right into the cold and refreshing water when you need to cool off. You can also hire bikes to cycle around the lake shore, you can walk or hike around the lake and into the surrounding countryside, and in winter, if the lake’s frozen, you can even skate across the ice!
Lake Balaton is one of the best day trips from Budapest for the whole family, so make sure you don’t miss out on a wonderful day out!
If you’re after a lake that’s less well known than the famous Lake Balaton, but equally as action-packed and spectacular looking then take a day trip with the kids to Lake Velence.
It’s not as big as Lake Balaton of course, but it’s actually closer to Budapest, making this a much quicker place to travel to – and that helps when you’re out with the whole family!
Lake Velence is the third largest lake in the country, and for many, it’s the most beautiful. While Balaton gets the attention of the international tourists, Velence sees the local tourists flocking here, looking to enjoy the warm water and the great Hungarian outdoors.
The water is particularly warm at this lake, making this a great place to visit and to swim in for much of the year – outside of winter of course! You can walk to lookouts, explore the small lakeside villages and enjoy the crisp, fresh air on a day trip from Budapest.
If you’re going to Budapest, take a look at some amazing things to do in Budapest while you’re there!
For a fun-filled day out with the kids from Budapest, then head into the nearby Puszta Countryside to see a different side of Hungary. This is far removed from the city, and you’ll give the kids the chance to learn about local culture and traditions first hand.
The Puszta are the plains, where local heritage has been crafted over the centuries, and where you can still very much find folklore and rural habits abound and prosper. Visit local farms to the south of Budapest, where you’ll learn about local food and drink and have the chance to try such home-cooked delicacies as goulash!
Hungarians are renowned for their horsemanship, and the kids will be thrilled and entertained as the stunt riders on the farm show off their incredible skills in the fields, as they race horses and perform acrobatics. You’ll be stunned by the training and confidence needed to be a Hungarian horse rider when you see the tricks in action!
At the end of the day, you’ll have the chance to pop into the main city in the plains south of Budapest. Kecskemét is the regional hub and here you can wander through the historic Old Town and take in the city’s wonderful atmosphere, which is far removed from the busy streets of Budapest.
You’ll have the opportunity to try even more local cooking, and the whole family can fill up at the local restaurants on Hungarian classics that find their roots on the local farms you will have visited earlier in the day. There will be a hefty dose of Paprika involved, a staple in Hungarian cooking, and while you dine you’ll also be entertained by local musicians playing what’s known as ‘Gipsy’ music!
Budapest is one of Europe’s most popular cities, but few tourists ever leave the famous streets of the capital to explore the rest of Hungary. While the city is unarguably one of the best city breaks on the continent and one of the most beautiful and historic destinations to visit in the world, there’s so much more waiting to be discovered across the country, and indeed, across the nearby international borders too!
You can be in the equally stunning cities of Bratislava or Vienna – places that share a similar history to Budapest – after short train journeys into Slovakia or Austria. You can also take a long day trip to Debrecen, in Hungary, to explore the country’s second city!
Closer to Budapest, the Danube River offers the chance to visit historic palaces and old castles that are found along its banks. Take a cruise along the river for a real Hungarian experience.
Hungary is also known for its lakes, and you’ll find Lake Balaton and Lake Velence are easy day trips away from Budapest, and if you’re looking for somewhere outdoorsy to take the kids, these are perfect destinations to visit.
As well as this, you can find wineries, authentic local cuisine and Hungarian heritage and traditions in the countryside around Budapest, making this a fantastic city from which to day trip!
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!