- 27 Jul 2023 10:04 AM
1. Egerszalók: Dramatic Thermal Springs
Set alongside Eger, making it an easy day trip, Egerszalók is built around the open-air spa waters that define it.
These come from deep in the volcanic Mátra hills, allowing you to admire the dramatic cascades as a day visitor or hotel guest.
This being Eger, there’s always lashings of wine to underscore the experience. The local Laskó stream also attracts many a hiker and angler.
2. Kaposvár: Rebuilt by the Esterházys
An important town in the 1700s when the Esterházy dynasty oversaw its reconstruction, Kaposvár still feels unexpectedly grand, with its cathedral and famous theatre.
Lively bars line Noslopy Gáspár utca leading down from the main square, their terraces creating a Mediterranean atmosphere from spring to autumn.
All is a three-hour hop from Budapest by train, the hotel stock plentiful and comfortable enough to encourage an overnight stay.
3. Kecskemét: Art Nouveau Delights
Centrepieced and typified by the huge City Hall designed by Hungary’s master of Art Nouveau, Ödön Lechner, Kecskemét is the main town of Hungary’s largest county, Bács-Kiskun.
It’s also the birthplace of famed composer and musicologist Zoltán Kodály, honoured with a memorial among the many churches and statues that form the attractive city centre.
During term-time, bars are busy – try the Beszélő Köntös on narrow Kéttemplom köz, surrounded by other lively options.
4. Kőszeg: A Fairytale Town in the Hills
Retaining its historic character best illustrated by the soaring Sacred Heart Church on its main square, Kőszeg hugs the Austrian border, just north of Szombathely.
With a population of around 12,000, it’s small enough to stroll around unencumbered yet large enough to offer a clutch of hotels and restaurants.
Other landmarks here relate to the Liberation Wars of the early 1700s.
5. Pannonhalma: Unique UNESCO Treasure
Inseparable from the Archabbey of the same name that dates back to 996, the modest community of Pannonhalma sits deep in the wine country that stretches across this pretty part of Hungary just south of Győr.
The Benedictine monks at the hilltop Archabbey still make their own, while tending the many trees and plants in the arboretum.
The Basilica and crypt are the main attractions, of course, each dating back the best part of a millennium, while a summer series of evening concerts – jazz, Baroque – makes best use of the unique surroundings.
6. Pétervására: Noble Architecture
Referred to by locals as the diminutive Péterke, this sleepy community of some 2,000 souls welcomes sightseers here to view Keglevich Castle.
The seat of a noble dynasty from northern Dalmatia, it was built in Baroque style in the mid-1700s.
Pétervására’s single hotel and restaurant, the Arany Kakas, allows overnight visitors to base themselves here before exploring the leafy delights of the extensive Bükk forest on the doorstep.
7. Szombathely: Ancient Romans and James Joyce
Savaria to the Romans who made this a provincial capital, Szombathely is linked with many historic figures.
St Martin of Tours, associated with November’s goose celebrations on St Martin’s Day, was born here and Constantine the Great, who founded Constantinople, Istanbul in modern times, was a regular visitor in the early 300s.
Today, Szombathely today is a bustling city, its centre characterised by pretty façades and imposing statues. These include a likeness of James Joyce, who cited Szombathely as the birthplace of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist in his novel, Ulysses.
Words by Peterjon Cresswell for Xpatloop.com
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website liberoguide.com
MTI Photos: Csaba Jászai, László Kászoni, Péter Komka