We love spending time in Hungary’s capital and it turns out it is a great basecamp to see a lot of beautiful places in Central Europe. We’ve gathered advice from some fellow travel bloggers to come up with a list of the best day trips from Hungary.
Hopefully, you’ve looked at my Three Day Budapest Itinerary and made time to experience some of what this beautiful city has to offer. From free walking Budapest tours, to museums and memorials, to thermal baths, you could spend a lifetime exploring Budapest.
After spending a few days doing some Budapest sightseeing, however, you might be ready to see a few more of the places to visit in Hungary and in the bordering countries. These Budapest day trips will take you to other cities, to villages, and on a Danube Bend tour.
We felt like our Hungary trip needed to have more than just Budapest, to get a real feel for the country. And since this is Europe (and most countries are smaller than the state we live in), there are even several other countries to visit near Budapest.
We flew into Vienna from Montana and took the train to Budapest, but it’s just as easy to go the opposite way and take the train from Budapest to Vienna. A Budapest to Bratislava day trip is a little farther, but not much. And there are so many cute villages and towns near Budapest begging to be explored.
Since we spent December in Budapest, I’ll also include the best day trips from Budapest in winter, though they aren’t that different. One bonus of traveling in Europe in December is that you can see the many Christmas Markets.
Best Day Trips from Budapest, Hungary
Day Trip from Budapest to Szentendre, Hungary
When you start researching what to do in Hungary, a Szentendre day trip is one of the first places to come up. It’s no wonder as this charming village is one of the best short trips from Budapest.
Expert Travel Advice: “About 13 miles (22 km) from Budapest, the small town of Szentendre (St. Andrew) stands on the left bank of the Danube River.
“Reachable by bus or train (at a reasonable rate), Szentendre is a popular day trip from Budapest because of its attractive architecture, delightful gastronomy, variety of museums and pleasant weather.
“Start a day of exploration by hitting the main square in the oldest part of town. Visiting one or several of the colorful Serbian Orthodox churches is a must. While church hopping, you will encounter tons of colorful buildings.
“The Szamos Marzipan Museum is an attraction that will delight everybody in your party. Watch a live demonstration, admire statues made with the sweet and try some pieces (and cake) at the in-house cafe.
“With a full belly, head to one of the other museums or galleries in the area. Options include the Margit Kovacs Museum, Open Air Museum, and the Retro Design Center. During the weekends, a market, selling crafts, paintings, Tokaji wine, paprika, ham, and cheeses, takes place.
“Do not forget to walk along the Danube esplanade while enjoying an ice cream cone or chimney cake. If possible, return to Budapest by boat to get a short but nice glimpse of the Hungarian countryside.” — Ruth, Tanama Tales
We visited Szentendre in December and loved the little Christmas Market in the old town. It’s really only a half-day trip, unless you combine it with other towns, and the decorations and booths are lovely. Plus, the food and drink are a little less expensive than in Budapest.
How to Get to Szentendre from Budapest
Szentendre is about 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) north of Budapest. There are several ways to get to this cutest of villages near Budapest.
- Guided Tour: Take a guided boat tour to Szentendre and you can also visit Visegrad, and Esztergom. You’ll also see the Double Bend of the Danube and lunch is included. Or a half day tour to Szentendre. Another guided tour visits Óbuda suburb, ancient Aquincum ruins, and Szentendre.
- Train: Take the Budapest Szentendre train there and the Szentendre Budapest train back. The suburban railway (HÉV) from Batthyány tér takes about 40 minutes and departs every 20 minutes or so. Buy your ticket in advance at the (HÉV) station. Since you will be leaving the Budapest city limits, you’ll need an extra ticket for the train – make sure you get both.
- Bus: You can take the bus from Budapest to Szentendre and back. The bus can take 20- 90 minutes, depending on route and time of day. Get your ticket online or on the bus from Volanbusz.
- Boat: Ferries run up and down the Danube and are a great way to travel April – September.
- Multi-transit: Probably the most fun, is to take one of the boat trips Budapest to Szentendre and ride train on the way back, or do the opposite.
- Car: If you have a rental car, you can zip to Szentendre in about 30 minutes. Taxis and ride shares (Bolt) can get you there, as well. Click here for car rentals.
Day Trip from Budapest to Esztergom and Visegárd, Hungary
Some of the most popular places to visit in Hungary outside Budapest are the three villages of Szentendre, Visegárd, and Esztergom. You can visit all three of the Hungary attractions in one day, or see them separately (that’s why Szentendre gets its own entry). Tours from Budapest take you to all three towns, as well as the Danube Bend tour— itself one of the best places to visit in Hungary.
Tours from Budapest generally start in Esztergom, the former capital of Hungary and current seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church. The Basilica of Esztergom is the third largest church in Europe and the largest church in Hungary. It is where first Hungarian king, St. Stephen, was born and coronated.
The reconstructed remains of the former royal palace founded by Prince Géza, father of King St. Stephen, is near the basilica. There is also a museum you can tour.
You can see several baroque churches, city walls, and Turkish bastions in this section of Esztergom.
On your tour of the best places near Budapest, you should stop at Visegárd. Visegrád is famous for the remains of the Early Renaissance summer palace of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and the medieval citadel.
You can access the castle via hiking trails or the public bus. There are interpretive signs to help you understand what you are looking at and a wax museum.
You can even go zip lining, ride the alpine coaster, or bobsledding. This makes it one of the best places to visit near Budapest in my kids’ minds.
How to Get to Esztergom and Visegrád from Budapest
- Guided Tour: Take a guided boat tour to Szentendre and you can also visit Visegrad, and Esztergom. You’ll also see the Double Bend of the Danube and lunch is included.
- Train: The Budapest Esztergrom train leaves from Nyugati Station (M3 Metro line). The train trip is about 1.5 hours. also take the train. There isn’t a Budapest Visegrád train, but you can take the train to Nagymaros from Nyugati Railway Station. Then take a ferry (rév) from Nagymaros across the Danube to Visegrád.
- Bus: You can take the Budapest to Esztergom bus in about 2 hours. Get your ticket online or on the bus from Volanbusz. To get from Budapest to Visegrád, you can the same bus.
- Boat: You can take a hydrofoil to get from Budapest to Esztergom by boat. The reviews are not great and most people recommend taking the train. Boats leave from Vigadó tér (Pest) and take about 1.5 hours.
- Multi-transit: Take the train to Esztergom, Visegrad, and Szentendre, and then take the boat back from there.
- Car: If you have a rental car, you can drive to Esztergom in about 2 hours. Take Route 11. Click here for car rentals.
Day Trip from Budapest to Bratislava, Slovakia
Another of the fun Budapest day tours is to Bratislava. Although an overnight might be nice, you can do this as a one day trip Budapest and it’s fun to get to visit another country. Since they are both in the EU, a Bratislava day trip from Budapest doesn’t require going through customs or any other lengthy process you sometimes have to deal with when crossing borders.
On day trips from Budapest to Slovakia, you will need to consider that the two countries use different currencies: the Forint in Hungary and the Euro in Slovakia. You can probably just use a debit or credit card in Bratislava and not need to change money.
Expert Travel Advice: “Budapest is a great city to visit, and also the perfect location for day trips to different places. One of the best trips from Budapest is a day trip to Bratislava – capital of Slovakia. It is about two hours away by car or train.
“Perhaps one of the most underrated European capitals, Bratislava is easy to navigate and everything is in walkable distance. Once there you should see the delightful Old Town with its steep narrow streets and a charming cobbled square flanked with cafes and restaurants. From there you can stroll up to Bratislava Castle with its beautiful walled gardens and statues and look out over the Danube.
“One thing you will notice from the castle forecourt is the UFO – a panoramic rotating restaurant, hovering in the Danube bridge superstructure 85 meters above the river. The food is quite pricey but they have a great menu. You don’t have to eat though, you can just visit the viewing deck to enjoy the view.
“One day is enough to enjoy the best of Bratislava, which is why it makes it a perfect short trip from Budapest.” — Ania, The Travelling Twins
How to Get to Bratislava from Budapest
There are several ways to get to one of our favorite cities near Budapest.
- Train: The Budapest to Bratislava train through Vác will get you there in 2.5 hours. There are around seven trains a day leaving Budapest for Bratislava.
- Bus: The Budapest to Bratislava bus is the least expensive option and gets you there in about 2.5 hours. Flixbus has a handful of routes each day.
- Car: If you have a rental car, you can drive to Bratislava in about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Click here for car rentals.
Day Trip from Budapest to Vienna, Austria
One of the countries near Budapest, is of course Austria. Hungary was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A Budapest to Vienna day trip is easy to do. It’s only a couple hours away. The reality is that Vienna is huge, beautiful city with so much to see, but day tours from Budapest can be fun, if you plan it right.
Expert Travel Advice: “Vienna is probably one of the best places to go for a day trip from Budapest. Less than 245 kilometers from Budapest, it takes around 3 hours and just 8 to 15 Euros to travel from Budapest to Vienna for a day trip.
“You can also join a one-way sightseeing tour that will allow you to stop at amazing attractions along the way, like the 14th-century Gothic Tata Castle by Lake Oreg and the majestic Benedictine Pannohalma Archabbey. You will also have the chance to enter a storybook world in the form of Gyor and the pastel baroque houses that surround it.
“Another epic stopover is the Hungarian version of Versailles known as the Eszterhaza Palace, which is just outside Vienna. This option takes around 10 hours and is well worth its 65 Euro price.” — Karolina, Lazy Travel Blog
How to Get to Vienna from Budapest
- Guided Tour: Make the most of your Budapest to Vienna day trip with a guided tour. This Budapest to Vienna tour stops at Schönbrunn Palace — a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Austrian Versailles” and not to be confused with Eszterhaza Palace, the “Hungarian Versailles” — before heading into Vienna for a tour of the city.
- Train: The Budapest to Vienna train takes about 3 hours and runs regularly throughout the day. We found that buying train tickets on the Hungarian site is often cheaper than buying train tickets for your Vienna day trip from Budapest on the Austrian site.
- Bus: The Budapest to Vienna bus can be quite affordable (under 10 – 20 Euro) and takes 3 – 3.5 hours.
- Car: If you have a rental car, you can drive about 2.5 hours on your side trip from Budapest to Vienna. Click here for car rentals.
Day Trip from Budapest to Kosice, Slovakia
Another day trip from Budapest to Slovakia leads you to Kosice. This is one of those Budapest excursions that takes a little more transport time, but is worth the effort.
Expert Travel Advice: “Some three hours away from Budapest you will find Kosice, the second biggest city in Slovakia and a perfect day trip from Budapest.
“Kosice is also among the prettiest cities in Central Europe. There are so many great things to do in Kosice! The most important monument is the impressive St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral – the easternmost Gothic cathedral in Europe.
“Other attractions include Urban’s Tower and Michal’s Chapel, Hlavna ulica – the main pedestrian street in the city or the State Theatre. In 2013 Kosice held the title of the European Capital of Culture and you can still find remnants of these events, such as the amazing street art scene.
“Kosice is a vibrant city with numerous pubs, restaurants and cafes, there is always something going on and you won’t be bored for sure!” — Kami, My Wanderlust
We took a trip to Kosice from Budapest in December to visit their Christmas Market, which was lovely. Since the bus ride is three hours each way, we stayed overnight to enjoy the market in the evening and take a free walking tour the next morning.
How to Get to Kosice from Budapest
- Train: It’s about a 4 hour train from Budapest to Kosice, so if you want to go that route, you might consider spending the night.
- Bus: You can take the bus from Budapest to Kosice, but again, it takes about 4 hours each way.
- Car: If you have a rental car, you can get to Kosice in about 3 hours. Click here for car rentals.
Resources for Travel from Budapest
- Moon Travel Guide to Prague, Vienna & Budapest
- Lonely Planet Budapest & Hungary
- Lonely Planet Eastern Europe
Best Places to Stay in Budapest
Whether you are looking for a luxury hotel in Budapest, a moderately priced hotel, or an Airbnb, we have the best Budapest accommodations listed below.
Luxury Hotels Budapest (5 Star Hotels in Budapest)
Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace
Arguably the nicest hotel in Budapest, the Budapest Four Seasons is located a short distance from Széchenyi Chain Bridge (0.2 mi), Castle Hill (0.4 mi), Parliament (0.5 mi), Gellert Spa (1.1 mi), and Fisherman’s Bastion (0.6 mi), all of which are probably on your Budapest itinerary when you aren’t taking a day trip.
The view from the Budapest Four Seasons in outstanding – it overlooks the Danube River, the Chain Bridge, and Castle Hill.
The more than a century old, art-nouveau building was restored and converted into a lavish 5-star hotel with 179 rooms and suites in 2001.
The hotel has the most elegant and expensive Presidential Suites in Budapest, but the other guest rooms are also nicely finished and have all the amenities.
Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace features a concierge and room service, to help make your stay more enjoyable. The property also boasts a pool and an on-site restaurant.
Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest
The rooms and suites are luxuriously outfitted. The new design of the Premium Grand Deluxe Rooms and Premium Junior Suites by noted British designer Alex Kravetz draws inspiration from the color scheme of nature: the rich gold of the sun, the deep blue of the clear sky and the fresh green of meadows.
The Deak Ferenc Street Metro stop is nearby, which will get you to trains and buses for your day trips.
More Luxury Hotels in Budapest
Budapest Boutique Hotels and Mid Range Hotels
There seem to be a lot of boutique hotels in Budapest – we saw them everywhere. If you really want a low cost option for hotels, you’ll need to stay outside the inner city, but since location is everything, I’ve chosen the best affordable hotels in inner Budapest. It’s easy to access public transportation or ride shares to get you out of the city.
Hotel Clark is a 4-star hotel on the banks of the Danube near the Chain Bridge on the Buda side of the river below the castle.
The hotel offers a spacious, panoramic fitness room overlooking the Danube, a Finnish dry sauna, an á’la carte restaurant, and a private garage on site. The staff is reported to be very friendly and accommodating.
Hotel Zenit Budapest Palace
Hotel Zenit has a great location in inner Pest, not far from the Danube (which you can’t see from the hotel, but can easily access), and walking distance from all the Budapest sights. The rooms are basic, but plenty large and very clean.
It features a restaurant serving international cuisine and a wellness area with a fitness room and a sauna.
Other Boutique Hotels and Mid Range Hotels in Budapest
These are all located in District V, the inner city.
Vacation Rentals in Budapest
Since we tend to spend a long time in one location, we like to stay at vacation rentals where we can make a little home away from home. Even if you only plan to be in Budapest a couple nights, you might appreciate having your own space, a washing machine, and a kitchen.
We stayed at an Airbnb in Budapest. If you use my link for your first booking on Airbnb, you’ll get $55 off and I’ll get a little money toward our stays, too.
You can also find lots of great Budapest vacation rentals through VRBO/Homeaway.