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Traveling in Hungary

Council Bluffs, Iowa
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Traveling in Hungary

My husband and I will be in Budapest in 3 weeks for a 10 day vacation. We were wondering what there is to do outside of Budapest. We are interested in some day trips around Hungary or maybe to a bordering country.

This will be our first time in the country and my husband speaks the language. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you. Ilene

Phoenix, Arizona
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1. Re: Traveling in Hungary

If he speaks the language, you have Hungary at your feet! Is his family from Budapest or a town or village. Perhaps a visit there is in order. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to reconnect with long lost cousins, etc. Are you taking the train for your tours or renting a car? That will determine a lot of where and how far you can go.

Budapest, Hungary
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2. Re: Traveling in Hungary

Hi iHarris,

Don asks some good questions. What are your plans of leaving the city, which by the way can easily fill 5 days in my opinion. There are some nice day trips from Budapest in the surrounding area:

- Danube Bend (Visegrad) - north of Budapest about 1 hour drive time. Has castle remains from which you have a beautiful view of the surrounding area (river, hills, smallish mountains). Just went there about a month ago and had a nice 4ish hours with lunch at the hotel "further" up the road from the castle.

- Szentedre - much written about village that is full of shops, some nice places to eat, and small sights. I think it's too touristy, but other people really enjoy it. You can take the Hev (local train) and be there in about 30 minutes. You can also take a boat there.

- Lake Balaton. I drive my parents down to the northside of the lake and stop in Tihany for a grand view of the lake and maybe Csopak for lunch. The lake is nice (largest in the region), and has some nice towns dotted along both sides.

- Eger. A small town to the east of Budapest that I really enjoy. It has a wonderful small "downtown" that is looked down upon by the remains of a castle. The town is quite historic with the battles with the Turks. It's also a solid wine region (as is Balaton), so some of the wines are nice. I only drive it, but I'm thinking it can be reached by train.

There are many more that the regulars will help you in recommending. Now, outside of Hungary obviously there is Vienna, Austira (3 hour drive or train ride). Austria also has some nice places in the lower alps that you can be in in about 3.5 hours. (If that interests you, I'll add details.) North of Hungary, Slovakia has some wonderful mountain scenery - but I don't know too many specifics - only that I make some stops on my way to Krakow or Zakopane.

Let us know a bit more about your thoughts, your transportation thoughts, and potentially what you like most - and we'll help.

And by the way, my parents (from the Quad Cities) will be coming over next month as well!

Enjoy and let us know some more specifics,

Jeremy

Council Bluffs, Iowa
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3. Re: Traveling in Hungary

We are not renting a car. No my husband nor his family are from Budapest. He learned the language while in the military in the 70's and 80's. We want to travel around the city by bus or local transportation and we were thinking about taking the train to a neighboring country if possible.

We are spending 10 days in Budapest because my husband is thinking about attending the university there and he wants to learn more about the country. I really wanted to get to Transylvania, but have since discovered it is just too far. We really want to see castles (Vampires ones if possible) and just experience the flair of the country.

I wanted to take a day trip to Vienna but my husband does not think we will get to see much because of the travel time involved by train. Neither one of us really wants to drive a car in a foreign country because we live in America and don't want to get an international drivers license.

Thank you all for your help this far. I look forward to reading your posts.

Ilene

Budapest, Hungary
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4. Re: Traveling in Hungary

Hello again Ilene,

OK - you guys are fortunate on a couple of fronts:

1. Budapest's public transportation system is excellent (if a bit dated). There are tram, buses and metro's covering almost every corner of the city, and absolutely most all touristy spots. I recommend getting a multi-day pass so you don't have to mess with tickets and such. See information at http://www.bkv.hu/en/

2. Vampire fan, huh? Shame you won't get to Transylvania, but oh Vlad spent some time in the aforementioned Visegrad. See link - http://www.answers.com/topic/visegr-d-1 I believe you can take bus tours to Visegrad - maybe some other posters can help.....

OK, by train/bus Szentedre, Visegrad, Statue Park and other local sights can be had. Budapest also offers a wide array of relaxing tourists and locals alike spots (outside of the normal list of tourist sites): Normafa area, Margit Island, etc. Lots to do.

Regarding Vienna.......I like it for a day (I typically drive) since you get a flavor of a nearby city and can see the great contrasts and similarities between Budapest and Vienna. I took the train a couple months back leaving early morning (06:00 and arriving 09:00) and it was quite nice, reasonable (1st class $70ish...don't recall exactly), and enjoyable. You can check train schedules at http://www.mav.hu/english/index.php

You can search the forum for thoughts on International Drivers Licenses. Note that you can buy one from AAA for about $10. But understand the hesitation. If you rethink that, come back and we can give you more insights.

Jeremy

USA
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5. Re: Traveling in Hungary

Actually for about $300 rt you can use Budapest as a hub to see a lot of europe. My favorites are Bulgaria and Romania. Transylvania isnt too far. Its a very short flight to Bucharest. Once there i know a pretty excellent guide that can really show you some absolutely stunning towns and castels. 3 nights would be perfect for such a trip. AND, he will still have the opportunity to use his Hungarian in Romania.

Council Bluffs, Iowa
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6. Re: Traveling in Hungary

Thanks everyone for your advice. We are very interested in seeing Visegrad. I got very interested in vampires during a vampire tour in New Orleans in 2003. Are there tours of this castle open in October? If so, will there be any souvenirs we can buy? My son is very interested in vampire history.

Where is a good place to eat while in Visegrad? I am getting very excited about visiting Hungary in 3 weeks. Any other attractions people can recommend would be very helpful.

Ilene

Edited: 18 September 2011, 02:04
Budapest, Hungary
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7. Re: Traveling in Hungary

You do realise that vampire-thing is hollywood-made, and you wont find men in black customes in coffins here? I would expect historical exhibitions. While I've never been to Transylvania, I doubt Vlad's castle is built into a Disneyland of vampires.

As a footnote, I've read somewhere that a house of Vlad was found in Pécs.

Edited: 18 September 2011, 09:00
Denver, Colorado
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8. Re: Traveling in Hungary

While I am not interested in vampires (and only peripherally in castle ruins), I think you might enjoy an overnight visit to Pecs.

The 'historical' district is quite small and has sites from the 2-3rd centuries through the medieval period, and then through the Ottoman occupation. I find it fascinating. The Christian cemetery might be of interest?

It's also likely to be considerably warmer than Budapest and in parts has an almost 'Mediterranean' feel ro it.

It's really not a day-trip, but would show you another (although not too typical, I suspect) part of Hungary).

Phoenix, Arizona
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9. Re: Traveling in Hungary

If you REALLY want to do the Anne Rice real deal vampire thing there are two places in Transylvania (Erdai) that are must see places and attainable on a ten day stay in Hungary. The first is Sighisoara, which is really the birthplace of Vlad Dracul...Vlad the Impaler. It is not too far over the border, has some good places to eat, tidy B&B's and you can actually look at the house in which he was born.

www.google.com/search…

The second place is Brasov. It's a great little Medieval city, and the famous Bran castle is no more than an hour's bus ride outside of town. The Romanian government promotes this as "Dracula's Castle" which is a little misleading. He did actually stay there, but it wasn't his. His castle is very remote, difficult to get to and in ruins. But as castles go, you can do a lot worse than Bran. They also have arts and crafts in the courtyard, and plenty of snack places.

romaniatourism.com/…bran

Brasov is the extreme southern edge of Transylvania, which means you can still get by speaking Hungarian.

Council Bluffs, Iowa
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10. Re: Traveling in Hungary

Thank you everyone for your input. I do not believe we will be getting to Transylvania on this trip. I think we might have to settle for Visegrad and see where Vlad the Impaler lived for 17 years.

I am not into the Hollywood vampire thing. I have taken Vampire tours in Hawaii and New Orleans and really loved them. I am awed by the stories behind the people and I am just a history buff. We have to try getting to Pecs and see what there is to see.

My husband thinks that Visegrad and Estrogram are the good places to visit to see the castle ruins. I love old building and this was more of what I wanted to see than the "men in black capes and fangs".

Any other places in Hungary that anyone can suggest to see excellent castles (ruins or otherwise)? Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you all and we look forward to visiting Hungary in a few weeks.

Ilene