We Budapestians love this city for its endless offer of activities, events and parties to attend, but what do we do when we feel tired and wish to escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city? ‘Netflix and chill’ is always an option, but going to the countryside could be just what the doctor ordered! Not only is it a breath of fresh air compared to the normal activities available during the week, but the countryside has a distinct ambiance and so much to show off.
Whether you have a day, half a day, or even just a few hours to spare, it’s more than enough time for you to get acquainted with the many surprises awaiting you in rural Hungary – beginning just an hour away from Budapest.
Having no sea, Hungary’s Lake Balaton and Danube River come in handy with attracting visitors, expanding tourism and offering leisure activities in the region. As a result, we’ve highlighted the four main cities on the Danube Bend that are, without doubt, worth your attention: Esztergom, Szentendre, Vác and Visegrád. These cities are often combined into one trip, or more frequently, visited day by day in a spoke-hub manner from Budapest. Starting from the bottom up, Visegrád is a castle town in Pest county which, with its Renaissance palace, 13th-century citadel and stunning landscape, acquired a special place in my heart and will hopefully appear on your bucket list after reading this blog.
Back in 1325, Visegrád was chosen to be Hungary’s royal seat; in the years of 1335 and 1338, two important congresses were held here by King Charles I of Hungary in order to create peace between the three kingdoms of Bohemian king, John of Luxembourg, and the Polish king, Casimir III. Later on in 1991, the leading politicians of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland met in Visegrád. That very occasion resulted in the formation of a well-known forum – the Visegrád group, otherwise known as the Visegrád Four or V4 for short.
So, what is there to do in 2018 in Visegrád if you’re not attending a congress or making crucial political decisions regarding peace with neighbors? • To start with, do some hiking up the castle hill instead of taking a bus. Turn off your google maps, take a look around and the woods will both call to and show you the way (just follow the signs and trail markers, I mean). • Visit the Citadel (Fellegvár), the lower castle of Visegrád, the Solomon Tower and the wax museum!
• Enjoy the scenic panorama – a perfect postcard shot! Convincing proof of the quote “The best view comes after the hardest climb.”
• Eat Langos – A fast food and Hungarian favorite at one of the local authentic buffets. It is a deep-fried dough with various toppings to choose from such as sour cream, onion, cheese, chicken and even Nutella. A few hundred forints is enough to buy this tasty treat! • Have fun trying the bobsled/luge Track at Visegrád Bobpalya – Two rather different tracks (Alpine Coaster and Summer Bobsleigh) are available for children and those visitors who will always be children at heart. The attraction is located a 10 – 15 minute walk away from the castle along the road. The track’s opening hours vary seasonally, and the same goes for the souvenir shops and food places in the area. Check here before going! • In case you aren’t traveling on a budget, I would also recommend going to Silvanus Hotel of Visegrád to relax. The view from the pools, along with the service, makes it a win-win after a good hike. Keep in mind that they might be closed and only available for the guests of the hotel, therefore prior booking via phone is required. • Get tipsy by sampling some fine palinkas from local producers at the palinka museum surrounded by nature. After all, if not here, where? In regards to transportation, these are the options to stick with for 2018:
o Taking a train. With frequent runs, there are trains available departing from both Nyugati and Keleti train stations in Budapest. The duration of the ride is around 45 minutes and the schedule and prices can be found at MÁV-START. Once you get off the train, you will find yourself at Nagymaros-Visegrád station which is located across the river from Visegrád itself. To cross the river, take a ferry that can be found within a 5-minute walk. It transports both people and vehicles at the same time. Easy, picturesque and adventurous, the schedule of the ferry can be found here.
o Catching a bus – Enjoy a direct ride from Budapest from Árpád híd bus station. The ride lasts about 1, 5 hours and runs every 20-60 minutes. o Going by car is definitely the quickest way, but staying green is so much sexier!
As Don Walsh once said: “Exploration is curiosity put into action!”
So leave your house, explore, enjoy and send us your #Visegrad selfies!
By Poliva Avramenko All photos by Polina Avramenko