Hungary

Whether you’re looking for enchanting Christmas Markets in Budapest, summer beaches on Lake Balaton or historic road trips through the romantic northern regions in spring and autumn, Hungary is a diverse and wonderful place to take the family on holiday.


Why go on holiday in Hungary

  • Direct flights from the UK all year round to Budapest and Debrecen take just over two hours.

  • Summers are sunny with temperatures ranging from 22 to 25˚.

  • Freezing winter temperatures mean a high chance of snow: good for the famously pretty Budapest Christmas Markets.

  • Hungary has 15 ski resorts, several are within an hour of Budapest. Not a great European for experienced skiers but excellent value and easy going for beginners.

  • Hungary has eight UNESCO World Heritages sites including Buda Castle and the Banks of the Danube in Budapest and the ancient village of Hollókõ.

  • Out of Hungary’s ten national parks, Hortobágy in the north east is the largest and also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Budapest has a wide range of international hotels in the city centre. Panzió and vendégház are the cosy, family-run guesthouses and B&B you’ll find in more rural areas of Hungary. Ibusz is the nationwide letting agency for holiday self-catering apartments and family villas.



Where to go

 

Western Hungary

For outdoor adventure, Europe’s largest freshwater lake, lively beach resorts and breathtakingly beautiful scenery, head west in Hungary. The region known as Pannonia is the country’s largest and criss-crossed with protected nature reserves, national parks, ancient towns and villages and historic cities. Fly into Budapest and you can be on the shores of Lake Balaton in under an hour and a half.

  • If you’re doing Hungary with teens, Siófok on the eastern shore of Lake Balaton is the country’s 24/7 resort for water sports, summer festivals, lively big beaches, club nights and crowds of young locals at the weekend.
  • Keszthely on the enormous lake’s western side is a more peaceful choice and very family-focused from its fun waterparks to colourful markets, cheerful kid’s events and historic castles and gardens.
  • Second only to Budapest, Pécs is a must-do in Western Hungary. It’s one of the country’s loveliest cities, site of the first university and balances an incredible architectural heritage and outstanding museums with a friendly small city atmosphere.
  • Sopron, almost right on the Austrian border, is one of the most complete medieval towns in Hungary and has over 200 listed historical buildings.
  • Don’t miss: hiking and mountain biking in the Mecsek Hills; Pécs Old Town; Peter & Paul Cathedral in Pécs; Annagora Aquapark; Mecsextrém Adventure Park; the Ottoman Mosque of Gázi Kászim Pasha; UNESCO World Heritage Cella Septichora; Orsolya tér or ‘Bear Squar’ in medieval Sopron.

Budapest

The Hungarian capital is a city to inspire contradictory feelings. Many visitors fall in love with it immediately, others compare it unfavourably to the likes of Prague and charming Ljubljana. Budapest isn’t unaware of its flaws and has invested a lot of energy into nurturing a more vibrant and inclusive atmosphere over the past 20 years. Visit with an open mind and prepare to be dazzled by the grand architecture, quite a few of the museums, pleasantly surprised by lush parks and blown away by the shopping – Great Market Hall is not to be missed.

North Eastern Hungary

Tokaj-Hegyalia is Hungary’s legendary wine region and reason alone to visit the tiny eastern corner of the country. Kids might not be too taken by the UNESCO World Heritage vineyards but they will like adventuring round the volcanic mountains, deep mysterious forests and captivating towns which feature just as high on this area’s list of attractions.

  • This is the region which produces pale amber Tokaji Aszú AKA ‘the king of wines’, and rich, robust ‘Bull’s Blood’.
  • Visit Hollókõ: the prettiest village in Hungary, a UNESCO World Heritage site and where locals wear traditional costume every hour of every day.
  • The Mátra Mountains are the highest in the country and famous for their excellent hiking trails in spring and early summer.
  • The enchanting Baroque city of Eger is worth seeing for its dramatic fortress and the impressive Archbishop’s Palace – thanks to a long history of occupation, it’s also one of the best places in Hungary for a traditional Turkish Bath.
  • This is the region for the wildly beautiful plains of Hortobágy National Park, Hungary’s first and largest and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What to do

  • Széchenyi Thermal Baths, Budapest
    21 pools, natural thermal waters, ridiculously extravagant 19th century architecture, sun terraces and elegant promenades are what win these historic baths so many awards. They’re a family institution in Budapest and kids love them.
  • Lake Balaton
    The largest freshwater lake in Europe and the land of Hungary’s liveliest beach resorts. Just over an hour’s drive from Budapest and good for escaping the city’s humidity for a day in summer.
  • Annagora Aquapark, Lake Balaton
    Hungary’s largest waterpark on the shores of Europe’s largest freshwater lake is a mass of extreme rides, chutes and slides; thermal pools; swimming pools and kid’s adventure zones.
  • Aggtelek Cave Complex, Aggtelek National Park
    The UNESCO World Heritage complex of over 200 limestone caves is one of Hungary’s most astounding natural phenomena. Just over two hour’s drive from Budapest, guided tours range from an hour’s gentle walk to seven hour’s caving.
  • Mecsextrém Adventure Park, Pécs
    Treetop rope challenges, shooting ranges, forest tobogganing, climbing walls and huge woodland obstacle courses are what to expect from Western Hungary’s biggest outdoor adventure park.
  • Gellert Cave Church, Budapest
    If you’re tempted to take a dip in Gellert Baths (the city’s oldest) leave time to visit the intriguing Gellert Cave Church just opposite.
  • Budapest Bike Tours
    Get to know the city’s secrets in the company of entertaining guides on a bike tour. There are lots of themes to choose from and the company does Danube canoe tours too.
  • Eger Castle
    One of the most important fortified castles in 16th century Hungary, Eger’s beautifully preserved and has an extensive programme of summer events and festivals.
  • Bukk National Park, Northern Hungary
    The Bukk Mountain park that’s packed with heritage towns and villages, more wildlife than anywhere else in the country, narrow gauge railways and good trails for family cycling and walking.
  • Nordic Ski Arena, Bakony Mountains
    West of Budapest in the Bakony Mountains, Nordic Ski has Hungary’s longest ski runs and a friendly, easy going atmosphere. Not for serious skiers, but fun for a family day out from the city.


Educational value for kids

  • Spend a few hours strolling around the Fishermen’s Bastion in Budapest. This grandly ornate and dramatic promenade in Buda has fantastic views across The Danube to Pest; artisans and artists congregate here to sell their work; and a guided tour of the six towers and lovely Mathias Church is worth taking.
  • The House of Terror in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter, Erzsébetváros, is in the former headquarters of Hungary’s brutal secret police, sanctioned by the country’s post WWII fascist and Stalinist regimes. This isn’t an easy visit, but it gives an invaluable context for present day political extremism.
  • Coffee and pastries are an institution in Budapest and nowhere does them with more sense of tradition than glamorous, Centràl Kávéhàz. Younger kids like the treats and teenagers love the retro design.
  • Keen to convince older teens you’re still cool, seek out a few of Budapest’s unique Ruin Bars: pop up cafés, clubs, bars and restaurants set in abandoned – and usually fascinating – city buildings.
  • Spend a few hours in Budapest’s Nagycsarnok or Great Market Hall. It’s one of the biggest in Europe and an eye-opener for kids used to sanitised supermarkets. Young vegetarians might want to miss the butcher stalls (offal is a Hungarian staple) and the top floor is strictly for tourists.
  • Walk the Danube Promenade from Elizabeth Bridge to the Chain Bridge and take in quite a few of the city’s glossiest sights. It’s an historic stroll and part of a summer evening tradition that dates back to the mid 19th century.
  • The Hungarian Parliament building dominates the waterfront in Budapest and daily tours are multi-lingual and varying lengths, so you can tailor to suit kids.

 

Getting around with kids in Hungary

Hungary isn’t big so don’t resist the temptation to go beyond the capital and explore mountains, lakes and other lovely cities. Hiring a car’s the best option with kids and driving through unspoiled countryside and ancient fairy tale towns and villages could easily become one of your most memorable road trips.



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