Budapest is a beautiful city, with much to explore, but there are many places outside the city that are worth a visit. Here are some great ideas for car trips easily done in one day.
The Danube Bend
This is a hugely popular road trip, following the Danube River from Budapest to three different towns, each with their own unique characteristics. The first town you will come to is Esztergom, the headquarters of the Hungarian Catholic Church. There is a huge nineteenth- century Basilica here, located on Castle Hill. You can climb the stone steps to the very top for a spectacular view over to Slovakia. The next town on this excursion is Visegrad, which means “high fortress”. Here you can explore the ruins of the ancient Royal Palace. The last stop is the lovely town of Szentendre, an artists’ village. There are plenty of opportunities here for shopping and dining.
The Eger Wine Region
This trip takes you from Budapest to the picturesque town of Eger. About 130 kilometres north of Budapest, it is the centre of Hungary’s wine production. There is a vast array of wineries to choose from, and lots of different wine to sample. This is where the famous Egri Bikaver, or “Bull’s Blood”, is produced.
While this attraction is only about twenty kilometres outside Budapest, it makes a pleasant leisurely day trip, especially if you take the guided tour, which runs about an hour and a half. This spectacular building is the second-largest Baroque castle in the world, and was the summer home of Elisabeth, once Queen of Hungary and Empress of Austria. There are the Royal Stables to explore and vast beautiful gardens to wander. When you’ve gotten weary from all the sightseeing, you can relax and have a snack at the Palace Cafe.
A great alternative to visiting museums and historical buildings, a day spent at Lake Balaton is definitely different! It is the largest freshwater lake in Europe, with water balmy enough for swimming from May to October. While the most popular areas charge an admission fee, there are lots of beaches that are free and open to the public. The south shore of the lake is dotted with resorts, and there is a variety of charming restaurants and bars, as well as interesting and unusual shops.
One important thing to keep in mind if you are planning to drive around the Budapest area; the traffic here can be somewhat precarious! It is definitely recommended, when renting a car, you purchase direct car excess insurance. This will ensure that, if your vehicle is stolen, or damaged in a collision or accident, you will not have to pay an excess fee, which you would otherwise be required to pay, regardless of whether or not you were at fault. This insurance will save you time, money and grief. Taking this simple precaution will give you one less thing to worry about, and take some of the stress out of driving in a foreign country.