The 10 Best Small Towns in Hungary
Hungary has some of Central Europe's most unique and interesting small towns and villages, particularly in the lesser-known parts of the Danube Bend, where Hungarian culture has been well preserved. Some have a castle or two, some are nestled in the foothills or on the periphery of national parks, with great countryside on their doorsteps, but virtually all have a connection with the Danube, and fabulous Hungarian cuisine to boot. And of the lot, here are our picks – the 10 best small towns and villages of Hungary.
Zebegény is a colorful little town in a picturesque setting, brimming with museums, galleries and historic houses, and offering lively arts events and festivities to boot. There's also a castle here, D_ry Castle, as well as a renovated old church fronting on the town's main square, and quiet beach segments along the Danube. The town is actually tucked into the Danube Bend, surrounded by lush forests and mountain scenery, and is quite popular with weekend vacationers from Budapest.
Location: Pest County, adjacent to Duna-Ipoly National Park, 38 miles (60 km) north of Budapest
Historic fortress town on the right bank of the Danube in the Danube Bend, dating from the Middle Ages. It's an idyllic little town, with some interesting old houses, overlooked by a 13th-century hilltop castle which is Visegrád's main attraction. Within the castle walls are the ruins of an Early Renaissance palace of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and a medieval citadel. Even with renovation work on it ongoing, the castle is open to public tours.
Location: Pest County, Danube Bend, just north of Budapest
Popular little village at the foot of the Börzsöny Hills, where homegrown artists Mányoki Ádám and Viski János once lived and painted. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound all around the village, including hiking and horseback riding, and skiing in the wintertime, with good hotels and restaurants to be found in the nearby wooded settlement of Királyrét. Szokolya is only a 45-minute drive from Budapest, offering a worthwhile day trip from the capital city as well.
Location: Váci subregion, Pest County, north of Budapest
Verõce sits on the eastern bank of the Danube in the Danube Bend, with early 20th-century villas overlooking the river from the shoreline. At the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, the town was filled with writers, poets, and musicians, and the former home of Géza Gorka, one of Hungary's most notable ceramics artists, is now a museum, open to the public, with a good collection of his work on display. An added draw for visitors to Verõce is the adjacent village of Kismaros, which also has a museum of interest, and fabulous old buildings to boot.
Location: Pest County, just east of the Danube-Ipoly National Park, and north of Budapest
Small, medieval village in the Börzsöny Mountains in central Hungary, with the Börzsöny Creek flowing through it. The village offers up a genuine slice of rural Hungary, with a haphazard cluster of houses strewn along equally irregular streets. The principal architectural attraction here is the walled-in, 13th-century Romanesque church of Szent István, which harks back to the Árpádházi age; and the main draw, the summertime Knight Games, centered around armor-clad, dueling medieval knights.
Location: Szobi subregion in Pest County in central Hungary, adjacent to the Duna-Ipoly National Park
Szentendre is a lively riverside town in the Danube Bend, crowned with ancient church steeples and filled with multicolored and multi-textured village homes, souvenir shops, museums and galleries, scores of resident artists, and a great selection of restaurants and cafés where you'll find some of the best Hungarian cuisine outside of Budapest. Visit the ethnographic museum while you're here, for it has an entire village of homes from different areas and different centuries on display. Szentendre, by the way, is an increasingly popular travel destination, particularly with day-trippers from Budapest, and is famously known known as the "Jewel of the Danube Bend."
Location: Pest County, close to Budapest
Small, colorful, cross-cultural Magyar town in the Pilis mountains on Route 11, Pomáz comes with an ancient heritage, an 18th-century Baroque castle, Teleki-Wattay Castle, a famous Serbian Orthodox church which is its principal draw, and the Teleki Palace which is its other main attraction. There's a strong presence of ethnic Serbians here, and Serbian is widely spoken, with Serbian customs and foods to be found here as well.
Location: Pest County on the HÉV train line from Budapest to Szentendre
Kemence offers in itself a lovely 12th-century village, with archaic houses and crooked streets, and much of its turn-of-the-century ambiance. There is a small village museum here, but the best part of this Palóc town is its Kemence Forestry Museum Railway, a restored line that was originally built in 1910 and still takes passengers into the forests and mountains of the nearby Börzsöny range in open cars, with great opportunities to see indigenous wildlife along the tracks.
Location: Szobi subregion, Pest County, right up by the Duna-Ipoly National Park and the Slovak border
Szob is the essence of untainted rural Hungary, where the folk culture has been well preserved. It's actually a small border town on the north bank of the Danube in the Danube Bend, all but a stone's throw to the southwest of the Hungarian-Slovak border, on a major rail connection from Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. It has a couple of old churches of note, and the Börzsöny Museum which has displays of folk costumes, tombstones, and petrified trees. The town also hosts the Danube Bend Art Days in the summertime, a multi-village cultural extravaganza.
Location: Pest County, Danube Bend
Göd – pronounced, by the way, gerd, as in herd, rather than the English God – has a thriving tourist industry, with a thermal spa with mineral-rich water. It sits on the left bank of the River Danube, on the periphery of Budapest, and is connected to the capital city via Dunakeszi by both rail and road. It has good restaurants, bars, clubs and galleries, and its fair share of old churches
Location: Dunakeszi subregion, Pest County, just north of Budapest
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