Hungary’s recent accession to the EU has made travel to and from the country simpler and more attractive to travelers from the USA and other European countries. The tourism industry is booming in Hungary and its’ capital, Budapest, has established a firm place on the list of must-see city break locations. But as the city attracts more and more tourists and challenges Barcelona and Prague for the number one spot in city break destinations looking outside of the city itself can reveal another side to Hungary as a destination.
Budapest is a city rich in culture and history, a city of castles, cathedrals, museums and Turkish baths. Although uniquely Hungarian and not short of attractions, Budapest is typical of the European city break destination. But a nation with no less than 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites is not short on wider attractions and Hungary is no different.
Pecs, some 213 km from Budapest is a stunning early Christian necropolis founded by the Romans in the 2nd century AD. The first Hungarian king, St Stephen founded an episcopate in Pecs in 1009 and the architectural monuments of 150 years of Turkish rule are still evident offering the visitor an interesting mix of east and west.
Closer to Budapest and the Millenarian Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma is a stunning, yet relatively undiscovered tourist treasure. The abbey, built in the Roman province of Pannonia dates back to the formation of Hungary as a nation itself. The abbey has been built and destroyed several times in its history but the foundation of the monastery originally built be Czech and Italian monks and most recently refurbished in a unique baroque style are truly impressive.
Traveling outside of Budapest can be relatively easy with a range of organized tours visiting many of Hungary’s attractions and the country’s rail network is relatively cheap and reliable. For the more adventurous or independent traveler, car rental is available with many of the major firms offering car hire in Budapest or at the various airports around the country.
Hungary is a welcome addition to the European travel destination circuit and the merits of Budapest are obvious and abundant. The country itself though is a fascinating destination of contrasts, history, and culture and it just might be well worth exploring.