When planning your trip to Central Europe, figuring out where to stay in Hungary is one of the major logistical hurdles you will need to overcome.
Will you stay in the historic city of Budapest or opt to explore one of Hungary’s lesser-known regions? This guide can help you decide where to stay in Hungary and plan your trip to the country without a hitch.
Why You Should Visit Hungary in 2023
Hungary is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central or Eastern Europe, primarily due to its capital, Budapest. Budapest is one of the best places to visit for Old World glamour, historic buildings, and hedonistic modern culture.
Budapest is packed with beautiful buildings, such as the stunning Hungarian Parliament, which reminds people of a wedding cake, and the colorful roof of Fisherman’s Bastion.
Budapest used to be one of the main cities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and there are still remnants of this old glamour, such as the natural hot water Szechenyi Baths and the city’s glamorous cafes.
It’s also a popular destination for young people thanks to its thumping clubs and ruin bars. However, many tourists make the mistake of only visiting Budapest in Hungary when the country’s other towns are also fascinating.
Cute Gyor is the perfect place to wander well-preserved historic streets and get a taste of a slower style of life. Debrecen boasts gorgeous architecture and a great classical music scene.
Or visit Pecs, a beautiful city with a tolerant, multiethnic past. Getting into the Hungarian countryside is also a great opportunity. Join the locals who flock to Lake Balaton in the summer, a massive lake perfect for water sports, or the hot springs of Heviz nearby.
Take in the massive steppe as far as the eye can see in Hortobagy National Park. The countryside is also the perfect place to taste authentic, hearty Hungarian cuisine or try some of the local wines.
There are so many cool places to see in Hungary that choosing where to base yourself is an important decision indeed. This guide can help you figure out where the best place to stay while you are in the country will be.
The Best Places to Stay in Hungary
The 5 best areas to stay in on a trip to Germany include:
- Budapest: Best area for first-time visitors, nightlife, history, and culture
- Lake Balaton: Best area for water sports, natural springs, and families
- Debrecen: Best area for history and hiking
- Szeged: Best area for students, youth culture, and exploring the Great Hungarian Plain
- Pecs: Best area for budget travelers and wine
The Best Areas & Hotels in Hungary
Hungary is packed with things to do — and not all of those things are located in Budapest. While most visitors should head to Budapest at least once, there are other aspects of Hungary you should also explore, such as quaint villages, rolling fields, and charming towns that get overshadowed by the capital.
If you don’t know where to start with your Hungarian adventure, this guide can help you figure out what you should do, where you should go, and, most importantly, where you should rest your head each night.
Hungary’s capital tends to attract most of the visitors who come to the country, and with good reason. The city has hundreds of years of history, passing through countless civilizations, and is a living, breathing city today with a great cultural and nightlife scene.
What’s not to like? Budapest is full of stunning buildings that have historical significance. The most famous is probably the Hungarian Parliament, with its massive neo-Gothic façade.
Across the hill in Buda, climb the hill to the Castle District to see the Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, and colorful St. Matthias Church.
Budapest’s Jewish Quarter is also worth a visit, especially the stunning Great Synagogue. For decades, Budapest was under strict communist rule, and the city still bears remnants of that legacy.
To learn about what life was like under the Hungarian regime, visit the world-famous House of Terror Museum hosted at the headquarters of the secret police.
Further out from the city, there’s Memento Park, where Budapest dumped all its old Communist statues. Budapest’s famous ruin bars, nightlife hubs hosted in abandoned buildings, are also influenced by this legacy.
Budapest is also a great city for all sorts of creature comforts. You can pamper yourself in thermal baths, from the gilded Gellert Baths to the massive Szechenyi Baths.
Treat yourself to a drink and a treat in one of the famous coffeehouses, which date back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The main drag, Andrassy Avenue, is packed with shops and restaurants and makes for a perfect tree-lined stroll.
This city is beautiful and has something for everyone, but it is hardly a hidden gem. If you want to explore more of what Hungary has to offer than the city already packed with tourist crowds, you may want to stay in one of the other regions.
Things to Do
- Take the funicular up to the Castle District to see the old buildings and impressive views.
- Take a Danube River Cruise and see the sights, including the Parliament, from the water.
- Spend the days in the hot springs and massive spa complex of the Szechenyi Baths.
- Visit the original ruin bar, Szimpla Kert, for a drink like no other.
Where to Eat
- Grab some traditional pastries at Ruszwurm, Hungary’s oldest sweet shop.
- Visit the New York Café for a coffee in one of the world’s most scenic locations.
- Try traditional Budapest Jewish cuisine at Rosenstein.
- Enjoy classic Hungarian dishes at Café Kor.
Budapest Budget Hotels
- Hotel Oswaldo. This family-run hotel is perfect for guests road-tripping through Hungary. It is in Budapest’s suburbs, providing quiet surroundings, private parking, and barbecue facilities, plus great service.
- Normafa Hotel. This surprisingly affordable tony hotel on the outskirts of Budapest features great rooms, an on-site restaurant, and even a seasonal outdoor pool.
Budapest Mid-Range Hotels
- Maison Bistro & Hotel. This adults-only hotel features amenities such as air-conditioned rooms and a buffet breakfast, but it really stands out with its service.
- Bagatelle Gardenhouse. This elegant hotel has stylish rooms, Italian-inspired food for breakfast, and intimate service that befits a boutique hotel.
Budapest Luxury Hotels
- Aria Hotel Budapest by Library Hill Collection. This lush hotel has designer rooms with free spring water and walk-in showers, spa facilities, and even a rooftop bar.
- Matild Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel. This hotel in one of Budapest’s grandest buildings has everything guests could ever want, including spacious rooms, delicious breakfasts, and great service.
2. Lake Balaton
Where do Hungarians in their famously land-locked country go in the summer? They don’t need the sea when they have Lake Balaton, the region’s largest freshwater lake.
The massive lake is perfect for swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, and other water sports, and it is also a favorite destination among families.
Lake Balaton, nicknamed the “Hungarian inland sea,” is surrounded by picturesque towns, historic ruins, and vineyards that are often open for visitors who want a little taste.
Hike up to the ruins of Szigliget Fortress to take in remnants of the centuries-old fort and for great views of the surrounding area. The lake is also surrounded by medieval monasteries and abbeys, such as the famous one in Tihany.
The region around Lake Balaton has a unique geothermal makeup, making it a hotspot for Hungary’s famous hot springs.
Spa towns such as Heviz offer the opportunity to pamper yourself in beautiful surroundings, bathing in mineral waters that are believed to have healing properties.
If high-adrenaline adventures are more your thing, you can explore Lake Balaton’s underwater lake caves. Lake Balaton is one of Hungary’s most beautiful natural areas and the perfect place for a relaxing vacation.
Although the lake occasionally hosts music festivals, it is not the best place to visit if you want to enjoy a busy nightlife or a big city atmosphere, so some younger visitors may be bored.
Things to Do
- Try your hand at water sports such as paddle boarding, swimming, and even sailing on Lake Balaton.
- Take in the healing waters of Heviz, a spa town dating back to Roman times.
- Visit the otherworldly landscapes of the lake caves.
- In July, check out the big names who join the Balaton Sound Festival.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy light fare, including fish dishes, on the terrace of Halaszkert.
- Enjoy traditional Hungarian goulash at Kistucskok.
- Treat yourself to some upscale takes on Hungarian fare at Bistro Sparhelt.
Lake Balaton Budget Hotels
- Villa Nova. This quaint aparthotel offers entire suites and apartments for guests, plus a garden and pool, making it perfect for families on a road trip.
- Domaine Edegger. Guests at this simple hotel get entire apartments to themselves, plus access to a spa and the option to upgrade to a wellness package.
Lake Balaton Mid-Range Hotels
- Hazai Provence. Set in a historic cottage, this hotel boasts antique furnishings, child-friendly touches such as a garden playhouse, and even its own spa.
- Mala Garden Design Hotel. This elegant hotel has air-conditioned rooms, water sports equipment rental, and multiple saunas, all located right on Lake Balaton.
Lake Balaton Luxury Hotels
- Sirius Hotel. Guests at the Sirius Hotel can relax in beautiful, air-conditioned rooms, enjoy wellness treatments at the spa, or relax at the organized nightly entertainment.
- Hotel Vinifera Wine & Spa. This stunning modern resort has a seasonal outdoor pool, an indoor wellness center complete with a spa, and an on-site restaurant.
Debrecen, in Hungary’s east, is a colorful regional capital with its fair share of history and culture. It has important significance for Hungary’s history.
It was the largest city for much of Hungary’s history and even served as the seat of the short-lived Hungarian Revolution of 1848.
The city has many sites that are important to this revolutionary history, such as The Reformed Great Church and the Statue of Lajos Kossuth, the revolutionary leader.
Even if you’re not that into Hungarian history, a stroll through Debrecen is still a great thing to do as you take in the colorful buildings and quirky small museums.
Debrecen is a center of student life, so you’ll find lots of activities geared toward young people, including music festivals. Debrecen’s main draw is its status as the gateway to Hortobagy National Park.
This park is Hungary’s largest national park and is protected by UNESCO. You can hike through the trails, admire the wetlands and the many bird species that call them home, or check out the many examples of Hungarian folk culture dotted through the park.
Due to its proximity to this park, Debrecen is one of the best places to stay in Hungary for nature lovers.
It’s also a unique city break for those looking to see Hungary beyond Budapest. However, Budapest is a much livelier city, so head there instead if you are looking for bustling nightlife and culture.
Things to Do
- Visit Hortobagy National Park and try to spot the wildlife and the cattle that graze in this traditionally pastoral area.
- Stroll around Lake Tisza — or rent a canoe and get up close and personal with migrating waterbirds.
- Walk through the historic center of Debrecen with sights such as The Reformed Great Church.
Where to Eat
- Visit IKON Restaurant & Lodge, which serves Hungarian food with international twists.
- Try traditional Hungarian favorites, including fish from Lake Tisza at Flaska Vendeglo.
- Visit Csulok Bistro for traditional Debrecen sausage.
Debrecen Budget Hotels
- Inter Hotel. This simple hotel has comfy air-conditioned rooms and surprisingly plush amenities such as a pool and hot tub.
- Centrum Hotel. This comfy hotel has sound-proofed rooms guaranteeing a good night’s sleep, welcoming décor, and a great location in the center of Debrecen.
Debrecen Mid-Range Hotels
- BH Kristaly. This modern hotel in a quiet area of town has comfy rooms with satellite TVs, plus access to a jacuzzi, fitness center, and parking.
- Belga Boutique Hotel. This classily decorated boutique hotel features quirky antique-style furnishings in each room but modern amenities such as air conditioning and Wi-Fi.
Debrecen Luxury Hotels
- Aquaticum Debrecen Thermal & Wellness Hotel. This spa hotel is the place to go for pampering, as guests can enjoy access to the Thermal Spa below, which has several pools, massages, and more.
- Mercure Debrecen. This hyper-modern hotel has a stand-out design and great amenities such as a sauna, guest’s choice of breakfast, and great service.
Szeged, the seat of Hungary’s Southern Great Plains region and one of the country’s largest cities after Budapest, is an unexpected yet rewarding destination for a city break.
Its architecture is beautiful, with some stunning examples of Hungary’s Art Nouveau dotting the façades of the Old Town. Szeged is a student town with one of the largest young populations in Hungary.
Although its nightlife is not as popular as the one in Budapest, it is still a lively city. Sit in one of the sidewalk cafés and people-watch the young people around you or catch one of the independent music shows at night.
Szeged is, for many people, the entry to the Great Hungarian Plain, Hungary’s dominant landscape. Famously flat Hungary is dominated by this plain, where the fields and grasslands seem to stretch forever.
Cycling and walking through the region is a delight, especially when you pass the pungent paprika fields that define Hungarian cuisine. You can also go on day trips to small villages in the plain which preserve traditional Hungarian culture.
Szeged is a great base for people who want to discover more of what traditional Hungary has to offer. However, although it is a lively city, it doesn’t have as much pizzazz as Budapest.
Things to Do
- Admire the steep towers of Szeged’s Dom church and the other buildings in the Old Town.
- Catch a show at the Open-Air Festival Szeged, which dates back to the 1930s.
- Visit the floodplain of Pusztaszer Landscape Protection Area, perfect for birdwatching.
Where to Eat
- Visit Kiskorossy Halaszcsarda for catfish paprikash, a regional specialty.
- Have some American-style burgers and other hearty fare at Malata Beer and Grill Garden.
- Enjoy local favorites paired with Hungarian wines at Szeged Etterem.
Szeged Budget Hotels
- Noir Hotel. This stylish modern hotel has air-conditioned rooms, parking spaces for guests, and the option for contactless check-in.
- Partium Hotel Szeged. This retro-style hotel has a great central location, a dining area for breakfast, and air-conditioned rooms.
Szeged Mid-Range Hotels
- RIVA Szeged. This modern hotel features a sleek design, rooms with kitchen appliances and bathroom toiletries, and great service.
- Arena Deluxe & Spa. Despite the deluxe name, comfy rooms at this hotel are surprisingly affordable, and guests can relax in the spa and sauna.
Szeged Luxury Hotels
- Art Hotel Szeged. This is Szeged’s most stylish hotel, with sleek rooms, a colorful façade, and even a lobby bar perfect for unwinding after a long day of exploring.
- Hotel Auris. Relax at this hotel thanks to the spa, outdoor pool (open only in summer), sun terrace, and kid’s club where children can go while parents visit the sauna.
Pecs feels as if it is a world apart from Hungary. While the rest of Hungary is on flat plains, Pecs is nestled in the foothills of the (small by global standards, high by Hungarian standards) Mecsek Mountain.
Its architecture shows the traces of decades of Ottoman occupation, which were duly erased in other Hungarian cities. The lively cultural hub has a reputation for tolerance — and best of all, it’s still very affordable to visit.
The quaint streets of Pecs are full of historic buildings and wonderful sights. Stop by the Mosque of Pasha Qasim, with its characteristic Turkish dome, which turned into a Roman Catholic church after the Ottomans were kicked out.
Pecs’s historic center contains other important buildings, such as the imposing cathedral and the UNESCO-protected necropolis.
It also has a lot to offer those who are interested in more modern culture. You can people-watch along Panonnius Street or Szechenyi Square, the main drags in the area.
Check out unique art collections such as the industrial gallery of the Zsolnay porcelain factory or the Modern Magyar Keptar, dedicated to Hungarian modern art. All of Hungary is famous for its stunning wine, but the region around Pecs is one of the best.
Try to stop at a local wine bar or visit a winery nearby to taste some of the regional specialties. Pecs is a unique city break in Hungary, but first-time visitors will probably want to visit Budapest first.
Things to Do
- Visit the Mosque of Pasha Qasim, now converted into a church.
- Go façade-spotting and try to find Pecs’s quirky post-modern buildings.
- Admire the austere beauty of the UNESCO-protected Sopianae, an early Christian necropolis.
- Catch an art show at one of the many local galleries, such as Nador Galeria.
Where to Eat
- Splurge for upscale small plates at Morzsa.
- Enjoy specialties from neighboring Croatia and Serbia at Bloff Bistro.
- Try some local wine at Eleven, a chic wine bar and shop.
Pecs Budget Hotels
- Hotel Central. This simple hotel offers comfy rooms and apartments, all air-conditioned and with private bathrooms, for astonishingly low prices in the city center.
- Hotel Barbakan. Close to the center, this hotel also provides guests with parking, a garden for relaxing, and a buffet breakfast.
Pecs Mid-Range Hotels
- Corso Hotel Pecs. This stylish boutique hotel features rooms with unique interior designs, sleek modern bathrooms, and great breakfasts.
- Boutique Hotel Sopianae. This cute hotel is located in an 18th-century building but has modern amenities such as private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and even a sauna.
Pecs Luxury Hotels
- Hotel Therapia. Located in a woodland area outside the city, this hotel serves as a wellness oasis thanks to its in-house spa, great service, and even organized walking tours.
- Palatinus Boutique Hotel. Probably Pecs’s most stylish hotel, this colorful locale offers guests fully equipped rooms, newly renovated common areas, and great breakfasts.
Book Your Trip to Hungary Today!
|🏆 Best for First Timers||Budapest|
|🛥️ Best for Watersports||Lake Balaton|
|🏰 Most Historic||Debrecen|
|🎓 Best for Students||Szeged|
|🍷 Best for Wine||Pecs|
The best trip to Hungary is one that combines standard tours with what might be your new favorite destination. Happy travels!