Moon Budapest & Beyond

With the Danube Bend, Lake Balaton & Other Day Trips in Hungary


By Jennifer D. Walker

Formats and Prices




$22.99 CAD



  1. Trade Paperback $17.99 $22.99 CAD
  2. ebook $11.99 $15.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 31, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

From soaking up Budapest’s poignant history and vibrant nightlife to soaking in thermal baths, savor one of Europe’s most stunning cities with Moon Budapest & Beyond.
  • Explore In and Around the City: Get to know Budapest’s most interesting neighborhoods, like Castle Hill, South Buda, South Pest, and the historic Jewish quarter, and nearby areas, including Gödöllö, Lake Balaton, the Eger wine country, Pécs, and more
  • Go at Your Own Pace: Choose from multiple itinerary options designed for foodies, history buffs, art lovers, outdoor adventurers, and more
  • See the Sights: Soak in the thermal Széchenyi baths, meander through Magyar history at the Hungarian National Museum, or take in views of the city from 170 meters above the Danube. See Europe’s largest synagogue and catch a performance at the palatial Opera House. Hike to the top of the Elizabeth Lookout, or go cave-diving in the Buda Hills
  • Get Outside the City: Explore the vineyards of the Valley of Beautiful Women, stroll through historic Hungarian folk villages, or go canyoning in the Pilis Hills
  • Savor the Flavors: Grab a mouthwatering lángos from a food truck, tuck into a rich authentic goulash, linger over coffee at a riverside café, or indulge in contemporary farm-to-table cuisine
  • Experience the Nightlife: Hop between eclectic ruin bars in the bustling Jewish Quarter or attend a Saturday “Sparty” in one of the city’s famous spas. Sample Hungarian wines at a tasting room, sip creative concoctions at a cocktail bar, and watch the sunset over the Danube with a local craft beer in hand
  • Get to Know the Real Budapest: Follow honest suggestions from Budapest local Jennifer D. Walker
  • Full-color photos and detailed maps, including a full-color foldout map
  • Handy Tools: Background information on Budapest’s history and culture, plus tips on sustainable travel, what to pack, where to stay, and how to get around
Day trip itineraries, favorite local spots, and strategies to skip the crowds: Take your time with Moon Budapest & Beyond.

Exploring more of Eastern Europe? Check out Moon Prague & Beyond.


















Once three distinct cities—Buda, Pest, and Óbuda—Budapest has a long history that expresses itself in the tapestry of the city’s architecture, from the excavated remains of the Roman city of Aquincum to medieval ruins left behind from the monasteries of Margaret Island; from domed Ottoman baths and Habsburg grandeur to Communist brutalism. It’s a complex and vibrant city where you can go to a thermal bath in the early morning, spelunking before lunch, do a spot of sightseeing in the afternoon, and party till dawn. You can crisscross the city from Buda, dominated by tree-clad hills interwoven with hiking trails, to cosmopolitan Pest, where large Parisian-style boulevards are interspersed with dilapidated ruin bars and a vibrant café culture. And don’t forget Óbuda: the oldest part of the city is strewn with Roman ruins, factories, and shady beaches that lead you right down to the Danube River.

But Hungary is more than just Budapest. The country is small and compact, making it easy to branch out from the capital and see more of the country with a day or an overnight trip. Head south to recline on a beach at Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest lake. Head north and take a boat down the beautiful Danube Bend. Or jet off to other cities in Hungary if you want to escape the tour crowds. Visit Eger for its Baroque architecture and wine cellars. Discover Sopron on the Austrian-Hungarian border for its beautiful medieval architecture. Go south to Pécs for its blend of Art Nouveau and Ottoman architecture. Or, you can stay closer to Budapest with a jaunt to the picturesque towns of Szentendre, rustic Hollókő, or regal Gödöllő.

souvenir shop in Szentendre

Esztergom city center

tourist train in Eger

Lion’s Pharmacy in Sopron

food market in central Budapest

people resting in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica


1 Soaking in Budapest’s thermal baths. From opulent multipool complexes to low-key local spots, relaxing in the healing waters is the perfect activity on the morning after a night out.

2 Drinking a pálinka or Unicum in a ruin bar or kert in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter.

3 Taking in views over the Danube from Budapest’s Fisherman’s Bastion.

4 Cycling along the Danube to Szentendre or Vác, stopping for a few fröccs (a white or rosé wine spritzer) at one of the riverside bars along the way.

5 Kicking back with the locals on a Lake Balaton beach.

6 Immersing yourself in Habsburg grandeur at Gödöllő Royal Palace.

7 Visiting the Danube Bend town of Esztergom, home to a grand basilica with sweeping views, then taking the slow boat back to Budapest at golden hour (around 4pm).

8 Sampling local wine in the Valley of Beautiful Women or at the hillside wineries near Badacsony.

9 Discovering rural life in the museums of the living folk village of Hollókő.

10 Learning about the history of Hungary’s famous glazed porcelain in the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter in Pécs.


Three or four days is enough to immerse yourself in Budapest’s best sights, along with some of its more unusual ones. However, it’s easy enough to hop on a bus or a train and get out to explore more of the country. Some destinations are nearby and take less than an hour to get to: Szentendre, Gödöllő, and the Danube Bend can all be reached in just over an hour (or less) by train or bus, and they make good day-trip destinations or can be combined into longer excursions. Other destinations (Eger, Hollókő, Sopron, Lake Balaton, and Pécs) are farther afield, requiring a journey of two or three hours, so you need to either travel early or stay overnight. The good news is that all are reachable by bus or rail, so you can access them, even if you don’t have your own car.

sailing on the Danube Bend


This itinerary covers the must-see highlights for any first-time visitor, with a mix of Habsburg palaces, museums, rooftop and ruin bars, and even a thermal bath. This will keep you busy from dawn till dusk on days 1 and 2, with day 3 (a short trip to nearby Gödöllő) being more relaxing. You will want to make sure your camera is fully charged for the next three days.

This itinerary is accessible with public transport. Since you’ll be based in Budapest for three days, you won’t need to worry about luggage storage as you can just keep everything at your hotel.


 Start your trip in style with a coffee or a decadent breakfast at the New York Café. It’s a little pricey, but it is one of the most beautiful cafés in the world, so it’s the perfect way to kick off your trip.

 Grab the number 5 bus from Blaha Lujza tér metro station to go to Buda. Keep an eye out for the views while you ride, especially when crossing the river!

 Get off the bus at Szarvas tér and head toward the river. You’ll see the Castle Garden Bazaar stretch out in front of you. Walk along and follow the colonnade leading up the hill until you reach the escalators.

the Castle Garden Bazaar entrance

 Take the escalators up to the top and you’ve reached the top of Castle Hill. Wander along, admire the views, and take many photos.

 Buy a ticket for the Hungarian National Gallery in the Royal Palace and spend a couple hours exploring the museum to learn more about Hungarian art. Make sure you climb up inside the dome of the Royal Palace (if the season permits).

 Stroll over the winding cobbled streets to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. This will give you the best views in the city.

Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest

 If you’re hungry, there are plenty of options here; if you’re feeling spendy, Pierrot won’t disappoint.

 At the Vienna Gate, grab the 16 bus to Deák Ferenc tér metro station. Head south and pass the Great Synagogue and walk down Wesselényi utca till you reach Kazinczy utca and turn right.

 Grab some street food at Karavan, and then head into Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s most famous ruin bar, for a few drinks to wrap up the night.

 If you’re in the mood to party, bar-hop over to nearby Instant and Fogas Ház, Anker’t, or Doboz.


Try to make yourself get up early and go to the Széchenyi Baths before the crowds arrive. Expect to spend a good couple of hours here—the complex is massive and the architecture is stunning inside and out.

 Once you’ve had a good soak, explore the surroundings at City Park. Wander the grounds of Vajdahunyad Castle and pay a visit to the Anonymous statue.

 Head to Bagolyvár for a filling lunch.

 Now, it’s on to some major sightseeing. First, walk over to Heroes’ Square and snap a few pictures.

 Take metro 1, also known as the Millennium Underground, to Opera. Keep walking down Andrássy Avenue until you reach Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út. Cross over and head to St. Stephen’s Basilica. Try to get up to the viewing platform at the top of the dome.

 Walk a few blocks northwest toward the river until you get to the Hungarian Parliament building. Take it easy and just admire the exterior.

Hungarian Parliament building

 Head down to the Danube Banks in front of the Parliament to the Shoes on the Danube memorial.

 End the evening at a rooftop bar, such as the bar (or ice rink in the winter) at the Hotel President with views over the Royal Postal Savings Bank, the High Note Bar at the Aria Hotel for a vista overlooking St. Stephen’s Basilica, or return to Andrássy Avenue to 360 Bar.


Get out of the city and escape to the nearby town of Gödöllő for a spot of Habsburg grandeur and opulence. Before you leave, call the Royal Palace of Gödöllő to find out if you can visit Horthy’s Bunker or the Baroque Theater. During peak seasons, large tour groups get priority, and the palace can only tell you that day whether you can visit these extras or not. Once you get the times for the tours, you can plan your day and slot in a visit to Horthy’s Bunker and the Baroque Theater when a spot is available.

The Baroque Theater is the oldest theater in the country, and is still used for performances.

 Take metro line 2 to Örs Vezér tere and take the suburban railway (HÉV) to Gödöllő and get off at Gödöllő, Szabadság tér 50 minutes later.

 If you’re hungry, grab a bite to eat at Solier Café, a five-minute walk from the train station.

 Head over to the Royal Palace of Gödöllő. Pay a visit to the castle interior and the elegantly furbished rooms. Once you’re done with the museum and tours (or you have some waiting time), make sure you explore the lush park grounds surrounding the palace.

 Once you’re done for the day, grab the suburban railway back to Budapest.



Follow the Danube upstream from the Hungarian capital through an undulating landscape that twists and turns with the river. The Danube Bend is one of the most beautiful parts of the country, its forest-covered hills punctuated by village churches, ruined medieval citadels, and one of Europe’s largest basilicas. It has the added advantage of being very close to Budapest and easily accessible by public transport.

Although you can get up to Szentendre on the local suburban train, or take a boat, which is the best and most fun way to reach the town. Pack light, because you won’t have anywhere to store luggage while you explore Szentendre on day 1 and Esztergom on day 3. Book your ticket in advance (even if it’s just the day before) to guarantee a seat for the 10:40am hydrofoil bound for Esztergom on day 3.


 Head up to Szentendre in the morning. You can take the suburban railway (HÉV line 5, takes 40 minutes from Batthyány tér) or the boat (1.5 hours).

 Explore the picturesque downtown and do some shopping in this former art colony. Pay a visit to the Blagoveštenska Church to see a little of the town’s Serbian heritage.

Blagoveštenska Orthodox Church

 Grab lunch in Mjam before heading over to the Art Mill. Walk back through the town to the bus station next to the suburban railway stop.

 Get on the bus going to Visegrád (45 minutes).

 Check into your hotel, then grab a cab to the Visegrád Citadel for the amazing views. If you’re feeling athletic, hike down the southern side of the citadel to the Solomon Tower.

 Get dinner at the Renaissance Restaurant before retiring for the night.


Getting ready to take off beyond Budapest? Here are some tips to help you plan your excursion.


All the destinations in this book are accessible via bus or train; however, renting a car will give you the flexibility to link them together as you like. In Budapest, you can rent cars from international rental companies such as Hertz (tel. 06/1-296-0999 for local reservations, tel. 06/1-235-6008 for international reservations,, Europcar (tel. 06/1-421-8333,, and Avis (tel. 06/30-934-4050, You’ll find all these rental companies at the airport or in the Inner City.

You can rent a car easily in downtown Budapest, too: Hertz on Apaczai Csere Janos utca in the V District is one option. Car rental costs around HUF 10,000-25,000 per day.


Packing light for a mini-excursion beyond city limits? You can find various luggage storage facilities in Budapest. Try Budapest Luggage Storage (, €10 per 24 hours per bag) that has a seven luggage storage facilities all over the city center, from close to the Basilica to the Jewish Quarter, or check out BagBnB ( for more options.


 In the morning, visit the Renaissance Palace.

 Take the hourly ferry over to Nagymaros (15 minutes) and get the train down to Vác (15 minutes). Check into your hotel and freshen up before you head out to explore the town.

 Pay a visit to Vác Cathedral and the Memento Mori Exhibition.

 Take a leisurely hike along the river to the Hekk Terrace if you want a long scenic walk before lunch.

 Spend the afternoon in Vác at your own pace. Grab a cake or a coffee and watch life go by, or watch the sun set from the riverside.


 Make sure you hop on the 10:40 hydrofoil bound for Esztergom (50 minutes). Book your ticket in advance, even if it’s only the day before, from the Mahart Passnave website to guarantee a seat. Sit back and enjoy the Danube Bend views from the boat.

 You’ll get to Esztergom around lunchtime. The town is small, but if you want to see amazing views of Esztergom and sneak another country in, cross the Mária Valéria bridge over to Štúrovo, Slovakia, for wonderful vistas of the basilica and the city. Cross back over and head up toward the basilica. Stop for lunch at Padlizsán on the way.

the state border between Slovakia and Hungary on the Mária Valéria bridge across the Danube River

 When you arrive at Esztergom Basilica, make sure you go up to the dome for amazing views over the city.

Esztergom Basilica

 Get the local bus or a taxi to the train station and take the train back to Budapest (1 hour).


Get out of the city and relax on Lake Balaton for a few days with beautiful views, boat rides, and plenty of good food and wine. Balaton is not so much about sightseeing but rather taking in the little pleasures—a walk along the water, a day at the beach, or trying the excellent local wines.

Lake Balaton

All three of these towns are accessible by rail or bus, making this itinerary possible without a car. Drop your luggage off when you get into town and go exploring right away.


 From Budapest, catch an early train (2-2.5 hours) to Balatonfüred. Trains depart Budapest’s Budapest-Déli train station hourly (every half hour in peak seasons). No reservations are necessary; just get a ticket and go. However, in the summer it’s best to buy a ticket in advance so you are guaranteed a seat.

 The train will drop you off just a 15-minute walk from the center of the town. Settle into your hotel, take a stroll along the river on the Tagore Prominade, and grab lunch at DOCK Bistro. Take it easy for the rest of the afternoon, and just enjoy the views over the lake.

 If you’re in an adventurous mood and don’t want to simply relax, you can grab a local bus from the train station to Tihany (15-20 minutes). Visit Tihany Abbey and get a cake at the Rege Cukrázda. Go for a walk down by the Inner Lake and pick up some lavender souvenirs before taking the bus back to Balatonfüred.


 Take the train to Badacsony, which will take an hour or less.

 Hike up the hill to Szőlőhegy Bistro for lunch with an amazing view over the lake. You can try a few wines here, but don’t be shy about exploring several other wineries in the area, like the nearby Laposa winery. This is not a day to run around and sightsee but to enjoy the wonderful views.

 Take the train back to Balatonfüred, then treat yourself to a meal at Horváth House Wine Gallery.


 After a good breakfast, take a ferry across the lake to Siófok, which will take around an hour.

Swans flock on the Lake Balaton in Siófok with the Ferris wheel in the background.

 If you can, get settled into your hotel and head down to Siófok Main Beach to catch the sun.

 Fuel up at Calvados before climbing up the Siófok Water Tower and riding the Siófok Ferris Wheel.

 At night, head down to Petőfi Promenade for the nightlife. Try the Renegade Pub if you’re looking for a lively vibe.


 Enjoy one last walk by the lake before grabbing your luggage and taking the train back to Budapest. The journey takes approximately an hour and a half, so you have plenty of time to relax in the morning.


Explore a different side of Hungary in the historic city of Eger, famous for its medieval castle, wine cellars, winding Baroque streets, and remnants from the Ottoman occupation. Then, head even deeper into the countryside to the living folk village of Hollókő in the Cserhát Hills to get a feel for rural life and culture, as well as shop for some unique folk art to take home.

It’s very easy to get to Eger with public transport, but going from Eger to Hollókő is more of a challenge. Although Hollókő is only an hour and a half by car, it can take around four hours by local bus because you need to change twice and take a detour to get there. For this itinerary, I’d recommend renting a car in Budapest before setting out.


Before leaving for Eger, consider where you’ll park your car. The Hotel Park & Eger has parking for HUF 600 per night, and the Hotel Senator also includes reserved parking for guests, so if you’re booked at either of those you’re sorted for parking. Otherwise, you can park in a number of parking lots in the downtown area, like at the base of Eger Castle on Dobó István utca, or at the underground parking garage on Katona tér. Parking in Eger costs between HUF 200 and 360 per hour.

 Drive two hours due northeast on the M3 (via Füzesabony) to Eger. Check in, settle into your hotel, and head into town.

 Grab a coffee on Dobó István tér before hiking up to Eger Castle.


On Sale
Mar 31, 2020
Page Count
284 pages
Moon Travel

Jennifer D. Walker

About the Author

Jennifer Walker is a British-Hungarian writer who grew up between Hungary and the UK. A PhD in Physics first took her to Madrid, Spain, where she stayed for 7 years. After casting off her hat as a nuclear physicist, Jennifer grabbed a new hat as a writer. She completed a journalism internship in Tbilisi, Georgia, before moving back to Budapest to reconnect with her Hungarian roots. She now mostly writes about travel, food, culture, and language in Central and Eastern Europe. She has written for National Geographic Travel, Condé Nast Traveler, Oxford Dictionaries, BBC Travel, The Guardian, and The Independent, among others. Although Hungary is in her blood, Vienna is her City of Dreams: its wide boulevards and old-world cafés continue to inspire her, as she walks in the footsteps of Klimt, Freud, and Mozart. She feels at home in Budapest's ruin bars and underground art hubs, Vienna's cafés and museums, and prefers to spend the summers under the colonnades in the historic spa towns of Central Europe rather than on the beach.
Like so many Prague transplants, Auburn Scallon came to the Czech Republic planning to stay for just one year. This worked out about as well as the notorious Czech suggestion to go out for just one beer. The Seattle native has lived in New York, New Zealand, Greece, Scotland, and Malta but as Franz Kafka eloquently observed, "Prague won't let you go, the little mother has claws."
Auburn loves surprising locals with stories of how a friendly wager pushed her to find reasons to visit each of the Czech Republic's fourteen regions. She has since spent the better part of a decade confirming the clichés (yes, the beer and the architecture are both mind-blowing) and falling in love with the undiscovered quirks of the country. Come for the Pilsner, stay for the Moravian wine and local spirits. Enjoy the pastel facades by day, delight in the affordable excellence of the performing arts by night.
With a BA in Marketing and Master's research in Adult Education for Social Change, Auburn is passionate about encouraging travel as a cross-cultural learning opportunity. Her freelance writings on the arts, food, culture, and living abroad have appeared in The Independent, Prague Visitor,, Flydoscope, Brisbane Courier-Mail and official content for Czech Tourism. She hopes to encourage visitors to look beyond photo ops to find the Prague experiences that they'll fall in love with. Consider yourself warned, however, that you just might start considering how to stay longer than you ever expected.

Learn more about this author