Thousands of Budapest’s residents have moved away from Bulinegyed over the last few years to escape the party tourism that has flooded the city. The district is now looking towards a more sustainable and local-friendly tourism model for Budapest, with Bulinegyed’s district mayor, Peter Niedermuller, passing stricter regulations for party tourism. The focus for promotion is likely to be more centered on cultural and nature tourism, taking into account current trends in travel. One such trend is the road trip, which has grown in popularity over recent years, whether taken in an RV or a smaller vehicle. Road tripping offers the advantage of allowing tourists to travel further afield and discover lesser known gems, while still getting the most of what famous tourist hotspots like Budapest have to offer.
First: a note on road trips
For travelers who are new to the road tripping scene, there are some considerations to take into account before settling on an itinerary. Vehicle choice is particularly important for a long road trip, especially if it involves foreign travel. The car or RV should be reliable to travel long distances, regardless of its age. Organizations that review and evaluate used cars give a clear indication of the mileage the vehicle has already done, so this should be possible to ascertain even with secondhand models.
It’s also important that the driver is confident and familiar with local driving laws. For example, traffic drives on the right throughout Hungary, and speed limits are shown in km/hour. Traffic lights are limited to the basic trio of red, amber and green – there is no rule to allow a right turn on an otherwise red signal as there is in some countries. Within Budapest itself, there are no tolls, but travelers using the motorway will need to pay for a pass from a gas station. Drivers are advised to familiarize themselves with local laws before embarking on a road trip.
Popular road trip must-sees from Budapest
One of the most popular day trips from Budapest is to Szentendre.
Offering postcard scenes of cobbled streets and baroque architecture, it offers a quiet contrast to the buzz of Budapest. Szentendre was home to a large Serbian community during the 18th century, and in the 1920s, gained notoriety as an artist colony. There are galleries and museums aplenty, as well as a network of enticing side streets offering hidden architectural gems. It’s a straightforward 20 minute drive from Budapest, allowing road trippers most of the day to explore.
A second popular day trip from Budapest is to Eger, best known for Eger Castle, which was built in the 13th century and survived the Turkish invasion.
Eger is also famed for its wine, which can be sampled in the Valley of the Beautiful Women, where cellars have been carved into the rock face. The Great Tower and the Lyceum are also well worth visiting. The drive from Budapest takes around an hour and a half. To take the scenic route, tourists should leave the motorway at Hatvan and take Route 21 followed by Route 23, although this will make for a longer drive.
Driving to lesser-known gems
A drive of around 40 minutes will take you to Visegrád, a small town on the Danube Bend with stunning views. Alternatively, those staying in Budapest may wish to forgo the road trip for the day and take the boat up the Danube Bend. Adventurous travelers will want to pack walking boots for the day: a rocky woodland path takes you to Visegrád’s 13th century citadel, which offers breathtaking views of the river and the Börzsöny Hills in the distance. The ruins of King Matthias’ Renaissance palace also provides the setting for a romantic walk. Tourists are advised to follow Route 11 for the most direct drive.
Lake Balaton is a popular summer destination for Budapest locals, yet it is often missed by travelers. Road trippers are perfectly placed to explore Balatonfüred and its lakeside promenade, where they can expect beautiful views of the Tihany peninsula. The drive will take about an hour and a half, and the fastest route takes you via the M7. Tourists should be aware though: this route has tolls.
Tourism in Budapest is undergoing change, and trends in travel are changing too.
Tourists who wish to explore all that Budapest has to offer, as well as taking in the delights of lesser-known places further afield, may choose to consider a road trip for their next Hungarian adventure. With more travelers looking for alternatives, there’s hope for party tourism to cause less of a problem in Budapest.