First, let me say that I’m not a sommelier, and I don’t understand wine; I prefer beer. In this article, I’ll tell you about strong alcoholic drinks in Hungary, beer, and wine from a tourist’s perspective. You’ll learn what to try, prices, about wine regions and cellars, and how to taste wine.

Alcoholic drinks in Hungary: General Information

Here are the key points you need to know about alcoholic drinks in Hungary:

  • There are no restrictions on the sale of alcoholic drinks in Hungary. You can buy it 24/7 if you’re 18 or older.
  • Alcohol is available in any store, supermarket, 24-hour shops, and liquor store chains across the country.
  • The lowest prices for any alcoholic drink are in major supermarket chains like Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Spar, and so on. The highest prices are in 24-hour liquor stores in the ABC chain. You can find detailed information about stores in Hungary, prices, payment, and hours in the linked article.
where to buy alcoholic drinks in Hungary
Remember this logo – the number 18 in a red circle – it’s a Hungarian chain of liquor stores. Buy cigarettes there as well.

Interesting to know:

In Hungary, there are substantial excise taxes on strong alcohol above 22 degrees. This is why wines are inexpensive, but Hungarian strong alcohol is very costly.

And thank goodness for those who imposed restrictions on selling drinks in Hungary in containers of 0.4 liters, 0.45 liters, 0.9 liters. If you buy a can of beer, it’s always 0.5 liters, wine – 0.75 liters. Strong alcohol – 0.35 liters or 0.5 liters. No tricks or deception.

Deposit value for bottles and cans

A little about this to avoid surprises at the checkout.

Starting from November 1, 2023, a law on the deposit value of containers came into effect in Hungary:

The deposit value will be added to the price of glass bottles, beer aluminum cans, and any plastic bottles at the checkout. Sometimes it’s listed as an additional line on the price tag, sometimes it’s not. Then, you can return the bottle in the machines, which are now actively installed in all major stores, like Spar, and it will refund the deposit value in the form of a receipt for your purchase.
  • The deposit value is added to any container, even if you’re buying just a water bottle.
  • You don’t need to keep the purchase receipt; you can return it at any machine in any store, no matter where you bought it.
  • The deposit price for plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and beer bottles is 50 Hungarian forints or about 0.15 euros. For wine bottles, it’s 125 Hungarian forints, around 0.35 euros.

About Hungarian Beer

Now, let’s specifically discuss what to drink in Hungary as a tourist. Let’s start with beer.

Hungary has four major breweries and a vast number of small ones. The country offers a variety of local and imported beers. You can find beer from the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, and Slovenia in addition to Hungarian beer.

best Hungarian beer
Soproni, a standard light Euro lager, is the most popular Hungarian beer.

I like Hungarian beer; the Hungarians know how to brew it. There’s a wide selection to suit all tastes and preferences: filtered and unfiltered, wheat, IPA, APA, and more.

Prices for Hungarian beer:

On average, a 0.5-liter beer can costs 300-400 Hungarian forints, about 1 euro. However, discounts and promotions can sometimes bring it down to 240-250 Hungarian forints. There is also craft beer available, with prices ranging from 400-500 Hungarian forints and higher.

Beer lovers won’t be disappointed; there’s a wide selection. Here are the main Hungarian beer producers. Each of them has a wide range of beer varieties, from standard Euro lager to wheat or lambic.

best beer in Hungary
Personally, I really like Dreher Hungarian beer.
  • Soproni is the largest producer, and it comes from the city of Sopron, on the border with Austria.
  • Deep
  • Dreher – my favorite
  • Pécsi is considered a premium producer and is usually available in most restaurants. The brewery is located in Pécs. I highly recommend it, especially the unfiltered variety.
  • Bor50di is another well-known local producer that makes delicious beer.
beer price in hungary
Pécsi and Bor50di are considered premium brands and are more commonly found in cafes.

These five breweries are not the only ones producing Hungarian beer. They are just the most famous and largest. But the selection in stores and restaurants is extensive. Additionally, Budapest has many establishments with craft beer. I recommend not missing the Ruin Bars in Jewish Quarter in Budapest, where you can try Hungarian craft beer.

  • Budapest Attractions, there you will read a separate section about ruin bars, what they are, where they are. This is where you will definitely try Hungarian craft beer.

Strong Alcoholic Drinks in Hungary: Palinka and Unicum

While Hungarians are known for their love of drinking, they don’t particularly favor strong alcohol. It’s very expensive. Typically, they either make it themselves or focus on producing wine, which we’ll discuss later.

In Hungary, there are two strong beverages that are considered truly Hungarian and a source of national pride. I recommend trying both at least once, though you might not like them – and that’s perfectly fine!

  • Palinka: Hungarian fruit brandy, with an alcohol content ranging from 38 to 70 degrees, usually around 50. Palinka is similar to Balkan slivovitz, made through fruit and berry distillation.

Palinka is produced from various fruits like apricots, apples, pears, plums, quince, and grapes. In the Balkans, they have different names for these spirits, like “grusovaca” for pear and “rakija” for grape, but in Hungary, it’s all called Palinka. It’s available in any store, but the prices are quite high.

Alcoholic Drinks in Hungary Palinka
The primary strong alcoholic drink in Hungary is Palinka, available in various flavors like quince, apricot, and pear. The price for a 0.35-liter bottle is 7,700 Hungarian forints, which is around 20 euros. It’s quite expensive, even for Hungary.

There are many Palinka producers, and its taste can be an acquired one, like a very strong homemade spirit. Personally, I’m not fond of such drinks, but sometimes, hosts in the Hungarian countryside might offer you a 50 ml homemade Palinka :).

  • Unicum: A Hungarian herbal bitter liqueur with an alcohol content of 40 degrees. It’s quite similar to Jägermeister and is readily available in any store or on the menu of most restaurants.
Unicum Hungarian herbal bitter liqueur
On average, a 0.5-liter bottle of Unicum costs about 15-20 euros.

About Hungarian Wine

Now, let’s talk about Hungary’s pride – its wines. Hungary boasts numerous wine regions, with entire villages dedicated to grape cultivation and winemaking. Hungarian wine is affordable and accessible, found in any store.

best hungarian wine
Don’t forget to explore local markets, where you might encounter local wine producers selling unique products that you can’t find in regular stores.

Here are some key points to know about Hungarian wine:

  • The most famous Hungarian wine includes Tokaji, a sweet dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes, and Bikavér, a dry red wine. In total, Hungary has 31 or 32 wines with PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status, which is quite a lot for such a small country.

Good to know:

PDO is the highest classification for wine, indicating that it is controlled by its origin. This means that the wine can only be made in a specific region and nowhere else in the world. For example, Tokaji can only be produced in the Tokaj region.

Here are the primary grape varieties in Hungary that are used to make wine. You can find all of them listed on each wine label.

  • Furmint: This white grape variety is used to produce sweet wines. Approximately 70% of all Tokaji wines are made from Furmint grapes.
  • Hárslevelű: Another white grape variety, often utilized in the production of Tokaji and found in several other Hungarian wines.
  • Kékfrankos: This is a red grape variety used to make the very dry Bikavér wine, which also holds PDO status. Bikavér translates to “Bull’s Blood.”
best tokaji hungary
Take note of the labels specifying the grape variety used in making the wine. The second and fourth bottles are the most common Tokaji wines made from Furmint and Hárslevelű. The first bottle, labeled as Cuvee, represents a higher-end Tokaji, indicating a special aging process in barrels. Wines in Hungary’s stores start at 2 euros per bottle, with the basic Furmint priced at 2.5 euros.

Wines from regions around Lake Balaton are also very popular, where Rieslings are abundant. Riesling is another well-known grape variety used for white wine production throughout Hungary.

best wine in hungary
While many people associate Hungarian wine with Tokaji, the country boasts more than 30 PDO-protected wine varieties. For instance, the wines made from grapes grown on the shores of Lake Balaton, as shown in the photo, encompass a wide range of options. This photo was taken with an exchange rate of 380 Hungarian forints to 1 euro.

Wine Regions: Where to Find Wine Tastings and Cellars

This is the most exciting part for wine enthusiasts. I’ll tell you about not just stores but entire wine villages where you can drive, stay overnight, and, in the evening, explore private wineries for tastings. You can even buy their wines and enjoy them on the terrace of your accommodations.

The most famous wine regions in Hungary are:

  • Tokaj: Region number 22 (see the map below).
  • Eger: Region number 20.
  • All the vineyards around Lake Balaton, encompassing regions 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Any wine from these vineyards is considered 100% Balaton.
  • Villány, located in the southernmost part of the country, region number 15.
wine regions hungary
Wine regions of Hungary – map of regions with PDO status

I’ll explain what a wine village with cellars is like. Typically, it’s the outskirts of a town or a small village within a specific region with PDO status. Nearly every family here grows grapes and makes wine using traditional recipes characteristic of that particular region.

For example, in Eger, there are more than 20 producers of Bikavér wine, and they all call it “Egri Bikavér,” which translates to “Bull’s Blood of Eger.” They are differentiated mainly by their labels. As a tourist, I want to try them all, but experts know the best Bikavér producers.

dry red wine from hungary
You can find authentic Egri Bikavér from Eger in any store in Hungary. It’s a very dry red wine, and the prices start at 2-3 euros per bottle.

You simply visit these wine villages where almost every house has tables, a menu, and you can taste their local wines, and in some places, enjoy a meal. They typically open around 3 in the afternoon. If you arrive in the morning, everything will be closed. The prices are not low but average for dining in the country. 100ml of wine starts from 1 euro. Snacks or a main course meal can cost from 7 euros.

If you know how to connect with people, enjoy chatting about life, and have some wine knowledge, there’s a great chance that they will give you a tour of their winemaking facilities and show you their real wine cellars, provided there are no other visitors, and the hosts aren’t occupied.

Here’s the biggest challenge:

In almost all of these wine villages, you can’t reach them without a car, and the driver will have to abstain from drinking. Rarely do people stay overnight. However, there are entire streets of winemakers on the outskirts of tourist locations that you can reach on foot.

So, here’s a list of wine villages and streets in Hungary where you can find cellars, enjoy a meal, and taste local wine:

  • “Wine Hill” or Borhegy Weinberg – a 500-meter-long street on the outskirts of the tourist town of Hévíz. It’s 2.5 km from the center of Hévíz, and in this case, you can walk there if you’re staying in Hévíz. There are around 20 private wineries on this street, each with its own small restaurant.
    • Coordinates for the starting point of the street: 46.80304779184759, 17.189132476470615
    • Hévíz is one of Hungary’s main resorts, home to the largest thermal lake in the world, where you can swim year-round. For an overview of Hévíz and its attractions, check here.
    • Hévíz is located on the border of two wine regions, numbers 3 and 4.
where to try hungarian wine
Pay attention to the sign on the fence; it leads to the wine street on the outskirts of Hévíz.
wine streets in hungary
These are regular houses, and all along this street, they look the same. Families of winemakers who produce their wine live here. There’s a menu with prices by the entrance. If the gate is open, step inside for a tasting; they’ll be happy to welcome you.
  • Another wine village, Hegymagas, is located in the Hungarian countryside near Lake Balaton. It’s the heart of region number 4. Unlike Hévíz, you can’t walk there; there’s nothing around except private wineries, of which there are dozens. It’s convenient for those vacationing at Lake Balaton to drive here, have lunch, purchase a couple of bottles, and return.
    • Coordinates for the village center: 46.835477588233374, 17.449786673605306. If you open the link, you’ll see a plethora of wineries within a 300-meter radius marked with the corresponding icon. The photo below was taken precisely from this point.
balaton wines
Some families have created entire recreational areas for tourists who come to taste their wines.
  • Villány is a well-known wine region in Hungary, number 15. It is located in the southernmost part of the country. The advantage here is that all the wineries are right in the town. If you stay overnight in Villány, you can easily walk to visit all of them. The downside is that it’s better to prepare in advance and choose the wineries that interest you since you won’t find them just by wandering the streets.
    • Coordinates for Villány: 45.86596301796844, 18.448605098642755. These coordinates point to the Villány area, which has the largest concentration of wineries.
    • One of the most famous wineries in this region is Gunzer. Here it is: 45.867098584667424, 18.44613210185473. They have their own little restaurant where you can both have a meal and do a wine tasting. Their wine is known all over Hungary.
hungarian wine gunzer
These are not Tokaji wines; you won’t find these Hungarian wines back home.

A tip:

Often, you’ll see the word “Pince” in the name of a cafe near a winery. For example: Pincészete, Pinceborozó, or just Pince. In Hungarian, it means “cellar.” It doesn’t necessarily mean the cafe is in a cellar, but the name hints that it’s a private winery with its own wine from the cellar.

And, of course, the most accessible and tourist-friendly wine region in Hungary (number 20) is in the city of Eger. The wine region with cellars is on the outskirts of Eger, about 3 km from the city center. You can easily walk there in about 40 minutes. Eger itself is worth your attention. You can come here for 1-2-3 days; there’s a fortress, thermal baths, a beautiful medieval city center. Check out an overview of Eger and its attractions.

Now, the most interesting part:

  • Coordinates for the wine quarter: 47.890667939006846, 20.359537997329287
  • This quarter is called the “Valley of Beautiful Women.” Now, that’s what I call marketing!
  • Here, you’ll find about 30 wineries. It’s more like restaurants and taverns than traditional wineries. You’ll definitely get to taste the local wine, Bikavér, here, but finding wine cellars and a host who will give you a tour can be a bit tricky.
  • Unlike other villages, the cellars are lined up one after the other here. You can arrange an evening of wine tastings and visit all these wine establishments.
  • Some places offer food, while others only serve wine, and they operate year-round.
wine cellars in hungary
Here’s a map of the Valley of Beautiful Women. To give you an idea, I’ve marked the white gates with a yellow arrow. These symbols schematically represent the wineries. Each gate on the map is a separate winery selling Hungarian wines.
wines of hungary
This is what it looks like on-site. Every house is a little restaurant where you can enjoy wines. They’re about 15 meters apart. They aren’t big on beer here; sometimes it’s not even on the menu 🙂
hungarian wine cellar
And here we went into one of the cellars: they serve only Eger wines, offer free tastings, and you can order a glass and sit right inside in the cellar at a table. You can also buy some to take home. There’s no food at this type of establishment. Prices are average, about 1 euro for 100 ml.

For those without a car: the most accessible wine region in Hungary is Eger, known for its iconic Bikavér wine. It’s easy to reach from Budapest by public transport; it’s only 90 km away. For all other locations, it’s a bit more challenging without a car.


Look into private tours from Budapest to the wine regions of Hungary or to ruin bars. Guides know the best wineries and the tastiest craft beers.

And for those short on time and staying in Budapest, I recommend evening Danube River cruises with dinner. In this link, you’ll find the widest selection, including options with wine tastings, where you can try wines from different regions of the country.

In conclusion, I hope you’ve learned everything you wanted to know about alcohol in Hungary, including wines, Pálinka, and beer. I’ve tried to provide a detailed description of Hungary’s wine regions, where to find them, and what to expect from private wineries and their cellars.

Remember, in Hungary, you can and should enjoy a drink – it’s a bit tough for teetotalers here! And the Hungary wines will fill a long list that you should try.

IMPORTANT: Below are useful links that will help organize your trip to Hungary and Budapest:

  • Flight: Aviasales – compares prices for flights among 30+ airlines flying to Budapest.
  • Tours and excursions:
    • Viator and GetYourGuide – the best services for finding tours in Budapest and Hungary with the largest database of activities in Hungary. They offer river cruises on the Danube, tickets to baths, and 1000+ tours (available in different languages).
  • Accommodation, apartments, hotels, hostels:
    • Hotellook compares the prices among dozens of other booking services and offer the best price
    • Booking – the most popular booking platform
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Hungary
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – the leading and largest car rental service in Hungary.
  • Travel Insurance: EKTA.
  • eSIMAiralo virtual SIM card in Hungary.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel