What to visit for lovers of ancient architectural masterpieces? Is there anything besides the Hungarian Parliament building? I will tell you about castles and palaces in Hungary. You will learn about prices, opening hours, how to get there, and you’ll also get the author’s personal evaluation to help you plan your route to the cool historical places in Hungary.

General Information:

Travelers often come to me with various questions, and here’s a pattern I’ve noticed. The vast majority of tourists know very little, if anything, about Hungary. They only know Budapest. Can anyone name at least a couple of other cities? Hungary is more than just Budapest; there’s much to do and see beyond the capital.

  • I recommend reading an article: a brief history of Hungary, what tourists should know. All the fortresses and castles of Hungary that will be listed below have played an important role in various historical periods of the country.

I’ll say right away that there are plenty of fortresses, castles, and palaces in the country. I won’t list them all. I’ll only list the most significant and beautiful ones, the places that are open for visitors and evoke excitement in travelers or at least a desire to visit them :).

Main Palace of Hungary Parliament building
The main building in the ranking of TOP castles and palaces in Hungary is, of course, the Hungarian Parliament building

Important to know:

Many worthwhile attractions are located outside of Budapest, some even beyond cities. With a strong desire, you can reach almost any place by train or bus. However, traveling by car allows you to see much more of Hungary’s sights and landmarks. Car rental in this country is an accessible and safe option. You can find our personal experience of renting a car in Hungary through the provided link.

Additional general tips include:

  • Entrance to castles, palaces, and other historical sites typically requires an admission fee. Hungary is not known for free attractions.
  • Payments are accepted by card or cash (in Forints) almost everywhere.
  • It’s advisable to plan your visits to these places on non-holidays and weekdays, as popular attractions can get quite crowded.

Best and well-known castles and palaces in Hungary

And now, let’s get straight to the point.

House of Parliament (Országház)

The Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest is undoubtedly the number one attraction in this article. The photos of the Parliament were shown earlier; both images at the beginning of the article depict this magnificent structure.

The architecture of the building is simply breathtaking. This colossal construction from the early 20th century (completed in 1904) in neo-Gothic style now serves as a government building. It was specifically built for parliamentary purposes; aristocratic and ruling families never resided here.

This is the largest building in Hungary. While it may not seem so in photos, its dimensions are truly awe-inspiring when seen in person. Interestingly, to capture the entire building in a photo, you’ll need to take it from the other side of the Danube.

  • Coordinates: 47.50729949572462, 19.04569449481685
  • The exterior can be freely admired around the clock, and the building is beautifully illuminated at night.
  • Official website: https://www.parlament.hu
  • You can access the interior as part of a guided tour. The tours are available in English and Hungarian, and audio guides in various languages are offered. Tickets can be purchased on the official website, with prices starting at 5,000 Forints (approximately 13 euros) for adults. You can also book individual tours through services like Viator or GetYourGuide.
working hours of the Hungarian parliament
Opening hours for visiting Parliament

Author’s Rating:

10 out of 10. This is a symbol of the country and one of the main attractions. I don’t know of any tourist who has been to Budapest and not seen the Parliament building. While the interior tour is optional, it’s a must for everyone to admire the exterior.

Buda Castle (Budai Vár)

Buda Castle, or the Royal Palace, is another symbol of Hungary and Budapest. Unlike the Parliament building, this is indeed a palace and the residence of Hungarian kings. Rulers have lived here since the 13th century. However, the form in which the castle exists today only emerged in the 19th century.

castles in hungary
This is the number one in the “castles and palaces in Hungary” ranking, and even though Buda Castle looks like a palace and kings resided here, it is officially documented as a fortress 🙂
  • Coordinates: 47.496222947728675, 19.039571090295667
  • The building is massive, and access to the exterior is free and available 24/7. You can also freely enter the inner courtyard, known as the “Lion Courtyard,” and see the famous fountain. The palace is situated on a hill, offering panoramic views of all of Budapest, specifically Pest, on the opposite side of the Danube, with a clear view of the Parliament building.
  • Thematic exhibitions are often held, and entrance to them is paid. Please check at official website. You can book tours through services like Viator or GetYourGuide.

Author’s Rating:

10 out of 10. Another top attraction. You should dedicate almost an entire day to this part of Budapest as there are about a dozen iconic locations on the hill. The Fisherman’s Bastion, St. Matthias Church, and Sandor Palace, where you can witness the Changing of the Guard for free, are just a few of the notable places.

What else to see in Budapest for tourists is listed in the article via the provided link.

Eszterháza palace in Fertőd

Eszterháza Palace – a lavish palace often compared to Austria’s Schonbrunn but curiously referred to as the “Versailles.” It was built in the mid-18th century by one of the wealthiest families in Austria-Hungary.

castles and palaces in hungary
Eszterháza Palace is open for all to explore its exterior, with only an entrance fee for access to the interior.
  • Coordinates: 47.62058724391452, 16.87181057528962. It is located 190 km from Budapest.
  • The nearest major city is Sopron, located 30 km away. You can learn more about Sopron and its attractions.
  • Visitors can freely explore the palace’s exterior, the inner courtyard (as shown in the photos above), and the extensive rose garden.
  • Inside, there are various exhibitions and displays, and ticket prices vary depending on the chosen package. The more exhibitions you wish to see, the higher the cost.
  • Official Palace website: http://www.eszterhaza.hu/
  • Opening hours are from 10 AM to 5 PM. Tickets can be easily purchased on-site; there’s no need to buy them in advance.
  • Prices for admission to the interior start at 3,000 Forints (approximately 9 euros). A full ticket granting access to all areas costs around 25 euros.
  • Plan to spend about 1 hour at Eszterháza Palace if you’re just strolling outside the premises and around 3 hours if you explore all the exhibitions and displays.
  • Coordinates for free parking (as almost all parking in the area is paid): 47.624923918896485, 16.873384481083228

Author’s Rating:

8 out of 10. This place is fantastic. The only downside is that it’s challenging to reach by public transport. The easiest way is from Sopron, but you’ll still need to get there. I recommend visiting it to anyone planning to travel in this part of Hungary.

Visegrád castle

Visegrád Castle – a place that had a significant impact on the creation of modern Hungary. Visegrád is a small town today, located 40 km north of Budapest, right on the banks of the Danube. In the 14th century, Visegrád served as the capital of the Hungarian principality, and the fortress that stands on the hill above the region played a strategic role for the entire area. It was here that a military and political alliance was signed between the kings of Hungary, Bohemia, and Poland.

fortresses in hungary višegrad citadel
Symbol and the main fortress of Hungary – Visegrád in the Danube Bend.
  • Coordinates for parking in front of the Citadel: 47.79342389348387, 18.98228952807257. The parking fee is 1,200 Forints or 3.4 euros for two hours, which is sufficient.
  • Entrance to the fortress costs 2,000 Forints or 5.5 euros.
  • You can book tours through services like Viator or GetYourGuide.
  • Opening hours: 9 AM to 5 PM.
  • Within the Citadel, there are observation platforms, indoor exhibitions, a mini-museum, a reconstruction of the 14th-century hall decor, and a stage where the meeting of the three kings is reenacted.
Visegrád Castle
This famous meeting of three kings at Visegrad Citadel.

Author’s Rating:

9 out of 10. The only drawback is the paid parking at the Citadel, as there are no alternative parking options in the area. Visegrad Castle is well-preserved, and I enjoyed the views of the Danube and the exhibitions inside the fortress. I recommend it to everyone. This is an important part of Hungary’s history.

For an overview of Visegrad and more photos of the Citadel, follow the link provided.

Sumeg Castle

Sumeg Castle, located in the town of Sumeg, was founded in the 11th century. It is situated on the only hill in the region, 25 km away from Lake Balaton. Sumeg Castle is the only fortress in Hungary that has never been captured throughout its history.

Sumeg Castle ticket price
Sumeg Castle is the only fortress in Hungary that has never been captured throughout its history.

The fortress held a strategically important position in the region and was besieged hundreds of times. The Turks attempted to capture it for 400 years. Sumeg Castle is known for the fact that it has never been taken by anyone in its entire history, dating back to the 11th century. The Hungarians even had a saying: “As long as Sumeg stands, there’s no need to pray to Mecca.”

Author’s Rating:

7 out of 10. The castle is impressive and well-preserved. However, it is located far from most tourist routes, and it’s a long journey from Budapest. It doesn’t offer the stunning views from the top like Visegrad Castle. I recommend visiting it to those who are passing by, for example, those traveling from Sopron to Lake Balaton or Heviz.

At the foot of the fortress, where the parking area is, you can find a great Hungarian restaurant called Várcsárda. The prices are not low, but not too high either, which is typical for dining in Hungary these days. You can visit the restaurant’s website for their menu and map.

Feštetić Palace in Keszthely (Helikon Castle)

Feštetić Palace in Keszthely, located on the shores of Lake Balaton. Another baroque-style palace, but unlike Eszterháza Palace, it was built by the respected noble Feštetić family. The construction of the palace spanned over a century.

beautiful palaces in hungary
Personally, I like Feštetić Palace more than Eszterháza, but they are quite similar. I know that some people prefer to visit Eszterháza palace.

Since 1974, the palace has housed the Helikon Museum, which is visited by 200,000 people annually. The palace has been perfectly preserved and is open to visitors in the same condition as it was known in the 19th century.

  • Coordinates: 46.771025318237854, 17.241837134186557
  • Official website: https://helikonkastely.hu/
  • Opening hours are from 10 AM to 5 PM.
  • The ticket price is 8 euros (3,200 Forints). You can buy a full ticket with access to all five exhibitions for 5,000 Forints (15 euros).
  • The garden and the palace exterior are free to visit. Tickets are only required to enter the palace.
helikon museum hungary
In the ranking of palaces and castles in Hungary, Feštetić Palace definitely ranks in the top 5.

Author’s Rating:

9 out of 10. Feštetić Palace is often compared to Eszterháza, and they do look quite similar. Both are beautiful inside and out, but Feštetić seems a bit more opulent in its interior, making it look slightly richer. Additionally, the location of the palace by Lake Balaton makes it more popular. After all, Lake Balaton is a national resort, and it attracts a lot of tourists in the summer.

For an overview of Keszthely and what to do and see besides the palace, as well as where to eat, follow the link.

Other popular castles and palaces in Hungary

Above were the most significant and visited palaces and castles in Hungary, but there are many more. Here’s a brief overview of other impressive Hungarian castles you can visit if you’re in the vicinity. Most of them may not have that “wow” factor or are located far away, and it might not be worth traveling across the entire country just to see one castle:

  • Eger Castle in Eger. It’s a large fortress without the “wow” effect. You can read more about it in the article: a guide to Eger: the castle, the cool minaret, the basilica, and the hot baths.
eger castle hungary
Eger Castle is one of the largest fortresses by area among all the castles in Hungary. It is frequently visited by tourists, as Eger is a popular tourist destination and a wine region.
  • Füzér Castle. It is indeed a castle and not a fortress, built on top of a remote hill in a very distant part of the country. Coordinates on the map: 48.542194140637186, 21.45935195755793. The castle is impressive, but it’s not very popular because it’s difficult to reach without a car, and there aren’t many other significant attractions in the area.
top castles hungary
Füzér Castle – its only downside is its remote location, out in the boonies.
  • Medieval Csesznek Castle in western Hungary. It was built in the mid-13th century, financed by the personal armor-bearer of the King of Hungary.
    • On the plus side, it’s not far from Budapest. On the downside, it wasn’t built for a king, it’s a small castle, the exhibits are less impressive than those in the castles in this article, and there isn’t much to see inside. But if you’re passing by, you can drop in. It’s 35 km from Budapest.
    • Coordinates: 47.35129256430482, 17.881204869822394
best hungarian castles
Chesnek Castle – not in the best condition and quite small. But what do you expect from the armor-bearer!
  • Now, for the cherry on top, which I didn’t want to include in this ranking, as it’s a castle in Budapest, and you can read about it in the article on Budapest’s attractions – the link was provided at the beginning. It’s Vajdahunyad Castle. Many festivals and entertainment events take place in the park near the castle, and the area is open to visitors year-round for free.
    • I didn’t want to include it because it’s not a real castle :). It was built in 1904 from plywood and papier-mâché as a pavilion for the celebration of Hungary’s 1000th independence anniversary. After the festivities, the castle was dismantled, but people liked it so much that it was rebuilt from stone in 1908. And there it stands to this day.
    • Coordinates: 47.51490694524648, 19.082964687735746. Just 300 meters from the castle are the famous Hungarian baths, Széchenyi Thermal Bath. Inside the castle, there’s an agricultural museum.
Vajdahunyad budapest
At first glance, you wouldn’t think it’s all a facade. Vajdahunyad Castle, to be precise, was never really a castle – just a pavilion for a celebration. It reminds me of the Eiffel Tower, which was also built in Paris as one of the exhibits for a major exhibition.

By the way, other such “faux” castles include the castle-hotel in Lillafüred, which was initially built as a hotel and is still open as one today. But that’s a different story you can read about in the article on the city of Miskolc and the mountain village of Lillafüred.

castle hotel lillafured
Castle-hotel in Lillafüred, where people actually can stay.

Travel Tips

The castles and fortresses of Hungary can make up a long list spanning several pages. All the places that are definitely worth your attention are in this article. Look at the photos, open the map, and study the locations. If any castle is on your route, make sure to visit it.

Here are a few tips:

  • It will be very difficult to visit all these fortresses and castles in Hungary without a car.
  • If the duration of your trip doesn’t allow you to travel across the whole country, you can choose one between Eszterhaza and Festetics, and one between Visegrad Castle and Sumeg Castle, as they are very similar attractions.
  • And, of course, all the castles and fortresses in Budapest are a must-visit.

In conclusion, Hungary is not just about Budapest; there are cool places beyond the capital. For those who are ready to explore the country, Hungary offers not only its castles and fortresses but also a vast number of thermal baths, beautiful cities, wine cellars, and delicious Hungarian cuisine.

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