Article for real travelers who know that Hungary is more than just Budapest. For those ready to rent a car and explore amazing locations. There won’t be just one road trip in Hungary, but several options with different timings.

General information for traveling around Hungary by car

  • The country is quite small. Within 3 hours from Budapest, you can reach almost any remote corner of Hungary.
  • The roads are excellent, there’s a network of toll highways, calm drivers, lenient police towards tourists, and low crime rates, making traveling around the country by car super convenient and comfortable.
    • A comprehensive article about renting a car in Hungary: where, how, all the details, pitfalls, and personal experiences.
Road trip in Hungary
Of course, you can travel around Hungary by bus/train, but it’s three times slower, and you won’t reach many wine villages or other cool but remote locations. Plus, cost-wise, it won’t be significantly cheaper. Public transport in Hungary isn’t dirt cheap.

Interesting to know:

There are three main directions for traveling around Hungary: routes focused on the country’s baths and thermal spas, routes covering palaces, fortresses, and castles of Hungary, and alcohol-gastronomy tourism through Hungary’s wine regions, cellars, and private wineries. Hungary isn’t just Tokaji; there are 31 PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) regions for wine here.

More often than not, these three popular directions are combined. You can explore beautiful medieval architecture, relax in thermal baths, and taste local wines. Here are the main articles on this topic; there’s a lot of information, but it answers all your questions:

Road trip in Hungary

Useful to know:

All the car routes in Hungary listed below can be easily customized. It’s just the foundation from which it’ll be much easier for you to create your unique trip. All routes are my personal ones, and I’ve traveled each of them several times. So, I know the timing, roads, what’s interesting where, and what’s not 🙂

Also, for each city or thermal bath, there’s information in this guide.

1 – 2 days

Here are some excellent routes in Hungary for 1-2 days:

suggest road trip hungary
City of Esztergom. By the way, there’s an aqua park with thermal baths here.
  • Budapest – Debrecen – Hajdúszoboszló – Budapest. Distance: 400km, but on a fast road. This route is better for 2-3 days; it’ll be tough for just one day. But it’s a very cool option: the second-largest city in Hungary, plenty to see, and Europe’s largest aqua complex with thermal baths in Hajdúszoboszló.
    • Debrecen: attractions, restaurants.
    • A comprehensive review of the thermal aqua complex in Hajdúszoboszló.
    • As an option, in Debrecen itself, there are cool thermal baths; you might spend just 2 days there, and you won’t regret it.
  • Budapest – Keszthely – Hévíz – Budapest. Distance: 400km. This route is just a delight: swim in Lake Balaton, see one of Hungary’s best palaces (Versailles style) in Keszthely, spend a whole day in the world’s largest thermal lake in Hévíz. And for those well-prepared, on the way, you can visit the wine village of Hegymagas, taste local wine, and visit the town of Tapolca to paddle a boat in the cave lake underground. Here are the necessary links:
around Hungary by car
Lake Hévíz, hot all year round. The largest thermal lake in the world. This was us in early November.

3 – 5 days

Here are more interesting routes where you can really have some fun. Also, note that you can combine the routes in Hungary from this article, for instance, take the route to Hévíz and Keszthely and extend it to other cool locations. So here are cool car routes in Hungary for 3-5 days:

  • Budapest – Miskolc – Lillafüred – Eger – Hungary’s highest mountain Kékes – Budapest. An amazing route through one of the main wine regions of the country (Eger), the most beautiful mountain village in Hungary (Lillafüred), and Miskolc, a city with unique cave baths. Bonus: ride an antique train on a narrow-gauge railway and see a large medieval fortress. Articles to help:
Routes around Hungary by car
A small photo collage of personal photos from the cave baths in Miskolc. Someone recently argued that the best baths in Hungary are the Széchenyi Baths in Budapest. But they didn’t even know about the others 🙂
  • Budapest – Kecskemét – Szeged – wine village Villány – Pécs – Kaposvár – Budapest. This is a route through the south of the country, a mix for every taste. Kecskemét has an aqua park with baths, Szeged has splendid architecture and two thermal complexes, one of which, the Anna Baths, is my favorite. Wine cellars and tastings in Villány. Pécs, a city with hills and hiking routes. Lastly, Kaposvár, another town with a cool aqua park and baths. At the very least, you’ll return to Budapest washed and clean. Links to help plan the route:
independent itinerary in Hungary
Here’s me (in the center at the chess table) sitting in the Anna Baths in Szeged. One of the 10 hot pools in these baths. Water temperature: +40.

A big 2-week road trip in Hungary

Basically, all these routes can be combined into one big one, covering 1200-1300 km in two weeks (you can do it in 10 days) and adding several interesting locations that weren’t included in the above routes in Hungary.

So, the route in Hungary by car for two weeks, a big circle covering almost the entire country for the most seasoned travelers: Budapest – Szentendre – Visegrád – Esztergom – Selim Cave – Esterházy Castle – Sopron – Őrség Castle – Hévíz – Keszthely – along Lake Balaton – Kaposvár – Pécs – Szeged – Debrecen – Miskolc – Lillafüred – Eger – Budapest. A powerful and diverse route, dozens of baths, palaces, and fortresses, plenty of wine and goulash, and as a bonus, circling the largest lake in Central Europe, Lake Balaton. Additional links to help:

routes in Hungary for 3 5 7 days
The small mountain village Lillafüred, 7 km from Eger. The castle in the photo, a hotel with its own baths accessible only to guests. By the way, the room is not expensive, especially if you happen to catch a deal or visit in the off-season — around 150 euros for a couple with breakfast. Quite affordable for such a place 🙂

In conclusion: if you’re reading this article, it means you’re cooler than 90% of tourists who fly to Hungary, unaware of the beauties beyond Budapest. Rent a car, roam the country, baths, castles, wines – there will be lots of emotions.

Wishing you an awesome and unique route in Hungary!

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