I’ll tell you about the mountains in Hungary and what a hiking enthusiast can expect, where you can find beautiful locations in the Hungarian mountains, and where to go for mountain landscapes. There will also be information about Hungary’s ski resorts and where to go skiing in winter. There isn’t much information on the internet because Hungary is not typically associated with mountains and mountain vacations.

Mountains in Hungary: General Information

First, let me clarify: no matter how beautifully I describe the mountains in Hungary, there are no real mountains here. Hungary lacks the kind of breathtaking views you’ll find in neighboring Austria, and there is no mountain hiking in the summer or skiing resorts in the winter. But let’s break it down.

Here’s some general information about the mountains in Hungary:

  • The majority of the country’s territory is flat and is part of the Great Hungarian Plain. That’s about 70% of the country.
  • The “mountainous” region only begins in the northwest of the country (see the map below). However, there are no real mountains in Hungary as we commonly imagine them.
  • All the mountains in Hungary are officially called the “Alp foothills.” So, they are just hills. For flatland dwellers, these might be considered mountains, but in reality, it’s just a hilly part of Europe.
mountains in Hungary
You can see it on the map: the light green areas in the northwest of the country are the only mountains in Hungary. The rest of the green territory is just plains.

Proper mountains, namely the Alps, start just 10 km from Hungary’s border in Austria. All Hungarians looking for a mountain vacation head to neighboring Austria. You can find more useful information about Hungary on the map of Europe, its neighbors, and borders.

  • The highest peak in Hungary is Mount Kékes, with an elevation of only 1014 meters above sea level.

The Highest Point in Hungary: Mount Kékes

Let me tell you about Mount Kékes and what tourists can do here:

  • Coordinates of the summit: 47.87284985231122, 20.008154747000507
  • You can drive almost all the way to the summit by car. There’s a paid parking lot, and the cost depends on the season and day of the week. You pay the parking attendant upon entry. The average rate for a car is 2-4 euros for the whole day.
  • There is no public transport to this location. Read all about renting a car in Hungary. The road to Kékes includes beautiful winding roads with minimal traffic, making the drive a pleasurable experience. It takes a little over an hour to drive from Budapest.
Mount Kekes in Hungary
Mount Kékes is the highest peak in Hungary at 1014 meters. However, there are no panoramic views here, just a stone monument in the forest.

Important note:

There are no breathtaking panoramic views on Mount Kékes. You might be disappointed in this regard. Some beautiful landscapes can be seen in certain spots, but don’t expect any “wow” moments.
ski resorts in hungary
About 100 meters from the summit, you can catch glimpses of views like the one below through the trees. This is the most beautiful spot on Hungary’s highest peak. However, you can also visit the observation platform on the TV tower if it’s open, which is located nearby. The views are better from there.

Here’s what you’ll find on the summit of Mount Kékes and what tourists can do:

  • Hungarian restaurants, even two of them. They serve delicious Hungarian dishes. Learn more about the national cuisine and what to try in Hungary.
  • Picnic area with tables and benches. Locals come here with their families and bring their own food. There’s also a playground for kids.
  • Television tower: There’s an observation deck where you can take an elevator to enjoy even better views. The entrance fee in late 2023 is approximately 1000 forints, about 2.5 euros.
  • Numerous hiking routes. All routes are marked, with distances ranging from 2 to 15 km and elevation changes of 300-500 meters. Many locals come here on weekends to hike these routes and then relax with a picnic.
hiking in hungary
People don’t come here for the breathtaking views because they don’t exist. They come here to hike one of the trails on Mount Kékes. Download the OrganicMaps app on your phone; it has all these routes on the map.
  • There are also souvenir shops here.
  • And most importantly, this is the highest ski resort in Hungary. But we’ll get to that information later, and we’ll have a good laugh.

In summary, don’t expect anything extraordinary from Mount Kékes. You can drive to the summit by car and only need to walk 100 meters. That’s 100 meters horizontally, not vertically. You can have lunch at the tavern and visit the TV tower observation deck. For active tourists, allocate 2-3-4 hours for one of the hiking routes. Sturdy footwear is recommended because there are many rocks on the trails, but I managed with sneakers.

Interesting Mountain Locations in Hungary

I’ll mention a couple more places in the hilly region of the country that I recommend for tourists. By the way, I don’t recommend Mount Kékes, as there’s not much for the average tourist to do there. It’s better to visit the amazing thermal baths in Eger, where there are fewer tourists and the water is +40 degrees even in winter. And it’s just 20 km from Mount Kékes. Learn more about the town of Eger and its baths.

  • A beautiful hilly area in Hungary is located between the towns of Visegrád and Szentendre. It’s only about 30 km from Budapest. The road here is beautiful, offering views of the Danube, and there are many hiking trails. Approximate coordinates of this place are 47.73817437239666, 18.93160161691529.
hungarian mountains
These are the views you can find in the Hungarian hills near Visegrád. However, it’s important to understand that the elevation of these “mountains” is only about 200-300 meters.
  • Perhaps the most beautiful and well-known mountainous spot in the country is the village of Lillafüred. It’s located just 7 km from the city of Miskolc. I strongly recommend not missing this location for several reasons:
    • In Miskolc itself, there are thermal baths located underground in a real cave, which are truly amazing.
    • From Miskolc, there’s a scenic narrow-gauge railway that goes through the mountains and tunnels to Lillafüred. In Lillafüred, there is a mountain lake, boating, beautiful viewpoints, a waterfall, and a magnificent castle-hotel with thermal springs. In winter, there’s a ski resort here.
mountains in Hungary Lillafüred
This is Lillafüred, the most beautiful mountain location in the country. I recommend it to everyone.
caves in hungary
Thermal baths in real caves on the outskirts of Miskolc, just 7 km from Lillafüred. There are extensive mazes of caves, about 300-400 meters in length, with several chambers, and hot water everywhere.

Read more about Miskolc, the thermal baths in the city, and Lillafüred, what to see and where to stay in the article at the link. Just know that the most beautiful mountains in Hungary are in Lillafüred.

Skiing in Hungary: Where to Hit the Slopes

I’ll be honest and get straight to the point: the best place to go skiing in Hungary is actually in Austria. Hungary has its limitations when it comes to skiing. Here’s what you need to know about it:

In short, winters in Hungary are very mild. Typically, in January and February, the temperature hovers around 3-5 degrees Celsius (37-41 degrees Fahrenheit). Yes, there is occasional snow, and it can get below freezing, but it rarely lasts more than a couple of days.

Interesting fact:

The 2022-2023 winter season passed entirely without snow. For those looking to go skiing, there simply was no place to do it.

It’s important to understand what “Hungarian skiing” means:

  • The highest ski resort, Kékes, has only 2 slopes and one lift. The total length of the slopes is just 1500 meters.
  • You can check out the official Kékes website at https://kekesteto.hu/. They have online webcams from the summit. If you want to know about the snow conditions and are looking for snow, you can see it there. If there’s no snow there, then there’s no snow anywhere because it’s the highest peak in the country. Generally, in winter, there is a small amount of freezing weather at the top, but it’s not always enough to create a proper snow-covered slope.
Skiing in Hungary
This is Mount Kékes in the summer. You can see the TV tower, as I mentioned earlier, and the main ski slope with a lift.

The main idea:

There are some snowy seasons when the snow lasts a month, and all 2-3 ski resorts in the country are open. But this is a rarity. You should understand that the mountains in Hungary are more suitable for sledding. I don’t think anyone gets excited about slopes that are only 700 meters long with an elevation difference of 200 meters. The whole of Hungary goes to the real mountains in Austria, and the borders are open – it’s only a 2-hour drive from Budapest to the real mountains.

When neighboring Austria has all its ski resorts open and plenty of snow by late November-December, at that time, the highest peak in Hungary looks like the photo below.

highest peak in Hungary
Kékes from the side. Photo taken on November 25. Typically, it’s the same in mid-December.

But don’t throw stones at me; I’m writing about the ski resort on Mount Kékes just because it’s the highest in the country, not the largest. The largest Hungarian ski center is called Siarena:

  • It’s located between Budapest and Lake Balaton, 100 km from the capital. The region is called Eplény. Coordinates: 47.214477429010124, 17.929926851085316
  • The altitude above sea level is only 600-700 meters.
  • You can find the official website here: https://siarena.hu/. The link also provides online cameras to check the amount of snow on the slopes.
  • The total length of all 10 slopes is 7090 meters, with an elevation difference of 200 meters. I understand these numbers may sound quite funny. But this is the largest ski resort in Hungary. In short, this is all you need to know about skiing in Hungary.
  • The pros are that they have snow cannons that start running in late December. If the air temperature is around 0 degrees Celsius, they open the slopes by late December.

The ski season in Hungary is very short, about one and a half months, and that’s also something to keep in mind. So, if you plan to go skiing, check the online cameras on the slopes first.

In conclusion, the mountains in Hungary are not the main reason tourists visit. There are many other countries for that. However, I recommend everyone to visit the village of Lillafüred in the Hungarian mountains and spend the whole day there. This place can impress anyone.

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