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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Hungary (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Hungary (Plus, Itineraries)

By Betsy Burlingame

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

Summary: If you're thinking about relocating to Hungary but haven't decided on a particular city or town yet, taking a discovery trip to explore several sought-after expat locales can offer valuable perspectives. Check out these recommended destinations for your exploratory journey in Hungary.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to Hungary is an essential step for anyone considering relocation. This exploratory journey offers a firsthand experience of the country's diverse regions, cultural atmosphere, and living conditions. It allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to assess the suitability of various Hungarian cities and towns for their lifestyle and needs, ensuring a well-informed decision when choosing a new home abroad.

Recommended Itineraries

For a comprehensive Look-See trip in Hungary, consider two itineraries based on the length of your stay. A 10-day trip could focus on the central and western regions, starting in Budapest, then moving to Székesfehérvár, Gy?r, and Pécs. Extend this to a 20-day trip by including the eastern and southern parts of Hungary, adding Debrecen, Szeged, and the Lake Balaton area to your itinerary. These cities and regions offer a mix of urban and rural living, cultural diversity, and varying costs of living, catering to a wide range of preferences for potential new residents.


Budapest, the capital city, is a vibrant metropolis with a population of nearly 1.8 million. It's a hub for culture, education, and business, making it a popular choice for expats and digital nomads. The cost of living is higher than in other Hungarian cities, but it offers a rich array of amenities, international schools, and a dynamic expat community. The city is divided by the Danube River, with Buda offering a quieter residential life and Pest boasting a lively urban atmosphere.

Travel Tip: While in Budapest, visit the historic Széchenyi Thermal Bath for a relaxing experience, and enjoy a meal at the renowned Gundel Restaurant, known for its traditional Hungarian cuisine and elegant setting.


Székesfehérvár, a city with a rich history, is located in central Hungary. It has a population of around 100,000 and offers a more affordable cost of living compared to Budapest. The city is known for its historical buildings, cultural festivals, and proximity to Lake Velence, a popular recreational spot. Expats and digital nomads often appreciate the city's balance between a peaceful lifestyle and access to essential services.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the opportunity to explore the Bory Castle, an artistic and architectural marvel created by sculptor Jen? Bory, and enjoy a meal at the local favorite, Vörösmarty Café and Restaurant.


Gy?r is a dynamic city near the Austrian and Slovakian borders, with a population of around 130,000. It's known for its baroque architecture, thriving economy, and quality of life. The city's location makes it ideal for those who might need to travel frequently within Europe. Gy?r's cost of living is moderate, and it offers a range of amenities suitable for families and professionals alike.

Travel Tip: Visit the Gy?r Basilica for a touch of local history and architecture, and enjoy dining at the La Mareda Restaurant & Bistro, which offers a fusion of Hungarian and international dishes.


Pécs is a cultural gem in the southwest of Hungary, with a population of about 145,000. It's known for its Mediterranean atmosphere, historical sites, and as a university town, it has a youthful and diverse population. The cost of living in Pécs is quite reasonable, and the city offers a laid-back lifestyle with a rich cultural scene, making it attractive for expats and retirees.

Travel Tip: Explore the Early Christian Mausoleum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and savor the flavors at the Tettye Restaurant, set in a beautiful park with stunning views of the city.


Debrecen, often referred to as the "Capital of the Great Hungarian Plain," is the second-largest city in Hungary, with a population of over 200,000. It's an important cultural and educational center, home to the University of Debrecen. The cost of living is lower than in Budapest, and the city offers a mix of urban life and proximity to nature, with the nearby Hortobágy National Park.

Travel Tip: Visit the iconic Great Reformed Church, and enjoy a meal at IKON Restaurant Debrecen, which is well-known for its modern take on traditional Hungarian dishes.


Szeged, known as the "City of Sunshine," is located in the southern part of Hungary and is famous for its paprika production and vibrant cultural life. With a population of around 160,000, it offers a lower cost of living and a relaxed pace of life, ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of larger cities. Szeged is also a university town, providing a youthful and intellectual atmosphere.

Travel Tip: Explore the Votive Church and Cathedral of Our Lady of Hungary, and dine at the acclaimed John Bull Pub, which offers a cozy atmosphere and hearty meals.

Lake Balaton Area

The Lake Balaton area, often referred to as the "Hungarian Sea," is a favorite destination for both tourists and locals. Towns like Keszthely, Balatonfüred, and Tihany offer a picturesque setting with a more laid-back lifestyle, ideal for retirees and those seeking a quieter environment. The region is known for its vineyards, thermal spas, and outdoor activities, with a cost of living that varies depending on proximity to the lake.

Travel Tip: Visit the Tihany Abbey for a historical experience, and enjoy the culinary delights at the Kistücsök Restaurant in Balatonszemes, which specializes in local Balaton cuisine.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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