During our Central Europe Trip we had spent 2 days in Budapest exploring the best of what the city has to offer. We had one more day in the city and were now looking for options on best day trips from Budapest. We stumbled upon the charming historical town of Eger. Eger is a small town with pastel-colored houses, squares, monuments and loads of history.
The buses from Budapest to Eger leave from Puskas Ferenc Stadion station which falls on the M2 (Red) metro line. The frequency of the bus is good with two buses running every hour. The bus winding through the lush countryside and small vineyards take you around 2 hours.
It’s good to know that Euro does not work in most of the places in Budapest. Few cafes do accept Euros but would tend change in Forint depending on rough conversion rates. It’s better to exchange some money and keep the local currency available at all times.
The ticket for the bus to Eger can be bought in the bus station or directly from the driver. And both of them accept only Forints. If you are in short of the local currency the only possible option is to withdraw some from the ATM in the bus station. Make note that Eger is a small town and it is very much possible that the cafes and shops there do not accept Euro as well.
There is an information office at the bus station where you can get a walking tour map with a brief on each attraction which we found really very helpful as we hadn’t found much info on the internet on things to do and see in Eger other than some prominent landmarks.
When you exit the bus station and look around the first thing you will see is the dome and the two bell towers of the magnificent cathedral.
The Eger’s Basilica or the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Apostle located in the Eszterházy Square is one of the largest churches in Hungary. The colossal church built in neo-classical style dates back to 19th century. The main entrance of the basilica can be reached through a set of steps flanked by statues of saints.
The entrance of the church is very impressive featuring Corinthian columns similar to the Greek temples. More Corinthian columns can be seen adorning the basilica interior, rich frescoes can be found under the domes and in the altars, and chapels.
Opposite the Basicila is the Eger University on the Eszterhazy Square built in the late Baroque style and dates back to late 18th century. You can visit the observatory in the tower that holds original astronomical instruments and also find the camera obscura which is continents oldest working panorama projector.
Library and the Chapel
The first floor of the university building houses a chapel and an Archdiocese library which is considered as one of the most beautiful baroque libraries in Hungary. The ceilings of both have beautifully painted frescoes and the interior is embellished with lavish furnishings and sculptures. Only the library is open to the public.
The fence opposite the university was bedecked with several lovelocks. We had seen them before many times in Paris, Cologne and surprisingly in the small city of Ljubljana too but they were all locked to the bridge railings so that the keys could be thrown into the river, here we wondered what would they do with the keys perhaps take them back to keep them safe for eternity.
The town has several baroque buildings which are great to explore. The Provost’s Palace is an imposing pink building located across the street from the basilica. The rococo style building is bedecked with gorgeous wrought iron balconies and window grills with sculptures in niches of exterior walls.
Further along, the same street is the imposing Franciscan Church which stands out with a striking bright yellow facade. The interior is decorated with rich paintings, Corinthian columns, gilded wooden statues, and reliefs.
Across the street of the Franciscan church is the County Hall which housed the Hungarian Holy crown in the early 1800s. The building stands opposite another Baroque masterpiece the Grand Provost’s Palace.
Walk inside the entrance and just before the arched entry to a large courtyard on either side are remarkable wrought iron gates called the Fazola Gate named after its architect Henrik Fazola.
You can also visit the Sports museum housed in the courtyard which exhibits memorabilia of Olympics and World Championships in swimming, fencing and water polo.
Garden and Baths
Archbishop’s Park is Eger’s largest park. The French-style garden was designed in the 18th century. The abundance of chestnut trees around the park makes it a great location for a picnic or just to relax. The artificial lake bedecked with waterlilies and fountains are great for a leisurely evening stroll. The garden features cycling path, tennis court, and a large playground. Do not miss the sculpture park called ‘Grove of the Muses’ where you can find sculptures of city’s famous writers and poets.
Eger Thermal Baths
If you are missing the baths of Budapest you can relish the pampering here in Eger too. Right next to the garden are the Eger Thermal Baths featuring medicinal pools including entertainment pools for adults as well as kids. Eger is also popular for the 16th century Turkish Baths known for its mineral-rich waters with healing property. The Turkish bath has facilities for different kinds of Sauna and activity pools and offers various healthcare services.
Old Town (Dobo Square, Eger Castle, and More)
The Dobo Square is located in the heart of the city surrounded by important historical buildings and numerous cafes and overlooked by the Eger Castle in the backdrop.
The Dobo Square is dominated by a statue of Istvan Dobo the defending commander of the castle. The monument commemorates the win of the Eger soldiers during the siege of 1552 over Ottoman troops. In 1552 when Ottoman armies invaded Eger, Istvan Dobo along with his 2000 men fought against much bigger and stronger Ottoman army. The Ottoman armies had to withdraw after a 40-day long battle.
Another important attraction located in the Dobo Square is the imposing Minorite Church which stands next to the Town Hall.
The church dating back to 18th century is well known for its baroque architecture and beautiful interior with rich frescoes and Each of the pews beautifully carved depicting different stories. The frescoes decorating the ceiling depict scenes from the life of St. Anthony to whom the church is dedicated.
The Eger Castle perched atop the hill overlooking the city is of great historical importance for 1552 siege. It is from here that commander Istvan Dobo along and his men fought against the huge Ottoman army and forced them to withdraw.
There are two different tickets to castle one the combined which includes the castle grounds and the permanent exhibitions and the other only for the castle grounds. You can explore the ruins 12th-century Cathedral, fountains, and monuments and walk the ramparts which offer wonderful views of the city rooftops with the castle ground ticket. The combined tickets offer access to several museums and exhibitions on the history of the Eger castle, prison exhibition, and armory collection.
When we visited the access with a ticket to castle grounds opened only after 6 pm which was pretty weird as it would start getting dark by 6 pm and then it would not be possible see much. Left with no choice we bought the combined ticket. There are a couple of private exhibitions where you will have to pay extra entry fees. More details here. And everywhere it says that the exhibitions are closed on Monday but it was very much open when we visited.
The minaret dates back to early 16th century and was built during the reign of the Ottoman Turks who ruled the city for 91 years. The base of the minaret is a 14 sided polygon. You can climb to the top of the 40 m high minaret reached by a spiral staircase with 97 steps and enjoy the wonderful views of the city through its circular balcony.
Kopscik Marzipanerie is a museum displaying 150 remarkable sugar and confectionary creations of city’s popular artist Lajos Kopscik. Lajos Kopscik has received several awards and accolades for his work including Oscar Prize and Guinness World record. The museum displays a wonderful collection of artwork including 2m high wine bottle, a miniature of Eger minaret, paintings, sculptures and an entire Baroque room where every item from floor, wall, curtains, furniture, and chandelier is a sugar creation.
The 18th-century Gothic Archbishop Palace houses the cultural and tourism center for the visitors. The Palace holds an exhibition of religious art displays from Archbishopric Collection also worth checking are the lavishly furnished rooms, chapel, and portraits of Bishops and the Baroque garden.
A visit to the Beatles Museum is a must for every Beatles fan. The museum is housed in Hotel Korona located in the historic center of Eger. The visitors can take guided tours of the museum which offer insight into life and career of the Beatles band and its members. The museum provides a remarkable Beatles band experience through its collections of media publications, photos, and covers. You can also watch a short movie on the life of the Beatles band members and listen to their popular song collection through headphones.
Eger is one of the biggest draws for the tourists looking for a relaxed weekend getaway. Apart from the history and Baths, the other major attraction is the Wine Valley. The Wine Valley also is known as the Szepasszonyvolgy or the ‘Valley of the Beautiful Women’ is home to an astounding 200 wine cellars. When in Eger one cannot miss tasting the famous red wine of Eger, called Bull’s Blood or the Egri Bikaver.
The walk to valley takes around 20 minutes you can also hire an Eger taxi from the main bus station which is a better option as it saves time. If you are visiting during the summer months you can hop onto the tram shuttle runs from Dobo Square to the Wine Valley.
After dusk, the historical buildings and the cobbled streets of the city are beautifully lit with golden lights. The last bus back to Budapest was at 8.30 pm. If you are visiting for a day it is better to check the timings of the last bus and plan your city tour accordingly.
Have you visited this charming city of Eger? What was your favorite part of the city sightseeing? Do share with us in comments.
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