A new month and a new route, Table 1200 in Hungary. We start in Budapest, the railway hub of the Hungarian railway network. There are three main international railway stations, Eastern (Keleti), Western (Nyugati) and Southern (Déli), with connections between Budapest and other European capital cities. Hungarian Railways (MÁV) is the national railway operator and it operates most trains in Hungary. Domestic Hungarian train tickets are easily and cheaply bought at the station, or online at www.mavcsoport.hu.
Divided by the River Danube, Budapest is connected by various beautiful bridges with the Széchenyi Chain Bridge being the most famous. It spans the Danube between Buda (West side) and Pest (East side) and was the first fixed link between the two sides.
Other attractions not to be missed include Buda Castle, home to the Hungarian National Gallery and The Budapest History Museum, with great views of Budapest. The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most iconic neo-gothic buildings in Europe and home to the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Marvel at the great dome hall, the richly decorated grand staircase and the Hungarian Holy Crown. Another visual wonder is St Stephen’s Basilica, with stunning architecture inside and out. For foodies visit The Central Market Hall, the largest indoor market in Budapest. This ornate building has three stories offering traditional Hungarian clothing, wines, spirits and local food delicacies.
As we continue our journey we reach Kelenföld railway station, Budapest’s fourth busiest railway station, situated south-west of the city centre. Next stop is Sárbogárd, an intersection where electrified routes merge with non-electrified railways.
As we reach Dombóvár, you will find museums and historic buildings along with shopping, restaurants and spas. The Dombóvár Region Historical Museum displays the history of the town and its surroundings. If you wanted to explore further check out Table 1240 taking in Kaposvár on the upper valley of the Kapos River. You will find castle ruins, a quaint main square where you can buy unique souvenirs and there is also Csiky Gergely Theatre, Hungary’s first theatre which opened in 1911, with elegant design, beautiful architecture and surrounding gardens. Or you could head east on Table 1242 taking in Baja; the Holy Trinity Square has a Mediterranean feel and is located close to the riverside. Also check out the Turr Istvan Museum and learn about the city’s natural history, as well as the people who have lived on the banks of the river in the area.
From Dombóvár we continue south along the scenic route via Godisa and Szentlörinc, to Pécs, the fifth largest city in Hungary, on the slopes of Mecsek Mountains and close to the borders with Croatia and Serbia.
At the heart of Pécs is Király Street, offering a superb atmosphere, fantastic architecture, with stylish shops and cafes and close to Pécs are many attractions including the National Theatre of Pécs. The stunning Art Nouveau Palatinus Hotel is well worth a look and the oldest café in Hungary (Caflish) for delicious cakes and coffee.
You can’t miss the majestic Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul Basilica with four spectacular towers over central Szent István Square. Beneath the towers lie the crypt and chapels along with frescoes and paintings by famous Hungarian artists.
For the best panoramic views of Pécs and the Baranyai hills to the south head to Pécs TV Tower, the tallest building in Hungary at 197 metres high. A high-speed lift transports you to a restaurant, a dinosaur exhibition and the observation deck.
Also worth a visit is the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter which offers a unique look at the heritage of the famous Zsolnay ceramics and porcelain manufacture in Pécs. You can also visit the Planetarium, the Lab–Interactive House of Playful Sciences or take a walk through the park and enjoy the beautiful architecture.
On our final leg of southern Hungary we are looking at routes around Pécs shown in Tables 1237 and 1345. We start with (Table 1237) which covers Pécs, Nagykanizsa and Zalaegerszeg. From Pécs main railway station we head south-west passing Szentlörinc and Szigetvár. We arrive at Barcs, on the Drava River and the Croatian border. The town is surrounded by the beautiful Danube-Drava National Park. Next stops are Gyékényes and Nagykanizsa, both important crossing points into Croatia and Slovenia. Our final stop, is Zalaegerszeg on the banks of the Zala River close to the Slovenian and Austrian borders. The Göcseji Open-Air Museum on the banks of the Zala River is a popular tourist attraction. It recreates home life in the region, with reconstructed timber houses, various items of furniture, stables and a water mill. Also worth a look is the Earth Tower Clock-Foldonjaro Toronyora in front of the Sándor Hevesi Theatre in the city centre.
One can head south-east (Table 1345) over the Croatia border to Osijek, the fourth largest city in Croatia. Osijek has three centres, Donji in the east, central is the old town centre, Tvrđa and west, the city centre in Gornji Grad. Osijek is known for its great cuisine taking influence from Hungary and Serbia. Osijek’s co-cathedral, The Church of St Peter and St Paul is also worth checking out. It is the tallest building in Croatia outside of Zagreg with fantastic neo-Gothic architecture. There are three bridges across the Drava River with the pedestrian bridge the most recognisable landmark in Osijek. At night this beautiful suspension bridge is lit up in an ever changing spectrum of lights. As we reach Doboj in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the banks of Bosna river, you will find Doboj fortress with great views from the hilltop. Also nearby is Mount Ozren with rich pastures, thermal water springs, clear mountain creeks and streams in pine and oak forests.