Eger

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Castle as seen from minaret

Eger is a historic town in Northern Hungary, capital of Heves County, situated between the Mátra and Bükk mountains.

Understand[edit]

Eger is mainly known for its castle, thermal baths, historic buildings (including the northernmost Turkish minaret) and, above all else, the best Hungarian red wines. When you plan your trip, it looks like a small town for which half a day is more than enough, but 3 days may not even be enough to enjoy it fully, even in the winter.

Tourist mix[edit]

The majority of travelers come for a single day (mostly Slovakians), not staying overnight. Ukrainians and Russians frequent the Castle, along with many Italians. Around the town you may run into many German-speaking travelers as well.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Trains leave the Budapest Keleti station each hour. The ones leaving at odd hours are direct, the ones leaving at even hours require you to change trains in Füzesabony. Most of these trains are gyors (fast) trains and will take about two hours and 20 minutes to arrive. Hourly IC trains will take you directly to Füzesabony, cutting the total travel time to just under two hours, but a reservation is required.

If you come from Miskolc your options are similar, except there is no direct service and you will have to change trains in Füzesabony. IC trains take just under an hour to arrive.

By bus[edit]

Buses leave Budapest's Stadionok station for Eger twice an hour and the trip takes a little over two hours . Less if you travel with the express service. Most major cities in Hungary also have direct bus connections to Eger.

By car[edit]

The easiest way to arrive is to take the M3 as far as Füzesabony, then continue north on route 25. For a more scenic route from Miskolc you can drive through the windy roads of the Bükk mountains.

Get around[edit]

The train station is located about a ten minute walk from the downtown area and most attractions. Walk over to Deák Ferenc út and walk north until you reach the Basilica. You can also take buses #10, 11, or 12. If you arrived by bus, the town bus station is located downtown directly behind the basilica.

Once downtown, the city is small and best walked on foot. You won't need alpine boots, but high-heeled shoes are still not good as there is much cobblestone pavement downtown.

However, the town has a taxi service which is especially useful if you arrive by train or if your hotel is outside of the town center. (phones: 555-555; 333-333).

Also, if you go for some outdoor activities near the town there are some buses connecting the town with the suburbs. Check at the main bus station for schedules.

See[edit]

Minaret of Eger

Egri Vár (Castle)[edit]

There's a map of sights inside the castle [1]: in Hungarian and German right near the entrance; the map in English is available inside, near the Minting Museum.

The entry ticket (HUF 1800, half price for student) will grant you entrance to the main exhibits.

  • The Gothic Palace houses an excellent exhibit on the history of the castle, the Turkish siege, and aftermath.
  • The Art Gallery contains artwork from different Hungarian artists, most notably Munkacsy.
  • Finally there is a tour of the Underground Passageways. The tour will take you first to the Heroes' Hall, with a replica of the tomb of István Dobó. The passages themselves contain several different examples of archaeological finds, as well as reenactments of events from the Turkish siege (a cannon being fired, an underground explosion, and a makeshift motion detector that uses peas). The passages can only be visited by tour, which are available in English at an extra cost. The tours close early, so be sure to call in advance to ensure you will get a tour when you arrive.

The castle has several other attractions which are not included on the main ticket. Specifically, you will have to pay extra for:

  • Panopticum exhibits of a dozen wax figures based on characters from the book "Eclipse of the Crescent Moon" by Géza Gardonyi. Winter time: open 9am-3pm. Entrance 350ft adult; 250ft children/students/retired.
  • Weapon exhibition on Dobó bastion contains weapons from all around the world.
  • Minting museum displays coins of ancient origin.

Beyond historic sights there are excellent views of the entire city as well as several hobbyhorses inside the yard that even adult tourists enjoy playing with/on.

Other Attractions[edit]

  • Minaret. The northernmost medieval minaret in Europe (i.e., the northernmost one except those built by immigrant communities in the last decades) and the tallest in Hungary (the other two are in Pécs and Érd) the minaret is a 42 meter high symbol of the Turkish occupation. It is 97 steps to the top, but be warned, the climb up is in an incredibly enclosed space on uneven and slippery steps and there is little room to move around up top so those who are afraid of heights or tight places should just enjoy it from the outside. Open for visitors from April to November.
  • Ráctemplom (Serbian church) on Vitkovics Mihály u. 30. features baroque and rococo architecture and the iconostasis painted by Miklós Jankovich.
  • The wine museum, not very big but pleasant
  • Basilica on Pyrker tér 1. is the third largest in Hungary (the other two are in Esztergom and Budapest).
  • Lyceum is the baroque building opposite the Basilica and currently functions as a college. The Archbishop's Library inside is home to various frescoes, including one of the Council of Trent, as well as the only handwritten letter by Mozart in Hungary. The Observatory in the tower features a mirror telescope, a cannon sun dial which announces midday with a small explosion, and a camera obscura which projects an image of the city skyline on the wall. Very few of it is free, but you can buy a ticket for all the exhibitions for HUF 800. You can also find free Internet on some computers within the building.
  • Széchenyi Street is the main pedestrian shopping street which features a variety of shops and restaurants.
  • Town under the town is the former archiepiscopal wine cellar. Under the Basilica, you can visit the cellar and taste some fine wine. HUF 950 or 3euros, HUF 500 or 1.5euros for students

Do[edit]

  • Relax in thermal baths.
  • Enjoy a glass of wine in a wine cellar.
  • "Valley of the Beautiful Women" - see #Drink section.

In the suburbs:

  • Motor (and non-motor?) paragliding (Eger Aero Club and others)
  • Paintball [2]

Others:

  • Gárdonyi Géza TheaterHatvani kapu tér, 4 310-026. Probably the only theater in town, quite modern and comfortable; attracts cream of the city, especially on holiday concerts.
There's a non-crowded cloakroom on the 2nd floor.
  • Every summer there is a small acrobatics workshop-week in Mikófalva, a village not far north from Eger [3] (click on Mikófalva) or [4].

See also: New Year holidays in Hungary.

Horseback riding[edit]

  • Mátyus Udvarház (Petró Tanya) (5 minutes by taxi from center of Eger),  +36(36)517-937, e-mail: . Guided route: 4.000ft per hour per person. In winter rides start at 10am (till up to 12pm) and 1pm (till up to 5pm). Can offer good gallops and intense rides if guide can tell that you have enough experience. There is breathtaking scenery even in winter time: along and across vineyards; up the hills; through the forest; in beautiful fields. Seems to have no no-ride weather, even in winter. Recommended by Senator Ház. Among personnel, only 1 or 2 speaks basic English (neither can be a guide); in off-season English emails are not responded to--call instead. The only shortcoming: guiding rider smokes on the route. Have some Panzio of the same owner next to the stalls (closed in winter).Horses: Fantom (1994): too slow as a leader on a gallop. Sigi (1996): trials rider in the first minutes, restless and fast through the route, but rarely keeps the distance. Hadfi (1996): need constant attention of rider on a route.

Buy[edit]

Definitely a good place for wine shopping. You can buy directly from the makers.

Other places for shopping:

  • Agria Park. Is a modern shopping mall which opened in March 2008.

Eat[edit]

Plenty of restaurants all over the town.

Visit some csárdas in Valley of Beautiful Women (Szépasszony-völgy). Some of them are constantly overcrowded as tourists are brought there by buses of partner agencies.

One of the specialties are pancake balls.

Cafes and Confectioneries[edit]

  • Dobos CukraszdaSzechenyi utca 6 +36(36)413-335fax: +36(36)420-310. 9:30am-8pm. Very good choice of artistic (and custom-made?) cakes and marcipans of every size. In non-summer time, don't take seriously plastic seats you see right after entrance--there is a large hall with old-school furniture behind the counter (as shown on panorama on the web site). Serves only Lipton tea, but Segafredo coffee. For the New Year season, a Christmas tree is decorated with real sweets and marshmallows. It has been in operation since 1966 and the interior seems to have remained the same since then.
  • Marján CukraszdaKossuth u. 28 (on your way down from the Castle; just next door with Dorner restaurant),  +36(36)312-784. May-Sep: 9am-10pm; Oct-Apr: 9am-7pm. Much more modern compared to Dobos, still quite luxurious interior with striped chairs and marble tables. Be careful with the cacao--really large cups.

Restaurants[edit]

  • PalacsintavarDobó u. 9 +36(36)413-980. 12-23. All main dishes are served in pancakes, are mostly around 2000 Ft, and are very large. Good selection of wines. Regulars seem to come here for desserts--and look really enthusiastic about them. Artistic interior feels like inspired by Andy Warhol. Located a bit off the beaten path.
Onion soup is disappointedly non-traditional, but still good. Conqueror's soup is served in bread, and definitely worth tasting. Be careful with Sombrero--extremely hot, which is not indicated in menu.
  • Senator HázDobó tér 11. winter: till 10pm. Decent place to eat if you stay near Dobó tér. Owned and managed by the same people as Senator Ház hotel. Before 11am, part of the restaurant is used for breakfast for guests staying at Senator Ház hotel. During the daytime, it attracts many non-residents even in winter time.
  • White Deer Hunters Inn (Fehér Szarvas Vadásztanya), Klapka út 8. (downstairs next to Hotel Park),  +36(36)411-129fax: +36(36)516-129, e-mail: . 12pm-12am. Offers excellent game dishes. Not the cheapest in town, but the meals are excellent and the atmosphere is unique--although locals are rare here, compared to tourists. Interior is full of mounted animals--which not everyone may like. Menu in English, Finnish, French, Italian, Polish, Russian (translations may vary in minor aspects). Saddle of venison (3.150ft, cooked with truffles) is very tender, absolutely recommended. The hunter's favourite (2.680ft) is amazing in matching four sauces to four kinds of meat. Goose Ragout Soup (680ft) is quite interesting, and served in a bread. Mains 1500-3500ft.
  • Imola Udvarház. Dózsa György tér 4. Near the castle gate. In 2009 it was selected as one of the top 12 restaurants in Hungary. A good selection of wines from Eger and Tokaj wine regions. Mains 1600-3000 HUF
  • Gyrosszecheny út 12. (100m after the Mac Donalds). They serve a mix of Hungarian and Greek cuisine. Although its not very expensive, the food is not great but not too bad, rather oily, but portions are quite big. Mains 800-1800ft.

Drink[edit]

Wine[edit]

Eger is the centre of one of the top wine regions in Europe.Egri Bikavér is most famous cuvee here, but there are several others definitely worth a sip.

Egri Bikavér (Bull's Blood) is a strong red Hungarian wine which supposedly saved a clever Hungarian girl from her fate with a Turkish sultan. During the time of the Turkish occupation, it is said a young girl was summoned to become a member of the local sultan's harem. Not wanting this fate for his daughter, her father gave her a bottle of Egri Bikavér to take to the sultan. He told her to tell the ruler it was bull's blood, and would make him invincible. The sultan, being Muslim, was unaccustomed to alcohol, and proceeded to pass out, leaving the daughter unharmed. That's a legend -- but in real life, also be careful with Egri Bikavér. It's excellent, but strong stuff!

The real story is an important piece of Hungarian history: the "bull's blood" made there - is a cuvee (two type red wine mixed) - this name was given by the Turkish horde trying to conquer Eger - and than proceed towards Austria...etc But failed!...there were approx. 2000 Hungarians inside Eger, and 200,000 Turks outside. They had always seen the Hungarians drinking red wine, but they did not know what it was, and they assumed this must be bull's blood which makes these warriors so strong and fearless.

Wine shops[edit]

  • Wine shop (at Dr. Hibay Károly u., just across Senator Ház). Nice place to taste and try wines. Walls and windows are all packed with wine bottles, there are even some mounted in the floor. Offers selection of wine-tasting menu, with full range of cheese and snacks.

Valley of Beautiful Women (Szépasszony-völgy)[edit]

Valley of Beautiful Women (Szépasszony-völgy) is the main place to go for winetasting in the town. Many small wine cellars that sell local wines with very good prices. Within about 15-20 minutes walk from centre of town, and easy to get to (but much harder to walk home from!). Just follow the street signs with the English text "Nice Woman Valley". Vendors will fill whatever container you have with you, so bring along some extra pop bottles. Most vendors also sell plastic jugs that you may take with you. A liter of wine runs between 400 and 700 forints, sometimes you pay for the glasses you drink there, though occasionally you will only be charged for the wine you take with you. Some wines are only available in bottles, and may be a little more expensive. A few of the places have hosts with very good English, though many do not.

  • Bíró Borozó. Elderly women are great hosts, outgoing but not annoying, with good English and a sense of humor. Some wine is poured from a barrel through a decanter--it's a nice show, ask for a demonstration. Some is provided from bottles.
  • Helyben Fogyasztas. Some hosts speak English well, others not so well. Most wines are poured from barrels, not from bottles.
  • Farsang Tibor 06 30/263-4478, e-mail: . Some hosts speak English very well, wine comes from the barrel, and they have a restroom, which is not true of every cellar.

Sleep[edit]

Several camp sites are available along with plenty of small and larger hotels and private rooms all over the town. You will not have a problem finding accommodation there.

  • Arany Trófea. Hotel, at the feet of the Bükk National Park. All the rooms are equipped with a private bathroom, a color TV, telephone and minibar.
  • Hunguest Hotel Flóra, at the centre of thermal springs, among hundred-year-old trees.
  • Korona. Hotel, is situated in the most quiet green area of the centre, near the pedestrian street.
  • Romantik. Hotel, Family-oriented cozy 11-roomed hotel in the centre, only 100 meters from main pedestrian street.
  • Hotel Senator HázDobó tér 11 +36(36)320-466 (tel/fax), e-mail: . Has a restaurant in the same building; breakfasts are served there. Breakfast include a hot meal which changes every day; home-made jams; fruit salad; variety of Pickwick teas. Owner: András Cseh--very helpful in person, which is not obvious from emails until you arrive. Website says horseriding at Mátyus Udvar Ház can be arranged, but don't expect much help from Senator - you'll need to contact them directly. The hotel itself is an old building right at Dobó tér so prepare to enjoy sounds of the town's main clock tower every quarter. Reception area is full of small antiques..
  • Pátria PanzióSzúnyog köz 3. Is a new building (as of Jan 2007) of Senator Ház, just 30 meters away. Overall, it is very good for its 3-star rating. A small patio with a shared table and several two-room apartments with balconies facing the hotel's private patio all make it perfect place for a company of 3-6 people spending much time together (judging by how it looks in winter--ask if table & patio are used in some way in summer). Apartments are one double-bed room plus a salon room with a balcony and a couch that can accommodate 1 or 2 people, all sharing same bathroom. Apartments are visited by maid every day; they have a good internet cable connection (ask if it applies to your apartment; LAN cable is not provided; bedroom maybe not connected while living room is), modern windows and balcony doors; bathrooms are fully equipped with Grohe and brand-name basin and bathtub, have heated floor, a bidet built into a toilet--even automatic light switches in the corridors of the panzio. In winter time, Pátria Panzió shares Senator Ház reception and place for breakfast--and every room is given a key to lock the common gate for a night time. €80/room(cca. 125$/20,000HUF).
  • Villa Völgy. Hotel, is a 3-star and located in the Valley of Beautiful Women. The hotel is next to a hundred-year old chapel and a delightful park.
  • Garten VendégházLegányi u. 6. +36 (36) 420-371. Check-in: 2pm., check-out: 10am.. The "Garten" Guesthouse is placed in the green area nearby the historical downtown and the thermal bath and beach. €30-40.
  • Agyagos VendégházAgyagos u. 11/A +36 (30) 532-0264. The "Agyagos" Guesthouse is in green area only for 5 minutes from the thermal bath and from the castle. Surrounded by Mediterranean made environment for guest to have rest.

Go next[edit]

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