Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Eger
A story of Baroque and Wine in Hungary
If you google the word “Hungary”, you will receive lots of results about Budapest and Danube River. But Hungary is much more than that. As a true traveler, you need to step off the beaten track and discover hidden gems wherever you go.
Though small, Eger will surprise you with its diversity of landmarks and travel experiences you can enjoy. Thus, we made a list with what we consider to be Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Eger. Feel free to comment and even tell us if there is something we missed mentioning.
Eger in Hungary
Conveniently located at around 2 hours drive from Budapest, Eger is one of the most beautiful towns of Hungary with numerous historical buildings and a long tradition in wine making.
The city lies in the Valley of Eger stream, close to the famous Tokaj wine area and Bükk Mountains.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Eger, Hungary
1. Visit Dobo Ter “the Main Square”
Any visit in Eger should start from Dobo Ter, the Main Square of the city. It is here where you will understand why Eger is also known as “The Baroque Pearl” of Europe.
Take a seat on one of the many benches from the plaza and admire in the center, the fountain and the statue of Istvan Dobo, the brave Hungarian captain who lead his troops against the Ottomans’ invasion in 1552. Read more about this episode in the “Brief History of Eger” article.
Along each side of the square, Baroque style buildings and Catholic churches are aligned.
Do not miss the chance to enter the Minorite Church, probably the most beautiful one in the city. It was inaugurated in the 18th century and erected by the Franciscan Order. The façade of the church creates a beautiful and harmonious effect that lends an air of faded grandeur to Eger`s center, Dobó Square. The interior is impressive with beautiful frescoes made by Marton Reindl, telling the life story of Saint Anthony, Patron of the church.
Opening hours and tickets for Eger’s Minorite Church:
- Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 09:30-17:00
- Tickets: Donation – 300 HUF (1€)
2. Visit Eger castle
The castle of Eger is located on a hillside, within walking distance from the Main Square, “Dobo Ter”. Cross the small Eger river and follow the winding and narrow streets all the way up the hill where you will reach the main gate for the entrance.
The castle is part of the fortification built in the 15th century and it is bound to the bravery of the Hungarian soldiers who beat back the Turkish army in 1552. This episode occupies a very special place in the Hungarian History and it was beautifully captured even in literature as an example of heroism and courage.
The construction had an inner and an outer fortress, a gate tower and 6 bastions. Luckily, the fortress had strong foundations as it was built on the ruins of an earlier stone fort. This aspect was an advantage during the battle with the Turks in the 16th century.
In 1550, The Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent started the expansion of his empire and attacked the Austrian and Hungarian territories. Even though this campaign was a successful one for the Turks, they could not manage to conquer Eger.
On one side, the Ottomans had an overwhelming army made of around 40 000 soldiers and hundreds of large and medium cannons.
On the other side, there were around 2000 Hungarians (soldiers, peasants and few dozen women), commanded by Captain Istvan Dobo. Outnumbered but having great leaders and lots of explosive resources, the small garrison resisted and after 39 days of bloody battles, the Ottomans withdrew.
Historians claim that the Hungarian victory was possible also because of the lack of enough munition of the Ottomans, the fighting between the Ottoman leaders, corruption of the Turkish officers but also the bad weather (end of autumn with low temperatures during night and lot of cold rain).
The legend of the Eger victory
“There is a local legend that explains the victory of Eger in 1552. The legend says that, in late autumn and after many days of fighting, the exhausted soldiers asked their captain to give them something to quench their thirst and fire them up.
The captain offered them the local, red dry wine straight from the cellars and as the soldiers were drinking, the wine streamed down on their beards and moustaches, all the way to their armor.
During the fight, the Ottomans saw the dark and red liquid and they got scared. They thought that the Hungarian soldiers would have drank the Bull’s blood, thus explaining their strength in battle.”
The aspect that you will like for sure, is the high technologies and apps that can be used during the visit by the tourists. These means are very important as they help the visitor to get a better understanding about how the citadel used to look like in the 15 and 16th century and how the people lived here.
Opening hours and tickets for Eger castle:
Opening days: every day from January 01 until December 31
- 1st Jan – 30th April 10:00 – 16:00
- 1st May – 30th September 10:00 – 18:00
- 1st October – 31th December 10:00 – 16:00
Tickets: Adult: 2200 HUF / Student, retired: 1500 HUF
Note that there are different types of tickets depending on the places you shall see in the citadel:
- History of Eger Castle Museum
- The Casemates (only with a guide)
- The Baptistery
- The Medieval Cathedral
- Heroes Hall (only with a guide)
- The Dungeon
There are also a number of private exhibitions within the walls, should you wish to visit these you will need to pay extra:
- The ‘Eger Stars’ Wax Museum
- The Mint
- The Ispotály Cellar (cafe and 3D cinema)
You can see all the updated info here.
3. Eger Minaret
After visiting the Eger castle, exit the complex using the back side of the citadel and walk down until you will reach the Eger Minaret. This is the Northernmost point of the former Ottoman Empire that draws anyone’s eye. It was built shortly after the Turks’ victory in 1596. It is 40 m high and it was made of red sandstone.
After the Habsburgs recaptured Eger, the locals tried to demolish the minaret using no less than 400 oxen but with no success. Today, you can climb the 97 small steps and reach the top balcony where prepare to discover a beautiful panorama of the city.
Since May 2017 until the summer of 2018, the minaret is closed for renovation.
4. Marzipan Museum
When you say Hungary, you also say marzipan. There are 3 Marzipan Museums in Hungary: in Budapest, Eger and Szentendre.
The one from Eger is located in a former bell foundry that was destroyed during WWII. It is pretty close to the Minaret and it houses hundreds of pieces of exhibition created by the world-renowned pastry chef Kopcsik Lajos using only almonds and sugar. It took him 3 years to make this “sweet” collection that comprises Christian icons, embroidered cushions, Van Gogh paintings, Russian dolls, a life-size bell, even a model of Eger’s Minaret. But the main piece is a room decorated in Baroque style that reminds the visitors that Eger is considered still the place with the finest Baroque cityscape in Europe.
Opening hours and tickets for Eger Marzipan Museum:
- Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 10.00-18.00
- Tickets: Adults: 800huf / Discounts: 400huf
5. Lyceum: the Astronomy Museum and the Camera Obscura
This eclectic and imposing construction was built in order to become a university. But unfortunately, it never became one.
In the 1750s, Eger represented an important cultural and educational center of Hungary which, those centuries, was under the Habsburgs’ rule.
Barkóczy Bishop, former patron of arts, proposed to found a university in Eger and he also started the construction. Later, he was replaced by Count Károly Eszterházy, who even expanded the initial plans. The count was very devoted to this project even though sometimes he had to pay for the works using money from his own pocket.
The building’s architecture comprises elements of Baroque, Rococco and Louis XVI styles.
Unfortunately, he was not allowed to establish here a university as the Royal Court from Vienna issued Ratio Educationis according which there would be just one university in Hungary and that it would be in Buda. The purpose was to prepare productive and loyal subjects through an educational system sponsored by the state only. As Eger University was the project of the church, outside of the sate control, the Royal court could not allow the foundation of it.
Because of this, Eszterházy founded here the first medical school and even now, visitors can admire
the chapel, the Examination Hall and the Archdiocesan Library. In the tower, one can see the original astronomical instruments that were purchased for the never-to-be-university but also one of the 3 camera obscura in the world.
Now, the building is the Eszterházy Károly University of Applied Sciences.
Opening hours for the Astronomy Museum and the Camera Obscura:
- May – August: 9.30am-5.30pm,
- Mid – March, April, September & October: 9.30am-3.30pm (Tuesday-Sunday)
- November – mid December & February – mid March: 9.30am-1pm (Friday-Sunday)
Tickets: adult/student 1300/1000Ft
6. Eger Basilica
Across the square, facing the Lyceum, Egri Basilica is by far an impressive and massive construction.
It is the third largest cathedral in Hungary and it was built in Neo-Classical style boasting also the second largest organ in Hungary, with 8000 pipes.
7. Visit the Town Under the Town
The Town under the Town is a unique attraction in Eger.
After visiting Eger Basilica, as you stroll down the stairs, turn left and you will immediately see the small entrance to the museum. The Town under the Town represents the former cellar where the Bishop used to store the tax wine coming from the vineyards belonging to the episcopate. In the good year, the Bishop could get around 12 million liters of wine.
The cellar comprises of an impressive network of tunnels dug in a volcanic rock, called tuff stone. Conveniently, the excavated stone was used to built the new dwellings of the Bishop in the 18th century. So, by the time the Bishop’s Palace was completed, it was already “equipped” with grand cellar. The total length of the tunnels reached around 4 kilometers and spread under the city’s center.
Unfortunately, during the communist regime, all the wine was taken from there and now the cellar is empty. Being neglected, the cellar soon became dangerous and despite the renovation works, it remains a fragile construction.
Nevertheless, there are some sections that keep the original walls as well as different tools and photos that are showing to visitors the way this cellar used to function.
Opening hours and tickets for Town Under the Town:
Opening days and hours:
- 1st April – 30th September: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
the last guiding starts at 6:00 pm, and it requires min. 5 adult persons to start
- 1st October – 31st March: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
the last guiding starts at 4:00 pm, and it requires min. 5 adult persons to start
- Adults: 1500,- HUF or € 4,50 /person
- Under 18, over 62: 800,- HUF or € 2,50 /person
8.Visit the Valley of Beautiful women
Eger has a divers legacy so that besides the Baroque buildings, the city is popular for its wines, as well.
Enjoying a perfect location, in a South facing hilly area and sheltered by the Bukk Mountains, the tradition of wine making in Eger is quite old.
The famous local wine is Egri Bikaver (the Bull’s Blood), which is a cuvee, a blend of three or more grapes, matured in oak barrels for at least 12 months. Also, white wines are produced here: Egri Leányka, Debrői Hárslevelű or Egerszóláti Olaszrizling.
Although the quality of the wines deteriorated in the second half of the 20th century during the communist regime, Eger is slowly recovering its reputation as a wine region.
There are various places where you can visit wine cellars and taste different types of the local wines in Eger, but the best place to do so is in the so called “Valley of the Beautiful Women”
This place is located outside the city so, you may ask yourself: How can I get there?
There are several options:
- By foot is the cheapest way and it lasts around 30 minutes walking from Dobo Ter.
- By the road train that leaves every 15 minutes from Egeségház Utca 4 and a one-way ride costs 600huf (2 Euros). The journey lasts around 20 minutes during which you will also admire some of Eger’s highlights. You will be dropped off in the center of the Valley.
- By car. You can take a taxi from the city and pay around 1500huf to 2000huf (4 Euros) to get to the Valley of Beautiful Women.
Here there are hundreds of small wine cellars where the local wine is produces, stored and tasted. Around 40 cellars are opened to the public. There are all lined up along the streets and seeing them will give you the feeling that you are on a pub crawl. But in this case, it is a cellar crawl.
Some cellars you should try could be;
- No. 2 Cellar
- Sike Tamas Winery
- No. 19
Besides tasting wine, you can also try the Hungarian food and, if it happens to be there during the harvest, prepare to feast your eyes and learn how the wine is being made, from the grape to the bottle.
10. Visit Eger’s thermal baths
Besides the Minaret, the Ottomans introduced in Eger the bathing culture by building the famous Turkish Baths. There were originally 3 Baths, but now just 1 survived despite many changes during different renovations.
Here, one can see the original Turkish style pools but also the traditional hamam that recreates the typical bathing Turkish style through massage, steam, rinsing.
There are 6 pools, as well as wellness and medical services. Being the only such surviving bath in provincial Hungary, the rare radon curative water of the Turkish Bath is present in 3 pools, springing from the springs hidden under the artificial stone flooring of the Turkish Pool laid in a discontinuous manner.
Opening hours of Wellness Turkish Spa, Eger:
- Monday – Tuesday: 04:00 am – 09:00 pm
- Wednesday – Thursday: 03:00 pm – 09:00 pm
- Friday: 01:00 pm – 09:00 pm
- Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: 09:00 am – 09:pm
Opening hours of Healthcare Turkish Spa, Eger:
- Monday – Tuesday: 07:30 am – 04:30 pm
- Wednesday – Thursday: 07:00 am – 03:00 pm
- Friday: 07:00 am – 01:00 pm
- Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: closed
While in Eger, you should not refuse yourself the pleasure of being pampered in the local spas of Eger. You can find more info on the website here.
In conclusion, Eger is really worth visiting for at least couple of days. We have made a list of only 10 popular attractions in Eger, but the city will surprise you for sure with some more.
Eger is included in the itinerary of our regular small group Treasures of Romania & Hungary Tour that anyone can join. Come with us and discover this Hungarian hidden gem.