The land of diversity and magic
Western Hungary is rich in medieval churches and monasteries, castles and fortresses, hosting historical and music festivals throughout the year. For a millennium of Hungarian religious and architectural history and a taste of Benedictine wine traditions, head to Pannonhalma Benedictine Arch Abbey. The Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral in Pécs invites you to architectural time travel, and in the museum of the Benedictine Abbey in Tihany, you'll have a peek into the lives of Hungary's last monarch. To see where our first king (and quite a few after him) was crowned, visit the ancient Crowning Basilica in Székesfehérvár. For baroque elegance, explore the Eszterházy Castle in Fertőd, the gems of western Hungary Sopron and Kőszeg, or Győr, the city in the intersection of three rivers.
Őrség, this land of magic is home to natural beauties. Time has stopped here andpeople live in the scattered villages in perfect harmony with nature. Írottkő Nature Park should be at the top of your agenda as it offers various hiking trails and cultural trips, culinary adventures and sightseeing galore. Kőszeg is the perfect spot to start your exploration in the area. Western Hungary has an abundance of arboretums and botanic gardens too. The 200-year-old Sárvár Botanical Garden is home to 300 tree and shrub species. The centuries old trees of the grove forest around the fishing pond give you a peek into what the area looked like before urbanisation. The other part of the arboretum has trees and shrubs of exotic names and vibrant colours. And if you visit the prehistoric park in Vértesszőlős, you won't only meet half-a-million-year-old Samu, one of the first men in Europe, but will see the footsteps of long extinct ancient animals too.
Going south, you'll find the vibrant city of Pécs that boasted the title European Capital of Culture in 2010. As you feast your eyes on the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, get enchanted by beautiful and exciting buildings of old and new, and get goosebumps in the Early Christian Necropolis, you'll see how Pécs served as the meeting place for many different cultures through the ages.
Further south you get to the Villány area, where the beautiful vistas will go down perfectly with the fiery red wines of local winemakers. A glass or two will surely get you in the mood for a truly unique sight (also a World Heritage Site), the Busójárás in Mohács. Both a farewell to winter and a daylong carnival, the parade of the masked and scary Busós is a must-attend folk party. For more sophisticated entertainment, Kaposvár is an ideal option. The annual Chamber Music Festival is where the crème of international classical music flocks to in August, so why would you miss it?
Spa culture is blooming in western Hungary. For proof, visit the largest medical spa resorts of the region in Bükfürdő, Sárvár, or Zalakaros, and have a first-hand experience of how the perfect combination of word-class treatments carried out by well-qualified professionals and the profusion of culture within easy reach will leave you healthier, more relaxed and refreshed.