Eger is a pretty, historic town an hour and half drive north east from Budapest, a perfect place for a country break. Eger is well known in Hungary for it’s greatest hero István Dobó who successfully defended the town from the invading Ottoman army. Quite a thrilling victory because the Ottomans had already defeated the Hungarian army and there were only about 2,000 soldiers and citizens defending Eger! The tourists who go to Eger know it for its wine caves in the Valley of the Beautiful Women (Szépasszonyvölgy) and the famous local wine called Bikavér “Bulls Blood”, a delicious smooth, spicy red.
- Baradla Cave in the Aggtelek National Park
- Valley of the Beautiful Women (Szépasszonyvölgy)
Patria Pension Apartment #2 (Hotel Senator Ház), 3 nights in an apartment (no kitchen) with a balcony, breakfast included.
Our first stop in Eger was to the Tourist Information office to pick up a map of the sites. The only thing open that we made it to was the Basilica. The Lyceum across the street would have been interesting for its library and the Camera Obscura but it was too late in the day and closed.
You can’t go to Eger and not visit the Fortress that looms over the town! Get the combination pass for the fortress PLUS museums, it’s cheap and the museums are interesting with lots of info and exhibits about the history of Eger.
A cheesy but fun wax museum is extra and tiny but only 500 Forints (about $1.50) so heck yes we dropped in and had a look.
Valley of Beautiful Women
An easy 20 minute walk to the Valley of Beautiful Women to sample some local wines. You can take a little tourist train from somewhere near the main square which takes you directly there, but the walk was easy following the signs to the Szépasszony-völgy. The valley is a lovely green park with wine caves dug into the hillsides in a semi-circle around the perimeter and a big outdoor amphitheater for performances. This day was a holiday and there were wine kiosks set up in the park area also. With close to 50 wineries, choosing which to taste at is a rather daunting task!
Wine tasting here isn’t what you’re used to in California. Pick a wine cave you like, go in and ask for a particular taste, for example their Bikavér or a dry white. They’ll pour, you taste, and if you like it pay for a full glass to take to outdoors to your table. We only had enough stamina to taste at 2 cellars – #43 Sike Pince, and #46 Toth Ferenc. A terrific experience and not to be missed in Eger.
Day Trip to Baradla Cave
The Aggtelek National Park is about an 1.5-2 hour drive from Eger – closer to 2 hours on the little windy roads. We made it just in time to race up to get tickets for the 12:00 Baradla Cave Tour, which mysteriously started at 12:15. Whew!
Best Cave Tour – EVER
The tour is ONLY in Hungarian, so why was this the best cave tour EVER? It was deep, it was long, it has interesting formations and even without understanding a word of the tour, it was great!
The tour starts at the Aggtelek National Park Red Lake Visitor center and 2 hours later you exit at the Barlang exit to get a bus back to Red Lake.
Tip: Pack a picnic lunch! There are picnic tables in the large covered Red Lake Visitor Center. You can get an instant cappuccino and snacks at the snack bar.
Tip: The Aggtelek Red Lake Visitor center is easy to miss, it’s between the towns of Aggtelek and Josvafo – marked “Aggletek National Park – Red Lake Visitor center – Baradla Cave Entrance” on my Hungary Map.
There were only 4 people of the HUGE group taking the tour that spoke English, us and a couple from Poland. Our Hungarian tour guide was very kind and apologized for not knowing more English but we didn’t mind. It was rather liberating not having to listen! We wandered a bit in front of the big group.
Tip: The ticket office is happy to give you a little pamphlet in English that describes the cave and the features you see on the tour.
A terrific day trip from Eger and an exceptional cave!
Great Eats: Főtér Cafe Restaurant – Our last night in Eger, we dropped in around 8pm on Saturday and were lucky to get a table. So glad we did, I ordered the duck breast with chestnut and Morello sauce with potato dumplings – the most delicious duck I’ve ever had. Our dinner for 2 including a bottle of wine was about $29. Tip: Outside would have been nice but it was a rainy night in Eger.
Eger was the first stop on our 8 night country break – next up – the Tokaj wine region in a Spa hotel in Tarcal.