Best 20 Things to Do in Pécs: Your Ultimate Travel Guide to Hungary

Welcome to Pécs! This charming city in the southwest of Hungary is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Pécs is packed with culture, history, and stunning architecture. Whether you are a history buff, an art lover, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Pécs has something for everyone. Let's dive into the best activities in Pécs and why this city should be on your travel list.

Table of Contents

  1. Where is Pécs?
  2. Why Visit Pécs?
  3. How to Get to Pécs
  4. How to Get Around Pécs
  5. Where to Stay in Pécs
  6. The Best Hotels to Book in Pécs
  7. Best 20 Things to Do in Pécs
  8. What to See Around Pécs
  9. Where to Eat in Pécs
  10. Tips for Your Trip to Pécs
  11. Frequently Asked Questions About Pécs
  12. Final Thoughts on Visiting Pécs

Where is Pécs?

Pécs is located in the southwest of Hungary, near the Croatian border. Nestled in the foothills of the Mecsek Mountains, it’s approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Budapest. This makes it easily accessible for a day trip or a weekend getaway from the capital. The city's location in a picturesque setting offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, with the Mecsek Mountains providing hiking trails and beautiful views. Pécs is also well-connected by road and rail, making it a convenient destination for travelers exploring Hungary.

Why Visit Pécs?

Pécs is a city rich in history and culture. It’s known for its well-preserved Roman ruins, vibrant art scene, and beautiful architecture. The city is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its early Christian necropolis. Visitors are often enchanted by Pécs' relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals. The city's pedestrian-friendly center is filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it a delightful place to explore on foot. Plus, Pécs is home to several festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and dance to wine and food.

Historically, Pécs has been a melting pot of various cultures. Founded by the Romans in the 2nd century AD as Sopianae, it later flourished under the Ottoman Empire, leaving a legacy of mosques and baths. Today, Pécs is a testament to Hungary’s diverse cultural heritage.

How to Get to Pécs

Getting to Pécs is easy. If you're coming from Budapest, you can take a train from Budapest’s Keleti Railway Station. The journey takes about 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive, which takes about the same time via the M6 motorway. For those traveling from abroad, the nearest international airport is in Budapest. From there, you can rent a car, take a train, or use a shuttle service to reach Pécs. Public transportation in Hungary is reliable and efficient, making it easy to navigate between cities.

How to Get Around Pécs

Pécs

Pécs is a compact city, and most attractions are within walking distance of each other. The city’s public transportation system includes buses that can take you to places further afield. Taxis are also available, but walking is the best way to soak in the city's charm. Renting a bicycle is another excellent option, especially for exploring the surrounding countryside. Many of the city’s streets are pedestrian-friendly, and the locals are always willing to help with directions or recommendations.

Where to Stay in Pécs

When it comes to accommodation, Pécs offers a variety of options to suit every budget and preference. From luxurious hotels to cozy guesthouses, you’ll find the perfect place to rest after a day of exploration.

The Best Hotels to Book in Pécs

  • Hotel Palatinus City Center: This historic hotel offers elegant rooms and a prime location in the heart of Pécs.

  • Boutique Hotel Sopianae: A charming choice with modern amenities and personalized service.

  • Adele Boutique Hotel: For budget travelers, this hotel offers comfortable accommodations at a great price.

Best 20 Things to Do in Pécs

1. Enjoy Széchenyi tér

Széchenyi tér

Széchenyi tér is the main square of Pécs and a hub of activity. It's a great place to start your exploration, surrounded by historical buildings, cafes, and shops. The square often hosts events and markets, adding to its lively atmosphere.

2. Visit the Mosque of Pasha Qasim

Mosque of Pasha Qasim

This unique building is a testament to Pécs' diverse history. Originally a mosque during the Ottoman era, it’s now a Catholic church. The architecture blends Islamic and Christian elements, making it a fascinating site to visit.

3. Be Impressed by Pécs Cathedral

Pécs Cathedral

Pécs Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture. The cathedral's interior is equally impressive, with stunning frescoes and intricate details. Climbing to the top of the cathedral's tower offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

4. Visit the UNESCO-listed Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs

This ancient burial site dates back to the 4th century and offers a glimpse into the early Christian community of Pécs. The underground tombs are adorned with well-preserved frescoes, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

5. See Remnants of City Walls

Pécs was once a fortified city, and you can still see parts of the ancient city walls. These remnants offer insight into the city's medieval past and are scattered throughout the city, adding a historical touch to your strolls.

6. Visit Pécs Synagogue

Pécs Synagogue

The Pécs Synagogue is a beautiful example of 19th-century architecture. It’s one of the largest synagogues in Hungary and features a lovely interior with intricate decorations and a rich history.

7. Enjoy the Center of Pécs

The city center of Pécs is a delightful place to explore, with narrow streets, charming squares, and plenty of shops and cafes. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the local vibe and take a leisurely stroll.

8. Visit Local Museums

Pécs is home to several interesting museums. The Zsolnay Cultural Quarter is a must-visit, showcasing the works of the famous Zsolnay porcelain factory. The Csontváry Museum houses the works of renowned Hungarian painter Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka.

9. Enjoy the Local Café Scene

Pécs has a vibrant café culture, with numerous spots to relax and enjoy a coffee. Many cafes offer outdoor seating, perfect for people-watching and soaking in the city’s atmosphere. One of my favorite cafes was Caffé Frei, known for its extensive coffee menu from around the world.

10. Go for Day Trips

Pécs is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area. Consider day trips to the Mecsek Mountains or nearby towns like Villány, known for its wine production.

11. Zsolnay Fountain

Zsolnay Fountain

This beautiful fountain is located in Széchenyi tér and is a tribute to the Zsolnay family, who played a significant role in Pécs’ history. The colorful tiles and intricate design make it a popular photo spot.

12. The National Theatre of Pécs

National Theatre of Pécs

The National Theatre is an architectural gem and a cultural hub. Check out the schedule for performances – from opera to contemporary plays – to experience local arts and culture.

13. The Kodály Centre

This modern concert hall is named after composer Zoltán Kodály and hosts various musical performances. The acoustics are exceptional, making it a great place to enjoy a concert.

14. The Bath of Pasha Memi

This historic Turkish bath dates back to the Ottoman period. Although it is no longer operational, it’s a fascinating place to visit and learn about the city's history.

15. Király Street

Király Street is one of the oldest and most charming streets in Pécs. Lined with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings, it’s a great place to explore and soak in the local atmosphere.

16. Gallery of Modern Hungarian Art

This gallery features a collection of Hungarian art from the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s a must-visit for art lovers, showcasing works by some of Hungary's most prominent artists.

17. Csontváry Museum

Dedicated to the works of Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka, this museum offers a deep dive into the life and art of one of Hungary’s most famous painters. The vibrant colors and unique style of Csontváry’s art are truly captivating.

18. Tower of the Barbican and the Wall

Tower of the Barbican

The Barbican is a well-preserved medieval tower that was part of the city’s fortifications. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Pécs and the surrounding area.

19. Mecsek Mountains

Mecsek Mountains

The Mecsek Mountains offer a range of outdoor activities, from hiking to bird watching. The trails are well-marked, and the views are stunning, making it a perfect day trip for nature lovers.

20. Day Trip to Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton, often called the "Hungarian Sea," is the largest lake in Central Europe. It’s a fantastic destination for swimming, sailing, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

What to See Around Pécs

Mecsek Mountains

The Mecsek Mountains are ideal for hiking, offering trails of various difficulty and beautiful views. The area is also rich in wildlife, making it a haven for nature lovers.

Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton is a must-visit if you're in the area. Known for its stunning beauty and recreational opportunities, it's a great place to relax and enjoy water sports.

Where to Eat in Pécs

Pécs has a vibrant food scene with plenty of options to satisfy any palate. From traditional Hungarian cuisine to international flavors, you’ll find something to delight your taste buds. Local favorites include Enoteca Corso, known for its delicious wines and gourmet dishes, and Jókai Bisztró, which offers traditional Hungarian food in a cozy setting. For a sweet treat, visit Pécsi Süteményház, famous for its pastries and cakes.

One of my favorite dining experiences was at Aranygaluska, a restaurant that serves traditional Hungarian dishes with a modern twist. The goulash and chimney cake were particularly memorable. The warm and inviting atmosphere made it a great place to enjoy a meal.

Tips for Your Trip to Pécs

  • Currency: Hungary uses the Hungarian Forint (HUF). It’s handy to have some cash for smaller purchases.
  • Language: While many locals speak English, learning a few basic Hungarian phrases can be helpful and appreciated.
  • Walking Shoes: Pécs is best explored on foot, so bring comfortable shoes for walking.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pécs

When is the Best Time to Travel to Pécs?

The best time to visit Pécs is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild, and the city is less crowded. These seasons offer the perfect conditions for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

How Many Days Are Needed to See Pécs?

A 2 to 3-day trip is ideal for exploring Pécs and its main attractions. However, if you plan to take day trips to nearby areas, consider extending your stay to fully enjoy the region.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Pécs

Pécs is a wonderful destination that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you are wandering through its historic streets, exploring its museums, or enjoying the local cuisine, Pécs has something to captivate every visitor. Make sure to include Pécs in your Hungarian itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

In conclusion, Pécs is a city that truly has it all. From its rich historical heritage and vibrant arts scene to its stunning natural surroundings and welcoming locals, Pécs is a destination that leaves a lasting impression. I left Pécs with a heart full of memories and a promise to return.

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