Eger is the type of town where something is always going on, be it a concert, a festival, a wine tasting event or a water polo match. It’s located only 1.5 hours away from the Hungarian capital of Budapest, but well worth travelling much further for. We’ve compiled a list of ten unique and “very Eger-y” things to do and see, which can only be enjoyed in Eger.
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1. Hungary’s Most Iconic Wine Route
This famous wine route is called “Valley of the Beautiful Lady,” and is only a 15min walk away from the city centre. There are about 200 authentic wine cellars in the valley with special vintages that can only be savoured here. The Eger wine region is the largest in the country, earning the highest number of medals in the annual international Wine Olympics in Bordeaux year after year. Once in Eger, do not miss the “Egri Bikavér” (bull’s blood), which is a ruby red cuvee wine with a rich aroma and an enigmatic flavour.
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2. One of the Country’s Best Thermal Baths
The Eger Thermal Baths opened in 1932 and have retained the elegance and refined, genteel atmosphere of the happy interbellum years to this day. This really is one of Hungary’s best city baths, or to be more precise, spa pools in a park landscape. Located in the very heart of the historic city centre, these baths offer an inimitable milieu, seven different types of pools with healing waters (some of them covered), and a children’s water castle with 3 exciting slides.
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3. Cultural Heritage of 16th Century Ottoman Empire
There is an intact 40m-tall Minaret in Eger, built around 1596, which – as the legend goes – could not be torn down even by 400 oxen. This monument, recognised as Europe’s northernmost Ottoman relic, can be visited every day from March to October. Be warned, though: there is a 97-step climb to the top in a spiral staircase, but your effort will be rewarded with simply stunning views.
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4. Glamour with a Touch of the East
Visitors to Eger can also experience the sensations of a 16th-century “Turkish pasha”. The city is home to a “Pasha tent” where one can be immersed in the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the Middle East, as well as sample original culinary delights and the traditional tobacco pipe – the narghile – a perfect way to relax after a busy day of sightseeing.
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But that is not all. 400 years ago, Pasha Arnauth built an original Turkish bath, taking advantage of the area’s thermal waters. After its recent renovation, the bath has now been transformed into a very elegant and glamourous spa, with authentic Hammam massage services – all to be found in Eger.
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5. Outstanding Wines in Unexpected Surroundings
The French region of Provence has but one flaw – it’s a long way from Eger. If it were closer, it is a good bet that tour buses headed here would be crammed with French tourists. The beauty of Eger’s landscapes, the terroir, and the quality of the wines are slowly catching up with those of Provence, while prices remain comparatively low. Have you ever bathed in the shade of grapevines with a beautiful landscape stretching out in front of you? This is yet another thing you can do in Eger. Located on the outskirts of the city, the Cardinal’s wine estate can best be described as a mixture of the best qualities of French wine with a pinch of Italy’s zest for life and “dolce vita”. www.almagyar.hu
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6. Eger Baroque Architecture
Eger is profoundly baroque in style. As you walk down the streets you will notice baroque beauty everywhere: wrought iron balcony railings here, window grilles there, and typical baroque facades all around. Eger is also home to beautiful Baroque churches, with some of the most unique interiors in central Europe. The Minorite Church is an impressive monument, built in 1771 and dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua.
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7. Another World Beneath the Surface
It is said that if you have a house in Eger, whether you know it or not, there is sure to be a cellar underneath it. The foundation (!) of this adage is due partly to the almost thousand-year-old castle and partly to the region’s history of wine-making. The former Archbishop’s cellar system runs four kilometres under Eger.
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Another interesting example of the underground corridor system is the dungeon – kazamata – which runs from the castle and has many interactive experiences for those who don’t just want to learn about history from books.
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8. Home to the Legacy of World-Famous George Kepes
The Kepes Institute in Eger serves as a worthy home to the estate of the world famous light artist George Kepes. He produced many important works of art related to and using light, and his skills are recognised in cities such as Boston and New York. Born in Heves county (Eger’s home county), he taught in Cambridge at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and once retired, acted as the Director of the Centre for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS at MIT) in the same city. His art is showcased everywhere from Chicago to San Francisco, but for a look at the biggest collection of his works, there is only one place to go: Eger.
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9. Small Town Feel, Big City Choices
Eger may be a relatively small city in terms of size and population, but it enjoys all the comforts and perks of a big city. It has a vibrant cultural life in its theatres, and the town also makes its mark in terms of events and hospitality hot spots. In addition to the more traditional cuisine, fashionable street food and fine dining options are represented here as well. Eger is the perfect place to take a laid-back approach to sightseeing – walk or bike, everything is just a stone’s throw away.
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10. Beautiful Day Trips just around the Corner
To say that Eger is the centre of the world might be a bit of an over-statement, but once you are here, it suddenly begins to sound quite credible. There are 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites within a 1.5 hour drive of the city (the famous Hungarian plain called “PUSZTA”, Mezokovesd – the land of “a hundred roses”, the stalactite cave in Aggtelek, and Hollokő, the living village from the 16th century). There is a lot to see and do within a 30km distance. Szalajka valley is a great choice, boasting a picture-perfect waterfall, the so-called “veil”, a prehistoric cave, the Forestry Museum, trout lakes and the Lipizaner Museum. Moreover, a visit to the valley will give you the chance to admire the exceptionally beautiful horses galloping through the Hungarian countryside:
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Written in collaboration with Eger Tourism.