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10 Things To Do In Szombathely, Hungary
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10 Things To Do In Szombathely, Hungary

Picture of Barbara Boda
Updated: 9 February 2017
Founded by the Roman emperor Claudius in 43 A.D., Szombathely certainly has history. The legacy of Roman ruins, the remnant of the famous Amber Road, and a sparkling cultural life adorn Szombathely with the proud title “The Queen of West.”

Savaria carnival and Savaria Legio store-exhibition

Due to its famous Roman legacy, the whole city turns into a giant stage for a Roman carnival each year. This big event takes place usually at the end of August for four to five days. The weather is rarely unpropitious and people can enjoy the warmth of summer sunbeams wearing a toga. Lots of thematic program and craft activities ensure the boredom to be expelled. Don’t worry, if you miss this special event in August, you can still sense the presence of Romans if you attend to the store-exhibition which displays the war tools of Legio XV.

Contact for Carnival: phone +36 94 510 160

Savaria Legio store-exhibition: open Tues-Fri 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Address & telephone: Aréna street 8 Szombathely, Hungary, +36 94 510 160

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Csónakázó-lake (Boating lake)

In a secluded part of town, this former brick factory is a very popular area for relaxation or sport. Not only are there beautiful, wooden armchairs in which you can enjoy the sunshine, the gravel path is ideal for a long run, and if you are a lover of fishing (and of course obtain a licence), there are several good spots for setting up your fishing rod. Of course there are plenty of boats to be hired for a trip around the small island at the center of the lake. Probably the site is the most enchanting in the autumn, when the colorful leaves are mirrored back by the peaceful lake, or in the evening, when little lights are switched on all around the lake.

Address: Csónakázó-tó Szombathely, Hungary

Good restaurants and bars

As Vas county’s capital, Szombathely offers many great restaurants and cozy, homey places to have a stodgy meal or a fun night out. The area is full of quality food, and more and more restaurants are increasingly using produce from local farmers. You really can’t go wrong whichever place you choose.

Iseum and Ruin Garden

You might think that this town has gone mad by highlighting its Roman heritage everywhere, but what can the inhabitants do if they keep bumping into Roman shrines and ancient merchant roads? Iseum, the former shrine built for the goddess Isis, is now extraordinarily renovated and provides a peculiar, eerily beautiful open air place for operas and plays during the summer. In the Ruin Garden, there are still the traces of a sanctuary for Mercurius and an eight-angled bath as well as the cobbles of the Amber Road which once sliced through whole Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean.

Iseum address: II. Rákóczi Ferenc street 6-8 Szombathely, Hungary phone +36 94 501 709

Open: Sun-Tues closed, Wed-Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Ruin garden address: Mindszenty square 1 Szombathely, Hungary phone +36 94 313 369

Open: 1st March-30th November Tues-Sat 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sun-Mon closed

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Tófürdő, Skating-rink

These two premises serve up lots of fun during summer and winter. Tófürdő, which means Lake Bath (due to its proximity to Csónakázó Lake) lies upon a huge parkland area and offers pools for sporty adults and children. Four huge slides are waiting to be used by the big and small, and children can feel like they’re in heaven – a toy-realm is built just for them where they can conquer a wooden castle and lose themselves in many other fantasies. In cold winters, the adjacent skating rink awaits for every sporty person with its 30x60m pitch. Of course, there are thematic days like Santa Claus Day (which is the 5th December in Hungary) or carnivals.

Tófürdő address: Kenderesi street 2 Szombathely, Hungary phone +36 94 505 689

Open: May-September everyday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Skating rink address: see above; phone +36 94 505 690

Open: mid November-late February

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Village museum

Want to see how people lived 100-200 years ago? This museum incorporates a huge green area where several traditional “vernacular” houses were re-built exactly the same way as they had been hundreds of years ago. White chalk walls, rammed soil floor, woven textiles on the walls – they are a perfect subject for a photograph anytime. In the garden animals can be admired – donkeys, sheep, mangalica pigs and so on. A nice day out option for families or couples!

Open: 1st April-31st May, 1st September-30th October Tues-Sun 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 1st June-31st August Tues-Sun 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Address: Árpád street 30 Szombathely, Hungary phone +36 94 311 004

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Gallery

In an unmistakable building next to the Iseum, Szombathely has a gallery which hosts interesting exhibitions from time to time. Textile conferences, an autumn festival, ceramic collections, photo exhibitions – it is always worth having a look in here to explore these hidden treasures. In front of the gallery, just beneath the music school there is a small but friendly artist café, where you can warm up your body with a big cup of cappuccino.

Open: Tues-Wed, Fri-Sun 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thurs 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Mon closed

Address: Rákóczi Ferenc street 12 Szombathely, Hungary phone +36 94 508 800

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Parks and the arboretum

Szombathely has lots of lovely parks and a gorgeous, big arboretum. You can wander around on gravel paths and follow the brooks that slice through the city. There are lots of benches and hidden spots for a romantic walk and playgrounds for children. The arboretum is a lovely spot – a huge area covered in all sorts of trees, lakes and brooks – an Eden on earth. Egrets, herons, and passerines are all inhabitants here, so this place is a must-visit for birdwatchers.

Parks: Brenner-park, Gayer park, Pelikán park, Saághy park

Arboretum address: Szent Imre herceg street 102 Szombathely, Hungary phone +36 94 500 131

Open: 15th October-15th April 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., 16th April-14th October 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

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Cathedral

This beauty is the third biggest cathedral in Hungary – its towers are well visible from far away and from almost any point in Szombathely. Sadly, most of the original building with the priceless organ and frescoes were demolished during WWII – but within two years the cathedral was renovated and now it shines in all its glory. Masses are regularly held in this peculiar place and the acoustics conjure the sound of the organ into an ethereal music.

Address: Mindszenty square 1 Szombathely, Hungary phone +36 94 313 242

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Observatory and Astrophysical Center

Humanity has always been bewitched by the night sky and stars – the power of the incomprehensible rules us all. There are many places on the Earth where people are able to see some of the secrets of this deep darkness. This site dates back to 1881, when scientist Jenő Gothard transformed his own property into an observatory, planning the dome himself. This center is dedicated to education about astrophysics and astronomy, especially as this is Europe’s only thematic astronomical specialist collection. There are also programs, like the observation of the most important events in the sky.

Address: Szent Imre herceg street 112 Szombathely, Hungary phone +36 94 522 870

Open: Mon-Fri 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.