With Hungary’s primary international airport and train stations located in Budapest, this road trip is based on renting a car in the capital, and returning it there, too. It’s worth noting that Hungary has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving, which means you will need to have a blood alcohol level of 0% before getting behind the wheel. As a result, the itinerary is based on doing all the driving in the morning and enjoying wine tastings in the afternoons.
Budapest to Sopron drive time : 2 hours and 30 minutes
For the first stop on the road trip, it’s time to head to Sopron in Western Transdanubia, a region best known for its red wines and in particular, its kékfrankos – a dark skinned grape producing a spicy, tannin-rich wine. Found on the border between Hungary and Austria, the area is one of Hungary’s oldest wine producing regions, and its sub-Alpine climate contributes to the ideal growing conditions for its interesting range of reds.
Drive time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
From Sopron, drive down to Kreinbacher Estate – a winery that is part of the small Nagy Somlo wine growing region. Located on a lava butte and boasting mineral rich soil as a result, the area is known for its white wines such as olaszrizling and furmint, as well as reds including syrah.
Visitors to Kreinbacher can tour the vineyard, learn more about the area’s wines at a wine museum, and indulge in wine tastings; the estate debuted its first sparkling wine in 2014, and it’s well worth a try. There’s also a bistro and stylish on-site accommodations, meaning everything you need for a day learning about the area’s wines is right here.
Drive time: 50 minutes
With a well-established wine growing culture – it’s said that wine was first produced here before the Roman Empire – the Balatonfüred-Csopak wine region is known for its white wines, with olaszrizling being the area’s most popular. Within the city of Balatonfüred itself, the Balaton Wine House offers interesting insight into the region’s wine growing history and provides wine tastings; while every August for three weeks, the Balatonfüred Wine Festival showcases wines from the region.
Winery to visit: Figula
Drive time: 45 minutes
It’s time to head to nearby Badacsony, home to the popular Badacsony Wine Weeks (which take place over two weeks every summer). Known for white wines such as pinot gris and olaszrizling, it’s a picturesque area with plenty of quality vineyards to visit.
Drive time: 3 hours
After enjoying the white wines of Balaton, drive over to Villány, an area best known for its reds and rosés. The region is incredibly wine-focused and therefore boasts a lot of vineyards and wineries to explore – many of which also provide accommodation.
Drive time: 50 minutes
Experience a long-established wine growing tradition in one of Hungary’s oldest red-wine producing regions, Szekszárd. The area is well known for its Szekszárdi bikavér: the South’s answer to the popular Egri bikavér, Szekszárd’s version is spicier and features the area’s best known grape, kadarka. Don’t miss the Szekszárd Wine Festival, held every September (in 2017, the festival’s dates are September 14 – 17).
Drive time: 3 hours and 45 minutes
One of Hungary’s most well-known wine regions, Tokaj is home to the famous Tokaji aszú – a sweet dessert wine once popular with royalty. Tokaj itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thanks to the area’s natural beauty and the abundance of vineyards and wineries, we’ve scheduled two days for the region. Aside from the famous Tokaji aszú, the area is also known for its furmint and yellow muscat grapes (both of which are used in white wines) among others.
Wine tours: Run by a knowledgable guide, Tokaj Wine Tours offer a number of experiences allowing visitors to learn more about the region’s wines. Full or half-day custom tours are available and need to be booked in advance.
Drive time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
The wine region of Eger in northern Hungary is best known for its Egri bikavér (Bull’s Blood), a terroir wine that is popular on the international stage as well as in its native country. Well-known grapes grown in the region include kékfrankos, pinot noir and olazsrizling.
Szépasszony-völgy (The Valley of the Beautiful Women) is the region’s prime wine growing area and plenty of vineyards and wineries can be found here.
Drive time: 1 hour and 35 minutes
After a whirlwind tour of Hungary’s wine regions, it’s back to Budapest to conclude your trip. If you still want to explore Hungary’s wines, the city has plenty to offer. Many restaurants feature a local wine list (Borkonyha Winekitchen is especially great for this), while there are also wine tastings thanks to Taste Hungary, and wine bars such as DiVino to enjoy.