Visiting Visegrád Castle

Visegrad Castle

Visegrád Castle

Visegrad Castle stairs

Entrance to the Upper Bailey of Visegrád Castle

Our day dawned bright and early…(actually we crawled out of bed around noon).  Feeling like complete bums we decided to get motivated and tackle an item on our ever expanding “to do” list. The winner was Visegrád Castle!  On our many train trips to Drégely Castle, we had seen Visegrád Castle dominating a hilltop on the other side of the river. It beckons to the adventurous trekker like a beacon, an uphill beacon, but a beacon none the less.

Getting to Visegrád takes a little work. The train to Nagymaros-Visegrád leaves Nyugati station once an hour ,be sure to take the direct train, which leaves at :07 after the hour.  The train goes to Nagymaros, and from there you walk down the hill to the ferry terminal. NOTE: The ferry leaves every hour, on the hour, and the train usually arrives about 10 minutes before the hour. So you don’t have a lot of time, do not dawdle getting off the train, stop to retie your shoe, or mosey along looking at your GPs while it finds satellites. If you aren’t with the bulk of the people getting off the train and heading to the ferry, you will miss the ferry and have to wait an hour, during which time you may be forced to consume freshly made langos and beer. In the event you do “accidentally” miss the ferry, we recommend skipping the restaurants on either side of the ferry dock and suggest you get the langos from the little lady in the booth across the street (load it up with Saji, Telfol, and Medvehagyma), and a cold can of Soproni from the little place that sells ice cream by the fish (hal) restaurant. Then sit at the shady, hidden tables overlooking the river behind the place that sells beer, and enjoy your snack until the next ferry run.

Visegrad Castle scenic view

The ferry ride to Visegrád is short but lovely. Once you arrive in Visegrád, you have a choice on which way to hike. You can walk along the river to the road that leads to the small lower castle, then do a shorter steeper climb to the big castle at the top of the hill, or you can take the longer trail from town that winds its way across the ridge line until you reach the big castle (a section of the famous Hungarian Blue Trail). We took the longer winding trail, but judging from the number of down hikers we encountered, we were likely the only ones doing so. After about 45 minutes of hot and sweaty hiking, we reached the main parapets at the top of the hill…and the parking lot next to it. Yes, you can drive to the castle and there are buses and tour vans that take passengers from the town to the castle, which explains the large number of down hikers who looked surprisingly fresh and wore flip flops. But since our goal was to be less bum-like and get some exercise…

The entrance fee to see the big castle is worth paying. The castle is not fully renovated and much of it still in ruins, but the courtyard area offers the chance to shoot a traditional bow, ride a horse, or take a photo in medieval garb (all for a small fee of course). There is also an inspiring display of medieval torture devices. Inside the castle several rooms have been turned into exhibits of medieval hunting, arms, and the castle’s history (most of the exhibits had decent English descriptions) and the views across the surrounding region are stunning!

Visegrad Torture display

The down hike on the steep section is a fairly decent trail but it should be avoided by anyone with knee or balance problems. The trail forks a few times, but the signage is good (just keep following the signs to Visegrád). The trail ends at the small castle outpost at the bottom of the hill (historically yet incorrectly called the Salaman Tower). The tower was rebuilt in a truly unique (and communist modernist) way. Be sure to look all the way to top on the far side to see the ferro-concrete renovation technique imposed on the structure.

From the lower castle outpost, it is a 15 minute walk back to town. The ferry from Visegrád back to the Nagymaros side leaves at 45 minutes past the hour. Once you land in Visegrád head directly to the train station to catch the train that arrives at x:05 (this is the express train to Budapest Nyugati). If you miss it, there is another train at x:12, which will provide a nice tour of all the myriad little trains stops on the way to Budapest Nyugati (not the express).

Visegrád Castle hosts the Royal Palace Festival every year, the second weekend in July. This is medieval tournament festival with the full regalia, knights on horses, jesters, etc. (http://www.palotajatekok.hu/docs/English.pdf) 

We hope to see you there…

Costs:

  • Train: 1120 HUF per person, each way
  • Ferry: 420 HUF per person, each way
  • Castle Entry: 1400 HUF per person (+ optional 300 HUF to include the wax museum). 
  • Langos: 500 HUF
  • Can of Soprani: 350 HUF

(disclaimer: all times and costs were accurate as of June 2014, be sure to check before travel and be prepared for bureaucratic changes).

GPS Lat/Longs: 
Visgrad Fellegvar                        N47.79431 E18.97995
Nagymaros-Visegradi Ferry        N47.78919 E18.96142
Nagymoras Train Station             N47.79050 E18.95864
Visegradi-Nagymaros Ferry        N47.78654 E18.96666
Salamon Tower                           N47.79654 E18.97712

© Eat, Drink, and Carry a GPS 2013