Travel experiences: Pecs, Hungary

by Hajnal Farkas

Pécs is my very favourite town in Hungary. The first time I went there was a city trip with the primary school in 1992. I was really impressed by the atmosphere of the city, the old buildings and the musicians on the street in the evenings playing old Hungarian hits with loads of people around them singing with them. A couple of years later I returned to the town to study at the University of Pécs. During the two years of the Masters course I visited almost all the pubs and restaurants of the town with my friends. The town changed a lot since my very first visit but Pécs is still one of the most beautiful towns of Hungary.


Pécs is located south-west to Budapest, on the slopes of the Mecsek mountains, close to the border with Croatia. Pécs is the fifth largest town in Hungary, it’s the administrative and economical centre of Baranya County.

How to get there?

You can go there by train, by bus and by car. If you arrived to Budapest by airplane the easiest and fastest way of getting to Pécs is by InterCity trains (for more information about the trains please visit: h/index.php). It takes 2 hours and 51 minutes to get to Pécs by train which is 228 km away from Budapest. If you prefer buses to train you can get there in 3 hours and 25 minutes by bus (for timetable please visit bin/menetrend/html.cgi)

If you go there by car and you don’t have a GPS I recommend using to plan your trip. It takes about 3 hours to get to Pécs depending on the traffic. According to my personal experience there is quite heavy traffic on these roads so leave enough time to get there. I used to travel by train as it is very reliable.

A short history

In the beginning of the second century Romans founded the city of Sopianae at the place where now Pécs is located. Sopianae became the capital of Valeria province by the fourth century. The early Christian necropolis became an Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000.

The first university in Hungary was founded in Pécs in 1367 and it is still the largest university with about 34,000 students. Pécs has a rich heritage from the age of a 150 year long Ottoman occupation. The most famous building from this time is the mosque of pasha Qasim the Victorious on Szechenyi square which we call dzsami and today it functions as a Catholic church.

Pécs is a multicultural city where Hungarians, Croatians and Swabians leave in peace together. The city has been selected to be the European Capital of Culture in 2010 together with Essen and Istanbul. The reception of the title meant lots of renewal works in the city which affected loads of streets, public places, squares and new buildings were built for cultural purposes. As far as I know some of the works are still in process.

Király street

The reason why this street is highlighted is the fact that this is the shopping street of the town. If you are in the city centre (Széchenyi square) in front of the mosque Király street is on your right. It is a narrow street for pedestrians only. There are nice restaurants, cafés and shops on both sides of the street. The first famous building in the street is Hotel Palatinus (1915) then the theatre of Pécs is on the right side of the street. There are fountains in front of it. I have a nice memory about the theatre. One evening after the lectures I was walking with a friend of mine and we wondered that we were in the city for about 50 times and never went to the theatre however both of us love it. He promised me to take me to the theatre after we pass all our exams. Well, we graduated, we both got married and had kids in the meantime but still not been to the theatre of Pécs. Regarding where I live now I don’t think I will ever get to that theatre…

Last time I was walking on Király street there were no shopping malls just little shops, so if you want to do some shopping you should go to the plaza. I hope the old buildings won’t be harmed and this street can stay as beautiful as it is for a very long time.

Places to visit

First of all I recommend you the theatre, it is a good Hungarian theatre. Apart from that I recommend my favourite place in Pécs, the Victor Vasarely Museum (Pécs, 3 Káptalan utca). I really like Vasarely’s op-art works and I can watch them for long-long minutes. I really recommend you visiting this museum. If you are there already I recommend you visiting the Zsolnay Museum too (Pécs, 2 Káptalan utca) where you can see the famous Zsolnay porcelain products. For more information about Zsolnay porcelain please visit

I recommend you visiting the mosque of course. It is fabulous and is located in the city centre so you can access it easily. If you are lucky enough to go to Pécs with your soul-mate you must bring a padlock with you and visit the wall of lovelocks in Janus Pannonius street. It is a fence covered with hundreds of padlocks that symbolise the couples’ love. I don’t have a padlock there but haven’t given up the hope to get there with my soul-mate one day…

You can visit the Csontvary Museum in Janus Pannonius street or the Cathedral. I haven’t highlighted them more because these don’t belong to my favourite places.


While I was studying in Pécs all of us were looking for cheap accommodation. We had to pay quite high tuition and the train ticket every second week plus the accommodation… However there are several good hotels in the city we stayed mostly in boarding schools or the MAV’s hostel, the high building at the train station. These were for affordable price (3-5 pounds per night). The food and drinks were quite cheap so we could have a normal dinner with a beer for about 5 pounds. There are some posh places in the city too where the prices are 3-5 times higher but those places were for celebrating our diploma only.

So if you are looking for a comfortable place where you can spend a night or more I recommend you visiting as most of the hotels are registered there and they offer good value for your money.

Restaurants and pubs

There are loads of restaurants, pubs and cafés in the city. Because of the credit crunch and the new rebuilding projects loads of things have changed. I am sure that if you are walking in Király street or Széchenyi square you will find a tempting place you can have a delicious lunch or dinner. The Hungarian cuisine is famous, spicy and very delicious. If you haven’t tried yet the Hungarian gulyás I really recommend it but it wouldn’t be my own choice to be honest. I would recommend you a fish soup (halászlé) or a chicken soup (húsleves) then there are so many vegetarian and meat dishes that you can hardly choose from them. Try the Hungarian wines too. Don’t forget that in Hungary the permitted alcohol consumption limit is lower than in the UK so I recommend drinking wine only if you are not driving. Safety first! There are some local wines from the Mecsek Mountain but you can find quite wide range in most of the restaurants and pubs. Personally I prefer wines from Villány and Balatonboglár.

Quick sum up

I think Pécs is a very youthful and lively city as there are loads of students and tourists there. We call it the city of lovers as it is very romantic. The city has a fabulous Mediterranean atmosphere and its climate is better than the climate of other places in the country. As the mountains are very close to the city you can take trips into the mountains too. There is a TV tower outside the city from where you can see the surroundings. I have been there twice and the view is really stunning.

I know it is quite far away from Budapest but it is really worth visiting it and spending at least one night there. I hope you became interested in this beautiful city in Hungary. Thanks for reading!

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