Spend the morning in museums and the afternoon taking in refined architecture during your visit to Pécs. This small city is packed to the brim with art, culture, and Balkan-influenced food, making a weekend trip here one that exercises both the mind and the taste buds.
Overview & History
A perfect example of diversity within Hungary can be seen with a visit to Pécs, the 5th largest city in Hungary. In terms of demographic, 84% of population is Hungarian, 4.2% German, and Roma 2% along with a mix of Balkan nationalities.
Pécs embraces is diversity and in 1998 it was given the UNESCO Cities for peace prize for its encouragement of cultural harmony and its tolerance towards refugees during the Yugoslav Wars. It also received the European Capital of Culture in 2010, after which a major renewal of the city began.
The first university in Hungary was founded in Pécs by Louis I the Great and it is still the largest university in Hungary today, giving Pécs the typical lively atmosphere of a university town.
If you have a car, Pécs is an easy two and a half hour drive from Budapest. The train also runs frequently and with a journey time of 3 hours and 15 mins it is equally convenient. Ticket prices range from 3200 ft to 4700 ft.
This university city has exquisite Baroque architecture and is noticeably more culturally diverse than the rest of Hungary. Despite its long history it remains refreshed and energetic, making it easy to see why this city is so popular and award-winning.
What to see
Széchenyi square- The mosque of Pasha Gazi Kassim sits on this square, a building left from the 150 year long Ottoman rule of the city. It’s exterior is beautiful and if you’re particularly enthusiastic about architect in this style there is the opportunity to go in. The Zsolnay Fountain also located here as well as many charming restaurants and bars in the surrounding areas.
Take a hike in the forest to get active and breathe some fresh air. This mountain range is made of series of plateaus and is home to several plant species that are unique to the area. It provides beautiful views and spectacular nature, making it a relaxing place to spend an afternoon. A small train runs through the mountains for visitors with children. Hop on for a brief tour of the area!
Early Christian Mausoleum or Zsolnay Mausoleum
Immerse yourself in the history of Pécs with a visit to these 1700-year-old ruins. 3D video reconstructions allow you to see how the catacombs originally looked, making it easy to put the history into perspective.
This site speaks for itself. The outside displays a refined neo-Romanesque style while the interior is more bold with its ornate interior decoration. Whether you enter or not, this is a site worth visiting.
Csontváry was one of the first Hungarian painters to become known across Europe. He worked in the late 19th century and his paintings are avant-garde, depicting subjects that he saw while travelling. This museum is small, but worth a visit since Csontváry’s work is so high quality.
One of the most famous things to come from Pécs is Zsolnay Porcelain. They use the unique eosin glazing process and pyrogranite ceramics to create mystical looking porcelain works. These ceramics were extremely popular amongst art nouveau artists and can be seen on and in several significant buildings in Budapest including the Parliament, Mátyás templom, and the Museum of Applied Arts. To this day Zsolnay is at the forefront of design, their work has recently been featured in a Gucci campaign and a partnership with Sugarbird.
This museum features some of their most creative works and gives a chronological overview of the development of their style.
Victor Vasarhely was a Hungarian artists who did work in the syle of optical illusion art. He was born in Pécs and working in Hungary for some time. This museum showcases work from throughout his career. Spend an hour or two admiring these stunning and colourful optical illusions!
Where to Eat
Balkan Bisztro- This restaurant boasts delicious food, especially if you’re a meat lover, though they have options for everyone. This place delivers exactly what the name suggests: traditional Balkan style food. They have the usual dishes, but also offer Balkan style burgers and seasonal plates. The restaurant is nicely designed and their food is presented attractively, making a visit to this restaurant worthwhile.
Tuke Wine House- For a more upscale dining affair, this place is for you. Their outdoor seating area overlooks a vineyard, making summer dining a tranquil and scenic affair. Their menu is comprised of both Hungarian and Balkan cuisine and offers delicious meat options.
Repeta Gyros and Pizza- Burgers, waffles, gyros, pizza… this place has any food you could ask for after a night out, or simply if you’re ready for some comfort food. Pécsi residents applaud this place as having the best gyros in town.
Pécsi Kávé- This adorable and trendy coffee shop has all the latest treats including matcha lattes, espresso lemonade, and vegan options. Its relaxed interior design and speedy wifi make it the perfect place to work. Chill here for a while after a morning spent in museums.
Pécs is given the title of European Cultural Capital for good reason; the amount of stunning art packed into this small city is astounding. A visit to Pécs is particularly suited for art lovers, but anyone can enjoy the relaxed energy and cultural melting pot that this city offers.