02 March, 2020
History-threaded streets and a hilltop stone castle give this lesser-known Hungarian city a fairy-tale feel.
This underrated Hungarian city is gearing up to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023 and with its Skittle-coloured medieval houses squashed side by side in the old town and Sleeping Beauty-esque hilltop castle, we reckon it's set to be the next Lake Bled.
Nicknamed the "City of Queens" thanks to its history of de-thrownings, revolutions and epic battles that read like a Grimms fairy tale, the stony castle (the city's emblem and one of Hungary's first) is the setting for most of the action. Elsewhere, narrow pathways reveal ornate fountains, gilded grand theatres with interiors covered in 100-year-old mosaics and a historic fire tower that sings out classical music from composer Antal Csermák on the hour.
It's not all princesses and princes though - a contemporary-art scene is on the rise too. Nip into Masterpiece Gallery to discover up-and-coming Hugarian artists or the Vass Collection if you prefer more avant-garde pieces.
Where to stay
Olivia Hotel - partly for its proximity to the Castle district but largely because of its breakfast spread.
Where to go for dinner...
The warren of streets around the castle conceal a cornucopia of family-run taverns all serving hearty stews, steaming-hot bowls of casserole and platters of crispy roast duck. All of them serve standout homemade fare but Nosztalgia is our pick solely for its apple pie. The treasured recipe has been passed down from a great aunt and comes with a dollop of fresh cream.
Reserve at table for 5PM. Evening meals are largely a family affair and are eaten early.
And for a drink...
It's not as rowdy as Budapest and you definitely won't find the bars littered with UK students sinking pints but you'll be greeted with a top-notch Hungarian wine list at most restaurants.
During the summer months (May to September) Patak Party - if you can ignore the name - opens up into a Bavarian beer garden set in foliage-filled grounds.
On a Sunday morning you should...
Take a stroll around Lake Balaton and the forested Bakony Hills - a 10-minute drive from Veszprém - where you'll find hidden lakes and Hansel and Gretel small towns that dot the coastline. Tihany is worth a stop for the enchanting views of the lake from the red-roofed abbey.
Who to take with you
Couples looking for a first-holiday destination should tread carefully; Veszprém is so romantic that even hard-nosed sceptics will be wooed. Don't be surprised if you witness someone dropping to their knee for a passionate proposal while you're there.
When to go
July. For five days the town plays host to a jazz festival; beanbags line the cobbled streets, building facades become the backdrop to epic lights shows and stages crop up on every corner. You'll hear live music from 3PM to 3AM.
Essentials to pack
Chuck on this Alexa Chung x Barbour jacket in the evenings - it'll take you from city strolls to beer garden and into a jazz gig.
How to get there
Fly to Budapest then get a 1h 30m train to Veszprém.