Eger's main sites are fairly concentrated once you have made it to the city center, within easy walking distance of each other and of Dobó István tér. Like many European cities and villages, life revolves around the town square, but before you get there, you may want to check out the Town Under the Town (tel. 06/20-961-4019 mobile phone only; www.varosavarosalatt.hu). Enter from Széchenyi u. through the Érsek-udvar. It is a cave-like structure built by Archbishop Fenessy for protection from the Turks and as a wine cellar. The incredible part is the lake. Tours in English are 50 minutes long and offered daily on the hour from 10am to 7pm. Admission and tour is 800 Ft for adults and 400 Ft for pensioners.
The town center is particularly attractive and large for a city this size. The Minorite Church sits on Dobó István tér with many believing it to be one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Europe. It is in razor-sharp contrast to the nearby solemn edifice of the friary. One of the greatest masters of European baroque, Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, designed the church.
The Tourinform office offers a guided walking tour on Saturdays June to September that lasts 2 hours and costs 300 Ft. In the center of the square, there is an impressive statue of the town defender, Dobó, flanked by a knight and a woman. Erected in the 1960s, it was created by Alajos Strobl, one of the country's leading turn-of-the-20th-century sculptors. Strobl's execution of the work did not hold back on his feelings about the battle against the Turks. Strobl's other works include the statue of King Stephen on Buda's Castle Hill and the statue of poet János Arany in front of the National Museum in Pest.
The reconstructed ruins of Eger Castle (tel. 36/312-744; www.egriva.hu), visible from just about anywhere in the city, are easily reached by walking northeast out of the square; take the path out of Dózsa György tér. You can wander the grounds free of charge daily from 8am to 8pm in summer and daily 8am to 6pm in winter. Climbing the castle ramp and walking the ramparts is a lovely stroll in warm weather, taking in the rooftop views of the old town area. To walk along the top of the castle wall will cost 600 Ft for adults and 300 Ft for children. You can also explore the two museums on the premises. The István Dobó Castle Museum (tel. 36/312-744), as the name implies, offers the castle's history along with displays of some Turkish artifacts. The Eger Picture Gallery displays pieces from the same 19th-century Hungarian artists who are featured in the Nemzeti Galéria (Hungarian National Gallery). The museums are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and until 4pm in winter. Admission to each is 1,200 Ft for adults and 600 Ft for children. A photo ticket is 1,000 Ft, while video is restricted.
Just to the west of the castle, on Harangönto utca, is Eger's most visible reminder of the Turkish period, its minaret at Knézich u. 1 (tel. 36/410-233). The minaret survived, though the mosque under it was destroyed in 1841. The minaret is 14-sided, 33m (108 ft) tall, and in good enough condition that for an admission charge of 200 Ft, you can climb to the narrow top. It is open from April to the end of October, Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm. If you suffer from claustrophobia, I warn against it. The scramble up is steep, on a cramped spiral staircase, but because the space is so narrow you can't turn back if anyone is behind you. Those who are successful, however, are justly rewarded with a spectacular view.
You can't miss the massive basilica (tel. 30/337-2398), it is the second-largest church in Hungary, the largest being Esztergom's basilica and it competes in size with the basilica in Pest. You just need to walk a few blocks south on Eszterhazy tér. It is the only classicist building in Eger. Ordered by Archbishop Pyrker József, it was designed by architect József Hild, who was one of the architects of St. Stephen's Basilica in Pest. He completed this church in 1837 in the grandiose neoclassical style of the time. It's open daily from 6am to 7pm. If you are visiting in the high season, wander in at 11:30am Monday through Saturday or at 12:45pm on Sunday for a free organ presentation. Admission is free to the church at other times.
Next you will find the Lyceum at Eszterházy Square 1 (tel. 36/325-211) built in late-baroque style. Count Eszterházy Károly ordered it to be built as a university at the end of the 18th century. It is now a college. (Colleges generally offer 4-year degrees, while universities require 4 to 6 years of more specialized study.) The Lyceum houses the nationally famous diocesan library (kö nyvtár) on the first floor with an impressive ceiling fresco of the Council of Trent by Johann Lukas Kracker and József Zach. The only original letter written by Mozart, in Hungary, is on display here. You can visit March 1 to September 30 Tuesday through Sunday 9am to 3pm, the rest of the year, on Saturday and Sunday only from 9am to 1pm. Admission is 350 Ft. Entrance to the balcony is free. Concerts are frequently performed in the yard of the Lyceum during July and August, so ask at Tourinform for the schedule and ticket information.
The Palóc Museum of Popular Arts, Dobó u. 12 (tel. 36/312-744) presents exhibitions of the folk arts of the Palóc, inhabitants of Northeastern Hungary. Wood carvings made by shepherds, including crooksand drinking spoons, and hand-woven fabrics of mainly household textiles, tent sheets, shawls, haversacks, male and female clothing, and ceramics, are displayed. The museum is open January 1 through May 23 Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm; May 24 to September 30 Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm. Admission is 600 Ft for adults and 300 Ft for students.
If you missed visiting a spa or bathhouse in Budapest, check them out in Eger. Northeastern Hungary is rich in thermal waters; ask at Tourinform for a list of spas in the region. Eger is called the Spa of Northern Hungary.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.