Mohács, Hungary – Off the Beaten Track

Four hundred years ago two massive and historically crucial battles were fought near Mohács, a sleepy little port on the Danube in south central Hungary. The Ottomans won the first in 1526 and swept north, the Habsburgs the second in 1687, finally driving the Ottomans out of East-Central Europe.

Mohács - Moorish style Town Hall
Moorish style Town Hall

However, I didn’t come to Mohács because of its interesting history, but rather because the nearby towns of Kecskemét and Baja both had festivals in July, hence no hotel rooms! So, a few miles further on in my travels, I was relieved to find a real gem, the St János Hotel, overlooking the Danube in Mohács.

A double bed suite facing the Danube with breakfast for 64 Euros can’t be bad, and an evening meal on the top-floor, terrace restaurant as the sun was setting was quite idyllic. And if you over-eat, then visit the hotel’s fitness suite which includes a sauna and Jacuzzi, all free of charge.

St Janos Hotel overlooking the Danube
St Janos Hotel overlooking the Danube

Next to the St János Hotel is the more traditional Revkapu Motel. This doubles as the ticket office for the cross-Danube ferry, which operates every 30 minutes during the daytime.

The town has a number of fascinating churches: the 18th-century Baroque Protestant church, the Serbian Greek Orthodox church and the Avas church with its imposing bell tower. The central square is dominated by the Battlefield Memorial Church, the so-called Votive Church; when it was built in 1929, earth was supplied for the foundations from over 3,000 towns and villages around Hungary. On one side of the central square is the Town Hall, an intriguing Moorish style building, with cream and pink stonework and green domes.

The Votive Church
The Votive Church

The town hosts the annual pre-Lent Busóĵárás carnival to mark the end of winter. Men wearing sheepskins and strange masks parade through the town and dance around bonfires. The Kanizsa Dorothy Museum of ethnography, featuring costumes and folk art from the region, is to open in a new building in the oldest part of Mohacs in January 2014.

When you’ve looked around the town and then strolled along the banks of the Danube, take a trip across the Danube on the ferry – free of charge for those over 65. On the east bank there are a couple of cafés overlooking the river. I had a pleasant drink or two before crossing back to Mohács.

So if you fancy a relaxing break way off the beaten track, then how do you get to Mohács? Well several budget airlines fly from the UK to Budapest including Jet2 from East Midlands, Edinburgh and Manchester. Then either hire a car for a few days and drive the 100 miles or so down the M6 motorway.

Ferry across the Danube
Ferry across the Danube

Or you can travel by Hungarian railways via Pécs – free of charge for EU citizens over 65. Alternatively, if you take a Danube cruise, it may stop at Mohács.

Whichever way you get there, it makes sense to find time also to visit the beautiful, University city of Pécs just 25 miles away. This will feature in a future post.