A host of natural treasures, national heritage sites and gastronomic delights await travellers just a short drive away from Budapest. Easily accessible by HÉV light railway is Gödöllő, a charming small town home to Hungary's most extensive (and recently renovated) Baroque palace. Built in the 18th century by Count Grassalkovich, Gödöllő was a favourite residence of Queen Elisabeth, wife of Franz Joseph I. Affectionately known as Sisi, Queen Elizabeth was adored and admired by her Hungarian subjects, and Gödöllő is an unmissable site for Sisi fans today. The beautifully restored palace and gardens host art events, fashion shows, film festivals and concerts.
Mogyoród, the home of the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix is located nearby.
One does not have to travel far south from the capital to get a taste of life on the "puszta", the Great Hungarian Plain. The Kiskunság National Park is a designated UNESCO biosphere, an absolute heaven for birdwatchers.
The romantic islands and waterways of Ráckeve, along the "Kis-Duna" (small Danube) offer an ideal destination for lovers of cycling, walking and rowing. The town of Cegléd is famous for its protestant church, the largest in Central Europe, the two towers of which can be seen from miles away. Cegléd's 54°C thermal water can also be taken as a drinking therapy.
Ócsa is often called the gateway to Alföld. The town's major claim to fame if the Premonstratensian cathedral dated to the 13th century. The row of wine cellars carved into the Loess wall is unique in the region and well worth a visit. The environs of Budapest offer many opportunities for wine tasting and gastronomic exploration. In Monor 965 loess wine cellars run by small, family vineyards await lovers of the Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, and Riesling varieties.
Just west of Budapest, the small town of Etyek is internationally known for the Korda Film Studios located here, but before that has been renouned for hundreds of years for its wine production. It organises several gastronomic and wine festivals that are fixture in the calendars of Epicureans. Etyek lies at the southern edge of the Zsámbék Basin, where the gently rolling hills invite to horse riding and bicycle tours. The town of Zsámbék bares the mark of many historical periods. It is home to the Zichy palace, as well as what used to be a highly classified military installation, today the museum of Hungarian Air Defence. Every year Zsámbék hosts Summerfest, one of Europe's largest folklore festivals.