Like Siofok on Lake Balaton to the east, Sopron Hungary is one of the country’s most popular tourist resorts and holiday destinations. It’s also one of the most picturesque towns in Hungary, and graced with fascinating historic monuments. The town still has its medieval layout, and one of the most rewarding things to do here is wander through the narrow, cobbled lanes of the Old Town lined with charming old houses and buildings. Part of the medieval city wall and one of the two city gates, complete with remains of a drawbridge, still exist.
History is very much alive in Sopron. Because the Turks did not occupy the town, it was a refuge for many who fled the advance of the Ottoman Empire. This gave it a multicultural heritage and meant that, unlike most of the rest of the country, many of its important medieval buildings were not destroyed. Therefore, the attractions in Sopron that draw so many are the beautiful medieval structures, including several churches, the exceptional Old Synagogue and the twelfth-century Firewatch Tower (Tüztorony) that is the town’s symbol. The tower, complemented by the lofty spires of several historic churches, dominates the skyline from all directions.
Sopron Hungary was nearly destroyed by fire in 1676, so the tower didn’t do its job flawlessly! But the fire spared many of the Gothic medieval buildings, and others were replaced by equally beautiful Baroque structures. Many people take vacations to Sopron simply to discover its wonderful architecture, and it is possible to book town tours that do just this. Special attention is due to the Storno House, one of the most beautiful in town, in the main square. Ferenc Storno of Switzerland settled here in 1845 and soon became a renowned art and antiques restorer; the house today is a museum containing his priceless collection. Numerous other buildings and monuments steeped in history make up the wonderful ensemble that is Sopron. The town is rivaled only by Budapest for historic and important monuments—these are the attractions in Sopron that are so important and so appealing to visitors.
Sopron tourism has also benefited from its location right on the Austrian
border, between Lake Fertõ and the Sopron Mountains. The town is sometimes referred
to as Hungary’s “Gateway to the West,” and at the foot of the Firewatch Tower
is the Gate of Honor, commemorating the town’s rejection of Austrian citizenship
in 1921. Vacations to Sopron take advantage of skiing
in Austria, hiking
in the mountains, and lush forests (there are hotel resorts in the hills outside
Sopron), water activities on the nearby lake, and proximity to Lake Balaton
and Budapest. Vienna Austria is only about 45 miles away, so Austrians are part
of Sopron tourism and there is easy access to Austria’s capital from the town.
You can see that the attractions in Sopron extend far beyond the city limits.
The region (in both Austria and Hungary) is also excellent for the production of good Hungary wine and grapes that thrive in the sub-Alpine climate. Kékfrankos, a deep red wine similar to Gamay and containing plenty of acidity, is the major wine here. In Austria, it is called Blaufränkisch. Vacation packages that are geared towards wine lovers often include the town on their itineraries, and it’s clear that vacations to Sopron can encompass diverse and varied interests.
Sopron Hungary has many good budget dining opportunities, as there are numerous small coffeehouses, cafés, and pubs serving a variety of cuisines. Some of the finest restaurants are in the upscale hotels, but even these are not expensive by Western European or American standards.
Getting to Sopron is fairly uncomplicated. There is regular rail service from both Budapest and Vienna and good roads if you have a car. There are regular flights from Budapest. If you’re staying in town, most everything can be accessed on foot or public bus, and most hotels can arrange for excursions and tours that include whatever transportation is needed. It’s even possible to book sightseeing flights, and you can see all the attractions in Sapron from a bird’s eye view.