Reviewed by Mary: My family and I have taken a couple day trips to Sopron, Hungary, but thus far our activities have been limited to what is outside. I’ve included links to some of the city’s museums, but we’ve not visited them (yet!) so I cannot speak to them first hand.
Driving to Sopron from Vienna:
Sopron is an easy, one-hour drive from Vienna along the A3. I know that you need a Hungarian vignette to drive on their major highways (i.e., if you were headed to Budapest), but once you cross the border into Hungary you are on a secondary/non-highway road. We have thus never purchased the vignette for our excursions into Sopron and we have not experienced any problems. (But if someone reading this knows for a fact this is wrong and you do in fact need a vignette, please correct me!)
We have always parked at the parking garage by the Petőfi theater on Petőfi tér: it is very inexpensive, and an easy (less than 10-minute) walk to the historic city center from here. As a bonus, if you walk to the city center from the garage along Széchenyi tér, you will pass by a bakery offering all manner of tempting sweets at a very low price. The staff at the bakery speak German as well as Hungarian, and will accept payment in Euros.
Things to do:
As you walk towards the Firewatch Tower, whose gate leads into the old inner city, you will see remnants of the city’s old defensive walls. My children spent a large amount of time running along the walls, imagining they were defending the city. As we were following them along the wall, we noticed three interesting things: multilingual signs along the wall that explained the history of the city and the remaining structures; the open air museum of reconstructed Roman walls and remains of some Roman buildings, and; the walking path that leads you around what remains of the city’s perimeter wall.
As soon as we are sure that Sopron is safe from “the bad guys,” we spend the rest of our time in the city eating and exploring the city’s historic center.
1. Fogas Étterem, located on Előkapu. As I mentioned earlier, we follow Széchenyi tér into the old part of the city, and this restaurant is located right before you get to the church and fire tower. The restaurant is very family-friendly: there is a play area in the back of the restaurant where the kids can play as you wait for your food. The bartender (?!?) kindly made our children hot chocolate, though it was not on the menu.
The restaurant’s specialty is seafood, but there are other hearty offerings. We had a platter that consisted of five huge pieces of various grilled meats situated atop a mound of fries. It was enough to feed our entire family, and it was very inexpensive. The restaurant accepts payment via credit card, Forint (the Hungarian currency), or Euro. The staff did not appear to speak English, but they did speak German.
2. Corvinus-Generális Étterem, Fő tér 7. Another location where you can get a large portion of hearty Hungarian fare for a very low price, payable in either Forint or Euro. The staff were very friendly, and I really appreciated how they greet you with a bowl of Erős Pista and a basket of warm bread.
Last but not least…
There is a Tesco Hypermarket located on the outskirts of Sopron. Tesco is a large British grocery store chain, and the one in Sopron is more akin to a Super Wal-Mart in that it sells household goods as well as groceries. We find the prices there to be lower than those in Vienna, so we always bring a cooler and stock up on grocery staples before we leave Hungary. And beer lovers, save space in your grocery cart for a case of the local Soproni beer.