Our trip to Pannonhalma was on a bit of a whim. We had just gone to the local pools for the first time earlier that day and despite our dry, sun-kissed skin and tired out kiddos we really loved this afternoon visit! Derek was very eager to take us to see this region as he had heard about the Abbey and how beautiful it was, and he insisted we eat at the acclaimed Viator restaurant at the Abbey as well. Boy am I glad we did!
The Pannonhalma Archabbey is a Benedictine Monastery dating back to the year 996 AD, and its situated at the top of a beautiful hill in northwest Hungary. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Papa through the rolling hills to the north.
When we arrived, we parked at the Viator Restaurant parking area and walked a short distance up up and UP stairs and pathways to the Abbey grounds and eventually the entrance. There is a fee for guests to visit the Abbey grounds but it is worth it!
The views from the walkways around the Abbey were glorious! I can see why the monks chose this spot. It was a perfect day to take in the views looking south in Hungary. The kids were speechless when we finally reached the sprawling cliff walls.
The Abbey is still active, even as a school! We saw a few school children playing soccer in the courts. The Abbey is known for its lavender, and I made sure to purchase some decadent but well-priced products (hand creme and lavender oil) in the gift shop.
We toured inside the cloister, library, main church and sepulcher. Beau thought the library reminded him of Harry Potter. Didi thought it was more like Beauty & the Beast, and Willow noticed the basement was rather echoey, so that’s when it was time to leave! This is definitely a place we plan to return to. (See photos for descriptions)
Not only are the Abbey grounds worth a visit (make sure to pick up the audio guide!) the entire property had beautiful trails to explore. There is a monument, chapel, and observation deck along the trails to the southeast that also have lovely views. It is also possible to reserve a private tour of the nearby gardens and fields of the monks (where their famous lavender and grapes are grown!) so plan ahead if that interests you.
After we toured the Abbey we headed back down the hill to the Viator restaurant. We were the ONLY people there, at 5pm on a weekend! The views were terrific and the food was absolutely delicious. Despite being less of a kid-friendly establishment, the kids did great at our terrace table and they gobbled up the gourmet “chicken noodle soup” – and I had the duck! The best duck I have ever had, and the first foie gras I’d ever tasted! It was SO yum! Even the kids tried it and loved it! Their menu is changing regularly, so we will have to try it out in every season. Thanks for a fun day, Pannonhalma! ‘Til next time!