The town that sounds like a sneeze, Székesfehérvár was the coronation and burial place for generations of Hungarian royals. Today the outside world best knows it more as the home of Videoton, the electronic manufacturing company and its football team, the current national champions and last Hungarian club to reach a European final.
The main railway junction between the capital, Budapest, and Hungary’s leading leisure destination of Lake Balaton, Székesfehérvár didn’t witness top-flight football until the 1960s, two decades after Videoton were formed as war-time Vadásztölténygár SK (‘SK Hunting Rifle Cartridge Factory’). As Vasas, the club gained promotion to the top division in 1967, a year before a sponsorship agreement with Videoton.
Gaining traction in the 1970s, Videoton enjoyed a purple patch in the mid-1980s. Under Ferenc Kovács, Videoton famously beat Manchester United on penalties in the UEFA Cup quarter-final of 1985, then beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the away leg of the final – after losing the home one 3-0.
Videoton’s current good fortune – winning a first domestic title in 2011 then a second in 2015 – owes much to the financial and political backing of their most famous fan, football-mad Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Successive foreign managers have steered Videoton through regular European competition, including a run to the group stage of the Europa League in 2012-13.
More significantly, in 2007, on the 80th anniversary of the birthdate of Ferenc Puskás, the Videoton-Puskás Akadémia was created, a nursery feeder team for Videoton. Based in the village of Felcsút, home of Viktor Orbán, they have recently been developed into a top-flight club with a brand new stadium, the Pancho Aréna, named after Puskás. Costing HUF3.8 billion, it opened to much controversy in 2014, its capacity of 3,800 being more than twice the population of Orbán’s village an hour’s drive from Székesfehérvár. Equally controversially, a narrow-gauge rail link was announced in March 2015, to be built at a cost of HUF600 million of EU funds.
On the pitch, the now named Puskás Akadémia FC have been top flight since 2013. The under-17 team compete in the Puskás Cup in the spring, usually against their counterparts from the youth academies of Budapest Honvéd, Real Madrid and Panathinaikos.
The nearest international airport is Budapest, 100km (62 miles away). There is no direct transport to Székesfehérvár. A Fötaxi (+36 1 222 2222), ordered from the kiosk outside Arrivals, would cost upwards of HUF30,000 – just under €100. Otherwise you have to head into Budapest – see Budapest transport – then take the train from either Déli (red metro line 2) or Kelenföld (green metro line 4) from town, journey time around 50min, tickets around HUF1,500 (about €5).
In town, city transport consists of local buses. The stadium is a 10-15min walk from the main rail station, in the opposite direction to the city. For a cab, call Fehérvár Taxi (+36 22 222 222 or +36 22 343 343).
The nearest hotel to the stadium is the comfortable, 42-room Szárcsa Csárda és Fogadó, with a pool, sauna and restaurant serving Hungarian specialities. Also close but on the other side of the station, the Hotel Plátán is a 28-room three-star.
In the town centre, the Hotel Vadaszkürt jagerhorn.hu punches above its two-star status. The Novotel Székesfehérvár is the main business-friendly lodging in town. Finally, the Hotel Magyar Király is an affordable four-star with spa in a historic building.
You should find enough bars in the town centre to catch football on TV and avoid having to suffer Hungarian beer – there’s nearly always a Czech, German or Belgian alternative.
The Sörpatika Sörözö down the little sidestreet of Várkapu utca keeps late hours and shows matches. In the same street, the Várkocs Old Pub is somewhat more bohemian, with outdoor seating.
Also central, the Salvator Étterem offers great Paulaner beer but little by way of TV sports.
The Irish Music Pub & Restaurant (Vörösmarty tér 1) was closed at some point in 2014 but should be bouncing back.
For late-night fun, Kinxtown in Bregyó köz is the best DJ spot.