Hungary is a small country (only 1% of Europe), with a continental climate stretched out on the Carpathian Basin, along the Danube, where the visitor will find, amongst others:

• Eye-catching scenery of wide open plains, forested hills, caves, beautiful lakes, hot springs, and an abundance of wildlife in its national parks.
• One of the centres of the Renaissance, with a rich cultural history.
• Famous cities and fabulous villages.
• Hundreds of impressive castles, churches and sites of special interest.
• Exclusive wines and tasty cuisine.



Since 1989 Hungary is an independent parliamentary republic with about 10 million inhabitants, landlocked by Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Ukraine, and member of the European Union. As a country its history can be traced back for a 1000 years, since it was founded in 895 by King Stephen. Through the centuries it was ruled by different conquerors, but succeeded in retaining its cultural and religious identity, kept alive all over the country - in rural areas, small villages and by modern-day city inhabitants. They proudly refer to themselves as Magyars, instead of as Hungarians, and to their country as Magyarország, in that way emphasising their ethnical and historical heritage.


Hungary can be accessed through all normal modes of transport:

• By air: The main international airport is the Franz Liszt in the capital, Budapest, from where trains, buses, shuttles or taxis, transport visitors to the city. The international airport at Debrecen caters mainly for chartered flights, whilst the airport at Sármellék (near Lake Balaton) is sometimes temporarily opened for international passengers.
• By rail or bus: Trains or buses from all over Europe offer speedy and comfortable transport to Budapest, as well as to other main cities.
• By river: Since Budapest is situated on the Danube, river cruises (hydrofoil, ferry, river boats) offer a scenic way of entering the country from either east or west.


Like the rest of Europe Hungary has four distinct seasons, but depending on the visitor’s preferences and interests, the country can be visited throughout the year.

• However, summer (June to August) is regarded as the high season, especially during European holidays, whilst December, with its Christmas scenery and special ambience is also popular.
• January and February are the least visited.
• Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are regarded as shoulder season, with fewer tourists, but many cultural activities to attend.


The public transport system within Hungary is highly developed, with Budapest serving as the central node:

• By rail: Three main stations in the capital transport passengers to all corners of the country by way of an extensive railway network.
• By tram: In the four biggest cities, Budapest, Debrecen, Szeged and Miskolc trams and metro offer fast transport.
• By car: An extensive system of motorways and minor roads connects the main cities, towns and villages.
• By coach/bus: A fast and regular service between more than 100 cities and towns.
• By water: Cruises of all sorts along the Danube, or on Lake Balaton


To name just 5 of the must-see attractions out of hundreds is almost impossible, since it depends on the visitor’s interest. However, apart from Budapest itself, the following should be in the bucket list:
• Open-air museums and preserved villages:
o To be found all around the country, such as the Ethnographic Museum at Szentendre, not far from Budapest, upstream on the banks of the Danube, or
o the Museum Village at Sóstó, displaying the cultural and architectural diversity of five regions of the country.
o At Hollokó, a World Heritage Site displaying a living medieval village perfectly preserved, the inhabitants actually maintain a centuries old life-style
• Beautiful/historical towns:
o About 140 km from Budapest the historic Eger offers the visitor impressive and diverse sights, such as a castle more than 700 years old, an underground town, Turkish square, award winning wines in the Valley of the Beautiful Women, just west of the town.
o Other towns to be considered are Szeged, with its award-winning historical centre, situated on the banks of Tisza, Hungary’s second largest river, or Szentendre, mentioned above, as well as Esztergom and Visegrád, all on the banks of the Danube.
• Nature:
o Lake Balaton, with small villages like Tihany, Badacsony, or
o Blatonfured on the shores to stay in. Also Lillafured, a small town in the north-east region, surrounded by hilly forests, rivers, waterfalls, caves, and the neigbouring National Park.
o Another World Heritage site not to be missed is the Caves of the Aggtelek and Slovak Karst, with the world’s highest stalagmite in one of its 712 caves.


• Accommodation:

o Apartments - The Basilica Apartments in the centre of Budapest near the Andrássy Boulevard and metro station offers superb accommodation in fully equipped units with views of the Basilica.

o Luxury Hotels – The 5-star Corinthia Hotel is superbly situated on the Grand Boulevard, near a metro station.
• Restaurants serving traditional cuisine:
o The award-winning Gundel Restaurant in Budapest not only serves traditional Hungarian dishes, but has a wide range of some of the best Hungaryan wines.
o At the 100 years old Éves Restaurant live gypsy music is also performed.
• Wine and pálinka:
o An extensive range of wines can be tasted in many bars of Budapest, such as at the DiVino at the St. Stephen Square, or the Vinowonka at the Corvin Promenade.
o The wide variety of Hungary’s traditional and unique pálinka, a spirit with a minimum alcohol content of 37.5%, distilled from different types of fruit must be tasted. The Abszolút Pálinka in Budapest is the most visited place for this, but the Rézangyal Bisztró is just as famous.


Besides staying with locals or in privately owned inns, the best way to gain insight into the ways of life of a country’s inhabitants is attending festivals, like the following:

• In Budapest:

o The Festival of Folk Arts ((Mestersegek Unnepe), annually held at the end of August, with many programmes like folk art performances, the demonstrations of traditional crafts, and traditional food and drink to be enjoyed, as well as a spectacular fireworks display best seen from a cruise on the Danube.
o At the end of March the annual Spring Festival, with its many concerts and performances in the all the fields of music, like opera, classical, folk, and dance draws thousands of spectators to the city’s many venues, like the State Opera House.

• Elsewhere:

o Annually during June and July hundreds of art events like theatre plays, concerts, and workshops take place in the small towns around Lake Balaton during the Valley of Arts Festival.
o The spectacular Mohacs Carnival with its legendary origins, also called the Busójárás Festival, with fancy dress masquerades, and feasts, takes place for six days in the southern regions of the country during winter.
o Spring Festivals, like that in Budapest, also take place in many of the smaller towns during March, such as in Szentendere.

Manie Wolvaardt

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