Hungary

Situated in Eastern Europe, this quiet little landlocked countryis a very attractive place to visit. Hungary is famous for picturesque lakeside resorts, delicious food and wine, and exceptional architecture. The pearl of Hungary is Budapest – not only the capital, but also a splendid cosmopolitan metropolis with exquisite architectural and historical sights, and an extremely picturesque location on the Danube River.

Hungarian history has been complex. Hungary has been ruled by many dynasties, occupied by the Turks and for a significant time formed part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy under the Habsburg crown. Following World War II, the state passed through the era of Communism and experienced the dramatic revolution of 1956. All those periods and events have left their marks on the architecture and tradition of modern Hungary. Similarly, Hungarian culture is very diverse and unusual, with noteworthy achievements both in classical and folk music. Moreover, numerous well-known composers and performers were born in Hungary (Franz Liszt, Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly among them). Other illustrious Hungarians include Andre Kertesz, master of photography, and Imre Kertesz, a Hungarian writer of Jewish origin and Nobel Prize winner.

Hungarians are very proud of Budapest, their major tourist destination. Situated on two sides of the Danube River, this extraordinary city pulsates with life and offers a wide spectrum of monuments, museums and other tourist sights that can occupy travellers for weeks. Sights not to miss include the Parliament House, Gellert Baths, Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church and the Buda district – the atmospheric, hilly area on the opposite bank from central Pest. A range of museums is an additional attraction of the Hungarian capital. You should also visit Eger, a Baroque town known for its wines, or the enormous cathedral in Esztergom, or perhaps Miskolc, with its unusual Cave Bath supplied with warm thermal waters. Apart from the main towns, there are a number of historical towns and villages along the Danube Bend, several palaces and castles plus many more attractions.

In order to relax after a city adventure in Hungary, leave for Lake Balaton, one of the largest in Europe. Not only swimming and all kinds of water sports, but also hiking and exploring local wine cellars are available there. Another attractive destination nearby is the excellent spa town of Heviz with its thermal springs. A nice one-day extension from Budapest would be Szentendre, a huge open-air ethnographic museum.

For centuries, Hungary has taken pride in its local cuisine, known for hot dishes with a lot of paprika as well as excellent wines and very good cakes. Among the most popular meals are goulash, or beef stew, and a vegetable stew called lecso; fish is also an important element of traditional Hungarian meals. A glass of red Bull's Blood (Egri Bikaver) or white Tokay (Tokaji) will add to a great Hungarian-style dinner. To experience something stronger, taste palinka, a local variety of brandy made from plums.

The tourist infrastructure here is developing very fast: more and more people speak English and the standard of tourist accommodation is increasing. Especially Budapest and the region of Balaton Lake offer great accommodation offers, including hotels, apartments and guest houses. The best time to visit Hungary is from spring until autumn: the summers in Hungary are typically very warm, the springs and autumns are quite mild, while the winters are very cold.

One more top attraction in Hungary is the Formula One Grand Prix, organised annually in Mogyorod, some 20 kilometres south of Budapest. The race is held in August on the Hungaroring circuit, drawing thousands of spectators to Hungary. If you’re not a racing fan, keep in mind that during this period, the hotels in Budapest are packed with visitors and the prices rise significantly.

Hungary is situated in the very middle of Europe, making it close to many other European countries. So don't hesitate, catch a flight and explore Hungary yourself. Just keep in mind that the diversity of this outstanding country could be too much for one visit!