Hungary – One of the Most Popular Tourist Destinations

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budapest_stadtansichtHungary is one of the fifteen most popular tourist destinations in the world and is bordered by Ukraine and Romania to the east, Austria to the west, Slovenia to the southwest and Slovakia to the north. Hungary is home to one of the largest thermal lakes in the world and boasts the largest natural grassland in Europe. The country is also home to the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest Baroque castle in the world.
The regions of Hungary include Central Hungary, Lake Balaton, Transdanubia, Northern Hungary and Great Hungarian Plain. The capital of Hungary, Budapest, is considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The river Danube splits the city into two areas, namely Buda and Pest. Danube is Europe’s second longest river, after the River Volga, and flows for 1,785 miles from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea.
There are several bridges in Budapest crossing the river, such as Lágymányosi Bridge (the newest bridge in Budapest, with modern architecture and a spectacular lighting system where mirrors reflect the beam of the upward facing floodlights), Petőfi Bridge, Liberty Bridge (it connects the Gellért Baths in Buda with the Great Market Hall in Pest), Elisabeth Bridge, Chain Bridge (the oldest, most beautiful and most photographed of Budapest’s bridges), Margaret Bridge and Árpád Bridge.
Popular Tourist Attractions in Budapest
Most of the city’s popular and famous sights are in downtown Pest and on Castle Hill in Buda. The Royal Palace, or Buda Castle, was built between 1308 and 1342 and is located on the Castle Hill. The National Gallery is inside the Royal Palace wings, as well as some museums.
The Royal Palace
2 Royal Palace BudapestThe Budapest History Museum is located in the southern wing of Buda Castle. The highlights of the exhibition are the Gothic statues of Buda Castle and a 14th-century silk tapestry decorated with the Angevin coats of arms. The Budapest History Museum is dedicated to the history of Budapest. Not many artefacts survived the once famous medieval palace, but the museum still features a selection of restored rooms.
Other attractions include the Lion Courtyard; the Matthias Well, a bronze statue of King Matthias, the statue of the Turul Bird and the mythological bird of the Magyars. Great museums that are worth visiting include the Museum of Medieval Judaism, Pharmacy Museum, Marzipan Museum, the Military Museum and the Music Museum.
The Parliament Building
3 BeautifulHungary Parlement HouseThe beautiful Parliament Building watches over the Danube River and lies in Lajos Kossuth Square. Line 2 from the Lajos Kossuth Square Station will give you easy access to the Parliament. The building is a notable landmark and the tallest building in Budapest and home to the crown of Saint Stephen. You can experience a guided tour presented in English each day at ten o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon.
The Parliament is the biggest building in Hungary and about a thousand people were involved in building it. The main façade faces the Danube. The building has ten courtyards, twenty-seven gates, twenty-nine staircases and 691 rooms. One of the famous parts of the building is the central hall with the huge chambers adjoining it. The stained glass and glass mosaic paintings are stunning. Make sure to visit the Assembly Hall of the House of Magnates and the Assembly Hall of the House of Representatives. The Holy Crown of Hungary is displayed in the central hall.
Great Tourist Destinations in Hungary
The Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst consist of 712 caves spread out over a total area of 138,000 acres along the border of Hungary and Slovakia. The most significant cave system in the property is that of Baradla-Domica, a cross-border network richly decorated with stalagmites and stalactites. Also worth mentioning is the Dobsina Ice Cave, one of the most beautiful in the world. Aggtelek is a village in northern Hungary, close to the Slovak border. There is a direct bus from Miskolc which takes about two hours.
Lake Balaton
4 Lake BalatonThousands of visitors go to Siófok, the unofficial summer capital of Lake Balaton, each year. The freshwater lake lies in the Transdanubia region of Hungary. Balaton is also popular during the winter, when visitors go ice-fishing on the lake if it freezes over. The mountainous region of the northern shore is known for its historic character and is a major wine region, while the flat southern shore is known for its resort towns. The major resorts around the lake are Siófok, Keszthely, and Balatonfüred.
Hungary is an excellent destination for bird watching. Balaton Uplands National Park is located about forty kilometers from Zalaegerszeg, to the north of Lake Balaton. The Kis Balaton was included by the Ramsar Convention in 1979 in the list of Wetlands of International Importance as Waterfowl Habitat. The Balaton Uplands National Park offers information about exhibition sites, accommodation and nature trails. In addition to the many species of birds, you can find several rare plants and animals in the park.
Nature trails that offer stunning views and sites include Buffalo Reserve, (Kápolnapuszta, Phone: +36 30/287-0249) – a fantastic site at Kis-Balaton, Kotsy Water Mill (Zalaszántó, Phone: +36 30/256-6727) – relics from the age of mills, Salföld Manor (Salföld, Phone: +36 30/939-0770) – ancient type domestic animals and herb garden and Hegyestu (Monoszló, Phone: +36 30/620-4082) – lavish panorama from the top of a basalt volcano.
You can treat the climb up Badacsony Hill as a pub crawl. Small wine growers sell their wines by the bottle or glass along the trail and much of the wine is mediocre, but you may find some true gems here.
Belly Dancing in Budapest
5 Belly DancingWomen from all over Hungary celebrate their femininity at the annual Miss Belly-Dance contest. Belly dancing is extremely popular in Hungary and it is no secret that Hungarian women have a special sense of rhythm and talent for this type of dance. Women combine the movements with grace and creativity in order to express their womanhood, inner self and freedom. You can also watch the Belly-Dance Evolution, a world-class dance festival show featuring top artists, each with their own unique style.
Sziget Festival on Óbudai Sziget is an institution attracting rock fans, world music hippies and the usual festival crowd every year in August. It has become one of the best-known festivals in Europe, offering a multitude of cultural, culinary and musical events. Sleeping in a tent under the open sky instead of a hotel room gives the complete festival feeling.
The Ultimate Paprika Experience
6 PaprikafestThe Hungarian cuisine typically involves the use of paprika, such as pörkölt (a stew with of sautéed onions and paprika), töltött káposzta (cooked cabbage leafs filled with meat in a paprika sauce) and paprikás veal or chicken (cooked in delicious creamy paprika sauce).
The Kalocsa Paprika Festival is a fortnight-long series of events. At this gastronomic event held annually since 1998 people cook dishes with paprika and the many uses of the paprika can be observed as the chefs prepare a whole range of different dishes from the simple stews and goulashes to fancy restaurant dishes.
Visa Requirements for Hungary
Hungary is part of the European Union, and everyone entering the country is required to have a valid passport. American, Canadian and EU passport holders can stay in Hungary for up to 90 days without a visa, as long as the passport is valid for at least three months beyond the visit.

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