Hungary is a relatively little known country from eastern Central Europe, with a surface of only 93,028 square kilometers and a population of 9.9 million people (as of 2013).
Despite its small size, Hungary is a very nice place to visit. Actually, there are more tourists each year visiting Hungary than its own population (over ten million in 2013).
The country rests in the Carpathian Basin and it is neighbored by Romania and Ukraine on the Eastern border, Slovakia on the North, Croatia and Serbia on its southern border, Austria on the west and Slovenia on the south eastern border. The largest city and also the capital is Budapest.
Being a member of the European Union and having signed the Schengen Area treaty, it’s very easy to get a “free pass” and thus to visit the country.
Featuring bucolic landscapes, impeccably preserved (historical) small cities and towns, filled with elegant churches, castles and palaces (it was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Hungary makes for a nice and instructive place to visit if you’re a history buff.
By far, the most important “selling point” for a visitor is the capital Budapest, a cosmopolite city with a population of ~2 million souls that is crossed by the river Danube, a city filled with culture, art and a lively nightlife.
Having a mild continental climate, on the temperate side, with hot summers, mild autumns and harsh winters, you can visit Hungary depending on your preferences at any time of the year.
What to see and what to do while in Hungary
Being in the top 15 most popular “must see” tourist destinations worldwide, especially due to its beautiful capital (some say Budapest is the most beautiful city in the entire world), there are lots of places to visit in Magyarország.
There are quite a few UNESCO biosphere reserves plus a lot of World Heritage Sites in Hungary, not to mention the beautiful Balaton Lake plus the biggest thermal lake in the world (lake Heviz). If you’re fond of Jewish culture, Hungary harbors the largest synagogue in the EU, the Great Synagogue (not very original, I know), the third largest church in EU (Esztergom Basilica), the 2nd largest abbey in the whole wide world (Pannonhalma abbey),the biggest medicinal bath in EU(Szhechenyi Medicinal Bath), one of the largest baroque castles worldwide, the second largest if memory serves (Godollo), a huge early-Christian necropolis (Pecs), the list goes on and on.
Gyor is a city near the Austrian/Slovakian borders, a great shopping place with a baroque architecture that attracts thousands of tourists every year and makes for a very pleasant trip if you’re visiting Budapest (it’s very close to the capital).
The thermal springs in Budapest (over 100) and medicinal baths (Gellert Baths) date from the Middle Ages and make the city famous. Kecskemét is another place to visit on route from Szeged to Budapest, featuring nice museums and the best palinka (A type of fruit brandy)in the world.
If you want to take a whiff of the rural Hungary, go visit Sóstói Open-Air Museum, located in the city of Nyíregyháza .
The Aggtelek National Park harbors the caves of Aggtelek, over 260 of them actually, dating from the Triassic Period (hundreds of millions of years old) and also some nice ruins (a church and a monastery .
There are lots of national parks to visit in Hungary, not to mention the resorts from Lake Balaton along with horse riding in the Great Plains or hiking in the mountains of Matra or Bukk.
But the main selling point for the regular tourist is Budapest, as I already told you. A huge city with a very unique atmosphere and culture, one of Europe’s most beautiful and pulsating with life cities. There are over 2.7 million tourists visiting Budapest each year. There are actually 2 cities, Buda and Pest, Buda on the west bank of the river Danube and Pest on the east bank.
Budapest was heavily influenced by the Viennese and Parisian culture and each of the two cities has its own unique flavor.
Phone calls and text to Hungary
You can use 011Now in order to save on International calls to Hungary. Texting is also possible with 011Now when using smartphone apps for iPhones and Android phones.
Food and Drink in Hungary
Hungary is well known for its paprika and goulash, the national “dish” sort of speak, but its cuisine is a mélange of Turkish, French and various Central European Countries, including Serbia.
Also, wine is a very serious business in Hungary, especially white wines from Tokaj region and red ones from Kekfrancos.
Specialties include spicy soups (halaszle), the traditional goulash (gulyas), pancakes (gundel palacsinta), paprika chicken, sausages enhanced with paprika, various soups and egg dumplings. Hungarians love sweet wines and liquors.
Hungary is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID. For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).