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Hungary Tourism

Continent: Europe

Ideal Duration: 7 - 12 days

Best Time: April - September Read More

Currency: Hungarian Forints (HUF)

Budget: Cheap - Moderate

"A fusion of traditional and modern Europe"

Hungary Tourism

Currently among the 15 most popular tourist destinations in the world, Hungary offers a unique amalgamation of traditional European culture and modern-day practices. Here, you can take a trip through quaint, rural villages and enjoy a thriving nightlife in Budapest, both within a distance of a few miles. With a capital city regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world, Hungary is home to several World Heritage Sites, UNESCO Biosphere reserves and the second largest thermal lake in the world. Hungary also has the largest synagogue in Europe (Great Synagogue) and the third largest church in Europe (Esztergom Basilica). It is an ideal place for a fun and kicked-back vacation.

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Tourist Places to Visit In Hungary

Regions in Hungary

Northern Hungary is home to the greatest historical towns and cave baths in the country. Central Hungary houses the capital city of Budapest and is thus, the most visited part of the country. The area surrounding the Lake Balaton is a popular tourist destination, famous for serene rural regions, vineyards and bustling towns. Transdanubia lies to the west of the Danube and is one of the most economically developed parts of the country. The Great Hungarian Plain is an isolated section as tourists are scarce; its geography varies from flat to rolling plains.

Best time to visit Hungary

April - September is the best time to visit Hungary

The best time to visit Budapest is from March through May. The weather is idyllic and the city isn't overcrowded. The Cherry Blossom Festival and the Japanese Garden on Margaret Island are blooming with beautiful flowers; Easter celebrations and traditions are in full swing. A good time for walking tours and bar-hopping of BudapestÕs best ruin pubs. A number of Spring festivals take place, centered around food, wine and music.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Cheap for Europe. Great parties. Ruin pubs and thermal baths. Amazing festivals. Unique food and beverages.

What's Not So Great?

Slightly conservative citizens. Significant language barriers.

For Whom?

Travellers on a budget Euro trip. Wine drinkers. Party lovers. Travellers seeking a culturally-immersive European experience.

Stay options in Hungary

Hostels are very cheap with youth hostels charging between EUR 6 - EUR 10, and regular hostels charging EUR 20 - EUR 22 per person. Camping grounds are available for rent at low prices. Farmhouses are also available on rent thanks to growing village tourism. 1hungary.com, Association of Rural and Agrotourism and Centre of Rural Tourism are good places to look for farmhouses. Most of these websites are in Hungarian, but you can make do by using translation tools online. Rural houses near Budapest are also available for rent, such as the Wild Grape Guesthouse near Budapest.

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Currency of Hungary

Major credit cards such as EuroCard, Visa are accepted in major shops and larger restaurants. But one should always check first as small places do not have card machines. Apart from Hungarian Forints, Euros are also accepted now, across big hotels and eating outlets, especially in Budapest.

Exchanging Money in Hungary

If you are buying currency before travelling to Hungary, buy Euros and not Forints. The HUF is not a highly traded currency, and you will most likely get a poor exchange rate in your home country.

While in Hungary, prefer to exchange currency in Budapest or some other major cities. Rates are likely to be much worse in airports and train stations. Unofficial (illegal) money changers also operate near official money changing booths. Apart from being illegal, they also offer unfavourable rates. Tourists are recommended to remain cautious and only avail official money changing services. Further, ATMs offer a much better rate than the bureau de change and are a convenient way to obtain cash. Many banks machines in Budapest accept global debit/credit cards.

Shopping in Hungary

You can carry home the following unique goods from Hungary:
Alcohol:
Wines like Tokaji, Egri BikavŽr, red wine from Vill‡ny area, etc.; P‡linka, the popular, strong fruit brandy.
Food items: Spices like paprika and Hungarian saffron; Gundel set of cheese; Unicum, a herbal digestive liqueur.
Others: Herend, hand painted and gilded porcelain.

The best places to go shopping are mostly in Budapest
Pest's City Center: Home to the V‡ci Street (V‡ci utca) and the Andr‡ssy Avenue (Andr‡ssy œt), it has some of the most glamorous and expensive shops. The Andr‡ssy Avenue is often compared to the Avenue des Champs ElysŽes in Paris.
Central Market Hall: One can find fancy bottles of Tokaji, a variety of paprika, chessboards, dolls and traditional Hungarian clothes here.
Memories of Hungary is one of the best souvenir shops.

Festivals of Hungary

The major festivals in Hungary are:
Budapest Spring Festival: Held in mid-April, this festival has performances of the opera, ballet, classical music in Budapest
Danube Carnival: Held in mid-June in Budapest, it is a multicultural festival
Szentendre Summer Festival: Held from late June to late August, this is an art festival with theatre, concerts, film and activities in Szentendre
Bull's Blood Festival held in July in Eger is a festival of wine and traditional food

History of Hungary

Hungary's foundation was laid in the 9th century by çrp‡d, a great Magyar chief. His position was then taken by his great-great-grandson, Szent Istv‡n (Vajk) in the year 1000. Istv‡n was born pagan but raised as a Christian. He was the first king of Hungary, and thus, the kingdom of Hungary was born. Under his rule, the country became increasingly progressive and westward-looking, and art and architecture flourished immensely. The first Golden Age began. However, post his death, the Ottomans attacked and began their rule for the entirety of 16th and l7th centuries. Post that, the Habsburgs took over, and a more stable time of reconstruction began. Unfortunately, the Habsburg Empire soon started to flounder because of a revolt in 1848 which resulted in the dual monarchy of Austria and Hungary. This glorious time sparked an economic, cultural and intellectual rebirth in Hungary. The second golden age had begun. While the 20th century brought modernity to Hungary, World War I proved extremely disastrous. The country was partitioned into almost one-third of its original size, and millions of ethnic Hungarians were displaced. This was followed by a Russian intervention. The 21st century brought freedom to Hungary giving birth to the present post-communist era of rapid change where constant reminders of a largely vanished Europe are still visible.

Hygiene in Hungary

Food and water in Hungary are generally safe, even in the most remote villages. High-quality private health care providers are widely available in the capital, but very limited in scope outside Budapest. The most high quality and cheap services are those of dentists, better than anywhere in Western Europe. EU citizens can use the European Health Insurance Card for basic medical coverage, but one should check before entering the country what the insurance covers and what needs to be paid. The pharmaceutical coverage is extremely good as pharmacies are everywhere, even if the prices are high. The only problem is communicating with pharmacists and chemists as a majority of them speak only Hungarian.

Customs of Hungary

1. Kissing each other on the cheeks instead of shaking hands is a common form of greeting, even for strangers.
2. According to an old tradition and legend, Hungarians do not clink beer glasses or beer bottles. However, this is not followed by the youngest generation of today.
3. For any alcoholic beverage other than beer, you look into the other person's eye when saying egŽszsŽgedre (the Hungarian word for cheers). It is customary to cheer with each person you are drinking with as opposed to a 'group cheer'.
4. Hungarians often jokingly refer to themselves as "dancing with tears in our eyes" ("s’rva vigad a magyar"), lightly mocking the perceived bad luck in their long past. But tourists should avoid making jokes about Hungarian history.
5. Shoes should be taken off when entering someone's house.

Tips for visiting Hungary

1. Take care of your baggage and personal belongings on public transport as pick-pocketing is common. It is advisable to leave important items in your hotel safe or residence.
2. Hungarians are known to be slightly aggressive and careless drivers, hence drive carefully. Also, keep in mind that the police regularly stop vehicles for document checks.
3. Hungary is more conservative than its European counterparts. Therefore, LGBT travellers are advised to be careful when travelling through rural areas. Budapest is open, friendly and largely safe.

Culture of Hungary

Culture in Hungary is diverse and varied across the country. Central features include a rich folk crafts tradition, for instance, embroidery, decorated pottery and carvings. Hungarian music is also broad in its scope and ranges from Franz Liszt's rhapsodies to folk music to modern songs influenced by various musical traditions. Hungary also possesses a rich literary heritage with many talented poets and writers. Some noted authors include S‡ndor M‡rai and Imre KertŽsz.

Religion in Hungary is mainly comprised of various forms Christianity - 38.9% are Catholics, 13.8% are Protestants and around 2% follow other religions, with remaining non-religious 16.7%.

Hungarian is the most commonly spoken language of the country - it is complicated and difficult to understand (both written and spoken) for English speakers. Fortunately, since English is widely taught in schools and universities, younger people speak and understand English. However, the older generation is unlikely to speak English and language remains one of the biggest barriers for tourism in Hungary. German, on the other hand, is more useful as it is spoken more commonly on account of the shared border with Austria. Common phrases in Hungarian are szia (hi and bye), kŽrem (please) and kšszšnšm (thank you).

Food of Hungary

Food in Hungary is spicy and flavourful, but can be rather than healthy. Several dishes are prepared with lard or are deep-fried. Fresh paprika, made from ground sweet bell peppers, is added to almost every dish. Goulash, a thick paprika-laden stew, is the national dish of Hungary and eaten widely by both citizens and tourists alike. Dishes made from meat, specifically pork, venison and goose are quite popular in Hungary. Some popular dishes include goose liver (libam‡j) and roasted goose leg (sŸlt libacomb). Hungarian pickles called savanyœs‡g accompany almost every meal in the country including breakfast. Hungary is known for its alcoholic beverages, especially wine from Vill‡ny, Eger, Badacsony, Tokaj and Szeksz‡rd. Another popular drink is p‡linka, a strong brandy-like liquor distilled from fruit, served as shots.

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