Hungary has experienced it all—Turkish invasion, German occupation, and Soviet acquisition. It’s no surprise aspiring empires have wanted Hungary for their own; Hungary's a gem in the heart of the region! With its complex Finno-Ugric language and its Central-European location, Hungary is re-affirming its identity as a country with a unique culture and history, delicious cuisine, fine wines, and more. This Country of the Magyars, as it is called locally, is a place unlike any other.
Facts about Hungary:
- The official language of Hungary is Hungarian, so bring your phrase books--Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn!
- The currency used in Hungary is the forint.
- Hungary is landlocked by these countries: Austria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Ukraine--a perfect central location for exploring these countries.
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary. Its faded glory is what attracts visitors in all seasons: New-Gothic structures punctuate its skyline, monuments to heroes from bygone days monopolize squares, one of Europe's oldest subway systems still transports passengers from point to point, and the Danube chugs lazily through the city, splitting it into two sides. Over everything stands Buda Castle
, and if you want a clearer picture of how the capital looked at its height of success and power, visit any of Budapest's cafes
or take a tour of the State Opera House
This 1000-year-old bishopric is one of Hungary’s loveliest Baroque towns. The Archbishop’s Church is the second largest church in Hungary. Inside, the Main Bishopric Library holds 130,000 volumes, including the first book ever published in Hungary. In the Spekula Observatory, a camera obscura projects an image of the town on a white board. Visit the castle where 2,000 Hungarian soldiers defended the city from an enormous Turkish army, or sample the Bull's Blood of Eger
--one of Hungary's most famous wines--in the Valley of the Beautiful Women.
Europe’s largest lake, Lake Balaton
, is a popular nature-lover's destination (though it offers plenty to do for those who aren't so interested in nature). Swimming, windsurfing, kayaking, and sailing are all popular pastimes for visitors to this lake, and on dry land, bike and hiking paths allow visitors to enjoy the open air. Previously an exclusive resort area for Hungary’s elite, Lake Balaton now has many modern hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs. The area is also a wine-growing region, where red and white wines are produced, then shipped throughout Europe and the world.
Getting to Hungary:
Flights to Hungary regularly arrive in Budapest (Compare prices
for flights to Budapest). You can explore Hungary on your own using public transportation, or book a tour to Hungary from one of the many companies specializing in travel to the region.
If you're already in Europe, keep in mind that Budapest is well connected with other major cities by train.
English is widely spoken in Hungary, especially in major cities. Hungarians understand how difficult their language is for English speakers, so if you learn a few basic phrases, your efforts will be appreciated.
Carry some of the local currency for emergency situations, but know that credit cards are widely accepted.
Hungarians are proud of their cuisine, wine, and spirits. Seek out restaurants serving up local specialties.