Hungary is one of the most favorite tourist countries of Central Europe. The country has a colorful colorful national culture, which thrives despite the active process of globalization. Infrastructure and economy of Hungary is on a very high level. The population, according to the 2017 census, is 9,797,561 and the territory is 93,030 km².
Tourists are attracted by the numerous balneotherapy resorts, ancient sights, excellent cuisine and a rich excursion program of Hungary. Moreover the country is considered one of the most inexpensive in Europe. The incredible diversity of life here and the entertainment for every taste allows you to easily organize an independent, family or romantic vacation.
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Parliament building in Budapest Lake Heviz – a popular Hungarian balneotherapy resort Budapest Small church in the village of Tsengersim
Cities of Hungary
Attractions and excursions
There are as many places of interest here as in Western or Northern Europe. The sights of Hungary are original, reflecting the turbulent centuries-old history, an unusual mixture of cultures and styles. The main and the biggest jewel of the state is the capital – the city of Budapest. Sometimes it is called a “museum in the open air” – so many places of interest to fans of history, art and just a picturesque cityscape.
Streets of Buda (Budapest Old Town)
The capital of Hungary is divided into two parts by the Danube, the ancient Buda is particularly beautiful, but there is also much to see in the more modern Pest. Not to mention the magnificent theaters of the city, the royal palace and the magnificent decoration of the parliament building. The Pearl of the Danube is beautiful at any time of the year, and its architecture is very different from the landscapes of other European cities, which immediately catches the eye of experienced travelers. Here you can see many temples of different religions, decorated with their inherent national flavor.
Also Budapest is often called a city-resort, because there are more than a hundred powerful sources of healing mineral waters of various compositions. In the capital, just as throughout the country, you can find unique health resorts, spa centers, and sanatoria.
Szechenyi Bathery Gellert Bathery Kirai Castle Visegrad in Hungary
It is in Hungary where the largest lake in Europe is located, and it is called Lake Balaton. The water body stretches over 600 square kilometers, attracting many fans of water sports in summer and skaters in winter.
Once the Hungarians were a very warlike people, with enviable regularity waged redistribution of territory with neighboring states, so in most cities, large and not very big, you can see the stone bastions, castles, fortresses. Many of them were built during the Middle Ages or even earlier and have survived to this day in their authentic form.
The most famous is the town of Erger, which is a symbol of the victory over the Turks, under whose rule Hungary was more than 170 years. It was here that the decisive battle with the invading armies took place, after which the country began to revive its culture and economy. Despite the tumultuous historical vicissitudes that befell Erger, its Baroque-style quarters are wonderfully preserved.
Sunset on Lake Balaton
When you come to Hungary, at least once take a boat tour on the Danube or just take a tour boat ride. It will give you the opportunity to look at the cities, particularly Budapest, from an unusual angle. In general, there is a huge number of not only classic attractions – popular so-called alternative and thematic excursions.
Please note that when walking around the city should avoid communication with the gypsies and very carefully watch your bag – in public transport and on the streets often pickpockets. Otherwise the crime rate in the country is very low.
The basis of the full-fledged statehood in these territories was laid by Istvan I approximately 1000 years ago. Before that time the current Hungarian territories were the outskirts of the Roman Empire, bearing the name Panonia. Permanent population was small, but nomads and barbarians regularly visited here. Only by the end of the ninth century were the Magyars able to gain a proper foothold.
The siege of Buda, the Great Turkish War, 1686 r. Siege of Eger (1552), in which 2,000 Hungarians fought against 35,000-40000 Turks. The battle ended in victory for Hungary.
Blessed by the Roman Catholic Church, the flourishing monarchical system brought the country culturally and economically on par with the nations of Western Europe. However, as early as the 16th century, Turkish influence reached here and the days of prosperity came to an end. In the XVIII century the fragmented territories passed to Austria. In the second half of the nineteenth century Hungary gained more political power and the Austro-Hungarian Empire came into being.
Map of the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1919-1920
But this rather lucrative alliance was short-lived. The integrity of the Hungarian lands was significantly damaged by the two World Wars, as in both cases the country was on the losing side. In 1947, the Communists took over the state, which lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Janos Kadar made a great contribution to the transformation of Hungary into the state it is today, focusing on the comprehensive development of the domestic consumer-oriented economy.
Viewpoint at the medieval castle Boldogkő
That is why, despite the formally socialist system, already in the seventies the country became one of the most free, wealthy and liberal in Eastern Europe. The end of the 80s was marked by the removal of the communists from power and the beginning of the integration with the Western countries. In 1999 the country joined NATO, and in 2004 it became a member of the EU. Today Hungary is a prosperous European country with democratic structure that managed to save many national traditions, attracting travelers from all countries of the world.
Resorts and Climate
Most of the treatment and spa resorts in Hungary are situated around thermal springs of water and mineral mud. Unique balneological spas and baths have been renowned throughout Europe for recovery and rejuvenation effect for centuries. Specialised sanatoria are intended for treating the diseases of musculoskeletal apparatus, digestive system, metabolism, etc. There are also general recovery resorts.
Water park in Hajdúszoboszló
Among the most famous resorts is Hajdúszoboszló, whose mineral springs are called “hot gold” and are used to treat rheumatism. This quiet town has preserved a lot of historical and architectural attractions, so a visit to Hajdúszoboszló will be of interest to all tourists.
Debrecen is a large modern village, not much inferior to the capital in terms of population. The city’s visiting card is a large thermal water park Nadyerdő, which is also one of the most famous in the country balneological clinics.
Margaret is an island in the heart of Hungary’s capital, set in the waters of the majestic Danube. Its territory is quite small: 2.5 kilometers long and up to 500 meters wide. It is a national reserve, the arboretum of which contains many of the rarest native plants. Here reigns peace and quiet, the cleanest air in the capital, a unique microclimate.
Margaret Island Zima in the town of Sharoshpatak
Not far from the already mentioned Lake Balaton is another famous body of water called Heviz. This is a unique place, the water in which, thanks to the power of springs, is completely renewed in about a day. Hévíz is the largest warm-water lake in Europe: in winter the water is +26. In the winter it reaches +26°C and +28°C, and in the summer it reaches +33…+35°C. Because of that there is often a dense steam over the surface, which forms a special climate of these places.
In general, the annual temperature regime in Hungary is similar to Russia. Summers are hot, but winters are not frosty – the average of the coldest month is 0…-1°C. Spring and autumn are very warm, long and dry, so many experienced travelers advise to visit Hungary in the interseason.
Hungarian national menu is characterized by an abundance of spices. They can be spicy or not very spicy, but generally revered dried paprika, which emphasizes the rich and juicy flavor of local food. Dishes are very hearty, there are vegetarian, but in most cases the indispensable component will be meat or fish.
Goulash Dried paprika Soup Halasle Perkelt Carrot cake Hungarian bread Dry Hungarian salami sausage
The most famous Hungarian dish that is popular outside the country is goulash. In a local restaurant you should certainly order the soup halasle, paprikas, perkelt, and a piece of trout, which is bred in the cold mountain lakes of the country. Another Hungarian culinary invention that is loved all over the world is PICK salami dry sausage. This delicious snack can be stored for quite a long time even without refrigeration. Many tourists take salami and different kinds of paprika back home as a traditional present instead of the boring magnets.
Cold bottle of Hungarian balsam Unicum
It is in Hungary where you can taste dozens of varieties of genuine tokai wine, the drink “Bull’s Blood”, the national vodka “Palinka”. Quality alcohol, as well as salami, can be bought at the market or in a good supermarket. Keep in mind that Tokay wine differs in ageing, harvesting time and sweetness.
Not to mention the opportunity to taste the delicacy of foie gras, which in Europe is authorized for production and sale only here and in France. This is goose liver, taken from birds raised by a special technology.
Separately, we can talk about confectionery, which is as delicious and hearty as the main dishes. Among the most popular, included in the “must” program of the tourist: pancakes gundel, sweet chestnuts with sour cream or cream, roulade retesch, chocolate biscuit galushki, various strudels and, of course, marzipan.
From Hungary as original souvenirs take away not only salami and tokajskoe wine, but also bitter local liquor, such as Unikum. It is worth looking at the unusual national Halasz lace and embroidery, which folk craftsmen make by hand according to ancient traditional techniques. Wonderful look dolls in Hungarian clothes, pottery. All this is created and painted by hand.
Also popular are the porcelain products of Zholnai and Herends factory, because they are of the highest quality and are considered a national treasure. You can buy gift sets of spices, marzipan figurines, fruit palinka.
Souvenirs from Hungary
Compared with other European countries, in Hungary, inexpensive, but very high-quality clothes. You can buy everything you want in supermarkets, stores or market. The oldest and most beautiful is located in Budapest. On Monday-Friday most grocery stores are open from 7.00 to 18.00, and on Saturday until about 12.00-13.00. Large supermarkets may be open much longer, sometimes around the clock. In summertime stores in large cities hold large-scale sales of clothes, shoes, accessories.
The national currency is the Hungarian forint. As in other EU countries, in Hungary you can get a refund of value added tax from the goods that were purchased in a single store to the amount of at least 50 thousand forints. The money is refunded in cash when crossing the state border at road border crossings, the international Danube Port, at Ferihegy Airport 1 and 2 and at the IBUS office located at the Eastern Bus Station.
Vajdahunyad Castle in Hungary
The central hub of transport in Hungary is Budapest, from which roads and railroads to smaller settlements diverge like beams. This is very convenient, but creates some difficulties when you need to get to the city on the other “line”. Nevertheless, having a rental car is not difficult to get to any destination due to the extensive road network.
In order to rent a car you should have a proof of residence in Hungary (for example, a hotel receipt), an international driver’s license and a credit card. Instead of the last item you can make a deposit in cash. You must be over 21 years of age with at least 12 months of driving experience. On the roads there are speed limits, international traffic rules apply. The police in Hungary are very strict – breaking the rules threatens a heavy fine, and the slightest presence of alcohol in the blood also leads to immediate arrest.
The bus service is well developed: you can be sure not only of the exact schedule, but also of the exceptional comfort of the transport. The same applies to trains and ferries. The latter run along the Danube and can even take the traveler to Vienna. As for flights, they are designed mainly for international communication, although a few flights also operate within the country.
Cab rides are completely safe. Cars of this service can be recognized by a characteristic inscription in the door window. At the request of the passenger the driver will provide a bill.
Roads in Hungary
Finances and lodging
The Forint can fluctuate slightly, but generally one dollar is equivalent to about 285 units of the local currency. It is best to exchange currency in official points, banks, hotels, special machines. Please note that the rate at railway stations and airports is somewhat less favorable than in the city. Banks in Hungary work only on weekdays, at most until 16.00. But individual exchangers in the center, as well as machines and related hotel services serve travelers 24/7.
Hunguest Hotel Palota in Lillafüred
Exchange receipts should be kept until just before crossing the border at departure. Many hotels, restaurants, cafes and stores accept credit cards from international electronic systems.
Many tourists are surprised at the excellent ratio of service level and cost of living in hotels. Three-star mid-range hotel offers a cozy room with quality furniture, breakfast, polite and attentive staff. Even in small establishments the staff often speak Russian and English, German and Hungarian are obligatory. About the highest level of service in more prestigious hotels nothing needs to be said.
New Year in Hungary Farsang Festival
In addition to May 1, Easter, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Hungary celebrates a number of national holidays. Farsang is a holiday similar to the Russian Maslenitsa, which came to these lands from Germany. The celebration takes place in spring and is celebrated with carnival acts.
Monument to Saint István at the Fishermen’s Bastion in Buda
The beginning of the warm season also marks the National Revolution Day. On March 15, 1848, a powerful national movement against the Habsburg royal dynasty began, which in time turned into a real Austro-Hungarian war.
Saint István Day
St. Stephen’s Day is one of the most revered holidays because it commemorates the coronation of the first Hungarian monarch, who started the existence of the state. It has been celebrated every August 20th for almost a thousand years. October 23 celebrates the day of the national uprising, which took place in 1956, as well as the anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic. These are the most important, but by no means all of Hungary’s public holidays.
This information will not only help you plan your travels, but will also help you avoid such unpleasant surprises as closed stores and banks.
The Russian Embassy in Budapest is located at V1 Bajza utca, 35. Phone (1) 302-52-30, 332-47-48. The official website is http://www.hungary.mid.ru/.
Russian Embassy in Budapest
The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Debrecen is located at 1 Arany Janos Street. Telephone (52) 536-926, 536-927. Official website http://www.debrecen.mid.ru/.
You can call the ambulance at 104, the police at 107, the fire brigade at 105 and the rescue service at 112. It’s easy to call not only from your cell phone, but also from the vending machines that are installed all over the place. The machines accept coins for 10 HUF – 100 HUF, but also special telephone cards which can be bought at hotels, stores, train stations, post offices and tobacconist’s shops.
How to get there
Hungary borders with Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, so you can enter through any of these countries. For Russians must obtain a Schengen visa.
Direct flights from Moscow to Budapest take 2,5 hours each day. Direct trains go from Moscow through Ukraine with a stop in Kiev. The travel time is about 40 hours. There is also a non-stop train from the Russian capital via St. Petersburg, but you will need a Slovakian visa to leave. The travel time is about 45 hours.