Hungary is a European country with unique centuries-old culture.

Hungary – European health fashion!

For several years in a row I choose to vacation in Hungary and I always come back with a lot of new, pleasant impressions. This relatively small country (the length from the north to the south is only 268 km) is situated in the very center of Europe, and has quite deservedly got the reputation of a real recovery at the waters of the local healing springs, which have been popular since times immemorial. During the excavations of Akvincum (this is the ancient capital of the Roman province Pannonia, located on the territory of modern Hungary, in the northern part of Budapest) archeologists discovered over two dozen ancient baths and baths. Here in the I century the first baths were located. By now, centuries-long culture of thermal baths and water recovery in Hungary has formed. Today the country has more than a thousand acting thermal springs with water temperature varying from 25 to 80 degrees, a great number of balneotherapy spas and open-air pools able to replace the usual sea rest. The famous Széchenyi Spa in Budapest, the largest on the European continent, has been functioning since 1881! But it is not at all necessary to go to the capital, where the rest is traditionally more expensive. Almost all spa hotels (including three-star) have their own thermal pools or you can use them in the neighboring hotel. What about hotels! In one of the first visits (and it was in Neredihase, in the late nineties) we were accommodated in a simple youth hostel of a college, but even here, the administrator of the inviting party gave everyone free passes to visit several municipal swimming pools. The review will begin, perhaps, with Sarvar (Sarvar literally translated as “clay fortress”) – a small town in western Hungary, about thirty kilometers from the Austrian border (120 km from Vienna). The cultural center of the city is the Ferenc Nadasdy Castle, in front of which there is a landscaped park (in the past it was one of Europe’s first arboretums!). One of the two thermal fountains is unique in Europe – the water with a temperature of about 80 ° C has a very high concentration of salts (comparable in some respects with the water of the Dead Sea) and rises to the surface from a depth of 2000 meters. The thermal waters of Šárvár Baths are used for the treatment and prevention of skin diseases, rheumatism, diseases of the intervertebral discs and post-traumatic procedures. A separate highlight of Šárvár is the salt cave, where a slightly concentrated salt solution of the spring is successfully used for treatment of upper respiratory tract diseases (asthma, chronic inflammations) and allergic diseases. The famous Charvara crystals are salt evaporated from local medicinal springs and used for home therapeutic baths and inhalations. Do not think that rest at such resorts is recommended only to those who already suffer from any of these ailments. The healthiest fashion in the world is the fashion for health. Prevention is the best care for your health, and thermal baths are very beneficial to the overall physical and psychological tone. Improvement of sleep, a feeling of vivacity, a burst of energy and a charge of positive emotions is a guaranteed result of this kind of recreation. The most convenient for accommodation (but by no means cheap) is the “Spirit Hotel Rogner Terminal Spa” (five stars) – just a ten minute walk from the aforementioned baths.

The name of the hotel speaks for itself – it is a luxury category with excellent quality services: 22 pools and 9 saunas with temperatures and humidity to suit all tastes, including the presence of a “snow room”. There are at least two other comfortable four-star hotels: “Danubius Health Spa Resort Sarvar Hotel” and “Park Inn Sarvar Hotel”. Another place worth seeing is Hévíz, about 180 kilometers from Budapest toward Lake Balaton. The main attraction is the lake, which is spread out in the middle of the central park. Walking along a long alley of the park on the left side you can see a three-storey building with a solid gate – this is the entrance to the paradise, the thermal lake Hévíz. The water in the lake is warm all year round (32-35 ° C in the summer, 24-26 ° C in the coldest winter months) and has a specific smell, because it is saturated with mineral salts (calcium, magnesium, fluorides, sulfur) and gases (carbon dioxide and even radon). For those who know about chemistry, near almost every spring (lake, salt water pool) there are signs with the indicators of concentration or percentage of natural chemical elements in the water. The unique chemical composition of water in the lake is provided by “work” of two thermal and one mineral springs. The surface of the lake is studded with islands of Indian water lilies and equipped with special buoys and rings (for those who are not very good at swimming), and the bottom is a layer of peat mud. The most popular of this fabulous lake is enjoyed by people of old age, who are ready to soak here for hours. However, doctors recommend limiting one-time swimming to no more than 20 minutes. Bathing in the lake is a paid procedure, and the services provided include lockers for changing, rubber laps and towels. In the bar you can try a glass of drinking thermal water, which is extremely useful for the tract, but still could not compete with the Tokay wines. Of the hotels we can safely recommend “Europe Fit” you can see the name in our native language! Most of the staff is fluent in it, and in the restaurant and the menu is in Russian, which allows gourmets to appreciate the many amazing desserts (try “Somlós haluška”) and the Hungarian cuisine itself. The list of treatments offered by the hotel surpasses all expectations: oxygen therapy, mud treatment, different massages (including Thai massage), outdoor and indoor pools, jacuzzi, solarium. Another solid hotel – “Hunguest Hotel Helios” for those who value peace and privacy, especially the building “Benjamin”. The building was built in 1907 and is surrounded on all sides by a beautiful old park. If you happen to have dinner at a local restaurant, be sure to ask for a “Surkebarat” of excellent white wine, which is produced in this particular region. Continuing on your journey you can’t ignore Bükfürdő, another small town with its water spas and the city’s bathing pool, which is hugely popular with Austrians and Germans. In recent years, however, you can often find our tourists here. The town baths are situated in the park area of 13 hectares (!) and are in no way inferior to the most advanced water park: 22 thermal pools (both indoor and outdoor) with various surprises (slides, massage jets, undercurrents, water attractions, etc.), several cafes and many small stores.

How to get there

For accommodation is quite suitable private boarding house (you can actually rent a room in the range of $5-8, and this is typical of all resort locations), but there is an excellent hotel – Radisson SAS Birdland Resort & Spa . If you visit the hotel, you can get a full set of already mentioned above high quality procedures to tone up and strengthen the body. However, there is a twist here as well – a stunning with aromatic oils. Even one session ensures a baby’s sleep the next night and an unforgettable feeling of lightness the next morning. Another attraction of Bükfürdő is the best golf course in Hungary. Enjoy the beauty of perfectly manicured golf courses and several lakes, in which swans swim, from the window of your room (or on the balcony with a cup of coffee). To go to Hungary and not visit Balaton – would be an unforgivable mistake. Balaton is the most popular resort in Hungary, a real freshwater sea with a beautiful coastline. The hilly northern shore (the main resorts are Keszthely, Tihany and Balatonfüred) is famous for its excellent wines, and along the southern shore (Siofok, Balatonföldvár and Fonyod) sandy beaches, hotels and holiday villages are spread. The swimming season lasts from spring to late fall, the water temperature rarely drops below 22-23 ° C. The southern coast is a shallow water, the bottom of which is covered with velvety sand – it is an ideal place for family holidays with small children, as the depth of the coastline is less than half a meter. On the north shore of Lake Balaton lake bottom goes down more steeply, and at a distance of 30-40 meters from the shoreline depth is greater than human height. Balaton is lined by the Tihany peninsula and if you want to take home some nice souvenirs, Tihany ceramics are the best choice. As an active recreation sailing and surfing. In Kesthey and Tihany, riding schools are popular among vacationers. In addition, almost in every resort town have tennis courts No problem and with nutrition and numerous inns and cozy restaurants, where you can appreciate the dishes of Balaton cuisine. Besides excellent white wine I recommend to try spicy Hungarian fish soup, Balaton silver pike-perch and paprikash – pieces of fish or meat under sour cream sauce with red pepper (it is believed that the best paprikash – from rabbit). In general, Hungarian food is very tasty, but traditionally spicy. As Don Cesar used to say: “Spicy food makes you thirsty, and I have plenty of good wine today. This is exactly the case: “quenching the fire” is best done with a meal of Hungarian wine. Most second courses come with the addition of lecho, but there are exceptions. Experiments with the menu do not always end well, for example not everyone will have a taste for fried potatoes seasoned with sweet yogurt instead of sauce. If you are faced with the Hungarian cuisine for the first time – ask the advice of more experienced holidaymakers. In many resorts it is common to have a set lunch. Let me tell you right away – not every adult can afford to eat the whole dish, let alone children. Because the portions are quite big (and sometimes huge), the complex menu usually includes: first, second, obligatory dessert and optional aperitif (palinka). On average, a meal at a cheap restaurant will cost $8 to $10 per person. I will not go into detail about Budapest, which is recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

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As a rule, in our annual trips we allocated only one day to excursions in the capital and did not stay in large hotels, which you will be recommended by various guides and travel agencies. Make a tour of Budapest on foot, but to pack in a single walk to all the wonderful corners and even the major attractions is simply not realistic. The city stretches on both banks of the Danube and the panorama looks most majestic if you admire it from the bridges. Of course, the most colorful part of Hungary’s capital is the medieval district on Fortress Hill. Be sure to bring your camera (or better yet, a digital camera) to capture all this beauty: Matyas Church is the oldest church in Budapest on the central square, which bears the name of the Holy Trinity. Since the XIII century in the southern part of the Fortress mountain rises a massive ensemble of the Royal Palace, but the Fishermen’s Bastion – almost a fairy-tale castle with turrets and observation decks was built next to the church in the XIX century. Of course, there are many thermal springs in Budapest, and more than ten baths function all year round. The already mentioned Széchenyi is in fact a huge entertainment complex (zoo, botanical garden, amusement rides). In conclusion, a few general tips. Hungarians are very friendly people and when they meet tourists who can say at least a few words in their native language, they just break into a smile. Here is the bare minimum, it is not difficult to remember these phrases and their translation: “kösönyom” – thank you, “yo napot kivanok” – hello (greeting), “nem tudom” – do not understand (do not know), “zarva” – closed (respectively “nitva” is open). Some words are clear in meaning, for example the inscription “tolni” on the door of a store or institution means that when you enter the door to push (as we do – “from yourself”). The monetary unit of Hungary is forint . Exchange rate lately is stable enough and makes about 180,190 forints for dollar. It is possible to exchange currency in any nearby bank or exchange office, I recommend to keep the certificate of currency exchange before leaving the country. It should be remembered that the vast majority of commercial banks are open Monday through Thursday from 8.00 a.m. to 15.00 p.m., on Fridays from 8.00 a.m. to 13.00 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays (as well as in all European countries) at best you can find a working exchange office only in major hotels. In restaurants, stores and hotels we accept credit cards MasterCard, American Express, Visa. Especially for smokers cigarettes in Hungary are very expensive (a pack will cost at least 2,5 – 3 dollars), and formally the import of any quantity of tobacco products across the border is prohibited. If you have long been going to give up this addiction – time it to coincide with a trip – and the health will add and extra plus in the family budget. What do our tourists take from Hungary? I recommend you a small list: 1) Souvenirs – Hungarian porcelain and ceramics “Zsolnay”, Tihany ceramics, leather goods (especially gloves) firm “Hunor”. Various embroidery. 2) Branded delicacies – red paprika and salami sausage, goose liver pâté and marzipan, etc. – already to your own taste. 3) “Medicine for the Soul” tokajsky wines, palinka (very strong fruit vodka, we most had a taste of pear), herbal balm “Unikum”. Have a nice rest!

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Hungary

Hungary is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central Europe. The country is characterized by a colorful colorful national culture, which thrives despite the active process of globalization. Hungary’s infrastructure and economy are at 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.

Save on your trip to Hungary!

Video: Hungary

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 of their parishioners.

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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 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 in the Middle Ages or even earlier and have survived in their authentic form to this day.

The most famous is the town of Erger, which is a symbol of victory over the Turks, under whose rule Hungary was for over 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 Old Town of Erger

When you come to Hungary, at least once visit the Danube River or just take a tour boat ride. It will give you the opportunity to look at the city, in particular 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.

History

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 of Pannonia. 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. But as early as the sixteenth 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 located near thermal springs of water, mineral mud. Unique balneological resorts 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.

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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 many historical and architectural sights, 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, nestled 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 cuisine

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 beloved 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.

A cold bottle of Hungarian Unicum Balsam

It is in Hungary where you can taste dozens of varieties of real tokaj wine, the drink “Bull’s blood”, the national vodka “Palinka”. High-quality alcohol, as well as salami, can be purchased 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. It is a goose liver taken from birds raised by a special technology.

Separately, we can talk about pastries, which are 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, a variety of strudels and, of course, marzipan.

Shopping

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.

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Vajdahunyad Castle in Hungary

Transport

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 blood will lead to immediate arrest.

The bus service is well developed: you can be sure not only of the exact schedule, but also of the excellent comfort. The same applies to trains and ferries. The latter ply the Danube and can even take the traveler to Vienna. As for flights, they are designed mainly for international travel, although a few flights also operate within the country.

Cab rides are completely safe. The cars of this service can be recognized by the 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

Annual Holidays

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.

Useful contacts

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. The official website is http://www.debrecen.mid.ru/.

Call 104 for an ambulance, 107 for police, 105 for the fire brigade and 112 for the rescue service. Calling is easy not only from your cell phone but also from the vending machines that have been 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, railway stations, post offices and tobacconist’s shops.

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