Though there are no seas in Hungary, hundreds of hot thermal springs have made the country the main balneological resort in Europe.
People here adore dogs and may take them anywhere, perhaps only except hospital wards and operating theatres. Even the strong-willed hyperglots reach the deadlock while learning the rules of the language spoken here.
Those things make Hungary, a small country in the centre of the European continent. It is the EU member state, and just a beautiful place worth spending a vacation.
Hungary has existed as a republic for a long time since 1918. However, that millenary path to the current status of an independent country was thorny.
Endless civil discords, wars with the closest neighbours (Russian princes, Poles, and Romanians), and a continuous confrontation with Ottomans and Habsburger ended with Hungary as a part of the Austrian state.
World War I altered the established order significantly. In 1918, the Austrian monarchy officially ceased to exist. Then several new countries appeared on the map of Europe. And the Hungarian Soviet Republic was among them as well. It used to change its names and state form of government several times after that.
Between the 1920s and 1940s, the monarchy under the name the Kingdom of Hungary was reestablished under the rule of Regent Miklos Horthy. An alliance with Hitler helped expand the borders at the expense of the annexed Czech territories, a part of Ukrainian Transcarpathia, and Romanian Transilvania. Territorial disputes with the neighbouring countries have existed till the present time.
When World War II ended, a long USSR era of Hungarian history began and continued till 1989. After the change in action and ideology, the Hungarian Republic emerged on the map of Europe. It was an independent state that set an end to communism forever. In 2004, Hungary joined the EU.
Now Hungary is on a steady middle level of economic development and standard of living among the EU countries.
Various industries are well-developed. For example, the automobile, chemical, and food manufacturing sectors are the leading ones. Natural resources like hot thermal springs attract millions of people from entire Europe to have rest or undergo treatment. That is why medicine and tourism have greatly developed here.
The capital, Budapest, is a city with a population of three million people. However, this figure may be doubled due to visitors coming here from all over the world every year.
Hungary is monoethnic: 95% of its citizens speak Hungarian. Interestingly, not many people speak other languages apart from their native.
The forint is the national currency even though Hungary is an EU member. The country bears much resemblance to Poland in its national uniformity and unwillingness to switch to the euro. Both countries have strong nationalist sentiments, which occasionally cause international scandals.
Getting to Hungary is possible by all means of transport except for ship. However, the coronavirus pandemic has entailed a range of travel restrictions. As a rule, people travel here by bus, car, or train from any European country, and by plane from the majority of the world’s airports.
Travelling by Bus
There are buses to Hungary from all border cities. The travelling time usually lasts from 5 to 15 hours depending on the distance.
Travelling by Train
Direct trains from border countries provide a fast connection with the Hungarian capital and other cities.
Travelling by Plane
The flights from European countries usually do not take a long time, just a couple of hours. The cheapest low-cost price will be around 30 euros.
Those who are planning to visit Hungary on their own transport will need to take into account some local peculiarities:
- There are toll motorways in Hungary.
- The maximum speed within inhabited areas is 50 km/h, and outside - 90 km/h.
- The traffic is under video surveillance, so there are no police officers on the roads.
- The drivers should turn running lights on 24/7 at any season of the year on the highways outside populated areas.
- Seat belts are mandatory to be used both in the front and back seats.
- Children under the age of 3 should travel in a booster chair.
- Absolute sobriety is an essential condition for driving any car. There are no permissible deviations from zero permille, and drunk driving is punishable by a fine of 500 euros and more.
The hotels from two to five stars, the rented apartments, and hostels are the three best options of accommodation in Hungary. The prices vary, but in general, they are not so high even in Budapest. During a tour, the search for a place to stay in may be related to other things like quietness during a day or night and how well the streets are kept.
Below are the several options of inexpensive hotels in Budapest that have received good feedback from the guests:
- Kökény és Fia Cottage Houses is a cosy one-storey country-style hotel. The rooms are well furnished and include bathrooms. The cuisine is incredibly tasty: national dishes are served in a small and very nice restaurant that looks like an old tavern. The place is perfect for families.
- Hotel Gozsdu Court is a three-star hotel in Erzsébetváros, in the Pest neighbourhood. Erzsébetváros is also called the Jewish quarter. The hotel is located near the Great Synagogue and the other attractions. This locality is perfect for youths because of the biggest parties that are held in Budapest. The hotel rooms are big, clean, and with air-conditioning. Besides, the hotel offers a filling and tasty breakfast.
- Butterfly Home is a three-star BB in Belváros on the Danube riverbank. The building has been constructed in the 19th century. Visitors may choose the rooms that overlook the Central Market. Butterfly Home is not big but very nice and offers free parking.
- Hotel Phoenix is a small two-star hotel a two-kilometre walk from Pecs Railway Station and a five-minute walk from the Mosque of Pasha Qasim, the 16th-century monument. The hotel is good for its affordable prices, friendly staff, and clean rooms.
- Hotel Chesscom is a two-star hotel with a nice service, clean rooms, and free parking. It is located a 40-minute drive from the centre. The place gets good feedback for tasty cuisine and air-conditioning and safes in the rooms.
A big group of people should look for an apartment to rent. As a rule, accommodation is offered in very good condition: well-repaired, clean, and with fresh linen and all necessary household appliances. The prices may be even lower than in hotels.
When planning a trip to Budapest, it is important to take into account the specifics of both parts of the city - Buda and Pest.
The latter is a business locality, quite noisy and crowded. It will be cheaper to rent an apartment here than in Buda. However, if one needs a calm and quiet place, they would better search for an apartment somewhere in Újbuda or Rózsadomb, which are the most pleasant neighbourhoods of Buda.
Places to See
Hungary is the country where every place is worth visiting. The centuries of Ottoman and Austrian rule have left a trace in the architecture, culture, and even cuisine of this nationality.
However, it will be necessary to settle in Hungary for a couple of months or even years for such a long-lasting trip. For this reason, the following list will include the limited number of places:
The Hungarian capital can truly be at the top of the sightseeing attractions list. It is a relatively young city that was formed at the end of the 19th century and comprised three small settlements of Buda, Obuda, and Pest located on opposite sides of the Danube.
The city is still divided by the river spanned by 15 bridges, the majority of which are for automobiles. There are two railroad bridges and two combined bridges.
Now Budapest is not only the main and the biggest city of Hungary. It has become the only resort capital in the world due to the hot healing springs within its territory.
Having arrived in Budapest, visitors aspire to see the following places first:
- The Hungarian Parliament Building has been the visiting card of the city for a long time.
- The Great Synagogue is located in Pest. It is considered the largest praying house of Jews in Europe.
- St. Stephen’s Basilica got its name in memory of the first Hungarian king. This is one of the highest Budapest buildings.
- Gellért Hill magnificently overlooks the Danube. There is also the hotel with the healing baths of hot thermal waters.
- Andrassy Avenue is the most elegant street in the Hungarian capital. Interestingly, its name has been changed four times. Initially, it was named after the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Then it became Radical, and after World War II, the Avenue was renamed Stalin Street. In 1956, it became the Avenue of the Hungarian Youth, and a year later - the People’s Republic Street (till 1989). Eventually, the original name has been returned.
- Budapest Museums: Hungarian National Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Ludwig Museum, Semmelweis Museum, and others.
- Europe’s longest tram and the tourist amphibious vehicle are the particular ways of exploring Budapest. The 6th route tram is 50-metre long, and the amphibious vehicle will enable tourists to get a ride across the city’s streets and overlook the city from the Danube waters.
The life in Hungarian capital never stops. The youth festivals and parties of all types attract the fans of chill-out from all over Europe.
Budapest is not only about positive things. There are some typical features of the city, which seem extremely shocking for tourists. Homeless people, unbelievable dirt, and the smell of sewage disposal are the least expected things for those planning a tour to the Hungarian capital. Nonetheless, this is a fact.
Besides, it is necessary to take into account the disposition of Hungarians - temperamental and hot-blooded people. Street scandals here are regarded as a quite normal way of communication. That is why it is better for the visitors to the city to choose hotels and apartments in Buda, the most prestigious and respectable and at the same time very quiet part of the capital.
A cosy city located 140-km from Budapest is one of the three unique places on Earth where nature has created its true wonders - salt hills. Two of them are located in Turkish Pamukkale and North American Yellowstone. And the third one is here, in the Hungarian village of Egerszalok.
Right up out from the ground, there is a hot mineral spring that forms a waterfall. The difference in temperatures of water and surface creates salty sediment. As a result, huge snow-white ridges of incredible beauty have been formed in the course of time.
There are two healing springs in Eger, which are considered one of the best in Europe. However, the sulfurous smell here is really ominous and intensifies the associations with hell.
This image does not discourage the guests. Saliris Spa Hotel houses 17 swimming pools, massage parlours, and SPAs where people get the necessary treatment. The holiday package includes the costs of treatment, so the price is really advantageous.
This most famous Hungarian lake is regarded as the sea here. Silt and plankton make its water very good for health. There also some thermal springs within the area that make Balaton a perfect resort with a developed infrastructure.
The lake itself is quite large and could well be the sea as the country does not have fully functional marine space. It is 80-km long and 12-km width at its widest point. But the depth ranges from 3.5 to 12.5 metres.
The etymology of the lake’s name stems from the Slavic word ‘bolto’, which means ‘swamp’. And there is a grain of truth in this.
An adult will need to enter into the lake at least 500 metres away from the shore to be able to immerse into the water up to the shoulders.
However, it is the lake shallowness that attracts families with children. Thus, the vacation is effective and very safe at the same time.
In ancient times, there was a volcano a few kilometres from Balaton. A waterbody formed in its crater after the volcano became extinct. Now it is known as Lake Heviz - Hungary’s fountain of youth. The lake’s water does not cool down even in winter but swimming there should be restricted: its effect on the human body is tremendous. There is a legend that the thermal waters of Heviz can change the oldest woman into a young girl.
Hungary is a paradise on Earth for everyone who likes lard (Hungarian: szalonna) and pork in all possible variations. There is also a special breed of cute curly domestic pigs called Mangalica. Their lard is considered the most tender and does not contain bad cholesterol.
An ordinary food of Hungarians is always something spicy, thick, and filling. The specialty dish is goulash, a spicy meat soup abundant with meat, potatoes, paprika, and herbs, which is of several kinds: bogrács (cooked over a campfire) or babgulyás (soup with smoked meat and peas). As a rule, Hungarian men fancy cooking goulash.
The other classic dish of Hungarian cuisine is paprikas, which constitutes cream-stewed pork chops with a lot of onions and juicy paprika.
It is impossible to imagine a spread of Hungarians without sausages and ham. A hard smoked salami should be mentioned separately: though it is very spicy and fattening, no banquet can do without it.
In Hungary, they also have their drinking traditions.
Tokaji wines are believed to be the best among all sweet white wines in Europe.
Palinka, which is a fruit moonshine distilled from all garden types of fruit (apples, apricots, plums, etc.), is for those who like harder spirits.
Interestingly, nobody distills vodka at home because it is prohibited by the law. However, the Hungarians have come up with a smart idea: they deliver all fruit abundance to the local spirit-producing plants and may order the distilled end-product. As a result, people get excellent vodka, the plant gets profits, and the state budget obtains excise taxes.
So if you seek a cool bustling hangout, unbridled joy, spicy food, and hard liquor, you should definitely go to Hungary. It always waits for its visitors.