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Hungary Travel Guide

Ottoman-era spas. Chimney cakes. The Danube. And lots of wine.
It’s easy to get rhapsodical about Hungary. There are castles around every other corner. Bakeries serve the most elaborate desserts you’ve ever eaten. You can party in ruin bars. And Budapest has just been named the fourth most Instagrammable place in Europe. 

But even beyond Budapest, travellers to Hungary, whether on a family holiday, a solo trip or via a group travel package, can expect truly out-of-the-box experiences, and unabashed good eating. 

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It’s easy to get rhapsodical about Hungary. There are castles around every other corner. Bakeries serve the most elaborate desserts you’ve ever eaten. You can party in ruin bars. And Budapest has just been named the fourth most Instagrammable place in Europe. 

But even beyond Budapest, travellers to Hungary, whether on a family holiday, a solo trip or via a group travel package, can expect truly out-of-the-box experiences, and unabashed good eating. 

Location

Hungary is located in the Carpathian Basin, bordered by Austria on the northwest, Slovenia to the west, Romania on the east and Serbia way down south. Flights from India to Hungary take more than 10 hours. 

When to go

The best time to visit Hungary is from March to May or September to November. These are the shoulder seasons when the weather is idyllic and the place isn’t overcrowded with travellers. The climate is, however, is always relatively mild, and temperatures rarely exceed unbearable levels.

Where to go

Hungary has a perfect blend of historical, natural and contemporary beauty. You can easily access and explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Hortobágy, the biggest natural grassland in Europe, and Lake Hévíz, the largest thermal lake in the world. And there’s a panoply of ruins, castles and museums for those interested in learning more about Hungary’s cultural heritage. 

If you’re a foodie, you’re bound to fall in love with Hungary. There are 7 large wine-growing regions, with several vineyards offering many kinds of excellent local wine like the EgriBikavér for you to sample, complemented by hearty, strong fare such as Goulash, stuffed cabbage, and Smaženýsýr, a famous Prague dish of fried cheese served with salad, fries and mayonnaise.
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At a glance

Language

Hungarian
The official language is naturally Hungarian, which shares a few common words with English. However, English is also widely-spoken across the country, especially in hotels, restaurants, museums, and stores that cater to travellers.

Currency

Hungarian Forint
Hungarian Forint is the currency used. International credit cards are generally accepted, but it’s always good to have cash in hand. At the time of this posting, the conversion to INR conversion is 
INR 1 = HUF 4.1.

Weather

Hungary’s weather is continental, with warm to hot summers and cold winters. Autumn and spring is usually mild, but the temperature changes frequently, especially in spring.

Expert travel advice

Travel tips and insider advice that have made the most difference to us, sourced from our
community of like-minded travellers and global experts.

Luxuriate in a thermal bath   

Recommended by The Whole World Is A Playground

“Nothing quite says Budapest like chilling in the thermal baths for a day,  there’s a reason it’s known as the City of Baths!Our faves are Szechenyi and Rudas. Szechenyi Thermal Baths, near Heroes Square, are the biggest natural hot spring spa baths in Europe and is a mix of large outdoor pools, mineral rich indoor plunge pools and sweltering saunas.”

Elaine & Dave, leading luxury Irish travel bloggers, travel the world in style, sharing everything from luxury flights and hotels to where to eat and drink, sightseeing and experiences in between.

Visit the Great Market Hall   

Recommended by Nomadic Matt

“At the head of Vaci Utca, the kitschy shopping street in town is the Great Market Hall. Built in 1897, this is the oldest and largest indoor market in the country. Its incredible exterior also covered in the same ceramic tiles as are on the roof of Matthias Church on the top of Buda Hill. Walk aisle to aisle and check out the local product, favorite spices like paprika, and food stalls.”

Matt Kepnes, aka Nomadic Matt, has travelled to nearly 100 countries. He shares proven tips and advice on his website which has been featured on major media sites including the New York Times, the BBC, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, The Independent, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, and TIME magazine.

Party in Ruin Bars.   

Recommended by Two Wandering Soles

“Budapest is famous for its ruin pubs (or ruin bars). These once abandoned buildings, stores, or lots of land are converted into eclectic bars, typically with many rooms and interesting decor. In each new room you enter, some ruin bars have different music such as house, techno, or classical jazz.”

Two Wandering Soles is a fun, inspiring and award-winning travel blog created by Katie and Ben, a couple who is passionate about responsible travel.

Visit Shoes at Danube   

Recommended by That Backpacker

“The Shoes on the Danube is a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It represents the victims who were ordered to remove their shoes and were then shot at the river’s edge so that their bodies would fall into the Danube and  were carried away.”

Audrey runs That Backpacker, a leading travel blog that offers travel tips and destination guides, while inspiring others to travel and see the world in the process.

Have coffee and a pastry at one of many famous coffee shops.   

Recommended by Eternal Arrival

“Budapest’s coffee scene is booming, with a handful of delicious third wave and specialty coffee shops popping up around the city. I tried a few during my stay, the best of which were Apricot Coffee in the Palace District and Espresso Embassy in District V.”

Eternal Arrival is a blog created by Allison where she tell honest stories about living a travel-centered life.Her stories are quirky and adventurous.

Incredible places to visit in Hungary

Pécs

Pécs was founded by the Romans and has been influenced by those who occupied the city afterwards - Turks, the Croats and the Viennese. It’s known for its architectural sites such as the vast Pécs Cathedral, the Early Christian Mausoleum and its frescoed tombs. Pécs is also a university town, and its student population keeps the city laidback and lively in turn. 

Mohács Busójárás

This refers to an annual celebration of Šokci who live in the town of Mohács in Hungary. The festival is held at the end of each Carnival season, and ends a day before “Ash Wednesday”. This celebration features the Busós and includes masquerading, folk music, dancing, and parades. Busójárás lasts for six days and is usually celebrated in the month of February.

Visegrád

Visegrád is a small town north of Budapest. It is said to be one of the most beautiful (read Insta-friendly) cities in Hungary thanks to its old-world castle, vineyards and views of the Danube Bend (a u-shaped loop of the river). It is a perfect sojourn for families or couples who just want a quiet weekend to themselves in an idyllic bubble.

Visegrád mountains

This small but popular group of mountains offer adventurers and hikers plenty. There are a range of interesting trails. Travellers will find themselves hiking through long gorges, thick woodland, crossing wooden bridges. There are a couple of intriguing-looking andesite rocks that offer an unparalleled look over the wilderness and the Danube.

Visegrád Citadel

The citadel was built way back in the 13th-century. It was once Hungary’s royal seat, a summer residence for monarchs, and even hosted one of Europe’s earliest round-table peace conferences. As it is located on top of Visegrád-hill, you’ll have a striking view of the Danube Bend from here.

Royal Palace of Matthias Corvinus

With a grandiose name like the ‘Royal Palace of Matthias Corvinus’, how could you not visit? The Royal Palace is the largest Gothic palace in the region. There are 20 or so rooms open to the public, and as you walk through them, you’ll learn all about Matthias Corvinus, the King of Hungary. He was one of Hungary’s most successful rulers, and you’ll see his symbol - a raven with a ring in its mouth, all around the town.

Nagy-Villám Lookout Tower

The Nagy-Villám Lookout Tower is a 277-metre high lookout tower that gives you great views of the Danube Bend. On a good day with clear skies, you may even catch a rare glimpse of neighbouring Slovakia from atop.

The International Palace Games of Visegrád

Hosted on the second weekend of July every year, the International Palace Games of Visegrád is the largest medieval festival in Hungary, hosted in remembrance of the 1335 meeting of the Central-European kings. Hundreds of visitors dressed as knights, musicians, artists, dancers, archers come together to watch swordplay, falconry, take part in dances, music and feasts.

Szentendre

Szentendre, less than an hour from Budapest, and famous for its churches, baroque architecture, cobbled streets, and colourful houses in bright yellows, quiet greens and rich russet, is a must for those looking for a place of beauty and art. And art can be found everywhere - from painters on the streets to the golden halos of icons in the Greek Church of Orthodox Blagovestenska. 

Budapest

To call Budapest beautiful is an understatement. Originally two cities merged into one by the Chain Bridge, beautiful sunrises, panoramic views and the Danube greet you everywhere you go. But come after sunset, and a different kind of life awaits. Whether you’re a solo traveller, on a family holiday or choosing a group travel package, you’ll want to make sure you have ample time in your itinerary for this iconic city.

Buda Castle

Also known as the Royal Palace, Buda Castle is one of Hungary’s most iconic landmarks. Sitting at the top of Castle Hill, Buda Castle offers an impressive view over the river Pest, and it houses the Budapest History Museum, National Széchényi Library, and Hungarian National Gallery. Statues surround the castle, each with an intriguing story attached, such as the statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who liberated Hungary from Turkish occupation.

Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion, a lookout on Castle Hill, offers one of the best views of the city. It is also one of the prettiest, most atmospheric places in Budapest because it really looks like a castle from a fairytale, complete with elegant turrets, balconies, and curving white stone staircases that you can imagine Cinderella losing a glass slipper on. Protip: Keep an eye out for an archway flanked by warrior statues on both sides. It makes for the prettiest picture on Instagram.

Széchenyi Thermal Baths

These are one of the best and largest thermal baths in Europe, and a favourite with locals and travellers alike. Here, you can stretch back and relax in the luxuriously warm water whilst chatting with the city’s residents, use the jets in the pools for a water massage, or play a game of chess with one of the local octogenarians who feud with each over floating chessboards. The baths are extremely popular attractions on almost all trips to Hungary, so make sure you pencil in the time to enjoy them too!

The Funicular

Also known as BudaváriSikló in Hungarian, the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular is an enjoyable and unusual means of transport connecting the Chain Bridge with Buda Castle. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The other draw of the funicular is its vintage-style façade, redesigned after the stations were obliterated in WW II bombings. This attraction doesn’t often make it onto group travel packages, so make sure you pencil in the time to visit it.

Danube boat cruise

The Danube river cruise is one of the best activities you can do in Budapest, and is a must-add for travellers choosing a Hungary honeymoon package. As evening falls, the city lights glimmer into life. And as you quietly glide down the waters, you will see Budapest’s beautiful buildings and bridges lit up in golden light. It’ll give you a new appreciation of Hungary’s title of ‘Paris of the East.’

Eger

Eger is a jewellery box town of Baroque buildings,  with so much to do and see, especially for those who appreciate the interplay between the past and present. In Eger, the traces of its past can be felt in a renovated Turkish bathhouse, or at the top of an Ottoman minaret, the opening of a bottle of wine, or even in the sound of a beautiful basilica organ performance.

Eger Castle

The Eger Castle holds a special place in the hearts of most Hungarians as this is the place where a small Hungarian garrison defeated the Turkish army led by Captain István Dobó. As you explore the site, you’ll come across the remains of the destroyed cathedrals, a heroes hall, as well as a collection of Dutch, Italian, Austrian and Hungarian paintings. As you explore the site, you’ll come across underground passageways of archaeological finds, a heroes hall, as well as a collection of Dutch, Italian, Austrian and Hungarian paintings.

Town Under the Town

Literally a town under the main town lies a honeycomb of ancient tunnel, made to hold lots and lots of wine.  The archbishop of Eger was given almost 12 million litres every year which he would store in these cellars. Sadly, there isn’t any wine stored there anymore as the cellars are no longer suited for preservation, but you can always head up and into town for a fresh bottle and toast to the past.

Archbishop’s Garden

This is the biggest park in Eger that was once a natural forest used by bishops for hunting. It’s filled with trees and gardens. There’s a little pond with a stone bridge. You can enjoy a quiet picnic here. The garden borders the Eger stream on the east, where you can catch a glimpse of wild ducks if you wait long enough.

Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Apostle

The cathedral is immediately distinguishable by its elegant butter-cream exterior and mint-green domes. Its beautiful entrance is decorated with statues of saints including Saint Stephen and Saint Peter, and the interior of the domes are covered in frescoes depicting the saints. The massive Corinthian columns that support the building are a whopping 17 metres tall.

Eger Thermal Baths

Right in the centre of Eger you’ll find the city’s famous baths built in 1610 and are still functioning to this day. Here, you can sit in warm, relaxing waters as you look up at a golden dome made up of 200,000 small tiles.  Another highlight of the baths is the ‘pebbly’, a pool fed by its own spring that bubbles through the terrazzo pool floor. Only a hop skip and jump away is the Italian Renaissance-style arm water pool complete with water lilies and cascades– a perfect photo op.

Valley of the Beautiful Women

Testament to Eger being Hungary’s best-known wine growing region is the oddly named Valley of the Beautiful Women. It is crammed with more than 200 vineyards and wine cellars, where you can enjoy back-to-back wine tastings. The most famous wine that’s produced here is called Egri Bikavér (“Bulls Blood”). Legend has it that Dobó István had his troops drink the wine to boost their morale. After their victory, rumours spread that the Hungarians had actually drank bulls blood to get their strength, and so the name endured. Protip: take a couple of plastic bottles with you. At the cellars, you can pay owners to fill it with wine to take back with you!

Veszprém

Set between Bakony Hills and Lake Balaton, Veszprém is one of Hungary’s underrated cities- one that could easily burst into the spotlight. History can be found in all corners of the city; reminders of the Middle Ages in the most unexpected of places. There are a wealth of monuments about the Church in the castle, and lots of religious artefacts in the city’s museums. The city makes a great addition to any Hungary group travel package if you have a couple of days to spare.

The Fire Tower

The tower is a landmark in Veszprem. Originally used as a watchtower, it was later used as a lookout for possible cases of fire. Make your way up the spiral staircase to the top of the tower for a view over the city. As it is also a clock-tower, you’ll hear the recruiting song composed by Antal Csermák every hour.

The LaczkóDezso Museum

The two-storey DezsőLaczkó Museum, decked in red sandstone, is located in the shadow of massive trees at the edge of Erzsébet Park. It houses temporary and permanent exhibitions, which provide an excellent overview of the 20th century as well as the First World War, complete with authentic memorabilia of the times.

Gizella Chapel

Gizella Chapel is positioned in the centre of Veszprém’s Castle District and is one of the oldest landmarks. Inside you’ll see 13th-century, life-size frescoes of six Apostles, and keystones of the vaults, which are exceptionally rare and old.

Veszprem Arena

Catch a sports match or performance at this arena, which is one of the most modern events and sporting venues in Hungary. Check the schedule for the sporting or cultural events you may be able to watch, such as basketball or volleyball matches, martial arts shows, concerts, or exhibitions. Cheering on with locals by your side - this is one of the most authentic fun experiences (not found on most group travel packages) that you could have!

Veszprem Utcazene Fesztivál

Veszprém transforms into a festival city for a few days every July. Street music will be everywhere. Bands of all genres will regale the city from afternoon to late at night. Foreign bands also play at the festival, which pulls double duty as a competition judged by a professional jury and the audience. And what’s up for grabs is a cool $1,000,000 each.

Lake Balaton

Often called the Hungarian sea, Lake Balaton has long been a favourite local holiday destination, especially in the summer, when holidaymakers flock to its shores. Here, in the midst of unspoiled countryside, it is impossible to be hurried. You can spend hours warming in the sun, letting the waves simply carry your boat out to the middle of the lake, or sitting in a spa in a happy daze.

Tihany

The incredibly pretty Tihany peninsula is just 5 km into the lake. Once formed from two violent volcanoes, today it is a quiet hideaway. From the village, you can look out at the lake where tiny white boats sail across the teal and blue waters that change hues at the whim of light. Or sit sipping lavender lemonade in the village. The only sounds are that of the wind, and the bells of the abbey that toll at 7 AM. A visit to Tihany or at the very least a day trip is a must on any Hungary group tour package.

Inner Harbour

The Inner Harbour Ferry Pier on Lake Balaton is where you need to head to experience a boat or ferry ride across the water body.

Héviz Spa

The thermal lake filled with patches of pretty waterlilies at Hévíz is a favourite amongst locals, and is just a stone’s throw away from Lake Balaton. Its naturally warm spring waters are waters are said to have curative properties, as they are full of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

Benedictine Monastery

At the heart of the peninsula, the monastery in Tihany is where King Andrew I of Hungary is buried. It is the only grave of a medieval Hungarian monarch preserved till date On entering the main nave, just turn to the side altar that is dedicated to Mary. During the summer, there are organ concerts in the abbey so if you’re visiting during these months, set aside some time for this.

Szigliget Castle

The castle is one of the mightiest in Hungary. It towers over the landscape, a striking and formidable sight that has won the plaudits of poets. Programs and events are held frequently in the castle, including tactical presentations, exhibitions of medieval weapons, interactive programs about life in the castle and festivals too.

Lillafured

The mountain town of Lillafured is located in the Bükk mountain region, not too far from Eger. It’s a perfect spot for those on a family holiday or for couples on their honeymoon. There are many hiking routes, and three famous natural limestone caves (Anna Cave, Istvan Cave, Szeleta Cave), and a rock cliff for rock climbing for those who love the outdoors. Kids will like the trout farm, and there is even a treasure hunting route!

Sopron

Sopron is a town in the north of Hungary, close to the Austrian border. It’s filled with elegant buildings and interesting stories. For instance, there’s a Goat Church, so named for the local goat herder who discovered a treasure on the site of the church which led to it being built there. Or the Fire Tower which was used to alert the city to fires, invaders, or most importantly, caravans bearing wine. Insta-afficionads will love the city. It’s beautiful palette of colours, little details everywhere you look, make it a pleasure to photograph.

Top things to do & experience in Hungary

Nobody wants to be a tourist. Here are curated experiences in art, music, food, culture and communities
to help you have an authentic and memorable trip.

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