Hungary has a unique appeal which lures visitors back time and time again. Its capital, Budapest, brims with culture and natural beauty and is home to a range of cultural and sporting festivals. Europe’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Balaton, and numerous nature conservation areas all await visitors. Those seeking rest and rejuvenation can turn to the natural healing powers of the country’s numerous thermal spas.
Population: 10.1 million.
People: Hungarian, Roma
Religion: 68% Roman Catholic, 21% Reformed (Calvinist) Protestant, 6% Evangelical (Lutheran), 5% other.
Languages: Hungarian, Magyar and German.
Government: parliamentary democracy
Unbeknown to many, Hungary is well provided with lakes and rivers which are abundant in fish, providing excellent catching opportunities. Countless natural lakes of all sizes, as well as reservoirs, quarry lakes, backwaters, irrigation canals and rivers provide such good sport that it has led many to give Hungary the nickname „carp country”.
Incredible architecture and rich cultural heritage make the capital deserving of its title of ‘Queen of the Danube’. Buda contains Roman ruins, the Castle and remnants of the medieval city, and Pest (on the other side of the river) contains the commercial and governmental sections of the city.
A beautifully preserved baroque town, flanked by two of the Northern Uplands’ splendid ranges of hills. The town is perfect to explore on foot with it being closed to traffic in the centre.
Pecs has superb museums and some of the finest monuments in the country, including the Mosque Church – a legacy from Turkish occupation which was built in the mid-16th century.
Ancient Buda (Obuda) is where the Romans built the city of Aquincum – a military camp, civil town and administrative centre. The ruins of the Roman military amphitheatre and the remnants of the civil town can be visited with guests able to check out the partly excavated and renovated streets of the antique city centre; the Aquincum Museum has an exhibition of finds from the area.
The country’s finest palace, built between 1760 and 1767 has some 126 rooms, an opera house, and is situated in 250 acres of French-style gardens. Part of it is now used as a hotel, and Haydn festivals are held there in the summer.
Kiskunsag National Park
Over 120,000 acres comprise the nine separated areas of Kiskunsag National Park. Within the protected areas, there are numerous tourist trails, study trails and lookouts. An exhibition offers the opportunity to get aquainted with the natural heritage and cultural history of the region.
Obuda was the first major settlement on the territory of Budapest in the Middle Ages. The most attractive restored area is Foter, which has been the town’s centre since the 18th century. The dominant building is the Zichy Palace, which serves as a cultural centre, housing the Kassák Museum and the Vasarely Museum.
Best time to go
Hungary can be wet in May and June, while the summer is warm and unusually long. Resorts can be overcrowded in late July and August and Budapest comes to a halt in August largely because many of the locals take their holidays.
Autumn is pleasant but winter is bleak and museums and other tourist sights are often closed.