Spectacular architecture, thermal spas, folk art and arguably the liveliest capital in Europe, welcome to Hungary. The natural beauty is gentle and soothing while the ancient Roman ruins, baroque churches, medieval towns and stunning architecture make Hungary a treasure trove to be discovered.
Hungary boasts three hundred thermal springs with water used for medicinal, therapeutic and recreational purposes. Hungarian cuisine is sophisticated yet homely and another reason why foodies love to visit the country… as if they need another reason.
Hungary Travel Info
Language: Hungarian is the official language of Hungary and is believed to be among the most robust languages in Europe. Most young people are well versed in English and so you shouldn’t face much difficulty communicating with the locals.
Currency: Hungarian Forint.
Visa: Hungary became a member of the Schengen Agreement in 2007, which provides a free visa to travel to any EU country including the ones, not a part of Schengen as well as those approved by Schengen like America, New Zealand and Australia for a period of 90 days. Citizens of South Africa, Asia and Russia need to apply for a Schengen Visa before traveling to Hungary.
Electricity: Hungary operates on a 220-240VAC supply with a frequency of 50 Hz. The power sockets are type C and F. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Hungary Festivals & Celebrations
Budapest Fringe Festival: This is an annual event that takes place during the spring season in Budapest. For the first time, the festival was first held in 2006 and is now celebrated every year. Around 500 talented artists come together to perform roughly 50 shows displaying exciting works in dance, music, alternative theatre and comedy.
Busojaras: Busojaras takes place in February in the town of Mohacs and celebrates the carnival season. Men from villages don scary masks and perform marches on the streets. Initially the Sokci people, a Croatian minority, used to celebrate the festival but now it has become popular among locals and is enjoyed by everyone.
Badacsony Wine Week: Baadcsony is situated on the shore of Lake Balton and is famous for it’s wine. The city plays host to numerous folk art and wine-related events that go on every year for about two weeks. The festival involves tasting wine and is a learning (and merry) experience for wine lovers. Tasting is followed by many fun activities like an art and craft exhibition, folk performances, live music and much more.
Safety In Hungary
Hungary remains a safe place for overseas travelers. Like with all tourist destinations there’s occasional bag snatching and other petty crimes. Based on my own travel experiences in Europe I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Hungary.
Top Things To Do In Hungary
Every corner of Budapest has something incredible to offer to its many explorers. The beauty of the city is not all natural. Budapest’s citizens with their cultural beliefs have a significant role in giving the city its present look and feel. Budapest is an architectural heaven with lots of neoclassic, baroque, and eclectic buildings catering to all tastes. Thermal baths are another major attraction of the city.
River Cruise along the Danube
The river Danube has been Hungary’s lifeblood since ages. If you feel like seeing all the top sites of the city with a different outlook, take a river cruise along the Danube. There are several options, like a spectacular night cruise across Budapest or an all-day long cruise crossing Visegrad, Szentendre, and Estergom. The views from the boat will enthrall you for sure. Boat companies are situated at the banks of the River and cruises run daily, throughout the year.
Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest
With its Gothic Revival style architecture, this building is among the grandest structures of Hungary. It stands tall on the bank of the River Danube. The central dome is impressive with hundreds of arches and spires surrounding it. Across the parliament building is a large square where rallies are held. The lighting is so artistic that the building looks even more majestic during nights. A number of tours in different languages run every day. You can book one online and explore the beauty of the building.
Wildlife watching at Hortobagy National Park
Hungary’s Great Plains is home to the Hortobagy National Park, which is the country’s largest protected landscape. The area is known for its magnificent panoramic views and rich cultural inheritance. A part of the park is used for farming, and the visitors can learn a few traditional agricultural techniques of Hungary. On the other side of the National Park, you can find a vast range of plants and wildlife, which include a few semi-wild and rare Przewalski Horses.
Soak in Miskolc’s Cave Bath
This cave bath is for all those interested in getting pampered and enjoy relaxation. Located inside a natural cave, this thermal spa can be explored only by entering the cave. The water is loaded with minerals and is believed to be extremely good for health. The complex has a variety of pools with the availability of onsite spa treatment. The thermal bath attracts thousands of visitors annually and is immensely popular.
Explore the caves of Aggtelek Karst
Counted among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Hungary, these caves are deep and mystic. As you reach inside the cave, you come across an assortment of stalagmites and some of the largest stalactites in entire Europe. The cave also has some beautifully patterned rocks formed due to the rich mineral content overhead. You can also take a special tour and visit the Slovak Karst caves along with Europe’s most spectacular ice caves.
Visit Budapest’s Dohany Street Synagogue
This is among the world’s largest synagogues outside Israel. Germany bombed and destroyed the original Synagogue during WWII. The building was recently restored during the 1990s. In the garden is the spectacular weeping willow memorial. On its leaves, you will find names of some of the missing or deceased Jews. The memorial of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish Diplomat who saved a large number of Hungarian Jews also lies nearby.
Go Swimming in Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Europe and is the highlight of every Hungarian Itinerary. The summer season witnesses visitors from all over flocking at the lake, to enjoy activities like swimming, sailing, and fishing. If you want to sail, there are a number of boats on rent at throwaway prices. During winters, you can skate or try fishing in the lake.
Explore the Tokaj Wine Region
This renowned wine-making region of the country is about a thousand years old. The Emperor Fraz Josef used to send the best wine from these wine yards as a gift to the other leaders. The sweet wines made here are among the most popular ones. These are made of grapes affected by a special fungus called that is not harmful to humans. Visit the wine yard to learn about its history and get to know how the best wines of the country are made.
Visit the eye-soothing Buda Hills
Buda hills are located towards the western side of Budapest and are the most calm, green and clean parts of the city that can provide you a peaceful time. Here you will also get numerous hiking and biking trails that are feasible for most visitors. You can also take a toy train, available for children aged 10 to 14. The view of the city from the top of the hill is just spectacular. Pack a picnic lunch so that you can celebrate once you reach the top.
Other than these top things to do in Hungary, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Hungary that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Hungary
Goulash: Goulash is the national dish of Hungary that is a rich and satiating dish made in a kettle over a fire. It is somewhat between stew and soup with beef or pork combined with potato, carrot, paprika, and spices. Its history dates back to the ninth century and was initially made by the herdsmen.
Langos: Langos is undoubtedly the most loved dish of Hungary. It is a flatbread that is deep fried in lots of oil. It comes with an assortment of toppings and is served with cheese, sour cream, garlic sauce or sausages.
Fozelek: Fozelek is unique to the core and is exclusively Hungarian. It looks like soup but is actually a thick stew made of veggies including peas, potato, beans, carrots, and lentils. This is among the very few healthy options when it comes to traditional dishes of Hungary.
Somloi Galuska: This is the traditional cake of Hungary and is exceptionally spongy and delicious. The sponge cake is coated with chocolate and topped with walnuts, whipped cream, and rum. The original ingredients are kept a secret by the family, and hence it can never be replicated and is available only at the Gundel restaurant.
Fisherman’s Soup: Just like goulash, this is also cooked in a kettle over a fire and is counted among the national dishes of Hungary. The soup is prepared with some exotic river fishes flavored with paprika which, also adds a tempting red color to it.
Where To Stay In Hungary
Hungary can be quite an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Hungary is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily Hungary hostels and dormitories make travel here more affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Hungary is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Hungary.
If you’re backpacking in Hungary or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Europe much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Hungary Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Hungary
The best time to visit Hungary is between April and October, this is if you want mild, reasonably warm or if you’re lucky hot weather. If you want to see Hungary with hot weather and blue skies then aim to visit between June and September.
Hungary Travel Budget
Hungary can be an expensive city but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Hungary really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 35 to 50 euros a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Budapest then budget about 250 euros plus a day.
- Budget: €20 – €35
- Mid-range: €35 – €75
- Splurge: €75 +
Meal For One
- Budget: €8 – €25
- Mid-range: €25 – €60
- Splurge: €60 +
Hungary Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Hungary, like most other places in Europe is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for Summer trips and warm, waterproof clothing for trips in Autumn and Winter (and sometimes Spring too). Be prepared for the weather to get quite cold during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat won’t go a miss either. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Hungary. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Hungary include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Hungary check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Europe Packing List For Female Travelers.