Most travellers start in the capital city of Budapest, pronounced “Buda-pescht.” Budapest has a stunning mixture of architectural styles still standing – dating back to Roman times, the gothic period, and you’ll also find Baroque and some Byzantine styles. This is truly a city where you can walk through the ages. Known as one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe, it also has a history of struggle and some dark times indeed. Hungarians have lived through multiple wars and extreme regimes, particularly during WWII and the communist era that followed. Like other cities in Europe, respect for the people challenged by these hardships is evident in the form of sculptures and art displayed throughout the city.
Places to Visit in Hungary
Unique Things to See and Do in Hungary
- Stroll the colourful streets of Szentendre
- Admire the historic Baroque castles of Eger
- Watch a Hungarian Opera in Budapest
- Enjoy a coffee on Kaptalan Street in the university town of Pecs
- Tour the Buda Castle in Budapest
- Indulge in some of Hungary’s famous Palinka, fruit, wines
Foods to Eat While in Hungary
The mixture of amazingly good foods to eat in Hungary comes from a variety of cultures over hundreds of years. The first thing to know about Hungarians is that they love their soups, meats, and sweets. Hungarians eat soup with almost every meal, especially if you’re eating out in restaurants. The most commonly known soup is Goulash, which a meat and potato soup/stew. If you want a truly rustic soup that cooked over an open fire, try Pörkölt. It is a meat stew served with nokedli (Hungarian noodles). Delicious! It’s difficult to decide which dessert to pick because they are all so good. Walnuts, poppyseed, cherries, and cinnamon are favored ingredients for many. Try the Hungarian-Jewish cake, Flodni which is a layered cake with apples, walnuts, poppy seed, and jam. You can’t go wrong with everything good layered into one dessert!
Castles to See While in Hungary
There are several castles to tour while in Hungary and they all have different architectural styles constructed in different centuries. The must-see list includes the Buda in Budapest, which we have listed already. It was built in 1265 and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The other well loved castle is Eger Castle, located in wine country and surrounded by a town of great restaurants and confectioneries. A true hot spot for touring! Combine a visit of Gyula’s Palinka wine tours with the castle of Gyula. Or visit the Bory castle which houses hundreds of statues and paintings and learn the eclectic history of Jeno Bory and his love for his wife.
Getting Around Hungary
As with most of Europe, Hungary’s transportation system is fairly extensive. MAV is the railway system that offers service between major cities and small towns. Budapest is the central hub for all the destinations within the country and is the easiest access point. You can also take larger items with you, like bicycles and extra luggage, but you must arrange for it at the time of purchasing a ticket.
Did you know…?
Hungary has joined an alliance with the EU member states to reject GMO farming all together.
Did you ALSO know…?
The Hungarian crepe (Hortobágyi) is not typically a sweet affair, but rather it is filled with ground meat, diced onion, and topped with a sauce of paprika and sour cream.
Within towns the bus systems are the main form of public transportation. They can be cheap, but not as reliable for time. The only Metro system in Hungary is in Budapest, but the larger cities also have trams. When traveling by Metro in Budapest make sure to validate your ticket before landing on the platform as you can almost always guarantee you’ll get a fine from the platform patrol! And of course, there are always taxis. Be sure to ask the price before getting in and try to pay in small bills since many drivers will insist they don’t have change. Go with a known or popular company – the name will be displayed on the outside of the car, and they will have working meters.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Hungary
Beautiful all year round, Hungary’s best time of year for festivals, events, and the most popular sights, is during the summer. The days are long and the weather is hot which means outdoor pools are open and parks come alive. Hungarians like to socialize, so you’ll find many outdoor cafes with umbrellas to hide under. There are a few places that are either closed or have reduced hours during the summer, like the Opera House which takes the summer off. You can still tour the building, but if you want to see a show you’ll need to plan accordingly.
During the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, there are fewer crowds and the temperatures are more moderate, however in September the rates tend to rise with increased business activities and conferences. During the winter, the days are shorter with darkness falling around 4 pm – which means many attractions close early. Plus there aren’t as many festivals or activities happening for tourists. If it snows while you are there though, the cities look magical!
Ready to plan your visit to Hungary? Check out these popular guides and trips.