The landlocked country of Hungary, located in Central Europe with a population of over 9 million is one of the popular holiday destinations in the world. The country is packed with numerous lakes and rivers, low mountain ranges, scenic plains and quaint villages.
The capital city Budapest is also a very popular destination in Europe with numerous tourist attractions, attracting over 12 million tourists every year. In a major poll conducted by a tourism organization partnering with the European Commission, Budapest was chosen as the ‘Best European Destination’.
Some of the key attractions of the city include its vibrant nightlife, historical buildings and museums as well as eclectic markets and shopping areas. The climate here is relatively mild with bearable temperatures and the months from March-May and September-November are some of the best months to visit the country.
Travelling within the country is easy and accessible with several international airports, trains, coaches and buses make inter-city travel easy and efficient.
Let’s look at some of the top reasons to visit this beautiful country:
1) History and Culture
Hungary was once part of the Celtic world followed by the Roman Empire and after the fall of the Romans, a part of the Huns. It boasts of a rich historical past and is one of the oldest countries in Europe. The city of Budapest was a focal point during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and the Battle of Budapest in 1945.
The historical past of the country is preserved in the museums and architectural sites across the country. The Ethnographic Museum will take you back hundreds of years showcasing a collection of Hungarian folk objects from the 19th century and pieces like pottery, furniture and costumes from everyday life, most of which are from Upper Hungary and Transylvania. The Budapest History Museum located at the Buda Castle takes you through the history of the city over a 2,000-year period.
The visitor can have a look at various pictures, books and other artefacts that dates back to the ore-unification of Buda and Pest. The museum is open all year round and admission is free of cost to visitors on public holidays.
Some of the other popular tourist attractions in the city include the St. Stephen’s Basilica which was named after the first kind of Hungary and the Matthias Church, a Roman Catholic church originally was built in 1015.
2) Gothic Architecture
Several buildings and structures around the country date back to the ancient times of the Roman city of Aquincum. The Castle District buildings display Gothic architecture dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries as well as Renaissance architecture in various locations across the city. You can also have a look at the more modern, contemporary designs across buildings such as the Budapest Airport Sky Court, The National Theatre and the Palace of Arts.
The ‘Hungarian Parliament Building’ also known as the Parliament of Budapest displays Gothic Revival architecture. The building also includes a large central dome showcasing Renaissance Revival culture. It is also the largest building in Hungary and a popular tourist attraction.
You can also visit the Buda Castle, commonly referred to as the Royal Palace which is the palace complex of the Hungarian monarchy in Budapest. The castle is a World Heritage Site and the surrounding area called the Castle Quarter is popular amongst tourists.
3) Authentic Hungarian Cuisine
Hungarian cuisine is one of the most popular in East Europe. The country is also world-renowned for its fine wines. The local cuisine here is delicious and hearty. You can stroll down the streets of Budapest and try some of the area’s traditional dishes including the Goulash which is a meaty stew as well as other dishes like langos, paprikas and stuffed cabbage.
4) Parks and Gardens
Budapest, Debrecen and other cities in Hungary are famous for their picturesque gardens and city parks. At the Memento park which is an open-air museum, you can view statues including those of Lenin, Marx and Engels as well as take part in festivals and projects taking place in the area.
At Margaret Island, located on the Danube river, you can enjoy a tranquil getaway within the city and take in the thermal spas, pop up bars and restaurants as well as enjoy an evening with live music with your friends or family.
5) Hungarian Folk Culture
Hungary is known for its rich folk culture that is steeped in tradition. You can experience and learn more about the local folk cultures and traditions by visiting the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest as well as Skanzen Open Air Museum which is located near the town of Szentendre.
A trip to Hungary is not complete without taking back home the various folk crafts and artefacts including the exquisite embroidery that the women of Holloko stitch to ornament their skirts and smocks. Hungarian folk music is quite popular here and continues to thrive throughout the country.
6) Dynamic Nightlife
Hungary is the place to be if you are looking to enjoy a night out with drinks, music and dance. The nightlife here is vibrant and buzzing, especially in the capital city Budapest. The city is lined with restaurants, street markets and popular nightclubs for you to let loose and take a break from your everyday lives.
7) World-class Opera
The Hungarian State Opera House allows you to experience a high-class Opera experience in one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. This is also priced cheaper compared to the Operas in Italy and other European countries.
Built-in 1875, this neo-Renaissance Opera House is the second largest in Hungary and houses over a hundred performances annually.
Danube Palace, a neo-Baroque concert hall is home to the Danube Symphony Orchestra and holds a variety of cultural programmes held by the Ministry of Internal Affairs since the year 1951.
8) Relaxing Thermal Baths
Hungary boasts of a large number of thermal baths and spas across the country which are the perfect place to relax, calm as well as benefit from the many medicinal properties associated with these baths.
Lake Heviz in Hungary is the world’s largest thermal lake available to bathers. Szechenvi is the biggest and most attractive bath in Budapest. The thermal bath is one of the most popular reasons to visit Hungary.
9) Popular Hungarian Wine
Some of the most popular wines offered here include the full-bodied Egri Bikavér (Eger Bull’s Blood) and the sweet dessert wine of Tokaji Aszú. You could also take a tour through the country’s numerous vineyards and wineries and experience the process of winemaking.
10) Scenic Views
The country is filled with relatively undiscovered and unspoiled naturally beautiful sights. The Hortobágy National Park offers scenic natural landscapes.
Danube Barge – Hungary by Andrew Moore:Flickr [link]
The stunning caves of Lillafüred is another must-visit destination in the country. The Lake Balaton, Eger wine region as well as Danube bend offers some of the most splendid views across the country.
The Budapest Spring Festival throughout the month of April celebrates the arrival of spring with an array of events, entertainment and activities including jazz, dance and opera. The Flower Carnival in Debrecen is another popular tourist attraction which includes a range of floats and entertainment dating back to the 1900s.
Pork Meat & Sausage Festival Budapest 2016 (14) by Budapest Events Guide:Flickr [link]
The Carnival night which is the finale of the event features over two thousand foreign and Hungarian performers. The International Military Band Festival which is held every alternate year hosts a variety of domestic performances and is a celebration of the military.
12) Shopping lovers paradise
Budapest offers the ultimate shopping experience in Hungary with its street markets and stores that offer a wide variety of clothes, artefacts and folk art made by local craftsmen. From classy retail stores to malls and bustling markets, Budapest offers you an array of options to choose from.
The Budapest Christmas Market which are traditional markets held throughout the country from mid-November until the end of December attracts thousands of tourists. You can shop for beautiful handcrafted items, food and beverage as well as experience the local culture during these festivals.
13) Films and Theatre
The Theatre Madach in Budapest houses international musicals as well as Hungarian works with English subtitles giving tourists the opportunity to experience local productions. The Erkel Theatre in the city is the largest theatre in the city and has been home to several successful shows. The theatre recently went under a major renovation and is now the second scene for the Hungarian State Opera.