This Middle-European crossroads country, surrounded by diverse neighbouring countries, is a clash of Habsburg grandiosity and communist-era grittiness.
There are many reasons to fall in love with Hungary. Is it the thermal spas? The splendid Art Nouveau architecture? The exotic warrior myth of wild Magyars from the Central Asian Steppe.
Or fun and vibrant cities like Budapest, Debrecen and Szeged? Or the extraordinary impenetrable language of the locals that sounds a little like Elfish? Excellent spicy cuisine? Beautiful girls?
The one thing I know is that I am going to visit Hungary again for all of these reasons.
Here are the places we think you shouldn’t miss when you visit this beautiful country for the first time.
Budapest is one of the most attractive destinations in Europe. This City is often referred to as the “Paris of the East“.It is a home for the one-fifth of Hungary’s population and a political, commercial and cultural heart of the country.
Budapest is formed by unification of Buda, on the hilly west bank, and Pest on the eastern bank, with the mighty Danube running through the heart of the city.
Buda is the historical part of the city, crowned by mile-long plateau Castle Hill, with the grandiose Buda Palace, and a web of cobblestone streets and the symbol of Hungarian nationalism, Mátyás Church.
Pest is filled with hip cafes and warehouse bars. But, it also has a great historic Jewish District with the largest synagogue in Europe. The Great Synagogue or Dohány Street synagogue is the second largest in the world, as the largest one is in New York. The city is also home to the largest thermal water system and a third-largest parliament building in the world as well.
The largest lake in Central Europe, The Hungarian see as it is often called, spreads at the area of 592 square kilometres. Siófok, Keszthely, and Balatonfüred are the main tourist resorts. Siofok on the southern bank is the lake’s party capital and one of the richest towns in Hungary due to tourism income. Keszthely, in the west, is gentler and more suitable for people looking for scenic break and rest. Balatonfüred is on the north shore and is a traditional bathing town with famous wineries and the quaint baroque Festetics Castle.
The village of Zamárdi, home of the country’s biggest EDM festival is just a few miles away.
It is the second largest city of Hungary. This city lies in the east of the country at about thirty kilometres of the border with Romania. The city was once known as ‘the Calvinist Rome‘.
The central square of Debrecen is Kossuth ter. You can see the beautiful Millennium Fountain and the Reformed Great Church, Református Nagytemplom there.
Debrecen city is also famous for centuries for its thermal baths. The minerals in the water have therapeutic effects for various health conditions. The largest and most famous bathhouse is Aquaticum Spa in Debrecen. Stay there for several days and then return home as a new, relaxed person. Try to match your visit with the annual Flower Carnival festival in August, which is a real spectacle.
The industrial town of Miskolc is located in northeastern Hungary. Modern city life is characterised by quaint shopping areas, bars and restaurants and the vibrancy around the universities. The cultural sights of Miskolc, however, make this city a fascinating destination. You can also visit the hot springs in the cave of Miskolctapolca, that are famous for over eight centuries. Then explore the impressive castle Diosgyor and the National Theatre of Miskolc. The artificial waterfalls Lillafüred are part of the Lux by Kálmán designed Lillafüred Palace Hotel.
5.Aggteleki National Park
It is located in Northern Hungary, about a 3-hour drive from Budapest. Area belonging to the park covers more than 200 square kilometres, and some parts of the park are off-limits for the tourists, and on some parts, you must stay on the marked hiking trails.
The largest stalactic cave in Europe, Baradla, is located in the park. Guided tours are available, and if you’re lucky enough, sometimes you can attend concerts held in the largest room of the cave.
It is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1995.
The place with a remarkable history and cultural heritage. The first university of Hungary was founded in Pécs in 1367. Therefore it is one of UNESCO’s Cities of Peace, multicultural environment where different ethnic groups coexisted together in peace through the centuries. Mild, almost Mediterranean climate, medieval buildings, great museums and exceptional wines make it a very popular tourist destination.
Do not miss the largest music festival in Europe, held every summer on an island in the Danube in Budapest. Because the list of headliners is always impressive, this 22-year-old festival just keeps getting better each year. Check the program of this year’s festival here.
Tokaj wine region, a historical wine region, is located in North-Eastern Hungary and South-Eastern Slovakia. This region consists of 28 villages and over 5,500 hectares of wine culture planted on rolling hills of this sunny province. Also visit the historical town of Tokaj, and its famous wine cellars.
9.The Danube Bend
Donauknie is a bend in the Danube that begins at the northern town of Esztergom and windingly extends to Budapest. There are a lot of medieval castles to visit in the area, and also the largest cathedral in Hungary, the Esztergom Basilica. You can also take this trip by boat and enjoy this wonderful area from a different perspective.
10.Hortobágy National Park
UNESCO added Hortobágy National Park to the World Heritage list in 1999. It is situated 40 km west of Debrecen. In the middle of the park is a village Hortobágy, famous for its Gypsy bands, inns and cowboys (csikósok). You can visit Puszta horse show in the village, where traditionally costumed csikósok perform and show off their cowboy skills. The landscape of this large national park mainly consists of plains with steppe, marshes, rivers and meadows. For that reason, we recommend you to explore this area, which is also a wildlife preserve, by bike or riding a horse, but it is also great for trekkers and campers.