Paprika is arguably the most essential ingredient in Hungarian cuisine, and has become a dominant part of the country’s food. In the 16th century Hungarians began to cultivate paprika after its introduction to the country by the turks. Nowadays, the small country is one of the most well-known producers of paprika in the world! Stroll into any market in the country, perhaps the Central Market Hall in the capital of Budapest, where an array of paprika products including paprika-infused cheeses, paprika paste, and the spice in its purest form are being sold! You can also taste dishes infused with the delicious Hungarian paprika in a variety of traditional dishes, like the chicken paprikash, a delicious stewed chicken in a paprika sauce, accompanied with sour cream and Hungarian style dumplings, or in Hungarian goulash, the country’s rendition on the popular goulash stew, a delicious meal consumed throughout many central and Eastern European countries, although Hungarian are the creators of this stew, with recipes dating back to the 9th century!
Hungary has a magnificent history, joining together with nearby Austria to create the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was one of 19th and 20th century Europe’s most powerful empires. While the empire is long gone and Hungary is now a democratic republic, the past empire shaped the country’s architecture, art, and culture significantly. Much of the iconic architecture in Budapest like the Royal Palace and the parliament building, also known as one of the most beautiful parliament buildings in the world, were constructed during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and are some of the most iconic buildings in the country. Museums throughout the country boast art and artefacts from the era as well.
Hungary is well known for its variety of thermal spas, built around supposedly therapeutic water. The country has a geological fault line which helped cause more than 1,300 hot springs to appear. The most famous of the thermal baths are in the country’s capital, Budapest, where they have been transformed to support many different events such as parties with DJs or relaxing spa days. Throughout the whole country, 230 thermal baths dot the landscape, and the country is a literal spa paradise so you can find a variety of different spas with different amenities to fit your preferences, with Budapest being known as the City Of Baths.
Located in the heart of Europe, Hungary has a unique cultural identity that has been influenced by a range of cultures and civilizations including the Roman, Ottoman, and Hapsburg influences. The country has a rich religious identity as well, with a variety of different religious influences present such as Roman Catholic, Protestant, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist. In fact, Budapest is even home to a jewish quarter which features delicious Jewish cuisine, quirky ruin bars, and impressive synagogues. While the country is predominantly Christian, other religions have clearly influenced the Central European country!
Despite centuries of foreign influence, Hungarians have maintained a strong sense of cultural identity. Their language, literature, and music has stayed true to the country’s roots, while modernising and evolving. Culinary traditions, authentic music and dance, and customary arts and crafts can be found throughout the country in the form of restaurants, festivals, and markets which offers its visitors an incredible opportunity to connect with the distinctive culture of the country.
The four major geographical regions of Hungary are:
North Hungarian Mountains
The administrative regions of Hungary are divided into 19.
While Budapest draws in plenty of visitors year-round, there is so much more to the small country that is consistently overlooked. The undiscovered countryside is filled with small towns and villages that offer its visitors a chance to experience traditional Hungarian life, and are a relaxing break from the city. Some gorgeous towns worth exploring include the historically rich border town of Koszeg, the quaint lake town of Tapolca, and Hévíz, which draws in its visitors for being situated on the second largest thermal lake in the world. The countryside has a lot of unique aspects that make it worth visiting. Unique little villages, quiet thermal baths that aren’t as hectic as those in Budapest, traditional cuisine, and a thriving arts and crafts scene. Local markets, festivals, and shops showcase some of the traditional works, some of the country’s most notable being folk embroidery, a beautiful floral embroidery that has been practised since the 19th century. Year-round, Hungarians decorate gingerbread cookies, and while it may seem festive from an outside perspective, it is an extremely intricate process that has become a part of Hungarian culture and you can find these stunning gingerbread works that are almost too gorgeous to eat year-round! These are just some of the country’s artisan products that are worth checking out, but there are plenty of more traditional items you’ll find blue-dyed crafts, porcelain jewellery, and lace-making.
Hungarian’s are very proud of their small country and their national identity, and love to show off their country to its visitors. Hungarian’s also strive to preserve its unique cultural heritage for future generations, and these values are present in everyday life in the country, as visitors are taught by locals about customs, traditions, and the country’s quirks. Between this, Hungary is home to breathtaking architecture that combines a lot of different architectural styles, like Gothic, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, and Baroque. In particular, the capital city of Budapest is home to some impressive buildings like Fisherman’s Bastion and St. Stephen’s Basilica which have incorporated unique flairs into their architecture, making for unique constructions across the city. The countryside also boasts beautiful, traditional architecture as well as more innovative, modern designs.
Hungary is a great place to visit year round. During the height of the tourist season, the weather can get quite hot, especially in months like July and August, but it is still a lovely summer destination. The country boasts festive Christmas markets in the winter months, and no matter how cold it gets, you can always warm up in the thermal baths!
Hungarian language is one of the most challenging and interesting European languages, and is one of the only languages in Europe that doesn’t belong to the Indo-European family. Its lack of relation to the language of neighbouring countries has fascinated linguists for years! The language nowadays shares similarities with Finnish and Estonian, spread by the Magyar people who settled in Hungary in the 500’s A.D.
There are plenty of international flights that fly into the country’s main airport, Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport including budget airlines like WizzAir, RyanAir, Jet2, and EasyJet, as well as many other airlines from around the world.
Many European cities have trains that run to Budapest, including Prague, Munich, Bratislava, and Vienna. These are just some of many. From Budapest you can connect to other spots in the country.
Getting to Hungary via bus is an affordable option.
In Hungary, people drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left. In order to drive in Hungary, visitors must be 18 years old with a valid driver’s licence. If renting a car, rental car companies in Hungary require a minimum age of 21, and restrictions on vehicle groups available for rent are in place for drivers under the age of 25.
Public transportation in Hungary is a convenient and affordable way to get around. Budapest and other major cities like Debrecen, Szeged, and Pécs all have well-developed public transportation networks, although Budapest’s is quite a bit more extensive, including trams, metros, and buses. In fact, Budapest’s metro system is the oldest on the European continent! Trains and buses run frequently between cities and towns as well which is a great way to travel around the country.
Hungary’s cities are very walkable, and going on foot is often the most convenient way to explore them. Use our map to find out what’s near you, or combine it with the bus or metro for a hassle-free day out.