Hungary Travel Guide
Even though Hungary’s natural attractions may look less overwhelming on paper, with its tallest peak reaches just over 1,000 m (3,280 ft) and the absence of sea coast, the country has got Balaton, one of the Europe’s largest lakes and the nation’s very own “inland sea”, as well as the magnificent Danube river, which makes a dramatic turn to the north of Budapest. Apart from the endless Puszta, or the Pannonian Steppe, where csikosok – Hungary’s sturdy cowboys – still ride, Hungary possesses a number of charming cathedrals, renowned spa culture, medieval castles and numerous cities, which boast some of the finest Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau architecture in Europe.
Hungary has always been at the crossroads of both trade and culture, so that explains why it has so many lively festivals held in towns and villages around the country each year. Hungarians are friendly people, and you may even see senior men kissing women’s hands on meeting and close friends shaking hands when they get together.
While Hungarian language isn’t the easiest one to study, it is definitely worth learning at least several phrases, as English isn’t widely spoken in Hungary, especially in rural areas. Hungary is like a melting pot where different cultures and religions interchanged each other. Thus, Turkish traces can be found, most strikingly in the mosque at Pecs, converted into a Christian church in the early 18th century, and in the towering minaret at Eger, as well as in the handful of wonderfully preserved 16th-century thermal bath houses in Budapest.
Despite the fact that Hungary has some of the most charming landscape to be found in Eastern Europe, the country is usually overlooked by travellers. It is a great destination for backpackers and those on a tight budget, it has cheap food and drinks, affordable accommodation and transportation. With so many Medieval sites to visit, Hungary has (and strives to have even more) all of the conveniences of the rest of Europe. Don’t limit yourself to just visiting Budapest, go off the beaten track and discover what else Hungary has to offer.
Getting Around Hungary
Hungary is a relatively small country with well-developed urban transport system. Train travel in Hungary is slow but its reliable and cheap. While most train lines in Hungary set Budapest as their hub and run from there, usually it is much more convenient to go back through the capital to reach the destination point rather than using routes in the outlying areas.
For example, Budapest to Debrecen takes 3 hours, but only costs 15 EUR. Buses are less comfortable in villages and towns, but allow to reach further flung places. You can reach Budapest from Ferihegy airport for less than 2 EUR while using the bus. Budapest can be explored on foot, so you can save some money by skipping public transport.
Food in Hungary
Some typical Hungarian dishes to try are Porkolt (stew with boneless meat, paprika, and some vegetables), Chicken Paprikash (chicken cooked with great amount of paprika), Goulash (a soup of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices), Halaszle (hot, spicy paprika-based river fish soup).
Food in Hungary is really cheap. You can get a decent local meal in an inexpensive restaurant for less than 6 EUR. A meal with a drink in a mid-range restaurant will set you back around 15 EUR. Expect to pay around 5 EUR for an ordinary fast food meal. Expect to spend on average 50 EUR weekly depending on your preferences, by cooking your own meals you can save even more.
Accommodation in Hungary
Accommodation in Hungary is really cheap compared to the countries in the Western Europe. Belvaros-Lipotvaros or the fifth district, where I stayed during my visit to Budapest is great and it has lots of cheap hostels and numerous sites to visit. Most hostels typically range between 6-17 EUR per night for a dorm room. For private rooms in hostels expect to pay around 23-27 EUR. Rooms at budget hotels start from 30 EUR and usually offer free Wi-Fi. Airbnb is great as you can find really awesome studio apartments averaging around 23-45 EUR per night.