Home to 10 million people, Hungary is a nation that prides itself on a diversified culture, its stunning historical monuments and very cheap beer! To honour those attributes, we’ve put together our very own comprehensive guide to the landlocked haven in the centre of Europe so you can get going the moment you’ve renewed your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) ready to travel to Hungary safely.
Places To Visit:
Hungary’s capital and most notable city, Budapest, has come to the forefront of the public conscience in recent years thanks to its appearance in modern pop culture. The setting for Wes Anderson’s Oscar-winning film, ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014) and of course, the chorus to George Ezra’s country-pop hit ‘Budapest’, the city is now one of Europe’s most well-known destinations.
Not limited to just providing the inspiration for some of the world’s great artists, the city has plenty more in its arsenal, including more than 1000 hot springs, a one-hundred-year-old Great Market Hall and Europe’s largest synagogue.
Tokaj Wine Region
The time to let your hair down is when you’re travelling abroad and what better place to relax than in Hungary’s oldest and most famous wine-making region. The Tokaj wine region has been producing wine for over 1000 years, and that abundance of experience is evident when you taste it. Famed for sweet flavours derived from grapes that have developed a non-harmful type of fungus called the ‘noble rot’, the northeastern town is a must visit destination in Hungary.
Central Europe’s largest lake, Lake Balton is one of Hungary’s most popular tourist attractions. During the summer, millions of Hungarian families and foreign holidaymakers flock to the lake to spend some time by the shore. The lake offers a wide variety of activities for guests to enjoy such as swimming, fishing and sailing. What’s more, if you visit during the winter you can ice skate on the lake, and even go ice fishing.
Hortobágy National Park
The Hortobágy National Park is the largest area of protected landscape in Hungary. Situated amongst the Great Plains of Hungary, the National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife and plants, most notable of which is a small population of rare, semi-wild Przewalski horses. The area also has a strong history surrounding agriculture which local excursion providers explain in a series of countryside tours.
Things To Do:
The Hollókő Village was given a special commendation by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) due to its unique architecture, cultural heritage and traditions. Located in the Cserhat Mountain and with a population of just 380 people, the quaint village is the perfect destination if you wish to encounter traditional Hungarian heritage. The townspeople embrace visitors and even hold events that you can participate in to help replicate what the town would have been like centuries ago, not least by wearing Paloc folk costumes.
For Sale Pub
The unique pub in the centre of Budapest lets drinkers literally leave their mark. Every inch of the For Sale Pub’s walls, ceilings and floors are covered by small pieces of stapled and pinned paper that previous customers have left behind. Notes with names, drawings, business cards – you name it the For Sale Pub has it attached to a surface, so when you visit make sure to take a pen!
Shoes On The Danube Promenade
A slightly more sombre monument but equally as important nonetheless, the trail of iron footwear that stands along the Danube riverbank is a tribute to the Hungarians that tragically lost their lives during the Second World War. The style of footwear includes work boots, loafers, heels and even tiny shoes of children to illustrate how no one regardless of age, gender or occupation was spared.
There are three points along the memorial with iron cast signs that read, “To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. Erected 16 April 2005,” where you can now pay your respects.
In February of every year, the townspeople of a small Hungarian village called Mohács wear horned monster masks and wander around the town making as much noise as possible.
Busójárás is a celebration and affirmation of life for the Šokci, an ethnic Croatian minority population living in Mohács. It lasts for one week and on the penultimate night of the festival, the townspeople cart a man made out of straw to the centre of the village and proceed to burn it and perform a traditional dance called the ‘Kolo’. The slightly unusual festival it is just one of the many whimsical celebrations that take place in Hungary throughout the year.
What You Need To Know
Hungary has two main sources of public transport – bus and trolleybus – both of which run from 5 in the morning until 9 at night in most regions. They also run a little later in the capital of Budapest, which also has a sophisticated metro system.
However, if you decide to stay in small provincial towns like Hollókő or Mohács it’s likely you won’t have as many choices available to you, but due to many of the towns’ sizes, the majority of journeys are manageable on foot. You can purchase transport tickets at newsstands or train stations.
You’ll find a pretty diverse choice of accommodation regardless of which region you journey to during your stay in Hungary.
Bed and breakfasts, or as local’s call them pensions, are widespread and there is an abundance of backpacker hostels and self-catering accommodation, which are typically rentable bungalows. Homestay accommodation is also available, which is where you stay in a private house which you can organise through travel agents.
All that’s left to say is good luck! We hope you’ve found this guide helpful and that once you’ve renewed your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), that you enjoy your trip. If you have any further questions about your card, you can take a look at our FAQs online or get in touch with a member of our team, today. Happy travels!