Hungary

Hungary travel guide

The Republic of Hungary experienced strong losses during World War Two. When the war finally ended, happiness and freedom wasn't there yet for the Hungarions. Instead, they got occupied by the next dictator. The communist regime in Hungary was never really considered 'extreme' (But... The Gulag camps?), But it still took until 2004 before the Hungarians were able to join the European Union. Today Hungary has become a modern nation that attracts many tourists with the appealing nature, the grandeur of the big cities and very cheap bars, parties and festivals. From the airport of Budapest you are in close proximity to see the amazing Art Nouveau, the relaxed thermal baths and the surprisingly tasty cuisine from this hidden treasure.

 Places in Hungary

 Budapest

The Esztergom basillica is the headquarters of the cathollic church in Hungary.

The Esztergom basillica is the headquarters of the cathollic church in Hungary.

  Average costs

Stay – The beautiful hotels in Hungary are quite affordable! For five star you don’t even have to break the bank. The price for one night in this luxury will cost between €85 and €200.
Four stars sometimes begin at as little as €50, but average prices start at around €70 per night. A typical three-star hotel starts at €40 and can go up to €100 per night.
Budget travelers can find a lot of deals in Hungary! A single or double room, studio or apartment can already be rented for twenty euros per night.
For a list of accommodations and discounts you can look here.

Eat – Feel free to head to a restaurant every day, because Hungary has good food and it’s not expensive! The more expensive restaurants serve meals from 4000 Hungarian forints (about €13 or $15). Tasty pastas start already at 1500 at 2000 HUF per person. A dessert costs 750 to 1500 HUF.
For fast food you pay about 1000 HUF (+/- € 3.25 – $4) for gourmet burgers you pay 2500 HUF (+/- € 8 – $9).
A cocktail will cost up to five euros ($6), a beer is often no more than one euro ($1,5).

Transportation – A single ticket on a public bus will cost between 300 and 450 HUF in Hungary. Often you can also buy tickets in bulk. For ten tickets, you pay much less than buying them all seperate. Let’s say these bulk ticket would cost anything between 2000 and 3000 HUF.
In larger (or touristy) towns there are also tickets for 24h or 72h unlimited use of public transport. In Budapest these tickets cost 1650 HUF for 24h, and 4150 HUF for 72h.

The Lővér Kalandapark is one of the greatest nature reserves in Hungary and is located very close to the Austrian border.

The Lővér Kalandapark is one of the greatest nature reserves in Hungary and is located very close to the Austrian border.

  Saving money

Only take money from official banks – Hungary has a lot of tourists coming over each day and some companies try to take advantage of this… Always get your Hungarian forints from an ATM in (or outside) a bank. The small machines scattered around the cities (usually the’re from “Euronet”) usually charge a whopping(!) 10% additional rate. Avoid the Euronet ATMs! There’s better ways to spend that money.

Get money without exchange rate calculation – Another trick that some ATMs try to pull with tourists. While getting out some cash you money, the end screen pretty much always asks you whether you want a more “favorable” exchange rate or if you’d rather have your Bank provide its own exchange rate.
Always choose the option WITHOUT conversion. Again, easily 10% saved!

Try to always pay in cash – Once you have collected the money, it is best to always pay in cash. When you are paying with bank cards, many stores, restaurants and taxis charge commission fees.

Never pay in euros – Many companies also accept euros in Hungary. Convenient, because if you don’t have any HUF in your wallet, this is probably another currency that you might have taken with. However most of the times an incorrect exchange rate is used, and you end up paying 10 to 20% more in euros than what you would pay in the local currency.

Take a bus, shuttle or train to / from the airport – If you’re coming to Hungary, chances are that you land in Budapest. Try to arrange a shuttlebus (Minibud) in advance (or at the airport). This will cost you €7 – $8 per person, per ride.
You can also take the bus in combination with the metro. Even cheaper, but it does take longer. From Terminal 1 you can also easily walk to the train. For 365 HUF you are taken to the Nyugati railway station.
A taxi to the center costs at least 7000 HUF (+/- € 22 or $24).

Pre-drinks – Alcohol is very cheap in clubs, bars and restaurants. But it can get even cheaper when you buy a few drinks beforehand. A bottle of Jägermeister for less than eight euros? Only in Hungary!

Free museums – Museums across Hungary are completely free on certain holidays. Are you in Hungary on March 15th, August 20th or October 23d? Head to the nearest museums for a free and informative visit.

The Sziget festival is a giant festival with the biggest stars of the world! It attracts more than 500,000 people every year!

The Sziget festival is a giant festival with the biggest stars of the world! It attracts more than 500,000 people every year!

  Do’s

Budapest – You can come to Hungary without a visit to the capital. The magnificent architecture of the famed parliament, the fortress of Buda high above the city, the huge chain bridge that connects the two waterfronts with each other… There is so much to see and do in Budapest. A visit to the Art Nouveau city is not complete without soaking up in one of the many thermal baths. My personal favorite were the Szechenyi baths; it is both beautiful inside and out.
Book an extra suitcase for your return flight, because shopaholics will definitely find some great deals in the Hungarian capital.

Lake Balaton – The largest lake in Central Europe is located in the west of Hungary, about 100 kilometers from Budapest. During the summer everyone seems to migrate to this lake. The azure waters have an almost constant temperature of 25°C (77°F), so a lot of water lovers will definitely enjoy the ‘sea of Hungary’.
Besides the beautiful beaches and waters you’ll see a lot of beautiful villages and towns on the edge of Lake Balaton. Siofok, Balatonfüred, Tihany and Veszprem are perhaps the most beautiful and most visited.

Heviz baths – In the northwest of the country you’ll find the Heviz baths. A huge area with thermal waters which seem to have the perfect temperature all year-round. The water is slightly radioactive, but don’t be afraid! This is actually supposed to be good for your health! A splash in the warm water is relaxing, but also the area around it is magnificent to see.

Baradla caves – In the middle of the Aggtelek National Park, you’ll find the Baradla cave and many other underground caverns. Marvel at the gigantic stalactites and stalagmites that serve as the interior of the cave. They are even the largest of Europe!

Sziget – Nearly half a million party people migrate to Sziget in Hungary every year. In August this island is transformed into a party island of unseen proportions. The festival lasts for seven days and schedules only the biggest stars in the world. In the past there were visits of among others Rihanna, Lily Allen, Iron Maiden, Robbie Williams, Major Lazer, Netsky, Korn, The Prodigy, Kasabian, 30 Seconds to Mars, Armin van Buuren and many others. Tickets aren’t expensive compared to most other European festivals. Tickets for 7 days cost €299 and a day ticket costs €65.

Thermal baths – Thermal baths are spread out all over Hungary, but especially in the capital you’ll find a lot of these thermal baths. The hot baths -including sulfur smell- are excellent for your health and a relaxing swimming sessions. But what makes them really special is the wonderful places where they are accommodated! Gigantic buildings with sublimely decorated facades and amazing interiors. The Szechenyi baths are probably the best known, but the Gellért Baths are as extraordinary.

Esztergom – Esztergom was the capital of Hungary a long time ago. This city may not be as vibrant and grand as Budapest, there still are quite some things to see and do. Definitely head to the main cathedral of Hungary: Esztergom Basilica.

Szentendre – During the summer, Szentendre is very popular with day trippers. This small town has a lot of charm and even looks a bit like a Mediterranean village but then in the middle of Hungary. The colorful buildings, cobblestones and nearby pools make it a favorite of many.

he Balaton Lake is one of the most loved places of the country. Both for locals and tourists!

The Balaton Lake is one of the most loved places of the country. Both for locals and tourists!

   Don’ts

Forgetting to check opening hours – Museums are closed almost anywhere in the world on Monday, but in Hungary restaurants seem to have taken over that habit also. Always check their opening hours before heading to a closed restaurants.

Forgetting your swimsuit – A trip to Hungary without visiting one of the thermal baths is not done! To relax in one of these gorgeous baths you do need to bring your swimsuit. So don’t forget to pack one, unless you of course want to rent a used bathing suit. (true story!)

Visiting theatre performances during summer – The theater buildings in Hungary are beautiful! The interiors ánd exteriors are gorgeous, and the beautiful plays are definitely worth a visit. However… You can’t visit any of the theatres during the summer months! Due to the heat almost all theaters close for two months (July and August).

De Szechenyi baths of Budapest leave you amazed by just looking at. So relaxing in one of them is even better!

De Szechenyi baths of Budapest leave you amazed by just looking at them. So relaxing in one is even better!

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