Travel guide to Hungary

» Hungary
With its natural splendor, modern capital and very friendly population, Hungary is an obvious East European travel target . The capital Budapest has many cultural attractions, whilst forests, lakes and abundant wine fields characterise the beautiful Magyar landsape.

Facts

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Local name
Magyarország
Capital
Budapest (1.861.383)
Size
93.030 km2
Principal Languages
Hungarian
Principal Religion
Roman Catholic
Inhabitants
10.400.000 (2000)
Government
Republic
Geography
Hungary is situated in the centre of Europe. Towards the north is Slovakia, northeast is Ukraine and east is Rumania. Towards the west are Austria and Slovenia and south are Croatia and Yugoslavia. Hungary has very hilly scenery, especially in the northwestern corner. A large expanse of the country consists of plains (The Pusta). Balaton Lake towards the west is the largest lake in Central Europe.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

You can go to Hungary all year, but during winter it can get quite cold. If you are going for a city vacation in Budapest, you can go during winter as well. Summer can be really nice with high temperatures. During summer you can cool down in all the lakes in Hungary.

Literature

Lonely Planet Hungary Budapest and the best of Hungary

Local conditions

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Currency

Forint (FT)

Net cafes

Budapest has several Internet cafés, but there is also Internet access in other large cities in Hungary.

In case of emergency

Police (107) Ambulance (104) Fire brigade (105)

Tipping

Almost everybody working in the service sector in Hungary expects tipping. An extra 10 - 15 percent is normal, even if service has already been added to the bill.

Timezone

When it is 12.00 in Britain, it is 13.00 in Hungary

Weight and Measures

Length: metre Weight: kilo

Photography

Usually it is not a problem taking photos in Hungary. You cannot take pictures of military places though. You should also be aware of any special rules at sacred sites such as churches and mosques. These will usually be signposted. You should always ask before taking pictures of individuals.

Drinking water

Drinking water is safe in large and medium size cities. In the country, you should boil the water before drinking or buy bottled water instead.

Electricity

They use the following current: 220 volt AC/ 50 Hz

Behaviour

You can dress as you please in Hungary. It is usually possible to enter churches wearing shorts and short sleeves. Smoking is not allowed in public transports and public buildings.

Business Hours

Banks are open from 9.00 to 16.00 (Monday - Thursday) and from 9.00 to 13.00 (Friday). Shops are open from 9.00 to 18.00 (Monday - Friday) and from 9.00 to 13.00 (Saturday). Offices are open from 8.00 to 16.30 (Monday - Friday).

Food and drink

Hungarian cuisine is full of highly spiced dishes. Paprika is a very common spice, especially in the traditional dish pörkölt, also known as Hungarian Goulash. Do not be surprised if they serve a lump of pork fat with your dish. It is actually meant to be eaten, but fortunately they serve it at the side most of the time. Hungarians often drink beer with food - they sell many German brands in Hungary.

Disabled travellers

In large cities and at some holiday resorts like Balaton Lake there are special facilities for disabled travellers. If you travel on your own you should check out the conditions in those areas where you plan to go. Hungarians are friendly and helpful people.

Holidays

New Year's day, 1 January Revolution day, 15 March Labour Day, 1 May Constitution Day, 20 August The foundation of the Republic, 23 October Christmas Day, 25 December Boxing Day, 26 December. Easter Monday, in the beginning of April Whit Sunday, May

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are lots of camping grounds in Hungary, especially around Balaton Lake. If you camp during summer it is a good idea to carry insect repellent.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

It is possible to rent bungalows by Balaton Lake. Bed & Breakfasts are to be found in many places in the shape of private accommodation where you eat with the family.

Hostels

There are hostels in most large cities. They are more difficult to find in the country - where private pensions are dominant.

Local transport

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Planes

There are no domestic flights in Hungary yet.

Bus

The bus company Volán operates between both large and small cities. Furthermore the yellow and red long-range buses go to the more remote parts of the country.

Trains

The train network in Hungary is not at all as efficient as the bus network and is mostly used for pleasure trips. The train company MÁV has beautiful trips around the Balaton Lake for example. Furthermore, United Forest Railways operate in the forest and mountain areas.

Taxi

There are plenty of taxis in Hungary, especially in Budapest. It changes the price a lot whether the driver uses a taxi-meter though.

Car rental

Most large international car rental firms have offices in Budapest. There are also local car rental firms, but rental is not necessarily a good idea with these.

Boat or Ferry

There are ferries on the Balaton Lake, the Tisza River and on The Danube River between Budapest and Esztergom. But it is more of a pleasure trip than a means of transport.

Other Transport

The large and medium size cities have trams. Budapest also has a metro, and the train company HÉV operates locally.

Special conditions

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Fauna is rich in Hungary. Hungary is also a mecca for people interested in ornithology. If you go to some of the mountain peaks in Hungary you could see a lot of roe deer and wild pigs.

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