Sitting right at the heart of Europe, Hungary (Magyarország) has a language and a culture all of its own. As well as an ancient and somewhat chequered history, Hungary is most famous for Budapest, the Danube and the music of Franz Liszt and Bela Bartok. But there’s a lot more to Hungary than just Budapest. UNESCO rates it outstanding on its World Heritage List. Come and discover one of the most interesting cultures in Europe.
Hungary is situated in central Europe and it has borders with the Slovak Republic, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Austria. It’s still a bit of a secret within Europe. That’s because for many years, Hungary was a Communist society under Soviet rule. This came to an end in 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed – and free elections were then held. Hungary became a democracy in 1990 and joined the EU in 2004. Nowadays it is looking to develop an open and liberal economy and to become a key part of Europe.
There’s plenty of things to do and see. Although Hungary doesn’t have the dramatic mountains or forests of its neighbours, people flock there to visit its historic castles and amazing architecture, as well as to visit its famous thermal spas. It’s also got some wonderful food, which blends the best of the east and the west. Hungarians love rich, spicy food. Why not try some apple or cherry strudel, Hortobágy pancakes (filled with chicken and paprika) or the famous goulash and kohirabi (cabbage) soup? And the good news is – food and drink tend to be quite cheap. So you can afford to splash out and enjoy yourself.
Hungary is still developing as a country – and it has suffered along with a lot of Europe from the economic downturn. But it has a determined and focused population, which wants to fully take its place on the European stage. The standard of living is rising but the low living costs make it an attractive place for students.
The capital city Budapest lies in one of the most attractive areas of the Danube. It consists of two parts Buda and Pest. Buda is the older with cobbled and medieval streets, while Pest is the commercial centre with wide boulevard-style streets. Other cities well worth a visit include Sopron, Pecs, Eger and Szeged.
At a glance facts
- Language: Hungarian. Few people speak English outside hotels, big restaurants and tourist offices but knowledge of German is useful
- Population: 9,688,847 (2018)
- International dialling code: + 36
- Time zone: GMT + 1
Europe, member of the EU