Hungary is a fascinating country with a diverse landscape and a rich and varied history. From the mountain ranges of the north to the great flatlands of the east, from the numerous cathedrals and basilicas to the great synagogues and the Ottoman mosques, Hungary is a country of great geographical and cultural plurality at the cross roads of Europe and the east. It has a fantastic variety of things to see and do and is well worth taking the time to explore in depth.
Hungary is best known for its magnificent capital city - Budapest - which sits astride the River Danube and is a veritable treasure trove of stunning art and architecture. There are also a number of other beautiful historical cities in the country. Debrecen is the second city and a beautiful ecclesiastical centre whilst Kesckemet, Eger and Sapron are also well worth seeing. There are a great number of thermal springs in Hungary and the country has been popular as a spa centre since antiquity. The Hungarian countryside boats beautiful rivers and forests as well as the largest lake in central Europe - Lake Balaton - which is a highly popular tourist destination and a summer resort with excellent water sports facilities.
When: Hungary's continental climate means that it enjoys long, hot summers with temperatures between May and September regularly getting into the thirties celsius. Try travelling out in the late spring or early summer to avoid the midsummer heats and the peak season crowds.
Where: Budapest is a fascinating and beautiful city and offers a huge number of sights as well as a vibrant and exciting nightlife. It's a great place for a single traveller to see lots of interesting sights and make a few new friends!
Why: Budapest is a gorgeous city on the banks of the Danube. The Buda castle with its Royal Palace and National Gallery and the Parliament are top attractions and there are a whole host of fascinating museums to see whilst you're in town.
When: Try heading to Hungary in the June or September. Tourist resorts can fill up in July and August with most Hungarians taking their holidays in these months and leading to a dramatic spike in prices.
Where: Head to the resort towns surrounding the vast Lake Balaton. Siofok, Balatonfured and Heviz are amongst the most popular and they boast thermal facilities, great nightlife and a varied cultural scene.
Why: Lake Balaton is one of the most popular tourism destinations for Hungarians and it is a beautiful place for a holiday away with friends. It is surrounded by gorgeous countryside and is a great destination for hiking and swimming as well as a variety of water sports including sailing and kite surfing.
When: Hungary is most pleasant at the start and end of summer when the heat doesn't quite reach the same highs as the midsummer months and the hotels are less crowded and less expensive.
Where: There are a great number of towns in Hungary that make a great destination for an interesting and relaxing holiday away. Eger, in the north of the country is well worth a visit and has a rich history dating back to the medieval and Ottoman periods.
Why: Eger boasts a great many historic attractions that are not to be missed. There is a grand castle which houses a beautiful gothic palace and an art gallery. You could also climb the towering minaret and enjoy the fantastic thermal baths. Eger also offers a great selection of bars and restaurants.
When: Why not make Hungary an easter holiday destination as the heat of the midsummer months might be a bit much for the little ones? Alternatively, head out to Hungary in the christmas holidays when much of the country is cloaked in a layer of pristine snow.
Where: There are plenty of fun and exciting destinations for the whole family to enjoy in Hungary. Kids will enjoy the water sports on Lake Balaton and the stalactite and stalagmite clad Aggtelek Caves are a fascinating sight. Alternatively go to Budapest in the winter and combine a city break with a spot of skiing in the Matra Hills.
Why: Hungary is a fascinating and beautiful country and one that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you're hiking in the Bukk Mountains or on a skiing or water sports holiday, it makes for an unforgettable destination.
Hungary enjoys a continental climate with warm and dry summers and very cold winters. The coldest month is January with temperatures regularly dipping below zero and blasts of icy winds wiping across the plains. In the mountains, there is regular and heavy snowfall making for good skiing conditions. During the summer months, temperatures regularly get into the thirties celsius with clear skies and lots of sunshine - there are occasional thunder storms in the evenings. July is the hottest month of the year and can be quite stifling in some parts of the country. The early autumn is generally very pleasant though the fog starts to creep in towards the end of the season.
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What to expect
Hungary is a hugely diverse and very beautiful country. It has a gentle countryside with lower mountain ranges in the north. The countryside is peppered with small and charming ancient villages and beautiful woodlands and rivers. The cities of Budapest, Eger and Debrecen are all major cultural centres and showcase some of the cultural relics of the country's long and chequered history which has involved periods of Roman, Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultural greatness. There are fine examples of neo gothic and art nouveau architecture in Budapest as well as monuments to the country's troubled recent history. Budapest is perhaps best known as a spa centre and visitors can expect a thoroughly indulgent holiday with some delicious Hungarian cuisine and local fine wines.
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