Hungary is a landlocked country in the Carpathian Basin of Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia.
Its territory is 93,036 km2, population is 9,994,000. The country’s official language is Hungarian, its currency is Hungarian Forint (HUF). It is in the GMT + 1 hour time zone, which is usually called Central European Time (CET).
Its capital is Budapest, which is also the biggest town of the country. Other important towns are Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged, Pécs, Győr, Nyíregyháza, Kecskemét and Székesfehérvár.
Hungary is a member of OECD (since 1996), NATO (since 1998), EU (since 2004), one of the founders of so called ’Visegrád Group’ and since end 2007 it is also a Schengen state.
Slightly more than one half of Hungary's landscape consists of flat to rolling plains of the Pannonian Basin. Its lowest point is Gyálarét, near Szeged, which is 78 m high. The highest point is Kékes, 1014 m. Major rivers are Danube (Duna) and Tisza. The biggest lakes are Balaton (the biggest lake in Central Europe) and Lake Velencei.
Hungary is in the temperate zone, and has a relatively dry continental climate. There are big differences between the weather in the four seasons, summers are hot and winters are cold. Average temperatures range from -1 °C in January to 21 °C in July. Hungary is protected from extreme weather conditions by the surrounding mountain ranges, the Alps and the Carpathians.
On the territory of Hungary there are 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites. 3 of those in Budapest - the Danube Bend View, the Buda Castle District, Andrassy Street - and 7 in the country – the village of Hollókő, Aggtelek and Hortobágy National Parks, the cultural landscape of Lake Fertő, the Benedictine Arch Abbey of Pannonhalma, the early christian necropolis in Pécs and the Tokaj-Hegyalja Wine Region.
According to Richard Hill, the author of ‘We, Europeans’, Hungarians are clearly speaking and analitically thinking people, who are extremely inventive. Their 2 specialties are that they speak a complicated language which is very different from those in their neighbouring countries and they use their names in an upside-down way starting with family name and then saying the Christian name. Hungarians are very open-minded, friendly and hospitable.
Hungary has 10 Nobel laureates of which the better known are Albert Szent-Györgyi (vitamin C) and Dénes Gábor (hologram). Many famous scientists and inventors are also Hungarian, such as Ignác Semmelweis physician (the reason behind childbed fever), Leó Szilárd physicist (nuclear chain reaction), Ede Teller physicist (father of the hydrogen bomb), János Neumann mathematician (father of computer), László Bíró the inventor of biro and Ernő Rubik the creator of Rubik cube.
Hungarians are also many important artists in world history e.g. Ferenc Liszt, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály composers, János Pulitzer journalist (namegiver of the Pulitzer journalism prize), André Kertész photographer, Victor Vasarely painter and even Harry Houdini magician.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary with its close to 2 million inhabitants, is the country's administrative, economic, cultural, and scientific centre and its main touristic attraction. A true cosmopolitan European city in every sense of the word, where it is worth to stay even for weeks on the banks of the Danube.
The city came to life with the merge of the 2 towns on the opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest in 1872. The Buda side is rich in historic sites and the picturesque Buda hills are home of many springs, caves and a place for a nice excursion. The Pest side is more modern and geographically flatter. Between the 2 sides there is the Danube with its wonderful view which is protected UNESCO World Heritage. Part of the city are also 6 islands of which the beautiful Margaret Island and the Óbuda Island, home of the yearly music festival called Sziget, are better known.
With its 80 mineral and thermal springs and 10 splendid thermal baths, Budapest is the world’s richest capital city in natural spas. For water lovers we truely recommend a visit in one of the 3 most popular - Gellért, Széchenyi and Margaret Island - spas.
The city is home of around 1,000 listed sites from the most significant European artistic periods, including some outstanding Classicist and special Hungarian Secession buildings. Indeed, the latter can only be seen here in Hungary. Must sees are the other Budapest UNESCO World Heritages: the Buda Castle (Budai vár), the Andrássy Avenue (Andrássy út) with its luxurious palaces and the Heroes' Square (Hősök tere) with its ceremonious atmosphere.
Budapest is a real cultural center with several hundred museums and galleries, which in addition to artefacts of Hungarian history, art, and natural science, also exhibit numerous works of universal European and world culture. Entertainment is guaranteed in the 40 theatres, 7 concert halls, and 2 opera houses for those who love the performing arts. The choice multiplies in the summer thanks to the numerous open-air concerts and performances.
If you are a gourmand the more thousand restaurants, cafés, and venues, where the delicacies of Hungarian and international cuisine are accompanied by the finest Hungarian wines are just for you. Party people also find their way in Budapest, with many nice places to dance and relax with fine DJs and concerts.
Getting into Hungary
Hungary's international airports are Liszt Ferenc Airport in Budapest, Airport Debrecen in Debrecenand Hévíz-Balaton Airport in Sármellék. There are several low cost carriers operating to Budapest: for example Wizzair, Easyjet, Germanwings. There is also a possibility to arrive to airports of neighbouring countries, like Vienna and Graz in Austria or Bratislava in Slovakia or Prague in the Czech Republic. From there by coach or by train you can easily get into Budapest. We recommend you to visit the following links in the topic:
There are direct train connections to Hungary from its neighbouring countries: : Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Sloveniaand the Ukraineand also from countries slightly further afield: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Russia, Switzerlandand even Turkey. For more information please, have a look at the international schedule of the Hungarian Railway Company (MÁV-START).
Several international bus lines go in or through Hungary. You can find timetables and book tickets on the homepage of Volánbuszwhich is the national bus company and also the local Eurolines representation.
It is possible to enter Hungary by international shipping lines on Danube (Duna) or Tisza rivers. There is a scheduled hydrofoil service on the Danube to and from Vienna and Bratislava between May and September operated by MAHART.
To enter the country by car, ensure that you have your international driving licence with you and your car’s International Motor Insurance Card is valid for Hungary(H).
Entry from Schengen countries (Austria, Slovenia,Slovakia) as there are no physical borders in EU there will be no strict border control. From Romania and Croatia a normal control will take place but from Ukraine and Serbia the control will be very strict. If you expectedly arrive to the Hungarian border after 4pm please, use a bigger crossing as smaller ones usually close in the afternoon for the night.