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Hungary nestles in the Carpathian Basin, landlocked by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. In times past, it was a part of the Ottoman, Hapsburg and Soviet empires, now it is a member of the EU. Its rich and colourful culture reflects its mix of peoples – the majority are Magyars, and minorities include Roma, German, Slovak, Croat, Serb and Romanian. Hungary’s cuisine reflects this mix too – warming soups and stews are the order of the day, washed down by robust red wines.
The country has several World Heritage sites ranging from the vast Hortobágy National Park (Puszta) and Tokaj Wine region to Budapest (including the Banks of the Danube, Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue). The Pearl of the Danube as Hungary’s capital is called is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, boasting majestic cathedrals, grand boulevards, opera houses and fine cafes. Hungary also has the world’s second-largest thermal lake (Lake Hévíz), and Central Europe’s largest lake (Balaton).
Flights to Hungary land at Budapest Ferihegy International. From Hungary, there are flights, buses and trains into all neighbouring countries, making it an ideal starting point for further travel.
Just east of the Alps, Hungary has freezing cold weather hovering near -1 degrees with snow and sleet. When the weather warms up a bit in March, the snow turns into rain. The summers are sunny and warm and occasionally humid.
Peak season at Lake Balaton and most of the countryside is the summer months, June through August. The weather is usually good.
Budapest is a year-round destination, despite cold temperatures in the winter. There is a plethora of attractions to be visited inside, and the city is picturesque in the snow.
Outside Budapest, there is little tourism in the winter months. Some find off-season Balaton more appealing than it is in peak season as the cold months see various winter activities taking place on the lake, such as ice swimming. Hungary flights and accommodation are likely to be cheaper during the winter months.
Both in the main cities and through the countryside, transport is excellent. In Budapest there is a choice of underground trains, trams or buses. Taxis are relatively cheap.
The bus service throughout Budapest is very extensive. There are long-distance buses or short route town-to-town services. Both are cheap, easy to use and relatively fast.
The rail service is good, though the network does not cover as much space as the bus network. If you’re planning on travelling a long way by rail, buy a pass which saves a lot of money on individual tickets.