Hungary is an enthralling mix of cultures, religions, folk traditions and captivating architecture. It conjures up images of medieval forts and looming synagogues, hearty food and fine wines, thermal baths and spire-fringed skylines.
In Budapest, a sophisticated outlook fuses with a fiery national pride. Its historic centre is studded with century-spanning architecture; from the medieval Buda Castle Quarter overlooking the River Danube, to the lion-crested Chain Bridge, to grand neoclassical structures along Andrássy Avenue. It’s also known for its exceptionally lavish thermal baths, which you can enjoy both indoors and outdoors at Széchenyi Spa and Gellért Baths. Take the funicular up Castle Hill to tour the castle grounds and take in sweeping city views.
But, for all the wonderful attractions Budapest has to offer, these can often prevent travellers from exploring further afield. North of the capital there’s the old city of Eger, with its baroque facades, Ottoman minaret and famed ‘Bull’s Blood’ wine, while southerly Kecskemét is famous for its vibrant music scene and art nouveau buildings.
Head west, though, and you’ll soon be immersed in a verdant countryside of thermal springs and rolling vineyards. Lake Balaton sits at the heart of it all, boasting spa towns, hiking trails and castle ruins hugging the hillside like something from a fairy tale pop-up book. Pécs, also in the western region, is certainly worth seeing if you’re a history buff.
You can find all kinds of accommodation in Hungary, from glitzy hotels to private apartments and cheap hostels. Most of these are overwhelmingly located in Budapest, though choice is still ample beyond the capital.