Hungary's location in the centre of Europe makes itone of the best starting points for an Eastern European journey.It's both typically European and distinctly Hungarian,incorporating a mixture of historical and present-day pleasures.The country proudly upholds its traditions, culture, and arts,while staying attentive to what is new and fashionable in the widerworld.
A small landlocked country sharing its borders withseven neighbouring countries, travellers to Hungary should notethat it was originally inhabited by the Magyars, an equestriannomadic tribe. They were eventually converted to Christianity andin the year 1000 their Prince Stephen was crowned the nation'sfirst ruler.
Since then, Hungary has seen numerous dynasticchanges, from Turkish occupation to the era of Communism. Today,quaint little towns, cities, and ruins in the countryside attest tothis turbulent history with a rich mosaic of architectural stylesand fortified hilltop castles. The Hungarian people, neither Slavicnor Germanic, are formal, reserved, and intensely proud of theirancient nation and its cosmopolitan capital, Budapest.
Budapest is situated on a lovely stretch of theDanube, a river that gives the city a good deal of its romance andbeauty. It is a city of culture and of astounding beauty and grace,enchanting visitors. Outside the capital, the plains, rollinghills, rivers, lakes and, vineyards hold much to amuse thevisitor.
The Baroque town of Eger attracts many with its finewines. There is a surfeit of charming and historic riversidevillages along the Danube Bend, not to mention commandingfortresses, castles, and palaces. The resort-lined Lake Balaton andthe thermal spas and volcanically heated lake at Hévíz are justsome of the country's many highlights awaiting discovery.
As one of Europe's most fascinating countries,Hungary offers a wealth of sightseeing attractions. Visitors tobeautiful Budapest will marvel at its architecture, enjoy itsopera, and take in its musical events. There's also the romance ofthe Danube River and Budapest's famed spa baths.
Budapest has many celebrated tourist attractions andis a useful transport hub for exploring the rest of the country.Visit Hévíz and soak in the world's second largest thermal lake,Gyógytó. Visit Momento Park, one of the world's most bizarreattractions, where hundreds of giant statues were banished at theend of the communist era.
Take a trip to Szentendre for a spot of shopping andvisit the old university town of Keszthely to enjoy the quaintstreets lined with trees, trendy cafés, and busy markets. The bestseason to visit Hungary is in the summer, between April andSeptember, when the days are long and the weather warm.
Most towns and cities in Hungary have reliable andaffordable public transport but the best way to see the country isto hire a car and experience it all for yourself as it is notdifficult to drive and navigate in the country.
Buda Castle is the royal complex of past Hungarianmonarchs. Sitting atop Castle Hill in the picturesque CastleDistrict of Buda, the royal palace was first inhabited by King Bélain the 13th century. After an invasion, he fortified it againstfurther attacks. Its strategic location straddling the Danubeoffered whoever controlled the city a defensive position andpotential control of the main waterway. The castle has a mixture ofarchitectural styles, ranging from Gothic to Baroque. Today it isthe country's most important cultural centre, housing numerousmuseums with the majority of the buildings being historicalmonuments. The Budapest History Museum contains an exhibitionexplaining the history of the city, as well as archaeologicalremains of the palace. Also within the palace complex are theHungarian National Gallery, the National Library, and the LudwigMuseum.
Built in 1905 on the medieval castle walls, theneo-Romanesque ramparts were so named after the city's fishermenwhose duty it was to defend this side of the hill during the MiddleAges. But the existing bastion never actually served a defensivepurpose. The fairytale-like ramparts are purely ornamental, withgleaming white cloisters and stairways connecting seven turretssymbolic of the Magyar tribes that conquered the Carpathian Basinin the 9th century. Set back from the ramparts is an equestrianstatue of King Stephen, a memorial to the founder of the Hungariannation. The view from Fisherman's Bastion is outstanding, lookingover the Danube, the Chain Bridge, and the Parliament Buildingswith Pest stretching out into the distance. Floodlit at night, thebastion itself is also a mesmerising sight from across the river.In fact, seeing as entry is free it is definitely worth visitingthe Fisherman's Bastion twice, once at night and once during theday.
Situated in the centre of the Castle Quarter, the700-year-old Church of Our Lady is popularly known as MatthiasChurch. It's named after the nation's famous ruler King Matthias, apatron of learning and the arts. Matthias Church's architecture isa mixture of styles from the various kings, occupations andperiods. When the Turks occupied the Castle in 1541 it wasconverted into a mosque, and the interior walls were whitewashedand painted over with scenes from the Koran. It suffered heavily inthe later siege and was restored again in the 19th century,reconstructed in its characteristic neo-Gothic style. Remains ofthe original medieval frescoes have been discovered underneath thewhitewash. The interior is richly decorated with gilded altars,statues, rose windows, and frescoes. Inside is the Church Museum,which gives access to the crypt and a small collection of religioustreasures and jewels. A fantastic contrast is formed by thereflection of the Gothic church in the sleek dark glass sides ofthe contemporary Budapest Hilton alongside. The church remainsoperational, hosting organ concerts and choir recitals beneath itsmulti-coloured tiled roof and Gothic spire.
Gellért Hill offers unrivalled panoramic views ofthe city, taking in both Buda and Pest and the meandering Danube. Amonument of a martyred Bishop stands at the base of the hill whileon its summit stands the Liberation Monument, a female figureholding aloft the palm of victory dedicated to the memory of troopswho died freeing Hungary in 1945. Behind the monument is theCitadella, built after the Revolutions of 1848 to provide militarycontrol against further uprisings. The hill is also home to severalhistoric spas, valued for their medicinal qualities. The city'smost famous spa, the Gellért Baths, is attached to the grandestablishment of the Art Nouveau Gellért Hotel. Here, visitors canrelax in the thermal waters of the Roman-styled pool with itslion-headed spouts, surrounded by columns and mosaic patterns, orindulge in private therapeutic treatments or massages.
The Chain Bridge was the first stone constructionbuilt over the Danube and is the most famous in the city, stillfeaturing its iconic lion statues. Today, nine bridges link Buda toPest but the Chain Bridge takes pride of place as the city'sprimary landmark, a magnificent sight when floodlit at night. Itowes its existence to Count István Széchenyi who decided to build apermanent crossing after having to wait a week to cross the riverto bury his father. The Chain Bridge was built by William and AdamClark, who also constructed London Bridge. It was considered anamazing feat of engineering when it was opened in 1849. The famousstone lions which guard the bridge were added to the bridge in1852, miraculously surviving World War II even though the bridgeitself was blown up in January 1945 and only resurrected inNovember 1949.
Situated within the charming old Jewish quarter ofPest, the Great Synogogue is one of the largest in the world. Itsstyle is Byzantine-Moorish, with patterned brickwork in the red,blue, and yellow colours of the city's coat of arms. Gilded domedtowers, archways, and beautiful windows make this one of Budapest'sgreat landmarks. The splendid interior glitters with lights andgilded arches while balconies line the walls. The ceiling iscovered in Stars of David and the floor is tiled in decorativestars. On Jewish festivals, it's packed with Jews from all overHungary who come to celebrate within its splendour. Next door isthe Jewish Museum, containing a Holocaust Memorial Room and relicsfrom the Hungarian Jewish Community. In the courtyard is theHolocaust Memorial in the shape of a weeping willow tree, eachmetal leaf engraved with the names of those who have passedaway.
On the bank of the Danube stands one of the world'smost beautiful buildings of parliament, an imposing sight and aprominent feature of the city's panorama. With its red dome, whitestone lace ornamentation, and spires, it is the city's mostdecorative structure. Stone lions flank the entrance guarding arich interior of marble and gold, statues, and columns. Magnificentartefacts are seen on guided tours, including the 1,000-year-oldcrown of the first Hungarian King. The grand edifice, stretchingfor 250 metres (820ft) along the embankment, is one of the biggestnational assemblies in the world. The tours take between 45 minutesand an hour.
A popular yet bizarre attractions, Memento Parkcontains the giant figures of the communist era that once filledthe streets of Budapest. Among them are the forms of Lenin, Marx,and Engels, as well as memorials to Soviet soldiers and communistmartyrs. There are also exhibitions detailing the history of theSoviet occupation in Budapest, contributing to a unique collectionof artefacts and a fine location to educate oneself on the natureof communism.
Hévíz is the site of world's largest thermal lake:Gyógytó. It is the most extraordinary sight with its huge milkyblue surface covered in water lilies and steam. The warm waterwells up from a volcanic crater spring about 40 metres (128ft)below the surface and provides year round swimming, although therecommended maximum time in the water during any one session is onehour. The mud on the bottom and edges is said to be slightlyradioactive which is good for various medical conditions but onlyin small doses. A pavilion in the centre of the lake is reached bya covered bridge and indoor swimming takes place in an areaenclosed with Plexiglas. Gaps in the plastic lead to the rest ofthe lake where swimmers can float among the water lilies and swimbetween the platforms bobbing on the surface. There are alsovarious other spa and health treatments that can be enjoyed.
Sitting on the site of numerous historical events,Eger Castle overlooks its town namesake and is one of the mostpopular and famous attractions in Hungary. The original buildingsincluded a cathedral and the Bishop's Palace, itself dating backfrom the 13th century. The castle was later fortified and the wallsprovided the cover for its determined defence by a small andoutnumbered army against a Turkish force. The women who foughtalongside the soldiers claimed their place in nationalconsciousness during this much-celebrated historical event. TheDobó István Fortress Museum in the restored palace is one of themost popular museums in Hungary and has exhibitions on the historyof the town and castle. Also within the castle grounds is theHeroes' Hall, which holds the grave of the celebrated leader, DobóIstván, as well as the Prison Museum, Waxworks, and the undergroundrock-hewn artillery enclosures.
With its rolling vineyards and century-old cellarsand taverns, Szépasszony Valley is a favourite attraction in Eger.Wine producers welcome visitors into their quaint old cellars,hollowed out of the porous rock hundreds of years ago. Here, someof the country's finest red wines can be tasted, including theunique Bull's Blood. The rows of cellars are numbered and each hasa particular charm, whether it's the chequered tablecloths of anunderground tavern or the wooden barrels of fermenting grapes inthe uneven rock passageway. It is possible to visit, by priorarrangement, the 'Istenes Pince' or Godly Cellar, the oldesthistoric cellar in the region. It operated as a secret churchduring the Turkish occupation, and the stone altar and religiousworks of art still remain in this very special place. Where thename 'Valley of the Pretty Women' comes from is unclear, but it isa charming name for a charming area.
Keszthely is a university town with trendy cafes,tree-lined streets, and busy market areas. Modern history showsKesthely dating back some 760 years, inhabited since the RomanEmpire. Its most import sight is the Festetics Palace, with theHelikon Palace Museum and Library both in one of its baroque wings.Varosi Strand is great for travelling families, with its beach andamusement area. It has water slides, a big pool, and various playspaces, as well as nice lawns, a beach, and loungers. Keszthelylikes to describe itself as the capital of Lake Balaton and it isthe best town from which to explore the surrounding lakeside area,including the nearby Kis-Balaton nature reserve (excellent for birdwatching) and the thermal lake at Hévíz.
Known as 'The Pearl of the Danube Bend'. Szentendreis a quaint old market town situated on the slopes of the PilisMountains. Meandering cobbled lanes, little squares, red-tiledroofs, brightly painted houses, and Orthodox churches give it acharming and artistically picturesque setting. Serbian refugeesinhabited the town in medieval times and their style contributed tothe charisma of the town's haphazard structure and Balkan flavour.Numerous Serbian churches add to the collection of historicalbuildings. In the 1900s, the town became a favourite retreat forpainters and sculptors, resulting in a wealth of museums and artcollections scattered among the tourist souvenir and handicraftshops. Being close to Budapest, the town is a popular excursionfrom the capital and has become one of the hotspots for tourism inthe country. Be warned though, summer weekends can get ratherovercrowded.
Situated on the abrupt loop of the Danube beneathsteep hills, Visegrad was once a Roman stronghold on the border ofthe Roman Empire and the second home after Buda to Hungary'sroyalty in the 14th and 15th centuries. On the banks of the riverare the ruins of the magnificent palace, one of the finest everbuilt in Hungary. It is now the open air King Matthias Museum.Today the small, sparsely populated town has a pleasantly lethargicatmosphere that belies its past glory and importance and it makes apeaceful excursion from the crowds of the big city. As all of thisintriguing history suggests though, the village is a delight forhistory buffs and retains an old-world feel. The village is also agood base for outdoor activities in the lovely surroundingcountryside and there is an excursion centre behind Castle Hillwhich can organise things like hiking, canopy trails, and cyclingin the region.
Esztergom combines captivating history withriverside charm. One of Hungary's most historically importanttowns, it was the capital for over 250 years and the birthplace oftheir beloved first king and saint, Stephen, who was crowned herein the 11th century. Today, it remains the religious centre of thecountry, with Hungary's largest church dominating the hill abovethe town next to the ruins of the medieval royal palace. Thecolossal basilica was the first cathedral in the country and theinstrument for the introduction of Roman Catholicism. It offerswonderful views from its enormous dome and contains a crypt andpriceless treasury collection. Below is the pretty WatertownDistrict, with its uneven cobbled streets winding up the hilltowards the castle. Esztergom is conveniently close to Budapest andmakes a great excursion from the city.
There's nothing kids love more than a circusperformance and Budapest offers a fantastic display of thisHungarian tradition. The Great Circus (Nagy Cirkusz) features anarray of clowns, jugglers, and acrobats of all kinds to keepchildren happily entertained. Of course, adults should also beenthralled and impressed by the various acts. MACIVA, or TheHungarian Circus and Variety Ltd., plays an important part inHungarian cultural life and is one of the oldest culturalestablishments of Hungary. Built in 1954, the circus has a schoolfor performing artists and holds circus camps for children who wantto learn some of the skills on display. Special events like paradesand festivals occur at certain times of the year but show times andprices vary according to the season, so please check the websitefor details. It is possible to book online.
The Budapest Puppet Theatre (Bábszínház) is agreat outing for the whole family, ideal for travel in Budapestwith kids. While shows are all presented in Hungarian, childrenremain enthralled by familiar stories like Cinderella and SnowWhite. During enactments, the crowd may can be heard calling outwarnings when villains are approaching or encouraging heroes intheir endeavours. It is amazing how little the language barriermatters when it comes to this kind of storytelling. You can booktickets online in advance but it is also suggested asking aboutwhat is showing and would be best suited for non-Hungarianaudiences. The puppets are works of art and come in all shapes,sizes, and colours, with some easily recognisable characters andsome creative originals. Most adults will enjoy the performancesbut you can also easily head for the cafe during the show.
Vác is a pretty Baroque town on the east bank of theDanube Bend. Vác is an accessible and popular tourist destinationin Hungary, especially as a day trip from Budapest. But despite itsmany attractions and charms, it's wonderfully less crowded thansome of the other famous towns on the Danube Bend. The stunningcathedral, founded by the first Hungarian King, St Stephen, is themost popular attraction in Vác, though there are many other sitesto visit. A more macabre attraction is the Memento Mori Crypt,which houses a number of naturally mummified corpses and theincredibly well-preserved clothes and decorated coffins belongingto them. The Memento Mori Crypt is a very famous archaeologicaldiscovery which has enabled several breakthroughs in science andethnography and is listed as a World Heritage Site. Vác also has awonderful pedestrianised town square, surrounded by colourfulbuildings and a splendid promenade along the Danube River.
A 53-mile (86km) drive from Budapest, Kecskemét makesfor a wonderful short trip from the city. While this garden city isquite large, with more than 100,000 residents, the place has auniquely small-town charm. Walking around the scenic city centre ispleasant, with the abundance of open squares and avenues pepperedwith colourful Art Nouveau buildings. There are a number ofattractions in Kecskemét that visitors will enjoy, including thedistillery tours at the Pálinka Museum, the Hungarian PhotographyMuseum, the Museum of Hungarian Folk Art and Handicrafts, and thebeautiful architecture and art collections at the City Hall. Thecity has existed in some form since at least the 1300s so it is nosurprise that it holds many old and hidden gems for visitors.
Balatonfüred has been the most fashionable resorton the Lake Balaton since the 18th century when the medicinalcentre was established, and people are still drawn here on holidaybecause of its healing thermal waters. While the mineral baths arereserved for patients, the Balatonfüred resort area remains popularwith tourists as there are three good beaches for swimming. Theshores of the lake are great for all manner of water activities,from sunbathing to yachting, and there are also a number of cycletracks along the lake and through the surrounding region. A winetasting festival is held in August annually and the famous AnnaBall takes place on the weekend closest to the 26 July (Anna Day)at the Anna Grand Hotel.
The Mineral Bath Swimming Pool Park in Eger isconsidered the biggest and best in the country. It offers aselection of pools and mineral baths. They are indoor or outdoor,hot or cold, and recreational or health-related. It's a great placeto visit with children, as they'll have their own special pool.There's an Olympic-sized swimming pool for those who want toexercise, while there is food and drink to keep visitors refreshed.There are also Turkish baths, comfy cabins, and simple sun loungersat an extra cost. Sun protection is required as well as swimsuits,as nudity is not welcomed. The only downside of this fun park isthat its popularity can lead to it being too crowded for comfort.If possible, visit on a morning during the week to experience theplace at its best.
Hungary has a continental climate with distinctseasons, and a great variation between winter and summerconditions. During winter (December to February) the weather isbitterly cold, with snow blanketing the ground for weeks and themighty Danube River freezing over.
Most people would say that the best time to visitHungary is over the summer period (June to August) when the weatheris warmer and the attractions are all open. The weather in springand autumn can be very pleasant too, but temperatures do drop toaround 20°F (9°C). Over winter, temperatures approach freezing.
Some rain can be expected throughout the year andrainfall is largely dependent on the region as there are variationsin weather in Hungary according to location. The west of Hungary,including Budapest, starts warming up after a cold winter in April.The weather in this part of Hungary is hot and humid throughout thesummer months, which are the most popular time to visit.
Eastern and central Hungary experience hot and drysummers and cold and wet winters. The wind is often strong on theplains and adds to the chill factor. In the south of Hungary, thereis a slightly warmer climate and summers are long and hot whilewinters are shorter and less severe, with temperatures seldomdropping below freezing. In the south, the rainy season issummer.
One of Budapest's finest Indian eateries by far, the trendyIndigo is popular with locals and visitors alike and never fails toplease with its mouth-watering curries and fragrant dishes.Stylish, yet modern décor and clean lines create a fresh atmosphereand the great food and service make for a memorable diningexperience. Open for lunch and dinner daily. Credit cardsaccepted.
Those looking for a trendy eatery with both indoor and outdoordining options need look no further than Café Vian. The food isgood, the prices are reasonable and many young and hip localsfrequent this popular Budapest restaurant. Try the grilled chickenbreast 'Vian' style with ratatouille and candied lemon and potatopancake, or the red wine flavoured beef stew with dumplings. Opendaily. Reservations accepted.
Also known as Aunt Nancsi's Restaurant, this family-run place issituated in the peaceful Buda Hills. It serves hearty Hungarianfood at its best and is worth the short taxi ride out of the citycentre. Try the Hungarian black truffle cream soup or the joystew.
Luxurious but comfortable, Baraka is a great fine dining optionin Budapest, serving up contemporary European food with a globaltwist. The wine list is impressive and the cocktail options are asinternational as the menu. The restaurant is also convenientlysituated in a lovely old part of the city popular with tourists.Reservations are recommended.
Comme Chez Soi is known as the best place to go for Italian foodin Budapest. The menu is full of simple and delicious pizzas,pastas, seafood, and meat dishes, and there is a varied selectionof antipasti options as well. Its generous helpings and reasonableprices have made it increasingly hard to get a table, soreservations are required. Open Monday to Saturday, 11am tomidnight.
Although Hungary is part of the EU it does not use the Euro; theofficial currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). It is divided into100 filler. Most international credit cards are accepted, and thesecan be used to withdraw cash from banks and ATMs, and to pay billsin hotels, restaurants and most shops. Banks usually open between8am and 3pm on weekdays and some are open on Saturdays. ATMs andcurrency exchange machines are available in towns and citiesthroughout the country. It is advisable to retain exchange receiptsfor proof of legal currency exchange.
Hungarian (Magyar) is the official language, but Germanis widely spoken, especially in the areas close to the Austrianborder. English is spoken in tourist areas and mosthotels.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European-styletwo-pin plugs are standard.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in Hungary. No visa is requiredfor stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject'(containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abodeissued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas TerritoriesCitizen' issued by Gibraltar, must be valid on arrival. Britishpassports with other endorsements must be valid for three monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in Hungary.
A visa is not required for British passports endorsed 'BritishCitizen' or 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate ofEntitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom),nor for holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar authorities,and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authorityof the United Kingdom'. No visa is required for stays of up to 90days within a 180 day period for holders of British passports withother endorsements.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for threemonths beyond the period of intended stay in Hungary. No visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for threemonths beyond the period of intended stay in Hungary. No visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid forthree months beyond the period of intended stay, and a validSchengen visa, to enter Hungary. Passports issued more than 10years prior to the arrival date will not be accepted.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid upon theirarrival in Hungary. No visa is required.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in Hungary. No visa is requiredfor stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid forthree months after the period of intended stay in Hungary. No visais required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes thefollowing countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark,Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy,Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway,Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, andSwitzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visathat has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder totravel freely within the borders of all the aforementionedcountries. All visitors to Hungary, other than EEA members, shouldensure that their passports are valid for at least six monthsbeyond the expiry date of their visa. Foreign passengers must be inpossession of a return/onward ticket (or sufficient funds to buyone), and the necessary travel documentation for their nextdestination. Additionally, visitors must hold the equivalent of HUF1,000 per day of stay, in hard currency, although the followingdocuments are also accepted: a major credit card, a letter ofinvitation, proof of accommodation (reserved and paid for), or adocument authorising the visitor to withdraw cash from a bank inHungary. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has atleast six months validity remaining after your intended date ofdeparture from your travel destination. Immigration officials oftenapply different rules to those stated by travel agents and officialsources.
No vaccinations are required for travel to Hungary and standardsof public health are good, but vaccinations for hepatitis A andhepatitis B are recommended for all travellers. Tap water is safeto drink and food poisoning is not considered a high risk, althoughvisitors are recommended to vaccinate against typhoid if they arespending a lot of time in rural areas and planning to eat outsideof hotels and restaurants. Travellers intending on visitingforested, grassy, lakeside or rural areas in spring and summershould also consider a tick-borne encephalitis vaccine but this isusually only necessary for those staying long term.
A reciprocal health agreement with countries in the EU providesnationals with free emergency health care on presentation of aEuropean Health Insurance Card (EHIC). All big towns havepharmacies, but anyone requiring specific medication should bring asupply with them as most medicines are of Eastern European originand may be unfamiliar. Make sure that if you are travelling withprescribed medications you bring along a letter from your doctorstating your condition and the prescribed medication to smooth yourway through customs. Comprehensive health insurance isrecommended.
Taxi drivers and waiters expect a tip of 10 to 15 percent inHungary. Waiters should be handed the cash, rather than have itleft on the table. Most people in the service industry expect to betipped about 10 to 15 percent.
Most visits to Hungary are trouble-free, but normal precautionsagainst petty crime should be taken. Pick pocketing and bagsnatching is a risk on crowded public transport and other placesfrequented by tourists. Minimise your chance of being targetted bymaking use of hotel safes to store valuables and not displayingconspicuous wealth. It is also always a good idea to carry copiesof important documents like your passport. Some bars, clubs andrestaurants in Budapest charge outrageous prices by means of scamsthat target foreigners in particular. Be cautious of invitationsoff the street to dine in certain establishments or ofrecommendations by taxi drivers who are often in on the scam. Sometaxi drivers can also overcharge or take passengers on a circuitousroute. Any political demonstrations should be avoided, as they haveled to violence in the past.
Hungarians are generally open and friendly people who willreadily strike up conversation. Men and women greet each other byshaking hands and close friends kiss each other lightly on eachcheek. Older men may bow to women and kiss them on the hand.
A handshake is the standard form of greeting when doing businessin Hungary and in mixed company it is usually women who initiate.Conservative suits and ties are standard business dress andbusiness people should be addressed by their title and surname.Business cards are often exchanged; Hungarians usually list theirsurnames first. It is useful to have a local representative whendoing business in Hungary, somebody who can set up meetings and actas an interpreter. It is important to invest time in buildingrelationships; socialising is a key element of this andface-to-face meetings are vital. Punctuality is important on alloccasions, and cancelling a meeting at the last minute may bedetrimental to a business relationship. Due to the communist legacythere is often an aversion to risk and plenty of red tape andtherefore negotiations can be slow-moving and patience is required.Although business in Hungary remains male-orientated, being femaleis not a disadvantage to doing business. Business hours are usuallyfrom 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
The international access code for Hungary is +36. The outgoingcode is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for theUnited Kingdom). The area code for Budapest is 1. There are oftenhigh surcharges on calls made from hotels. Local directoryassistance is available by dialling 198, and internationaldirectory assistance is 199; callers may have to hold for a fewmoments, but English-speaking operators are available. Buying alocal SIM card is a reasonable option for easy communication whiletravelling. Free wifi is available in cafes, hotels, andrestaurants in larger towns and cities.
There are no restrictions on the import or export oflocal currency. For travellers to Hungary arriving from other EUcountries, there is no limit on the amount or value of the itemsthat can be imported for personal use.
Travellers arriving by air from countries outside ofthe EU, over the age of 17, can import the following duty-free: 200cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 4 litres of wine, 16litres of beer, and either 1 litre of spirits containing more than22% alcohol or 2 litres of alcoholic beverages containing less than22% alcohol; and other goods up to a value of €430.
Official Hungarian Tourism Portal: gotohungary.com
Hungarian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 3626730.
Hungarian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 72013440.
Hungarian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 230-2717.
Hungarian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 4303030.
Hungarian Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6282 3226.
Hungarian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 661 2902.
Hungarian Consulate-General, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4260 3175.
United States Embassy, Budapest: +36 1 475 4400.
British Embassy, Budapest: +36 1 266 2888.
Canadian Embassy, Budapest: +36 1 392 3360.
South African Embassy, Budapest: +36 1 392 0999.
Australian Embassy, Budapest: +36 1 457 9777.
Irish Embassy, Budapest: +36 1 301 4960.
Closest New Zealand Embassy is in Germany: +49 (0)30 206 210