Visit Budapest and beyond
A cosmopolitan city at the heart of Central Europe, Budapest combines culture, history, gastronomy and innovation like no other. And beyond the capital, Hungary awaits – a land of waters with a rich, unique culture and language, natural beauty, fascinating history and lively traditions.
If you think you know Budapest, think again! As the nation’s capital and largest city for hundreds of years, Budapest has stories and secrets, tales and troubles galore. Take a tour to find out more, from mysteries and crimes to photography, architecture, “Fungarian” language tours, a taste of the past in “Budapest Retro” or a market hall tour. Find these and more here.
Hungary is a country of waters: thermal water bubbling to the surface, laden with minerals and chemicals, has been harnessed for enjoyment and curative purposes in more than a thousand spas all over the country. Budapest itself offers thermal baths built and used by the occupying Turkish forces, such as the Király Baths and Veli Bej Baths; the popular Art Nouveau Gellért baths, complete with beautiful tilework and window decorations; or the gorgeous neo-classical Széchenyi Thermal Baths – find out more here.
Spending time at the thermal baths is an integral part of Hungarian Culture. Relaxing in thermal water relieves stress and accelerates the body’s own healing processes, whilst medicinal waters can remedy locomotive disorders, chronic skin problems and sports injuries. And it feels simply great to relax in hot water in an auspicious setting, whether a lofty hall with decorated columns, a hexagonal Turkish dome dotted with a thousand pinpricks of light, or outdoors under the sky, safe from the cold in a toasty bath.
Budapest is full of museums and galleries, such as the Budapest History Museum and National Art Gallery, the Budapest History Museum, the Holocaust Center and the House of Terror. There are also a lot of quirky non-museums and alternative highlights, such as the hulking Soviet statues of the Memento Park, the graceful curves and plazas of the Roman fortification of Aquincum from the 1st century AD, or the Hospital in the Rock beneath Buda Castle.
Traditional Hungarian Cuisine
Hungary’s traditional cuisine is a taste of its past, a melting pot of Slavic, German, Italian and Asiatic components. Nomadic traditions gave rise to meat dishes, soups and stews cooked over a campfire, including gulyás soup, our national dish, and pörkölt stew. Austrian influences can still be seen in the fancy cream cakes, strudel and even Wiener schnitzel. The different terrains and climates throughout the country all contribute to the cuisine, including catfish from Lake Balaton and the strong onions and fiery chili peppers from the sunny southern great plain. Read more here.
Winds of Change – Michelin Stars Restaurants
New flavours are increasingly being introduced alongside traditional cuisine, creating new, fresh dishes, often in a lighter, healthier and more experimental form. The chefs and restaurants at the forefront of this movement are gaining renown and today Budapest is proud to have four high-class restaurants honoured with a Michelin star: Costes, Onyx, Bórkonyha, and most recently Tanti. There are also new horizons in drinks, with experimental forms of the strong spirit pálinka – including an apple pálinka soup! Read more here.
Best ruin pub
Ruin bars, or pubs, arose as young, creative, socially-mobile entrepreneurs started using derelict buildings as bars. Often a hundred years old or more, these buildings had served as shops, offices or residential blocks before being refitted with quirky décor, including street-style artworks composed by local artists, and oddball chairs and tables, such as mismatched armchairs, upside down lamps “hanging” from the floor and Szimpla Kert’s famous Trabant car-seat. Other notables include Instant, Grandio and Fogas Ház – see the full list here.
A wonderful combination of rich cakes, pastries and delicacies, hot tea or coffee and a culture that spawned a multitude of great writers, painters, philosophers and poets, led to a golden age of high quality cafés all over Budapest. From small teashops such as the Red Lion Tea House, to cavernous ultra-grand coffee emporiums like the New York Café, ancient hole-in-the-wall confectionaries like Ruszwurm, attractive pavement cafés like Gerlóczy – and Gerbeaud, the archetypal grand café, with a wonderful terrace on bustling Vörösmárty Square! More information.
Hungaricum Food and Drink
The term “Hungaricum” refers to any unique item, including food and drink, that is typically and intrinsically Hungarian. The list is long and distinguished, including goulash soup and fish stew, liberally flavoured with paprika; Somloi Galuska, a creamy chocolate dessert; Pick winter salami; and goose liver paté. Drinks include spirits like Pálinka and the digestive Unicum, as well as fine wines such as sweet white Tokaji Aszú and the rich, red Bull’s Blood of Eger. There are many more – see the full list here.
At the heart of Central Europe, Hungary is full of contrasts, with a population of just 10 million, but a rich and varied culture – and a language like no other. Despite being landlocked, it is known as a “land of waters”, with Lake Balanton the largest lake in Europe important rivers dividing and defining its regions, geothermic springs, and the mighty Danube River cutting the capital into Buda and Pest. Hungary’s culture is enormously varied, with traditions and regional customs in all aspects of life from hearty food and fine wine, to music, dance, clothing and décor. More information
Show me Hungary
There are many wonderful guides to Hungary and all aspects of its culture – but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Here we have gathered a number of ways to literally show you Hungary: a collection of photo galleries, as well as images from enthusiastic amateur photographers, panoramic and interactive images which you can pan and zoom as you wish, videos about Hungary, and a handful of smartphone apps which can help you learn and navigate at the same time. More information.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
UNESCO is responsible for supporting the preservation and maintenance of sites, customs and regions of cultural and natural heritage. There are eight UNESCO sites in Hungary, with a further 11 under consideration. Existing sites include Aggtelek Karst Caves, the ancient necropolis of Pécs, the Puszta or great plains, the perfect village of Hollókő, the cultural landscapes of Lake Fertő and Tokaj wine region, the ancient abbey at Pannonhalma, and the Danube Banks, Buda Castle and Andrassy Avenue in the capital, Budapest. More information on UNESCO in Hungary.