Hungary is a charming little country located in central Europe bordering several countries including Austria, Romania, and Croatia to name a few. It’s capital of Budapest is a popular destination for Hungarian natives as well as tourists from around the world. Although you can visit Hungary during any season of the year, Budapest receives most of its tourism in the summer months between June and August. In general, Hungary receives mild to moderate snow during the winter and mildly warm weather during summer. When traveling during the high season, keep in mind that many restaurants and vendors hike up their prices because of an influx of visitors so traveling during the low season is ideal for travelers on a budget and those who prefer to skip the crowds.
Before travelling to any foreign country, it is always important to do a little background research about what to expect on your visit. You will want to know what are the must-see attractions, how to get around, the best time of year to visit, and of course, what are the must-see attractions. That is why we have compiled a list of suggestions for your first trip to Hungary.
Where to stay?
Many tourists decide to stay in or near District V in Budapest. It is known as a very tourist friendly area with many cafes, restaurants, and budget friendly hotels. The historic Castle District is also popular on the “Buda” side of the city and has lots of shops and restaurants nearby. Throughout Budapest there are hotels and hostels for travelers with any budget.
When is the best time to visit?
According to several sources, the best times to visit Hungary, namely Budapest, are from March to May and September through November when the weather is mild and the cities are less crowded. However, if you are into the tourist crowds then summer is the best time to go. The average temperature during this season range from the high 80’s to lows around 60 degrees. Summer is when tourists flock to Budapest and nearby Lake Balaton where the weeklong Budapest Summer Festival takes place every year. Hungary’s most celebrated holiday is celebrated on August 20th of each year celebrating the foundation of the Hungarian state over 1000 years ago. This day is known as St. Stephens Day. The entire country basically shuts down to celebrate with endless good food, dancing, singing, and lots of beer and wine. Festivities usually start a few days ahead of time and continue until the breathtaking firework finale commemorates the evening celebrations.
How to get around
Budapest is known for its great public transportation systems. The tram and metro will take you all around the city but be aware there are multiple routes for each metro, some even go outside the city so make sure you board the correct one for your destination. Make sure to buy a metro ticket and validate it when riding. There are also metro cards available to purchase a bundle of tickets all at once. Taxi services are available but use caution when hiring them. Many taxi drivers are known to use rigged meters or take a longer route to the destination to overcharge you. If you want to experience the local live, then the best option is to walk. The benefit is youre able to experience the beauty of Budapest at your own pace while getting exercise! Turn any corner to get lost, find hidden statues, unique architecture and experience the city in a different way.
What to do in and around the big city
While visiting this magical city, you will find that there are countless tours, museums, sculptures, and historical sites to explore. If you’re only in the city for a short period and want to get the most of your day exploring the city then take a day tour on the Hop-on Hop-off tour busses around the city. During this tour, you are able to hop off the bus at any stop to explore further on your own. The busses run continuously throughout the day so you won’t be waiting longer than 15 minutes for the next one to arrive. Next, if you’re ready for some rest and relaxation after walking miles throughout the city then make a stop at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. This thermal facility is the largest natural spa bath in Europe as it boasts 15 indoor baths and 3 massive outdoor pools. The thermal waters are said to promote health and longevity as well as cure many skin conditions and illnesses.
It is not a surprise that the city is filled with castles, churches, and other historical architecture. Head to the famous Fisherman’s Bastion and get a breathtaking view of the Danube River. At night, lights illuminate the Bastion to make for a perfect photo opportunity. St. Stephen’s Basilica is another classic masterpiece from the 18th-century that you will not want to miss. Take a cruise down the Danube River to get a perfect view of the Hungarian Parliament Building and several of the famous chain bridges that connect the “Buda” side with the “pest” side of the city. There are many companies that offer river cruises throughout the day, but the most popular options are usually the dinner sunset cruise where guests enjoy a traditional Hungarian dinner while enjoying the sunset and city lights.
No matter what you do in this beautiful city, you will surely build lasting memories during your stay in Budapest. Soak in the local culture, explore up and down the Danube River, taste the astonishing cuisine and make your trip to Hungary one you will never forget.
Some Things to Remember:
- Currency is in Forint: The Hungarian currency is the Forint (HUF) and not Euros. Some restaurants and shops may have prices posted in Euros but always opt to pay in Forints.
- Most people speak English: With any country, it is always customary to learn a few basic words in that language. Luckily, many people around the country speak English so betting around shouldn’t be a problem.
- Make sure to tip: Hungary is one of the few European countries that have an active tipping culture. In general, tipping 10% of the total bill is customary. Keep in mind that leaving a tip on the table is considered rude and handing it to your server is suggested.
- Visit one of many ruin bars: Much like the classic pubs seen around Europe, Budapest has hundreds of bars with speakeasy type vibes to them. Most of these bars offer cheap drinks, appetizers, dancing, and unique art installations.