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Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe with one western European border, Austria. More than half the country is flat with hills to the north and to the west. Hungary is home to a large number of World Heritage Sites including the baroque town and castle at Eger and the Caves of Aggtelek. It has the second largest thermal lake in the world, Lake Heviz, and the largest natural grassland in Europe. Budapest, the capital of Hungary is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Hungary enjoys great natural beauty and wonderful historic buildings and monuments.
Hungary has had a rich and fascinating history which culminated in hardship in the latter half of the twentieth century. It has blossomed since the end of the nineteen eighties and its cities provide tourists with every modern convenience. Budapest, the capital has many magnificent buildings, including Varhegy, which towers above the river. There are many pretty towns and villages with rivers and lakes offering water sports and a huge number of medicinal spas and thermal baths.
A Hungary holiday attracts those interested in historical and cultural activities. There are many leisure activities for the more active and thermal baths for those who believe in their efficacious powers or who just want to enjoy the relaxation that they produce. August is the time for followers of the Grand Prix circuits to take a Budapest holiday. Budapest has begun to attract groups of young men and women on so-called stag and hen weekends.
Hungary has a continental climate with hot average summer temperatures of thirty degrees and cold snowy winters that average minus ten. The most popular time to visit is the summer but city breaks are often enjoyed in spring and autumn avoiding the summer heat.
Hungary is a land of flat plains, rivers and lakes with hills close to its borders. Its capital, Budapest, is a beautiful, vibrant city which has numerous fine buildings many of which were restored after the Second World War.
The country has many romantic castles set in parkland, Roman ruins, old synagogues and churches and charming villages. Hungary is home to Europe’s largest synagogue, its largest medicinal bath, the second largest abbey, the third largest church and the second largest baroque castle in the world. For a small country, it really has excelled itself.
There is a strong spa culture in Hungry with many of the population regularly availing themselves of the facility. Spa waters can be found in over eighty percent of the land.
Large areas of open countryside are ideal for horse riding and this is a popular pursuit.
The Hungarians need little excuse to celebrate and there are a large number of festivals throughout the year.
Hungarian music has its roots in the ancient Magyars who came to Hungary from Central Asia fifteen hundred years ago. Festivals are celebrated with vibrant music and dance.
While the larger cities have a range of bars, clubs and discos, nightlife in smaller towns centres round pubs and restaurants. In Budapest there are almost daily opportunities for enjoying live music from folk and jazz to classical performances.
Large cities, such as Budapest, have large department stores and shopping malls housing internationally famous names. Local craftsmen produce holiday souvenirs such as embroidered cloths, carved wooden figures and boxes, jewellery and glass. SaHungaryges and cheeses are popular purchases.
Hungarian wines such as Bull’s Blood are very popular and are good value.
Paprika is an essential ingredient in Hungarian cuisine, with garlic a close second.
The most famous Hungarian dish is Goulash which is of course seasoned with paprika and swirled with soured cream. Fish soup, chicken paprika and dumplings are other traditional dishes. Don’t expect crusty suet dumplings or you will be disappointed by the rather anaemic looking offering. Strudels and pancakes make popular desserts.
The larger cities have a variety of restaurants serving international cuisine. Bisztros are inexpensive places to eat as are csarda which are taverns serving traditional food.
Tipping in the range of ten to fifteen percent is expected but check your bill, as the calculations are sometimes made by the waiter and mistakes can result.
When meeting someone, even for the first time, it is usual to kiss on each cheek. Talking loudly in public places is considered ill-mannered. Whether you are a man or a woman, voices should not be raised in public.
There is a tradition dating from 1849 that beer bottles are not clinked when saying the equivalent of ‘cheers’. It is said that Austrians clinked their glasses to celebrate the execution of thirteen Hungarian martyrs. Out of respect for their deaths the Hungarians vowed not to clink their glasses for one hundred and fifty years.
Tipping is expected whenever a service is rendered. Taxi drivers, hairdressers, doormen all expect a gratuity as well as those working in the food industry.