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The Hungarian National Tourist Office tries to satisfy all tastes and we have literature nearly on all aspects of travel to our country - yet this booklet is probably the most concise of all of them, geared towards the specific needs of US and Canadian travelers. It seeks to entice, to give the flavor of Hungary with lots of pictures and offering glimpses into the many attractions of both Budapest and the countryside. Hungary, as a landlocked

country, and Budapest the capital offer a unique experience. The cities have a lot in common when it comes to historic roots, grand architecture, cultural and music, the flavor of fresh- brewed coffee, world class wine or spicy and delightful cuisine. Hungary is a member of the European Union but not yet member of the EURO ZONE. It means savings! Check out our fully redesigned website and use it for all the up to date information you need to

make a good decision, Facts about Hungary Population: Hungary: 9,5 million Budapest: 1.7 million L a ng u age: Hu nga r i a n but English is widely understood Religion: Roman Catholic 65 % Protestant 25 % Other 10% «

The Majestic Royal Palace Complex on the Buda Hill. The atmosphere is always romantic at the House of the Architect

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Budapest ranks among the world’s most romantic and entertaining capitals, and is nicknamed the “Queen of the Danube”. The city is divided into two parts by the River Danube, which is spanned by several elegant bridges. Pest lies on the flat East Bank while Buda is hilly and is on the West Bank.

A tale of two cities: Buda and Pest. The undulating Buda falls on the western side of the river. This is where you find the cobbled Castle District, the Gellert

Baths, the remains of the Roman town of Aquincum and the leafy Buda Hills. The flatter Pest is the country’s political and business stronghold, and it is livelier than

its twin across the water. Here you will find the bulk of the restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as classy boutiques and grand 19th century mansions. This is

The Magnificent Hungarian Parliament Building at night and the Buda side with the Fisherman Bastion and unmistakable lion on the Chain bridge.

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The building complex and the surrounding Castle District doesn`t only give you a hint at the history of Budapest and the whole country, but also some of the most breathtaking views of the city.

The Royal Castle and Chain Bridge viewed from the Pest side.

also the place of the tree-lined Andrassy út, the shops of Váci utca, the Parliament building, the Basilica and the City Park.

Major Sights » So what are the

sights not to be missed during a stay in Budapest? The historic Castle District sits atop Castle Hill and can be reached by riding the funicular railway up the hillside. There are two excellent museums within the majestic Royal Palace. The enormous Hungarian National Gallery

contains the country leading collection of Hungarian art, ranging from medieval painted altar pieces to modern sculpture. In the Budapest History Museum you can look at artifacts surviving from the very earliest of the royal palaces on this site. Be sure also to visit the Matthias Church in all its Gothic glory. To the south of Castle Hill lies Gellert Hill, with its beautiful decorated thermal baths and a church carved into the rock. To the north is Aquincum, where you can visit

the rich ruins of the Roman town that thrived here between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. Behind all this stretch the leafy Buda Hills, which are the lungs of the city, and can be cycled, hiked or visited aboard a clattering cogwheel railway. Travel out another 10 miles to Statue Park and its remarkable collection of the communist monuments that once looked over the capital’s streets and squares. On the Pest side, be sure to take a tour of the Westminster-inspired



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Parliament to see the Holy Crown that adorns the country’s flag. Also in the center is the Great Synagogue, with its Moorish minarets and a beautiful silver willow tree in its courtyard, sculpted in memory of the country’s Holocaust victims. The elegant Andrassy Boulevard was modeled on Paris’s Champs Elysees and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Along its length are the stately 19th century Opera House and the moving House of Terror, a museum housed in the

former headquarters of the hated secret police. the Budapest Zoo, circus, fun park and the Szechenyi Baths. Other highlights of Pest are the Hungarian National Museum (the largest in the country), the Museum of Fine Arts (one of the leading collections in Central Europe) , Hero’s Square and Váci utca (the main shopping street).

The Budapest Ex­ p e­ r i­ e nce » Budapest offers many op-

portunities to do a variety of

activities. Here are a few suggestions… Enjoy coffee and a cake at the classy Gerbeaud, the city’s best known café. It is named after a master Swiss patissier who ran it in the late 19th century. Spend a day hiking or cycling in the Buda Hills. Take the rickety Cogwheel Railway into the hills, and also ride the Children’s Railway (where all the staff – except the driver! – are children). Climb János Hill and return via the atmospheric chairlift, which carries you above

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The inside look of the beautiful Basilica And the Old Royal Castle from the outside

The main staircase of the Hungarian Parliament and the interior.

the tree-lined slopes, while you enjoy the view. Explore some of the capital’s many caves. The most popular are the Szemlőhegy and Pálvölgy caves, with their wonderful dripstone formations. Wallow in warm water in the thermal spa. Budapest has more natural thermal baths than any other capital. Many contains minerals that are said

to have healing effects. While some Baroque and Art-Nouveau bathing halls from the 19th and 20th centuries, some baths date back to the Turkish period. Browse the many stalls of the colorful and bustling Central Market Hall, where you can pick up some traditional craft work, Hungary’s special foie gras, spicy red pepper or a bottle of Tokaji

wine. Take in a performance at the Opera House, where topclass opera in a beutiful venue comes at a very affordable price. Alternatively head for the 21stcentury Palace of Arts, which is the city’s main centre of music and dance. Hire a buggy or bike and pedal around the lush Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube. City Park’s summer



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boating lake is transformed into a romantic ice rink in winter, when you can go skating in the evening. Taste some wine from the country’s 22 wine regions in the cellar of the House of Hungarian Wines, in the Castle District. Take an outdoor table at one of many cafe-bars on Liszt Ferenc tér and watch the world go by. If you have energy to burn,

you can push on to a late-night club including outdoor riverside or courtyard clubs in summer. Hungarian is thought to be the second most difficult language in the world, bearing no relation to those spoken in neighboring countries. Hungary can boast more Olympic gold medalist per capita than any other country. Hollywood actor

Tony Curtis, whose father was Hungarian, helped to raise funds to renovate the Great Synagogue in Budapest, the world second largest. «

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Hungary and its capital Bu­ d a­ pest, home of Central E­ u­ r o­ pe’s largest Jewish community (and the third largest on the entire continent) with magnificent Jewish cultural heritage. Today, between 80 and 90 per cent of the 100,000 Jews living in Hungary reside in Budapest. Since the regime change, they have revived or expanded old organizations and associations.

The twin towers of the impressive Moorish Great Synagogue in Dohány utca make it one of Budapest’s most striking sights. Construction work, based on designs made by German architect Ludwig Förster, began in 1854. Budapest boasts the largest number of synagogues. Orthodox and neological communities own two offices, 22 synagogues and two schools, one hospital

and two homes for senior citizens. The Jewish Museum, the Library, the Rabbinical Seminar and the Pedagogical Institute can also be found in the capital, in the Jewish museum, from the copy of a third century plaque to original relics of the Jewish faith. A rich variety of religious objects is on display. «

The impressive Great Synagogue at Dohany utca and the interior.

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Hungary is a land of more than 1,000 hot springs and enough spa facilities to accommodate 300,000 people at the same time

Whether you just want to relax or you’re looking for a gentle cure for a specific ailment, a spa with natural spring thermal water is a perfect vacation choice. With little exaggeration, you could say that all you need to do is push a stick into the ground anywhere in Hungary and up would come thermal water, most likely with some kind of curative properties. The geological features of the Carpathian Basin are such that the earth’s crust is very thin, so waters rise easily to the surface. Hungary is a land of more than 1,000 hot springs and enough spa facilities to accommodate 300,000 people at the same time! These spas are located in big cities and smaller towns throughout the country. Some are simple thermal baths serving the

local community. The Romans, no strangers to the good life, were the first to take advantage of this naturally occurring phenomenon, but Budapest also offers some of the finest examples of the “Turkish Bath” found anywhere. Take for instance the Rudas Baths, crowned with a giant oriental dome built in the days of the Ottoman Empire. The 16th-century bathhouse is popular not only with sufferers of locomotive disorders, but also with tourists craving a relaxing end to a sightseeing tour and even party-goers in search of music, cold drinks and something different on a Saturday night.

Széchenyi Medicinal Spa and Swimming Pool » The complex, one of the largest in Europe,



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The largest Baths complex in Europe - The Szechenyi Baths from the outside and also from the inside.

The striking Art Nouveau style Gellert Baths The Rudas Baths which was built during the Ottoman Empire in the 16th Century.

boasts the usual network of hot tubs and steam rooms, but the outdoor pools in the enormous neo-Baroque courtyard are the main attractions, and are particularly atmospheric in the winter months. At the ivy-covered walls of the pool complex you can watch dedicated chess players intent on their floating cork chess boards.

Gellert Bath » The Gellert Baths, built in the striking Art Nouveau style, is a much more visible landmark at the foot of the hill of the same name. Opened in 1918, it comprises of 13 pools, fed from the depths of the hillside. The world’s first wave pool was completed here in 1927 and is still in operation today. The thermal water contains a rich cocktail

of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, hydrogen carbonate and sodium, ingredients known for powerful medicinal properties that can ease and even cure back complaints, bronchitis and joint pain. The complex was fully renovated in 2008, bringing new shine to its trademark blue tiles and ensuring an unforgettable bathing experience. The thermal



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Héviz The only hot spring thermal water lake in Europe. And the claim that “ the water of Héviz can heal anything even a broken heart” is no empty cliché.

lake of Heviz is without exaggeration the world’s most beautiful bath tub. Furthermore, it is literally overflowing with healing water. The lake, extending across an area of almost five hectares at the south-western corner of Lake Balaton is brimming with warm, alkaline and slightly radioactive water rich in potassium salts, sulphur and hydrogen

carbonate. Heviz is not just for those with aches and pains, perfectly healthy people also come here to unwind and enjoy the beauty of this unique spa. «

Hungary A Garden of Well-Being

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While Budapest has plenty to keep you occupied, it is also blessed with a truly breathtaking region just 30 minutes to the north. The Danube Bend – the point at which the great river takes a sharp turn southwards – is a captivating place of forestcovered hills and quaint towns. Its tranquil beauty has attracted writers, painters and sculptors. The views from the surrounding

hills are as beautiful as any you will find in the world. The first town you will reach on the bend is Szentendre (St. Andrew). This was once a popular spot for migrant Serbs f leeing the Ottomans, and several 17th-century Serb Orthodox churches remain. Artists established a colony here in the early 20th century, and the narrow streets are lined with little galleries and colorful

buildings. An exciting time to visit is during the Szentendre Summer Festival which features art exhibitions and a program of theatre and music. Further around the bend is Visegrad, which was for several centuries the royal seat of Hungary. King Matthias enlarged on the existing palace during the 15th century and created a stunning edifice measuring over 1500 ft. in

The Basilica in Esztergom and the summer residence of the king of the AustrianHungarian empire in Gödöllő.



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The Visegrad Castle

length. In July, the medievalthemed Visagrád Palace Games include performances of jousting and archery. Yet another 15 miles north of Visegrad, tight on the border with Slovakia, Esztergom was the place of birth and coronation for King István, the founder of the Christian State, and the royal capital until the 13th century. Its church

is the country’s largest. During the summer, there is an outdoor drama festival in the Castle Theatre. The Christian Museum of Esztergom, houses one of Europe’s richest medieval collections of ecclesiastical clothing, jewelry, paintings and more. Gödöllő lies to the east of Budapest, and boasts the country’s biggest and best-preserved

Baroque palace. It was the work of an 18th-century nobleman, and was much loved by Elizabeth (or Sissi) the popular wife of the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph. The interior contains contemporary furnishing and an exhibition detailing the building’s history and the beautiful ballroom is the venue for classical concerts.

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For a thousand years or so, Hungary’s food, like its culture, has had an intriguing double identity, cleverly blending eastern mystique with the traditions of the west. Recipes were adapted to suit their own tastes, which also gave the dishes a national flavor.

Wine Region in Hungary

Traditional Hungarian cuisine is for those with hearty appetites. Soup is an essential starter. Main courses are usually generous and meaty, and vegetarian options are often limited. Most menus do offer fish, including local perch, and some vegetable stew, pasta, often with potato, cabbage or curd. The must try specialties are goose liver, salami (spicy sausage) and palacsinta. Fabulous desserts, served with strong espresso, include strudels, tortes and the legendary Gundel pancakes with chocolate rum sauce. Today Hungary has 22 designated wine regions, and they all have something of interest to anyone who appreciates

fine scenery and wants to discover Hungar y f irst hand. A visit to top vineyards and cellars can be combined with activities such as sailing, visiting thermal spas, playing golf or discovering the stunning countryside. Since Hungary is a fairly small country to visit you can easily take in several winemaking towns in the course of a week, either by travelling around or making day trips from Budapest. Where should we start? Most people have heard of Tokaj - the toast of pontiffs and tyrants alike, and famously dubbed the “king of wines and the wine of kings” by Louis XIV of France. It is one of the world’s finest dessert wines. The historic

town of Eger, and its Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) in particular, may also be familiar, but Hungary’s other regions are also producing award-winning wines. Connoisseurs consider the red wines from Szekszárd and Villány in southern Hungary to be the cream of the crop. Many winemakers from these regions have started using international grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, to produce wines that are giving some of top French names a rea l r un for their money. Around Lake Balaton, you will find the Balatonfelvidék, Balatonfüred-Csopak, Ba­ l a­ ton­ bog­ l ár, and Badacsony regions. No visit to Hungary is complete

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Famous Hungarian desserts the Somloi Sponge Cake and the Dobos Cake.

Enjoy people watching from the Gerloczy Cafe and try their decadent desserts.

without a visit to Europe’s largest freshwater lake, and it makes sense to visit a couple of wine cellars along the way. Further to the north, the Somló hills and Sopron region also offer opportunities for exploring the local culture, nature and fine wine. Must try Hungarian specialty drinks: Pálinka : An ubiquitous specialty throughout

Hungary , pálinka is the generic name for the fiery fruit brandy often distilled by peasants from home-grown plums, apricots and pears. Unicum is a special blend of herbs and spices that Hungarians swear by as an aid to digestion, among many other things. It is indisputably Hungary’s answer to Marmiteyou will either love it or hate it.

Café Society » Writers, paint-

ers, philosophers and poets have gathered for centuries around coffee-house tables in lively conversations, sampling desserts, drinking strong espressos. There were more than 400 coffeehouses in Budapest at the turn of the 20th century and some of the best are still in business. Today’s coffee-houses, after



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The fabulously elegant Lotz Cafe’s interior.

an admittedly shaky period following World War Two, are now as vital and vibrant as they have ever been. The choice of pastries is always impressive and any type of coffee you choose will be satisfying, especially after a day of sightseeing. No matter which café you settle into, remember that taking your time is what it’s all about. Café Gerbeaud is

one of the oldest cafes in Europe has extraordinary history, special atmosphere, world-class pastries. Why don’t you try the very Hungarian Somloi Galuska (cake with cream and chocolate sauce) and the Gundel Pancakes (with rum, walnuts and vanilla flavored chocolate) which are the favorites of the locals. «

There were more than 400 coffeehouses in Budapest at the turn of the 20th century

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Hungarian up and coming young designers started to pop up everywhere in the city. Make sure to check out the unique souvenirs and hand made leather goods.

Budapest is a vibrant, cosmopolitan, trendy city. Fans of design, architecture, fashion and gourmet food will all find something to explore in this constantly changing city. Retro is once again in. Whether you want to dress up in a mix of retro-grandma and electro boogie style or enjoy today’s food at a restaurant with an 80’s theme or want to buy some unique souvenirs to take home to your eager friends, Budapest boasts it. Over the last few years, the run-down inner-city area has become the city’s hippest quarter, packed with what has become one of Budapest’s trademarks - ruin pubs. Each ruin pub is unique, but they all share certain similarities: the main ingredient is an abandoned building or empty lot, spiced up with

some thrift-shop décor and a dose of hipster vibe. Hungary’s fashion and design world is on a revival – over the past few years numerous young designers have kick started their own brands, and showrooms and concept stores popped up all over the city. Visit the young, up and coming fashion designers stores and studios in the downtown area. Also try Eastern Europe’s trademark car “Trabant” for a sightseeing tour. «



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Budapest Spring Festival » Since 1980 the Budapest Spring Festival has been Hungary’s biggest cultural festival. Around 200 events take place in 50-60 venues in Budapest. Budapest Summer Festival »
During the summer vacations, the programs of the Budapest theaters move outdoors, in order to offer outstanding entertainment in an open air envi-

Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix » The biggest event in the
sport calendar

Sziget (Island) Festival » Shipyard Island becomes a Hungarian Woodstock during this multicultural festival in August. Around 400,000 people come to Sziget each year for the concerts featuring worldrenowned artists exhibitions, mu sic a nd d a nce event s .

exhibitions and a fair organized in the grounds of Buda Castle. The festival also includes wine auction, grape harvest procession, cultural programs and concerts.

Budapest Autumn Festival »

One of the major aims of the festival is to showcase Budapest’s cultural standing in Europe, promoting the capital as a festival city and strengthening its image as an important European cultural center.

ronment. Some of the grandest venues in the city host a series of summer evening concerts.

Jewish Summer Fes­ t i­ val »
A wide-ranging festival that focuses on Jewish culture. It features a week of books and films, exhibitions and gastronomy events, music and dance. » The best wine makers introduce themselves at the

Budapest Christmas Fair »

Night of Museums » The gates of the museums of Bu­ d a­ pest are wide open overnight. This annual event hosts tourists and locals.

International Wine Festival

The Budapest Christmas Fair in the heart of the city offers a special holiday atmosphere with hand-made products and gifts, exhibitions and other cultural programs and concerts. This is a must see in the city during the Holidays..

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Magic Hungary tour » Hun­

gary and tradition. Drive from Budapest to Gödöllő to the second largest baroque Palace of the world, appr.30 km from Budapest. This Palace was the former summer residence of Queen Elisabeth (Sissi) and Franz Joseph (Habsburg Emperor and Hungarian King during the Austro-Hungarian Empire). The interior of the Palace gives you a glimpse of times under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Next

visit the famous Equestrian park (8 km from Gödöllő) where horsemen will take you a carriege ride through the area and will invite you to a traditional Horse show. After the Horse show, you are welcome in the Hungarian Csarda (tipical old Hungarian Inn) where you will taste the old Hungarian dishes.

Danube Bend tour » Da­ nu­

be Bend – an excursion into Hungary’s history along the

Da­ nu­ b e Bend. Start at Esz­ ter­ gom, the centre of the Catholic Church, we visit the largest Basilica of Hungary. Visegrád – walk upon the 750 years old stones of the formal Royal Resident with a breathtaking panorama on the Danube Valley. Szent­ end­ re – is an art’s village, take a walk around this baroque settlement and try one of the tipical Hungarian pastries in the centre of the village. Back to Budapest by boat on the Danube.

The Gödöllő Palace. Szentendre and its main square.



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Don’t forget to see a traditional horse show while visiting the countryside. Hand painted porcelain.

The world famous sweet Tokaj wine and the winery.

Balaton – Herend tour » Visit

first Herend, the world’s largest Porcelain Manufactory (founded in 1826). Following a guided tour through the rooms. Have a coffee in the Herend Porcelain coffee shop. Then drive to Lake Ba­ la­ ton ( largest fresh water lake of Central Europe) and visit the Abbey on Tihany Peninsula (founded in 1055). Then travel to

Ba­ la­ ton­ f ü­ red where taste tipical Hungarian dishes in a Csarda.

Eger-Tokaj-Haj­ dú­ s zo­ b oszló » Travel to E­ ger (120 km from
Budapest). Fascinating town with wonderful built heritage. Eger is one of the 22 wine districts of Hungary and you must taste Egri Bikaver (Bull’s Blood) red wine. Than travel to Tokaj

which is the area of the most famous Hungarian wine, Tokaji Aszú. Visit the wine route and taste the Aszú in different wine cellars. Hajdúszoboszló, center of thermal water and spas. Try to spend some time there and relax. «

Hungary » Explore Hungary | Hungarian National Tourist Office »


Tourists holding valid US or Canadian passports are not required to have a visa for stays of less than 90 days. Passports must be valid for at least another six months from the planned date of arrival to Hungary. All other questions should be addressed to the nearest Hungarian Consulate:

Taxi » Fares vary. It is recommended that passengers call taxi companies to arrange for a taxi.

Driving in Hungary » Many

admission to 60 museums, a city tour at half price, special offers at restaurants, spas, sports facilities and more. (

Transportation to/from the airport in Budapest » Airport

travelers like to go beyond the major cities and discover Hungary’s hidden treasures in the countryside. Highway tickets may be purchased online: www.

Currency » The unit of cur-

shuttle www.airportshuttle. hu Airport shuttle in every 30 minutes.

Public Trans­ por­ ta­ ti­ on » Tic­ kets must be purchased prior to boarding at newsstands, subway stations, hotels or street vendors.

rency is FORINT. Major Credit Cards are widely accepted. ATMs operate 24 hours a day. Please note that most stores will not accept traveler’s checks.

Tipping » Generally equivalent
to 10-15 % of the bill

Airport Bus Service » A reg-

ular bus service (BUS # 200) operates between the airport and the KISPEST terminal of the red # 3 metro line. You need prepurchased tickets for both the bus and subway. Tickets can be bought at the terminal.

Passengers must validate their tickets in a ticket puncher and present them, upon request, to an inspector.

Public Holidays »

Train » Budapest has 3 main train stations, from which in­ ter­ na­ ti­ o­ nal and domestic trains depart.

Budapest Card » In case you intend to stay only for a short period of time the Budapest Card would be perfect for you. The card entitles visitors to unlimited travel on public transportation, free or discounted

January 1 – New Year’s Day March 15 – National Holiday April – Eastern Sunday & Monday (varies each year) May 1 – Labor Day May/June – Pentecost August 20 – St. Istvan’s Day October 23 – ’56 Remembrance Day December 25,26 – Christmas



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1100 years of history The largest laKe of Europe Thermal springs The land of the Puszta Historical wine regions Horse riding traditions Jewish Heritage