A visit to Hungary will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into the medieval times. The country has a magical heir about it and its history still pulses through the air. During your trip, you’ll see tons of medieval architecture. At times, you may even feel like you’re in Harry Potter. Hungary offers a plethora of museums, designed to preserve the country’s history. You’ll also have the opportunity to relax, a lot, in Hungary by visiting one of their thermal spas.
Basic Things to Know When Planning a Trip to Hungary
The official language of Hungary is Hungarian; over 98% of the population speaks this. A small percentage of the population speaks German in smaller towns throughout Hungary. Some locals speak English as a second language in cities that attract a lot of tourism.
When to Visit
The best months to visit Hungary are during their Spring and Autumn; March to May and September to November respectively. The weather is cool and crisp during this time. The highest concentration of tourists visits during June & August—avoid going during this time if you don’t like big crowds.
Currency & Payment
Hungary’s unit of currency is the forint. Hungary is a part of the European Union but does not use the Euro. You can pay with the Euro in more established shops, restaurants & hotels in major cities. It’s wise to pay in forints whenever possible as you may not receive a great exchange rate if paying with Euros. Credit card is also often accepted but it is wise to bring cash with you, to pay in local shops.
Hungary’s transportation system is very efficient. There are trains & buses that connect to each region. Travel in Budapest is possible via tram, bus, or taxi. Uber and other rideshare apps are not legal in Hungary, though their local taxi system has its own rideshare app, called Bolt, which is useful.
What to Pack for a Trip to Hungary
Here’s a list of what to pack for Budapest, in addition to what you would automatically think to bring:
- Power Adaptor: Hungary uses plug types C and F and operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.
- Flip flops: If you plan on visiting the thermal spas, then you’ll want to bring a pair of flip flops. Often times the spas mandate the use of flip flops.
- Lock: When visiting the spas, you’ll want to lock your items away. Save a few bucks by bringing your own lock. Though sometimes the spa does require that you use their lock instead.
- Refillable Water Bottle: There are fresh drinking water fountains available all over major cities like Budapest. Bring a refillable water bottle to use and cut down on costs.
- Comfortable Shoes: You’ll find yourself walking more than expected if visiting Budapest as the main attractions are spread out a bit. Public transportation and taxis are available, though many tourists prefer to walk instead to save money and explore the city on foot.
- Weather Appropriate Attire: The seasons in Budapest change drastically. It can drop to freezing in the winter and very hot in the summer. Research the climate before going to Budapest and dress accordingly.
Things to Do in Hungary
Here’s a list of some of the top things to try in Hungary. There are many great things to do in Hungary; this list scratches the surface.
- Spend some time in Budapest: As the capital city of Hungary, Budapest offers many things to do. A handful of things that you must see include Parliament, the Buda Castle, the Danube River, the Fishermans Baston, and the Great Market Hall.
- Go to a natural thermal spa: There are approximately 1,500 thermal spas in Hungary—120 of these spas are in Budapest. The most famous thermal bath is Széchenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest but there are many, many more to explore.
- Visit a wine region: There are 22 wine regions in Hungary. Tokaj is the most famous wine region… but there are many worth checking out as a tourist, including Villány, Szekszárd, and Mor.
- Explore a cave: There are 4,100 caves in Hungary. In fact, much of the country is built on top of these underground worlds. A handful of caves worth visiting include Pál-valley and Szemlő-mountain caves in Budapest. Outside of Budapest, you can see many more, including the Karst Cavern in Aggtelek, the cave of Szemlő-mountain and the cave of Abaliget.
- Head to a national park: There are ten national parks in Hungary. Hortobágy National Park & Aggtelek National Park are two top parks for tourists.
- Go to Lillafüred for hiking & a spa: a small town in Northern Hungary. The town has a magical vibe. During your visit, you can hike through the surrounding natural landscapes or spend some time in their natural thermal spa.
- Stop by Eger Castle: Located in the city of Eger. This castle has a fascinating history—The Turkish army was defeated here in 1552. Hungarians regard this castle as one of the most important pieces of architecture in their history.
- Visit Heviz: Heviz offers a quaint local town to stay in and one of the biggest thermal lakes in the world.
- Explore Pecs: Located about 3 hours north of Budapest. Pecs is the 5th largest city in Hungary. There is much to explore here, including the Early Christian Necropolis—which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Relax in Lake Balaton: A freshwater lake in Western Hungary. This is the largest lake in Central Europe and offers water activities, hikes, and a town to surrounding town to stay in and explore.
Fast Facts About Hungary
Here are some interesting facts about Hungary that you may have not already known.
- There are more medicinal spas in Hungary than any other European country.
- Thermal water is available in 80% of Hungary.
- A few very famous inventions came from Hungary—including the Rubik’s Cube and the Krypton Electric Bulb.
- Hungary is not without its superstitions. For example, legend has it that touching the pen of the statue of Anonymous in Budapest’s City Park will bless you with great writing abilities.
- Budapest is home to Europe’s oldest metro system. The Budapest rail has been operating since 1896.
- The Great Synagogue of Budapest is the second largest synagogue in the world, after Jerusalem’s synagogue.
- Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world.
- Budapest has two sections—Buda and Pest. The Danube River flows through Budapest and separates the two parts.
- The Hungarian Parliament is the third-largest parliament building in the world.
- Hungary has won gold medals in every Olympic game that they have competed in.
Budget Suggestions for a Trip to Hungary
Here is a look at a range of what a trip to Hungary might cost you. Keep in mind that the time of year that you’re visiting will impact costs. This estimate is based on visiting Budapest – costs around the country may vary slightly based on this.
$5 - $15/Night (Hostel Dorm)
$25 - $75/Night
(Private Room in Hostel, Budget Hotel, or AirBNB)
$80 - $400/Night
$2 - $5/pp/meal
$7 - $25/pp/meal
$25 - $100+/pp/meal
Local food items like gyro's and goulash are great options for travelers on a budget.
$1 - $3
(Domestic Beers & Wines)
$5 - $12
(Imported Drinks & Cocktails)
The wine & beer in Hungary is incredible. Imported drinks usually come from nearby European countries.
$2/each way (Bus or Metro)
$2 base rate + $1USD/Kilometer (Public Taxi)
$20 - $30/hr
(Private Taxi Organized in Advance)