Situated in the heart of Europe, Hungary is an alluring mix of Magyar tradition and modern European values; the ideal place to gain a flavour of Eastern Europe. Its attractions include lush countryside, impressive defensive fortresses, thermal spas and even a heated lake at Heviz.
With a colourful history, several cultural influences are evident, especially in architecture. Tracing its history back to the Magyars – a semi-nomadic tribe from southern Russia and the Black Sea coast who colonised the country in the ninth century – Hungary then enjoyed its golden age as part of the Ottoman, then Habsburg empires in the Middle Ages. Hungary emerged as an independent country after World War One.
Its capital Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Straddling the scenic Danube river, Budapest is split into two areas: Buda and Pest. Whilst Buda is hillier and more scenic, Pest is the commercial centre, boasting some of Europe's finest architecture – from gorgeous art nouveau buildings to grand baroque cathedrals. Budapest comes alive at night, with restaurants, bars and colourful nightlife aplenty.
Hungary Essential Information:
Major cities: Debrecen and Miskolc
Places of interest: Aggtelek, Kecskemet and Lake Balaton
Time Zone: GMT +1
International dialling code: +36
Language: Hungarian (primary), German and English To learn the basics of Hungarian visit www.hungarotips.com
Hungary currency: Hungary uses the Hungary Forint. £1 is worth around HUF369. For up-to-date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com/ucc