Hungary tourist information
There is a long history of tourism in Hungary, and Hungary was the world's thirteenth most visited tourist destination country in 2002. Tourism increased by nearly 7 per cent between 2004 and 2005. European visitors comprise more than 98 per cent of Hungary's tourists. Austria, Germany, and Slovakia supply the largest amounts of visitors to the country. Most tourists arrive by car and stay for a short period of time. Hungary's tourist season is from April through October. July and August are the peak tourist months. Budapest is the country's most popular tourist destination.
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Budapest became one of Central Europe's most popular tourist attractions in the 1990s. Attractions in the city include Buda Castle which houses several museums including the Hungarian National Gallery, the Matthias Church, the Parliament Building and the City Park. The city has many museums, three opera houses, and thermal baths. Buda Castle, the Danube River embankments and the whole of AndrĂĄssy Avenue have been recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hungary has an estimated 1,300 thermal springs, a third of which are used at spas across the country. Hungary's thermal waters and spa culture are promoted to tourists. Only France, Japan, Iceland, and Italy have similar thermal water capacity. Hungary's thermal baths have been used for 2,000 years for cleansing, relaxation and easing aches and pains. The Romans were the first to use Hungary's thermal waters in the first century, when they built baths on the banks of the Danube River. Budapest lies on a geological fault that separates the Buda hills from plains. More than 30,000 cubic metres of warm to scalding (21Â° to 76Â°C) mineral water gushes from 118 thermal springs and supply the city's thermal baths. Budapest has been a popular spa destination since Roman times. Some of the baths in the city date from Turkish times while others are modern. They have steam rooms that utilize the healing properties of the springs. Most of the baths offer medical treatments, massages, and pedicures. The most famous of Budapest's spas were built at the turn of the 19th century.
There are two hundred known caves under Budapest, some of which can be visited by tourists and are a popular tourist attraction. In the Buda hills there are caves that are unique for having been formed by thermal waters rising up from below, rather than by rainwater. The PĂĄlvĂ¶lgy Stalactite Cave is a large and spectacular labyrinth. Discovered in the 1900s, it is the largest of the cave systems in the Buda hills. The Szemlohegy Cave has no stalactites and has fewer convoluted and claustrophobic passages than the PĂĄlvĂ¶lgy Cave. The walls in this cave are encrusted with precipitates formed by warm water dissolving mineral salts. The air in the cave is very clean and its lowest level is used as a respiratory sanatorium. The Matyas Cave in the outskirts of the city has a crawling-room-only section called the "sandwich of death."
Lake Balaton in western Hungary is the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe. It is the second most important tourist destination in Hungary. 2.5 million tourists visited the lake in 1994. Hungary's other tourist attractions include spas, excellent facilities for activity holidays, and cultural attractions such as the villages of the Great Hungarian Plain and the art treasures found in Budapest. Hungary has more than 400 camping grounds. There are more than 2,500 km of dedicated bicycle lanes in the country. Fishing is popular in Hungary and almost half of the country's 130,000 hectares of rivers and lakes are used by anglers. The country has excellent opportunities for birdwatching, and horse riding and hunting are also popular.
Hungary has a continental climate, with hot summers with low overall humidity levels but frequent rainshowers and mildly cold snowy winters. Average annual temperature is 9.7 Â°C (49.5 Â°F). Temperature extremes are about 41.9 Â°C (107.4 Â°F) on 20 jul 2007 at Kiskunhalas in the summer and â35 Â°C (â31.0 Â°F) on 16 feb 1940 Miskolc-GĂ¶rĂ¶mbĂ¶lytapolca in the winter. Average high temperature in the summer is 23 Â°C (73.4 Â°F) to 28 Â°C (82 Â°F) and average low temperature in the winter it is â3 Â°C (27 Â°F) to â7 Â°C (19 Â°F). The average yearly rainfall is approximately 600 mm (23.6 in). A small, southern region of the country near PĂ©cs enjoys a reputation for a Mediterranean climate, but in reality it is only slightly warmer than the rest of the country and still receives snow during the winter.
Hungary has a highly developed road, railway, air and water transport system. Budapest, the capital of the state, serves as an important node in the public transport network; a common Hungarian expression is "all roads lead to Budapest", echoing the classical adage "all roads lead to Rome".
The Hungarian railway system is centralized around Budapest; the three main railway stations are Eastern (Keleti), Western (Nyugati) and Southern (DĂ©li), with other outlying stations like KelenfĂ¶ld. Of the three, the Southern is the most modern but the Eastern and the Western are more decorative and architecturally impressive. Other important railway stations countrywide include Szolnok (the most important railway junction outside Budapest), Tiszai Railway Station in Miskolc and the stations of PĂ©cs, GyĆr, Szeged and SzĂ©kesfehĂ©rvĂĄr.
Four Hungarian cities (Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc and Szeged) have tram networks.
In Budapest there is also a suburban rail service in and around the city, operated under the name HĂV.
Hungary has a total length of approximately 1,314 km (816.48 mi) motorways (Hungarian: autĂłpĂĄlya). New motorway sections are being added to the existing network, which already connects many major economically important cities to the Capital City.
The most important port is Budapest, the capital. Other important ones include DunaĂșjvĂĄros and Baja.
There are 43â45 airports in Hungary, including smaller, unpaved landing fields. (1999 est.) The five international ones are Budapest-Ferihegy, Debrecen Airport, SĂĄrmellĂ©k Airport (also called FlyBalaton for its proximity to Lake Balaton, Hungary's number one tourist attraction), GyĆr-PĂ©r and PĂ©cs-PogĂĄny. MALĂV Hungarian Airlines operates flights to over 60, mostly European cities.
The Budapest Metro (Hungarian: budapesti metrĂł) is the second-oldest underground metro system in the world, and its iconic Line 1 (dating from 1896) was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002. It consists of three lines, each designated by a number and a colour. Metro Line 4 is currently under construction; the first section is to begin operation in 2011. A fifth line has also been included in medium to long-term plans. The rush hours are between 6 and 8 am and between 2 and 5 pm on workdays, when trains run every two or three minutes. Early morning and night trains run every 10 or 15 minutes.
Hungary is home to the largest synagogue in Europe (Great Synagogue), the largest medicinal bath in Europe (SzĂ©chenyi Medicinal Bath), one of the largest basilicas in Europe (Esztergom Basilica), the second largest territorial abbey in the world (Pannonhalma Archabbey), and the largest Early Christian Necropolis outside Italy (PĂ©cs).
Notable architectural styles in Hungary include Historicism and Art Nouveau, or rather several variants of Art Nouveau. In contrast to Historicism, Hungarian Art Nouveau is based on the national architectural characteristics. Taking the eastern origins of the Hungarians into account, ĂdĂ¶n Lechner (1845â1914), the most important figure in Hungarian Art Nouveau, was initially inspired by Indian and Syrian architecture, and later by traditional Hungarian decorative designs. In this way, he created an original synthesis of architectural styles. By applying them to three-dimensional architectural elements, he produced a version of Art Nouveau that was specific to Hungary.
Turning away from the style of Lechner, yet taking inspiration from his approach, the group of "Young People" (Fiatalok), which included KĂĄroly KĂłs and DezsĂ¶ Zrumeczky, were to use the characteristic structures and forms of traditional Hungarian architecture to achieve the same end.
Besides the two principal styles, Budapest also displays local versions of trends originating from other European countries. The Sezession from Vienna, the German Jugendstil, Art Nouveau from Belgium and France, and the influence of English and Finnish architecture are all reflected in the buildings constructed at the turn of the century. BĂ©la Lajta initially adopted Lechner's style, subsequently drawing his inspiration from English and Finnish trends; after developing an interest in the Egyptian style, he finally arrived at modern architecture. AladĂĄr Ărkay took almost the same route. IstvĂĄn Medgyaszay developed his own style, which differed from Lechner's, using stylised traditional motifs to create decorative designs in concrete. In the sphere of applied arts, those chiefly responsible for promoting the spread of Art Nouveau were the School and Museum of Decorative Arts, which opened in 1896.
Foreigners are often surprised, but a great portion of the citizens live in old and architecturally valuable buildings. In Budapest downtown area almost all the buildings are about hundred years old, with thick walls, high ceiling and motives on the front wall.
The Hungarian cuisine is a prominent feature of the Hungarian culture, just like the art of hospitality. Traditional dishes such as the world famous Goulash (gulyĂĄs stew or gulyĂĄs soup) feature prominently. Dishes are often flavoured with paprika (ground red peppers), a Hungarian innovation. Thick, heavy Hungarian sour cream called tejfĂ¶l is often used to soften the dishes flavour. The famous Hungarian hot river fish soup called Fisherman's soup or halĂĄszlĂ© is usually a rich mixture of several kinds of poached fish. Other dishes are Chicken Paprikash, Foie gras made of goose liver, pĂ¶rkĂ¶lt stew, vadas, (game stew with vegetable gravy and dumplings), trout with almonds and salty and sweet dumplings, like tĂșrĂłs csusza, (dumplings with fresh quark cheese and thick sour cream). Desserts include the iconic Dobos Cake, Strudels (rĂ©tes), filled with apple, cherry, poppy seed or cheese, Gundel pancake, plum dumplings (szilvĂĄs gombĂłc), somlĂłi dumplings, dessert soups like chilled Sour cherry soup and sweet chestnut puree, gesztenyepĂŒrĂ© (cooked chestnuts mashed with sugar and rum and split into crumbs, topped with whipped cream). Perec and kifli are widely popular pastries.
The csĂĄrda is the most distinctive type of Hungarian inn, an old-style tavern offering traditional cuisine and beverages. BorozĂł usually denotes a cozy old-fashioned wine tavern, pince is a beer or wine cellar and a sĂ¶rĂ¶zĆ is a pub offering draught beer and sometimes meals. The bisztrĂł is an inexpensive restaurant often with self-service. The bĂŒfĂ© is the cheapest place, although one may have to eat standing at a counter. Pastries, cakes and coffee are served at the confectionery called cukrĂĄszda, while an eszpresszĂł is a cafeteria.
PĂĄlinka: is a fruit brandy, distilled from fruit grown in the orchards situated on the Great Hungarian Plain. It is a spirit native to Hungary and comes in a variety of flavours including apricot (barack) and cherry (cseresznye). However, plum (szilva) is the most popular flavour. Beer: Beer goes well with many traditional Hungarian dishes. The five main Hungarian brands are: Borsodi, Soproni, Arany Ăszok, KĂ”bĂĄnyai, and Dreher.
Wine: As Hugh Johnson says in The History of Wine, the territory of Hungary is ideal for wine-making. Since the fall of communism there has been a renaissance of Hungarian wine-making. The choice of good wine is widening from year to year. The country can be divided to six wine regions: North-Transdanubia, Lake Balaton, South-PannĂłnia, Duna-region or AlfĂ¶ld, Upper-Hungary and Tokaj-Hegyalja. Hungarian wine regions offer a great variety of style: the main products of the country are elegant and full-bodied dry whites with good acidity, although complex sweet whites (Tokaj), elegant (Eger) and full-bodied robust reds (VillĂĄny and SzekszĂĄrd). The main varieties are: Olaszrizling, HĂĄrslevelĆ±, Furmint, Pinot gris or SzĂŒrkebarĂĄt, Chardonnay (whites), KĂ©kfrankos (or Blaufrankisch in German), Kadarka, Portugieser, Zweigelt, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot. The most famous wines from Hungary are Tokaji AszĂș and Egri BikavĂ©r.
Tokaji: Tokaji, meaning "of Tokaj", or "from Tokaj" in Hungarian, is used to label wines from the wine region of Tokaj-Hegyalja in Hungary. Tokaji wine has received accolades from numerous great writers and composers including Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert and Goethe; Joseph Haydn's favorite wine was a Tokaji. Louis XV and Frederick the Great tried to outdo one another in the excellence of the vintages they stocked when they treated guests like Voltaire to some Tokaji. Napoleon III, the last Emperor of the French, ordered 30â40 barrels of Tokaji for the Court every year. Gustav III, King of Sweden, never had any other wine to drink. In Russia, customers included Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth of Russia.
Zwack Unicum: For over 150 years, a blend of 40 Hungarian herbs has been used to create the liqueur Unicum. Unicum is a bitter, dark-coloured liqueur that can be drunk as an apĂ©ritif or after a meal, thus helping the digestion. The recipe is held secret by the Zwack family.
Hungary is a land of thermal water. A passion for spa culture and Hungarian history have been connected from the very beginning. Hungarian spas feature Roman, Greek, Turkish, and northern country architectural elements.
Because of an advantageous geographical location thermal water can be found with good quality and in great quantities on over 80% of Hungary's territory. Approximately 1,500 thermal springs can be found in Hungary. There are approximately 450 public baths in Hungary.
The Romans heralded the first age of spa in Hungary, the remains of their bath complexes are still to be seen in Ăbuda, to this day. The spa culture was revived during the Turkish Invasion who used the thermal springs of Buda for the construction of a number of bathhouses, some of which are still functioning (KirĂĄly Baths, Rudas Baths).
In the 19th century the advancement in deep drilling and medical science provided the springboard for a further leap in bathing culture. Grand spas such as GellĂ©rt Baths, LukĂĄcs Baths, Margaret Island, and SzĂ©chenyi Medicinal Bath are a reflection of this resurgence in popularity.