Overview website for Hungary
Hungary tourism and travel information including facts, maps, history, culture, transport … Find popular places to visit in Hungary – Lonely Planet.
Overview : Hungary traces its history back to the Magyars, an alliance of semi-nomadic tribes from southern Russia and the Black …
Provides an overview of Hungary, including key events and facts about this eastern European country.
Overview. Throughout Hungary, the vestiges of Ottoman and communist rules can be found on the same block. Castles stand staunchly and thermal baths pool …
Hungary Overview. last update: May 2011. For many refugees and migrants Hungary is a transit country to Central and Northern Europe. Crossing the border …
Hungary traces its history back to the Magyars, an alliance of semi-nomadic tribes from southern Russia and the Black Sea coast that arrived in the region in the ninth century. After centuries as a powerful medieval kingdom, Hungary was part of the Ottoman and then Habsburg empires from the 16th century onwards, emerging as an independent country again after World War I.
The Hungarian language belongs to the Finno-Ugric family and is one of the handful of languages spoken within the European Union that are not of Indo-European origin.
A landlocked country, Hungary is home to Lake Balaton, the largest in central Europe, and to a large number of spa towns and hot springs.
It has especially rich traditions in folk and classical music and was the birthplace of numerous outstanding performers and composers, including Franz Liszt, Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly.
Vinyard in Hungary’s Tokaj area Hungary’s most prized wine comes from the Tokaj region
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At a glance
Politics: Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative Fidesz party’s sweeping victory in the 2010 election has enabled it to push through radical legislative changes
Economy: Since 2010, the Hungarian government has pursued “unorthodox” economic policies that include frequent verbal attacks on the IMF and EU
International: Hungary joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004. The EU has expressed concerns over what it sees as Hungary’s failure to respect European democratic standards since 2010
Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring
Hungary became co-equal partner with Austria in a dual monarchy in the mid-19th century after an unsuccessful revolt against the Habsburgs in 1848. After a period of turmoil following World War I, an independent kingdom of Hungary was established under the authoritarian regency of Admiral Miklos Horthy.
The redrawing of European borders that took place after World War I left about five million ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. Their status remains a sensitive issue and has complicated Hungary’s relations with its neighbours.
Following World War II, in which Admiral Horthy had allied himself with Germany, Hungary fell under communist rule. An uprising in 1956 was crushed by Red Army forces, but Hungary did later become the first Eastern European country to gain some economic freedom.
Hungary played an important part in accelerating the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe when it opened its border with Austria in 1989, allowing thousands of East Germans to escape to the West. Just a few months later the Berlin Wall was history.
Hungary’s post-communist economic transition was achieved relatively smoothly. Within four years of the collapse of communism nearly half of the country’s economic enterprises had been transferred to the private sector, and by 1998 Hungary was attracting nearly half of all foreign direct investment in Central Europe.
Ten years later, the picture looked rather less rosy. A high level of both private and state borrowing left the country particularly vulnerable to the credit crunch of 2008, and in October of that year the government was forced to appeal to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank for massive loans in a bid to stave off economic collapse.
Dissatisfaction with the centre-left coalition government’s handling of the economy from 2002 to 2010 coincided with the rise of the right-wing nationalist party Jobbik, known for its anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy rhetoric, and a move to the authoritarian right by the Fidesz party, which won the 2010 election.
Fidesz has moved to cement its power over public institutions such as the judiciary by throwing out Hungary’s more liberal post-communist constitution and replacing it with a constitution that critics say strengthens the power of the state.
This may surprise those considering a vacation in Hungary, but the country and its historic capital, Budapest, is the 15th most sought-after visitor destination in the world. For those who know Hungary, however, it comes as no secret, and this Central European land is packed with historic sights, heritage buildings, lakes, rivers, glorious countryside, cosmopolitan cities flavored with hidden gems, and great food. UNESCO World Heritage sites and Biosphere Reserves, Baroque castles, a rich culture and ethnic folk traditions make for a fascinating visit.
Sightseeing across Hungary and its great cities suit every taste, from Budapest itself, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, rich with museums and grand buildings, through national parks great for eco-tourists and birders to the famous Hungarian thermal baths and spas. Outdoor activities take in the countryside on horseback, mountain bike or on foot, and cultural connoisseurs will love the opera, ballet and classical music as much as the younger crowd adores the vibrant nightlife and gourmet cuisine.
Ethnic Hungarians are said to be the descendants of the fierce, warlike Magyar tribes, but they’ve morphed over the last 10 centuries into some of Europe’s friendliest people. English is taught in schools, so visitors will have no trouble communicating. Accommodations run from ultimate luxury in heritage mansions or modern upscale hotels which include pampering in traditional thermal spas to charming farmhouses in the stunning countryside. You’ll find hospitality, a genuine welcome and great value wherever you stay.
Hungary’s excellent public transportation system and its good roads make daytrips a breeze, especially if you’re based in Budapest. The capital is surrounded by interesting places to visit including architecturally important towns holding palaces and grand churches and small, medieval market towns where people live as they did in yesteryear. If you’d prefer to go on an organized tour, there’s a plethora of operators available. Must-see sights such as the huge Lake Balaton and national parks deserve an overnight stay, with pretty inns and spas welcoming tired travelers.
Budapest is the center of the country, both literally and figuratively, with almost every attraction accessible by a three-hour bus or train. Intercity trains are the fastest, most comfortable and inexpensive way to travel, and link Hungary’s major cities with the capital. The rail system fans out in a star shape, making rural cross-country travel slower, as it may be necessary to connect through Budapest. Bus services are comprehensive, safe and clean, with occasional delays, while riverboats and hydrofoils link Budapest to other Danube River towns.
Explore Budapest’s charming Old Quarter, the banks of the Danube and Buda Castle
See the stunning Caves of Aggtelek karst formations
Study Pecs, an early Christian necropolis
Visit the Tokaj Wine Region and its cultural, historic landscape
Relax at Lake Balaton for its size and sheer beauty
Traverse the ecosystem and explore the biodiversity at Hortobagy National Park
Discover the massive open-air museum and ancient buildings at Szentendre
Gaze at the Grassalkovich Palace in Godollo, once the home of the Austrian Hapsburg Empress Elizabeth