Reasons to visit and love Hungary
A country like a time machine, where you can skip from the 21st century to the 19th in a heartbeat, Hungary is Europe's best-kept secret. A living, breathing history book, it shouldn't surprise you to come across age-old traditions, horse riding on public roads, and some of the most breathtaking edifices on Earth on a daily basis.
One thing's for sure, there'll be no shortage of "oh wows" during your stay here.
If you love outdoor activities, look no further. Calin was born and raised in the beautiful region of Transylvania where he fell in love with adventures. Now he wants to show others that you can have fun and be active at the same time. He's also a happy husband and a father of three. Despite that, he maintains his lifestyle, which includes meeting amazing people from around the world while travelling to various destinations. It seems like apart from travel, he's also very good at time management.
a Romania based traveler
When I think of Hungary, I think of Budapest with its many attractions, of the fabulous lake Balaton, of great wine, heavy food, and some of the most beautiful women on the planet. Here, you’ll fall in love three times over on your way to buy bread, but there’s no telling if it will be with the country or a gorgeous brunette with green eyes.
Let’s take it one at a time.
Budapest, charming, lively, and history - rich is without a doubt Hungary’s crowning jewel. On either bank of the Danube, two competing cities sprawled and thrived – on its hilly side, Buda and on the flat side Pest. They merged with a third, Óbuda, to create what’s now home to over 2 million people, thousands of bars and restaurants, and some of Europe’s most imposing architectural masterpieces. Both Buda and Pest still hold a distinctive charm with Buda more laid back, less crowded, much greener, and upscale while Pest is livelier, home to 90% of bars and restaurants, and 75% of tourist attractions. In between the two are several magnificent bridges, and every true Hungarian has a distinct favorite. Mine? Margit Bridge, followed closely by the all-iron Szabadság híd or Liberty Bridge. But most people tend to go for Széchenyi Chain Bridge.
The mix between the two sides of the capital is what creates the magic of Budapest – its ability to delight people of all ages and backgrounds. For those in search of a good time, there’s Pest with countless bars, clubs, boat parties, terraces, and festivals.
If you’re after a mellow time, though, Budapest is also crawling with excellent restaurants that span the entire spectrum from Michelin stars to local bodegas. Dominated by the Fishermen’s Bastion and the Royal Palace on one side and the gorgeous Parliament’s building on the other, the city is home to dozens of museums, world-renowned public baths, lovely parks plus a promenade alongside the Danube that stretches out for miles.
For a few days every August, Budapest is also home to one of the world’s largest music festivals – Sziget. Held on an entire island in the middle of the Danube, it attracts huge audiences and huge names on its stages. The festival engulfs the city so if you’re not into crowds of young people being silly or downright drunk in the middle of the day, best keep away during that time.
It would take weeks or months to soak Budapest in so if you’re planning a week-long trip, you're in for a fun overload. My personal must-have experience is off the tourist classic roadmap. It is the Lehel Csarnok farmer’s market on Vaci Utca. Far less popular with foreigners than the famous Jewish Market, it’s home to authentic Hungarian fruits and vegetables, pickles, meats, and pastries. The prices are exceptionally low and there’s no substitute for the authentic feel of a farmer’s market where few if any tourists ever reach.
An hour and a half by train outside of Budapest, and you reach lake Balaton. It’s where most of the country seems to migrate during the summer months and for good reason. The lake is calm, with warm, inviting waters that are filled with catamarans and sailboats. There are countless cottages on its shores and dozens of small beaches where you won’t have to deal with large crowds to sunbathe.
If you decide to visit Hungary, and you should, make sure to also book a visit to at least one of the country’s top vineyard regions, be it Tokaj, Eger, Etyek, or Badacsonyors.
My perfect itinerary would be to spend a week in Budapest with no agenda. Just go where my eyes take me. I would eat in a different restaurant every day, I’d visit the farmer’s market and try pastries wherever I stumble upon them. I’d go to the famous ruin bars in Pest with their industrial-chaotic charm and try the local beers (make sure to try IPA and thank me later). I would walk by foot along the Danube at sunset on the Pest side, so I can see the sun disappear behind the hills of Buda, and I would stop to have a glass of wine on the steps in front of the Parliament to bask in the fiery sky.
I’d take a train to Balaton during the week, when it’s the quietest, and book a stay at a lake-side cottage. I’d rent a bike to circle the lake on it and book a trip on a sailboat.
I’d finish everything with a two-day stay at a local vineyard where I can taste wines and home-made food until I pass out from delight.
Most of all, I’d come back every year to do it all again. Because Hungary is exceptionally charming and incredibly easy on your finances.