Things To Do In Hungary
A country of stunning baroque palaces and museums, mountains and plains and a river that slices a city into two, Hungary is truly a delight to explore. It is located in the heart of Europe, locked by land on all sides and enduring a mildly temperate climate due to the protection of the Balkan Mountains. This makes Hungary a fertile ground for tourism almost at all times except the peak of winter.
Now wondering what to do when in Hungary? Well, you have a variety of options, from walking tours of Budapest to dips in thermal baths, river cruises and music festivals to the ceremony of Change of Guards, you will have amazing fun exploring everything in Hungary.
Walking Tour of Budapest
Did you know, Buda and Pest are two different cities, separated by River Danube? While one is a settlement uphill, the other is located on a plain. This in itself makes for a very intriguing walking tour. What adds more mystery to your walks through Budapest is the fact that it is an ancient historic town with beautiful structures and streets, palaces and museums. Visit the Jewish District for Europe’s biggest Synagogue and dive into the Communist history of this place. You can also hike up the Fisherman’s Bastion to soak in the views of the whole city. And when you climb down you have so many cafes to sit down and drink a beer or a coffee at. Also worth walking around is the square were Buda Castle is situated.
Enjoy Thermal Baths
Hungary is renowned for its collection of natural springs as well as thermal baths, a throwback to the days of Roman settlements as well as the Turkish invasion. This means, today you get to chill in hot-water pools in the middle of a city in the peak of winter. Out of almost a thousand thermal springs of Hungary, more than a hundred are situated in Budapest (the best being Szechenyi baths where you can bathe for $20 USD). Other notable baths to try are the cave baths of Mikolc-Tapolca and the spas of Egerszalók.
Shop for your Kitchen
If you are thinking of souvenirs, think goodies and local ingredients for your kitchen from Budapest. Because the country is known for some awesome cold-cut meats and sausages as well as spices like hot paprika and the local saffron. You can also shop for cheeses that are aged in Gundel wines with walnuts for crunch. These Gundel cheeses make for unique after-dinner platters at home. Also, do take home wines like Bikavér and Tokaji, along with the famous Hungarian red wines. All in all, you won't tire shopping for your kitchen when here and for those who love cooking or eating (that covers all the world), this is a great thing to do here.
Chill at Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton is a man-made lake that was built for amusement and recreational purposes by a king once; and today makes for a plush hub of resort towns and spa villages. You can choose any of the towns nearby, from the holiday resort capital of Lake Balaton - Siofok to the ‘Wine-hill’ Badacsony, Spa-town of Marcali or the ruined castle-town of Szigliget. Other than relaxing and exploring these places you can also indulge in hiking, wine-making, swimming in the lake and sailing in the right season. There are many spas to pamper you, thermal baths and springs to heal your frayed nerves, and wine cellars to relax your body.
Danube River Cruise
Did you even go to Budapest if you didn’t cruise down River Danube? The river is as much a character of the city as is the name of the city itself. Danube makes for a beautiful exploration of the city as it is the lifeline and blood pumping through Budapest’s veins. There are night cruises as well as all-day cruises with meals included that you can choose from. The all-day cruise takes you around the Danube Bend and you will see Estergom, Visegrad and Szentendre from your sailing point. The cruises run all round the year and companies undertaking these tours are found online as well as on the banks of the river.
Head to the Island of Freedom
Sziget, also known as the ‘Island of Freedom,’ is only a few miles away from Budapest and hosts the most awesome music festival. The Sziget Music Festival is one of its kind, held on a hundred and eight hectare land covering almost the entire island. The best part is that the fest is not limited to music but gives you a widespread experience of the traditional Hungarian culture, from food to clothes to dances and drinks. The festival is usually held in summer, in the month of August, and should be on your itinerary. You will also enjoy circuses, street dancers, art and sports installations as well as cookery workshops and yoga sessions.
Eat your Heart out
Hungarian cuisine has a mix of central-European taste and the traditional Turkish palate. The national delicacy is goulash or meat soup, followed by a special Hungarian chimney cake called Kürtőskalács (a mix between soft cinnamon roll and crusty churro). Street foods like Langos (fried bread with sour cream and cheeses) and the Ukrainian Borscht soup are must-must-haves when walking across towns and cities. The Hungarians also like to eat chicken soup with noodles, stuffed cabbage (dolma from Turkey) and drink red wines all the time.