About Hungary

1100 YEARS IN THE HEART OF EUROPE

The country covers an area of less than 100,000 sqkm, the language is spoken by no other people, the folk songs do not resemble any others, but even so: the Hungarian people have lived in the centre of Europe for more than 1100 years. In spite of the repeated trials and tribulations that history has inflicted on the country, in the process destroying people and cultural values, yet one can say that many travel from distant lands to experience the treasures to be found here.
The wonderful panorama of the capital, Budapest, also known as the "Pearl of the Danube", prompted UNESCO to place it on the World Heritage list.
Hungary has the second largest reserves of surface thermal water in the world (Iceland comes top): the country's several hundred springs spouting forth curative waters have assisted many thousands to regain their health.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area: 93,030 sqkm 
Population has at t . t day: 10,102,000 
Capital: Budapest 
Population density: 108.6 inhabitants/km2
Time zone: Central European Time (GMT +1) Summer time: March - October + 1 hour 
Official language: Hungarian
Form of state: Republic 
Public administration: 19 counties, 20 towns with county rights 
Currency: Forint (Ft/HUF) Coins: Ft 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 
Bank notes: Ft 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000
Electric current: 220 V

LOCATION, CLIMATE

Hungary is situated in Central Europe, in the Carpathian Basin. The two most important rivers are the Danube 
and the Tisza. The climate is continental. The coldest month is January (average temperature -1.3°C), the 
warmest month July (average temperature 23.2°C).

OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS

  • 1 January - New Year's Day
  • 15 March - National holiday
  • Easter Monday
  • Whit-Monday
  • 1 May - May Day holiday
  • 20 August - Celebration of King St. Stephen and Foundation of the State
  • 23 October - Republic Day
  • 1 November All Saints Day
  • 25-26 December - Christmas

TRANSPORTATION

Because of the favourable geographical situation of the country, Hungary can easily be reached with any form of transport. 
By air: 21 airlines operate 50 flights arriving at the two terminals of Ferihegy International Airport. 
By train: to two of Budapest's rail terminals: Keleti (Eastern) and Nyugati (Western) Railway Stations - there are nearly 50 scheduled international expresses. By ship: a hydrofoil service operating from spring to autumn links Vienna and Budapest. By coach: international connections arrive at the Erzsébet Square (tér) Bus and Coach 
Station.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN BUDAPEST

The city has a network of 185 bus, 14 trolleybus, 29 tram and three metro lines, while there are four suburban train (HÉV) lines. In general, public transport operates from 4.30 am-11 pm. When travelling on the metro it is important to know that if you wish to change lines you need either a special transfer ticket or you must validate a new single-line ticket. You may not drive into the Castle district or onto Margaret Island. Those disobeying parking restrictions can expect to be fined.

TAXIS

Taxis have yellow license plates and must be equipped with a meter. Tariffs are cheapest when the taxi is pre-ordered by phone.

Recommended taxi services, if you want to order an airport transfer in Budapest:


CHEQUES, CREDIT' CARDS, CURRENCY EXCHANGE

Travellers' cheques and Eurocheque (at most three at any one time to a maximum of Ft 35,000) are accepted at currency exchange offices. Symbols at the entrance to stablishments indicate which cheques and credit cards are accepted. 
24-hour Bankomat ATMs (for AMEX, Diners Club, EnRoute, Euro/Mastercard, JCB and Visa credit cards) can be found throughout the country. Foreign currency may only be exchanged at official exchange ureaux (including travel agencies, hotels); you take a great risk changing money unofficially.


EVENING ENTERTAINMENT

There are plenty of evening entertainment spots in the capital and the countryside: besides the bars with shows, discos, jazz clubs and dance houses there are more than 20 casinos throughout the country, of which eight are in Budapest, and the others in: Gyor, Heviz, Kecskemet, Nyíregyháza, Sopron, Szentendre and Székesfehérvár.

CATERING

Fine Hungarian cuisine is available right across the country, from luxury category establishments to diners. 
Menus are often in English/German, and you will frequently find international cuisine offered alongside Hungarian dishes. (in order to avoid misunderstandings, it is a good policy to carefully check the drinks and menu prices beforehand.) Almost all national cuisines are now represented in Budapest and the major towns. 
Fast food outlets (McDonald's etc.) have established networks nationwide.

GASTRONOMY

Characteristic Hungarian cuisine prepared with red paprika, onions, tomatoes and green paprika makes for harmonic and filling meals: the famous Hungarian goulash (gulyás), paprika chicken with noodles, stuffed cabbage, and from the soups the marvellous fish soup and Eszterházy hen soup. From among the pastries it is worth highlighting cottage cheese noodles (túróscsusza), strudels (filled with cherry, cottage cheese or ground poppy seed), Somló dumplings (galuska) and sponge cake with vanilla and raisins (vargabéles). The first course is usually a soup, followed by the main course and dessert. 
Wines: see below. 
Hungarian beers: 
Dreher, Aranyászok, Kobánya, Sopron, Bak. Besides the most famous Hungarian champagne, Törley, there are many other equally good sparkling wines on offer.


WINES

Of the many Hungarian wines the most famous is the Tokaj, which has borne the title "King of Wines, Wine of Kings" for centuries. The most valuable of the Tokaji is the Aszú, and of this type the more "puttonyos" or baskets used for gathering the late harvested, honeysweet grape the more expensive the wine is.

Also highly popular is the Tokaj Szamorodni, which comes in sweet, medium and dry forms. The best known of the Hungarian red wines from the Eger, Szekszárd and Pécs regions include Eger Bull's Blood, Merlot, Villány Burgundy and Villány Oportó. From among the whites perhaps the most famous originate from the grapes cultivated on the volcanic hillsides of the Balaton Uplands: Badacsony Riesling, Badacsony Szürkebarát, Kéknyelű, but also popular are those from the slopes of the Mátra Hills such as the Abasár Riesling.

Wine regions in Hungary


SHOPS, SHOPPING

Opening hours for shops (in general): 
Mon-Fri Sat Sun Food stores 7 am-7 pm 7 am-2 pm Larger shopping centres 7 am-7 pm 7 am-2 pm 7 am-2 pm
Consumer goods stores, department stores 10 am-6 pm 9 am-1 pm 24-hour food stores can be found in many towns. Privatisation has made itself felt most strikingly in the areas of commerce and services. Ever more outlets are being opened by international companies, not just in Budapest but elsewhere throughout the country.

Gifts

The most sought-after tourist souvenirs include the varied and high duality Hungarian folk art objects: 
embroidery (coloured and white) from Kalocsa, Matyó embroideries and blouses, the black ceramic-ware from Nádudvar, carved wooden objects, glazed pottery, the "Miska Pitcher, homespun fabrics from Sárköz, and blue-dyed fabrics. Applied art objects: Herend and Zsolnay porcelain (available in their own shops), lead crystal ornaments. Food products: goose liver, Pick and Hertz salamis, red paprika from Kalocsa and Szeged, cognac cherries in chocolate.
Drinks: Tokaj Aszú, quality Hungarian wines, cherry and apricot brandies, Törley champagne, Zwack Unicum.

 


Images from Hungary