Ever since I found out about my Hungarian ancestry as a kid, I’ve been inspired to learn more and eager to visit Hungary. In the recent years, I’ve been exploring the country quite a lot, and last summer, especially when Christine and I did a road trip by train from Budapest to Eger, Miskolc, Tokaji, Debrecen and back to Budapest!
This article is a tribute to my Hungarian heritage and my grandfather Geza Waltner, who lives in the small but charming town of Sajószentpéter.
If you haven’t yet been, I urge you to go and experience all that Hungary has to offer. Here are 55 reasons why I think everyone should visit Hungary at least once in their life!
One of the first things that come to mind when I think about Hungary is the food. There are so many delicious and flavorful dishes to try. Below are some notable dishes that are traditional in the Hungarian kitchen.
|Paprikás Csirke||Töltött káposzta|
An old city that already existed during Roman times and the former capital of Hungary between the 900’s and 1200’s, before King Bela IV moved the capital to Buda. The famous basilica is also the largest church in all of the country.
Esztergom is surely another good reason to visit Hungary beyond Budapest!
3. Fisherman’s Bastion
Few attractions have caught my eyes like the Fisherman’s Bastion and Mathias Church next to it. This place is like taken out of a fairytale, but it’s very real, and you can walk here yourself. If you come here early in the morning, you can almost imagine walking around in a scene from the Lord of the Rings!
4. Tokaji Aszu
Probably the best sweet wine in the world. It’s so delicious. The first time you try it, make sure to select a good quality Tokaji Aszu with at least 5 puttonyos.
Everywhere you go in Hungary, you will see old and beautiful architecture. In Budapest, you can walk around a whole day, just looking at old buildings and still haven’t seen them all. But also in other cities you will see some impressive architecture!
Famous for the natural caves and the Palace hotel in neo-Renaissance style as well as being home to the highest waterfall in Hungary.
7. Interesting and unique folk tradition
Hungarian culture and traditions are some of the best-preserved ones in Europe. They go back to the old days, and as a tourist, it will be very interesting to attend events and festivals.
A world heritage site and also the longest stalactite cave system in Europe. If you like to explore underground, then you shouldn’t miss Aggtelek in Northeastern Hungary!
9. It’s still affordable as a tourist
While prices have increased in Budapest in recent years, it’s still very much affordable to visit Hungary as a tourist. You can see a lot of things, use public transportation, eat lots of food and have a good time without breaking the bank.
The same goes for hotel and spa experiences. You can stay at a luxury hotel here for at least half the price compared to cities like London or Paris.
One of my absolute favorite cities worldwide. There are just so many attractions, spa, neighborhoods, nature, cafés, bars and shopping that you could stay here forever and never get bored. As a tourist, you will probably only stay for a couple of days, but you’ll definitely want to come back!
Read my guide with the top things to do in Budapest
While Opera originated in Italy, you will find plenty of extravaganza and quality for your money when attending the National State Opera House in Budapest. First of all, the opera house is one of the most beautiful in the whole world with fantastic acoustic. Secondly, it’s very cheap compared to La Scala, but you still get a high-class performance here!
If you haven’t been to an Opera before, then make sure to go in Budapest.
Probably the best snack/fast food in the whole world.
Another UNESCO world heritage site, and a place to visit if you want to get a cultural experience. Here you can also see the Hollokö castle.
Photo: János Korom Dr./Flickr
14. Balaton Sound and Sziget Festival
If you like to party with people from all over the world, you should visit Hungary when Balaton Sound or Sziget Festival is ongoing. I will let the videos talk for the festivals, and if you like it, then you know that you have to come!
15. Hungarian Hip Hop
You might not understand a word of this, but it’s still catchy.
16. Lake Heviz
The world’s largest thermal lake can be found in Heviz, close to the Balaton Lake. Another good reason to visit Hungary!
The national liquor of Hungary is said to cure everything from a broken heart to the common cold. Whether that’s true or not I will leave others to say, but I will tell you to try Pálinka as it’s a very tasteful spirit.
An old Hungarian saying is “what can be used to prepare jam can also be used to produce pálinka” and there are several fruits that can be used to produce this spirit. However, the most common ones are plums, apricots, apples, pears, and cherries
18. The Kiskunság National Park
A UNESCO biosphere reserve that is one of the most characteristic geographic areas in Hungary.
There are many tourist trails, study trails and lookouts, within the national park; all contributing to a unique experience of the Kiskunság. The main visitor’s center of the Kiskunság National Park, called the ‘House of Nature’, is situated in Kecskemét.
19. There’s a statue that will make you a great writer
According to the legend, you shall become a great writer if you touch the pen of the anonymous statue.
20. Enjoy the best thermal baths
Hungary, and especially Budapest are famous worldwide for the thermal baths. Here you can see the outdoor pool of Szechenyi Bath which I can highly recommend! Some other notable thermal baths in Hungary include Gellert Spa, Kiraly Bath, Rudas, Harkany, Sarvar, Mezőkövesd, Zsóry-fürdő, and Miskolctapolca.
One of the oldest cities in Hungary. Here you will find plenty of beautiful buildings and the medieval Inner Town, which is mostly intact. Notable attractions are the neo-Gothic Ursuline Church, the historic Firewatch Tower, and the ornate City Hall.
In the surrounding area you will also find lots of lush vineyards.
22. Dobos Cake
Cake is always a good idea.
23. Veszprém county
Home to some of the most beautiful places in Hungary, Veszprem definitely deserves more attention with places like Tihany, Badacsony, Round church of Öskü and Castle of Vázsonykő, Nagyvázsony.
24. Biggest synagogue in Europe
Did you know that you can find the biggest synagogue in Europe here in Budapest, Hungary?
25. Hungarian wines
Already mentioned Tokaji Aszu might be the most famous Hungarian wine. But there are also white and red wines of great quality. Pictured is the Egri Bikaver, also known as “bull’s blood” that you can find in Eger. The wine region of Tokaji also produces white wines of different grapes and level of sweetness.
If you’re a wine lover like me, you have to visit Hungary! It’s also very affordable to go wine tasting.
26. Gulyás (goulash)
The most famous Hungarian dish definitely deserves a special spot on this list. It’s one of my favorite dishes, but Gulyás or Goulasch will probably not be the same in Hungary as you got it served in your home country. It will be a lot more flavorful.
Also known as the city of sunshine as it has more sunny days of all the Hungarian cities. You should go here during summer when there are lots of events going on, such as when Dóm Square is transformed into an open-air theater.
Photo: János Tamás
This quaint little town is just a stone’s throw away from Budapest, which also makes this place one of the most popular places to visit in Hungary. Szentendre is famous for being an artsy place with lots of galleries, and one Hungary’s most famous museums – Skanzen.
29. Off the beaten tourist path
Except for Budapest, the rest of the country will not be crowded with tourists most of the times. Hungary could be considered as an off the beaten path destination, which makes it even more exciting to explore!
30. Hortobágy national park
Here you will find the Puszta, a world heritage site filled with folklore, culture and the great plain.
“The Hungarian Versailles”. This palace has 126 rooms and was built by Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. It’s the grandest Rococo building in Hungary.
32. Somlói Galuska
One of the most famous desserts in Hungary.
Due to its Roman history and the surrounding vineyards, Pecs has got the nickname “city of Mediterranean impressions”. Pecs is located on the slopes of the Mecsek mountains in the south-west of the country. A charming city that is definitely another good reason why you should visit Hungary!
34. Hungarian sausage
There are many different sausages in the Hungarian cuisine. This particular one is one of the famous ones, Gyulai Kolbasz, which is normally eaten as a cold-cut.
35. Balaton Lake
Also known as the Hungarian sea, although it’s not a sea, but rather the biggest lake in Europe. Every summer you will see this area really come to live with tourists coming from nearby countries and other places in Hungary as well.
Siofok is a very popular place to go in Balaton Lake area, but there are also places where you can find tranquility and almost no people at all.
36. Fascinating language
If you’re lucky you will understand some words here and there. Most European languages share lots of common words, but the Hungarian language is from another group. It’s not a Germanic or Latin language. It belongs to the Uralic language family as Finno-Ugric, with similarities to Finnish and Estonian.
It’s a very special language and I’m sure you will find it fascinating too!
Traditional herbal liqueur or bitters, drunk as a digestif or apéritif. It’s regarded as one of the national drinks, and with its distinct flavor it’s surely another good reason to visit Hungary!
38. Hungarian Porcelain
Perfect to bring home as a souvenir.
39. Hortobágyi palacsinta
Another delicious Hungarian dish that you have to try when you visit Hungary!
An ancient city that might be most famous for its castle, wine and of course the place where just about 2100 people fought against 80 000 invading Ottoman warriors back in the 1500’s. Today, Eger is a peaceful town and definitely a place you should visit.
It’s very charming with lots of historical buildings and a lovely spa.
The first lavender farm was settled in Tihany back in 1920’s, and nowadays you can find lavender products in many places. A great souvenir to bring back home!
If you go to Budapest, you will be able to experience some of the best and most unique nightlife in all of Europe. With all the ruin bars and new places that are popping up, you will always have a good time. And alcohol is cheap too!
No food in Hungary would be the same without Paprika, and here you will find it sweet, spicy and several colors! Paprika Powder is a very important ingredient in the Hungarian cuisine.
No, I’m not talking about a sport as an activity, but rather as the Hungarian chocolate bar with the same name – Sport.
44. Bukk National Park
Go here in Autumn and enjoy the beautiful foliage season.
Photo: Marcell Fetter
Famed for the beautiful baroque architecture, but also home to some interesting museum and charming cafes.
46. Hungarian Embroidery and Lace
Perfect to bring home as a souvenir.
A small city with a rich history. Today you can explore the remains of the old renaissance palace built by Matthias Corvinus and a medieval citadel.
48. Europe’s largest Pinball Museum
A really cool place where you can play almost any pinball machine you can imagine!
The highest mountain in Hungary is Kékes with a height of 1015 meters above the sea.
The second most populated city in Hungary is another stunning place to visit. Here below is the Cathedral on the main square.
Christmas candy that is usually made of fondant and covered by chocolate. You hang these in the Christmas tree. It is said that every Christmas each household will consume 1.5 kilos of Szaloncukor, so of course, they’re delicious!
Another sweet treat that you will find in several places is the Kürtöskalács. While you can have it plain, it’s more common to top it with ground walnut or powdered cinnamon or even chocolate.
Not only does the Tokaj region produce some fine wine, the region is also home to some charming villages. When you go outside of the villages you can see the vineyards scattered across the landscape. A great place for a calm and relaxing vacation!
The fourth largest city in Hungary is also worth a visit to the Castle of Diósgyőr and the wooden church. From Miskolc, it’s also easy to get to Bukk National Park and Lillafüred.
Photo: József Birincsik
55. Beautiful People
Both Hungarian men and women are famed for their beauty, but it’s not only the outside appearance that is beautiful, also the inside. Hungarians hold on to tradition and culture. The hospitality is great too, and guests are being well-taken care of.
I would also recommend trying to learn a few Hungarian words and sentences, it will be much appreciated, especially among older generations as they will probably not be fluent in English. Just a few words like Szia (hello) or even better Jó Napot kivánok (polite way of saying good day) or Köszönöm (Thank you), or even better Köszönöm szépen (Thank you very much) will bring some smiles while you travel around Hungary!
Flights to Hungary
Hotels & Guesthouses
Do you have more tips on why people should visit Hungary? Leave a comment below and share your tips! Of course, there are more than 55 reasons to visit Hungary.
These were just some highlights from me, and I’m sure others, especially locals have even more helpful tips and recommendations to share!