Formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hungary had a rollercoaster of a 20th century. Decimated in size after the First World War, fell on the losing end of the Second World War, and was immediately occupied by the Soviets for the duration of the Cold War – After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many Hungarians felt as though they were emerging from a bad dream. Visiting museums such as the House of Terror in the former Gestapo (and then the secret police) headquarters will give you an excellent idea of just how far Hungary has come.
Today, Hungary is one of the most successful Eastern Bloc countries and has joined the EU as well as NATO.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Straddling the Danube river, hilly Buda’s castle overlooks the main downtown area of Pest, with stunning views of the Hungarian parliament. Not only does Budapest offer history, culture and architecture but also more ‘vigorous’ activities in the form of caving tours or pub crawling.
Visiting the wine cellars of Eger and the southern city of Pecs is a great way to round out a vacation in Hungary.
Most flights arrive in Budapest Ferihengy airport. The national carrier for Hungary is Malev Hungarian Airlines with services around Europe and a few international destinations in the US & Canada.
Several low cost airlines such as WizzAir and Ryan Air fly into Budapest’s Terminal 1 as well as the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen.
Eurail Passes are valid in Hungary as well and give you unlimited train travel around the country. Budapest has several train stations and is the perfect spot to kick off an Eastern Europe adventure with connections to Prague, Bucharest, Zagreb and even the Ukraine and Poland.
Hungary has become a major tourist destination and accommodation can be a problem in the summer if you don’t book in advance. Downtown Budapest has many hotel options and hostels are popping up everywhere – but make sure you book ahead as soon as you know your dates.