The small country
(Magyarország), surrounded by a sea
of Slavs, is unique for
its language, culture and ability to survive. Settled by the Magyars (a
Finno-Ugric tribe who arrived via Russia in the ninth century), the country and
its people have remained true to their heritage despite Mongol invasion in the
13th century, Turkish occupation in the 16th and 17th centuries, Austrian rule
in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and communist domination in the mid 20th
The pride locals have for their nation is immense, but it doesn't spring solely from the stalwart strength of their nation. Hungary is also home to historic urban centres and evocative landscapes, not to mention quality wines, rejuvenating thermal springs, and a thriving arts and music scene.
Budapest, the capital, is a fantastic city split in two by the Danube. Buda is older, hillier, and more graceful, while Pest is the commercial centre dotted by gorgeous art nouveau buildings. Budapest contains the country's best bars and clubs, and has been a long time haven for writers, artists and musicians. Other centres, such as Eger, Pécs, Szentendre and Sopron, to name but a few, are vibrant cities with rich histories and stunning architecture.
The Puszta, a seemingly unending prairie topped by big skies, is the country's defining landscape, but Hungary's outdoor beauty doesn't stop there. There are 11 national parks and hundreds of protected areas to explore, along with Lake Balaton, Europe's largest body of fresh water, a multitude of meandering rivers and thousands of acres of vineyards and orchards. And at the end of a hard day sightseeing, there's no better place to relax than in one of Hungary's 150 thermal spas, some of which date back to Roman days.
With thanks to World Tavel Guide