Why We Love Hungary

When it comes to describing the culture of a country and its people, it is not an easy task as each country carries a long history that until today has shaped and continues to shape many aspects of life. Therefore any attempt cannot be exhaustive or fair, but only informative. The best of course is to visit and appreciate first hand every detail, artifact, tradition, and in particular the exchange and interaction with locals. Hungary is no exception.

Need to know

 Hungary is located in Central Europe, surrounded by Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and in very close proximity to Czech Republic

 While the population is 90% Hungarian, due to it’s location you will find German, Slovak, Roma, and Romanian ethnicities as well.

 Hungarians build life-long friends and for this reason they are open to sharing private details about their personal life when compared to other more private and reserved cultures

 Romance is also lived and expressed openly and like many European cultures close friends kiss each other on the cheeks starting on the left one

 Hungarian bread is still a very important symbol testifying the importance of rural agricultural societies, in fact wheat continues to be a very important crop both for domestic use and for exporting

 Folkloric culture and heritage is still alive both in the rural and modern parts of the country

 There are numerous festivals during the year that celebrate various traditions often accompanied by dance, music, wine and of course food

Foods of Hungary

Hungarians are famous for their hospitality. They love visitors who appreciate fantastic wines, excellent food, vibrant wine life and mesmerizing landscape. If you have not had a traditional Hungarian Goulash or maybe the savory crepe filled with minced veal and sour crème (known as Hortobagyi Palacsinta), then this is your opportunity.

The Hungarian cuisine is often also known as Magyar cuisine thanks to the influence of the Magyars, the main ethnic group of this country (Magyar = Hungarian). Their cuisine is very sophisticated and yet very rustic blending meats, fruits and veggies to make the most flavorful stews, casseroles, roasts, and much more. You will find also lots of pastries warm and cold, sweet and salty like strudel (Rétes) or pasta with cottage cheese and sour crème.

Of course you cannot leave Hungary without sampling some of their delicious sausages (Kolbasz) or maybe a Lángos (a deep fried flat bread made of a dough with flour, yeast, salt and water, plain or with garlic and cheese toppings). What about some Hungarian cheeses, winter salami, or some of their variety of desserts, like the Dobos cake (The first crème filled cake in the world).

Hungarian Wine

While Hungary is not a country most people think of when thinking about wine, they really should. Hungary boast 63,000 hectares of vineyards and accounts for 1% of the World’s wine production and it has 22 wine region with over 400 wineries.

Grapes have been cultivated in Hungary since Roman times, and winemaking has always been fundamental to the economy of the country. Hundred years of tradition and modern technology meet here making distinctive and unique wines. The variety of wines you will find here are very different as the wine regions themselves. Tokaji Aszú is the “king of wines and the wine of kings”, the Olaszrizling, and some “unpronounceable” white examples, the Kopár blend, and the Kadarka, are example of incredible wines.

Visitors can stroll in hundred years old cellars in Tokaj wine region, which is part of UNSECO world heritage. Furmint is the leading grape variety in Tokaj, it became one of the most known in Central Europe, the basis of the botrytised Aszú and other sweet wines. Excellent dry wines are made from Furmint recently a variety rich in minerals due to the volcanic soil.

The Surrounding Countryside

Aside from the wealth of wineries and countless miles of beautiful landscape, Hungary has more than 150 thermal springs and bathes, in fact almost each wine escape can be combined with spa experience.

The charm of the Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe, a perfect place to go swimming during the summer months and it has also a vivid yachting life. There are many romantic, tiny villages around the lake, like the ones in the Káli Basin with idyllic scenery, and gentle hills. You can bike around the lake or enjoy a lot of other outdoor activities is some of the national parks all around the wine regions, with trails, hiking routes, horse farms, bird watching experience or a botanical garden to visit.

Just even half hour driving in the countryside, outside Budapest there are some villages with cellars offering wine tasting, Like Etyek and TÖK. Countries such as Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania and Croatia are very easy to reach by train. There are also a lot of direct flights to many other European cities. Or if you plan to drive, they can also be accessed by car.

Transportation

Hungary has a good web of public transportation systems. Hungary and Austria have partnered together to offer a joint rail system of more than 150 Km. The train station are great example of architecture both old and modern. The bus system as well is very efficient connecting the capital Budapest with many small cities with service available early in the am at sun rise to well past sunset.

In Budapest urban transport is a great option if you can figure out the signage. Once you are in smaller towns everything remains within walking distance. Tickets can be purchased at street stands and newsstands and from vending machines.

 

If you plan to stay a few days in Budapest as your main hub and travel through, a good option is to have a private car/driver as the signage may be challenging to follow. And don’t forget that the Danube river is perfectly navigable so moving around with a boat is also possible and offers a different view and perspective of the city.

Taking the train from Budapest to head to Vienna or Prague are fantastic options and only 3 to 6 hours away depending on where you choose to go.

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