Explore Hungary

Hungary Travel Guide

Hungary's location in the centre of Europe, along with its hospitable attitude, makes it one of the best places from which to embark on an Eastern European journey. It is both typically European and distinctly Hungarian, incorporating a mixture of historical and present-day pleasures. The country proudly upholds its traditions, culture and arts, but is attentive to what is new and fashionable in the wider world.

A small landlocked country sharing its borders with seven neighbouring countries, travellers to Hungary should note that it was originally inhabited by the Magyars, an equestrian nomadic tribe. They were eventually converted to Christianity and in the year 1000 their Prince Stephen was crowned the nation's first ruler. Since then Hungary has seen numerous dynastic changes, from Turkish occupation to the era of Communism, and today quaint little towns, cities and ruins in the countryside attest to this turbulent history with a rich mosaic of architectural styles and fortified hilltop castles. The Hungarian people, neither Slavic nor Germanic, are formal, reserved and intensely proud of their ancient nation and its cosmopolitan capital, Budapest.

Most visitors choose to arrive in Budapest which is situated on a lovely stretch of the Danube, a river that gives the city a good deal of its romance and beauty. It is a city of culture and of astounding beauty and grace, and visitors are generally enchanted by it. Outside of the capital the plains, rolling hills and rivers, lakes and vineyards hold much to amuse the visitor. The Baroque town of Eger, with its fine wines, attracts many, and there are a surfeit of charming and historic riverside villages along the Danube Bend, not to mention commanding fortresses, castles and palaces. The resort-lined Lake Balaton and the thermal spas and volcanically heated lake at Hévíz are just some of the country's many highlights awaiting discovery.

The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. All visitors to Hungary, other than EEA members, should ensure that their passports are valid for at least six months beyond the expiry date of their visa. Foreign passengers must be in possession of a return/onward ticket (or sufficient funds to buy one), and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. Additionally, visitors must hold the equivalent of HUF 1,000 per day of stay, in hard currency, although the following documents are also accepted: a major credit card, a letter of invitation, proof of accommodation (reserved and paid for), or a document authorising the visitor to withdraw cash from a bank in Hungary. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Royal Palace

Address: 1 Szent, György tér Budapest

Located at the top of Castle Hill in the picturesque Castle District of Buda, the Royal Palace was first inhabited by King Béla in the 13th century who, after the Mongol invasion, turned it into a fortified stronghold against further attack. Over the next 700 years it was the residence of many royal figures. The strategic location of Budapest, situated in the heart of Europe and straddling the Danube, offered whoever controlled the city a defensive position and potential control of the main waterway. This led to repeated invasions, followed by rebuilding in the style of the period.

The castle has a mixture of architectural styles, ranging from Gothic to Baroque. Today it is the country's most important cultural centre, housing numerous museums and the majority of the buildings are historical monuments. The Budapest History Museum contains an exhibition explaining the history of the city as well as archaeological remains of the palace. Also within the palace complex are the Hungarian National Gallery, the National Library and the Ludwig Museum.

Fisherman’s Bastion

Address: District I, Szentháromság tér Budapest

Built in 1905 on the medieval castle walls, the neo-Romanesque ramparts were so named after the city's fishermen whose duty it was to defend this side of the hill during the Middle Ages. But the existing bastion never actually served a defensive purpose - it is solely ornamental, with gleaming white cloisters and stairways connecting seven turrets symbolic of the Magyar tribes that conquered the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century. The turrets are reminiscent of a Disney fortress and give the area a fairy-tale atmosphere. Set back from the ramparts is an equestrian statue of King Stephen, a memorial to the founder of the Hungarian nation.

The view from Fisherman's Bastion, over the Danube, the Chain Bridge and the Parliament Buildings with Pest stretching out into the distance, is outstanding. Floodlit at night, the bastion itself is also a mesmerising sight from across the river. In fact, seeing as entry is free it is definitely worth visiting the Fisherman's Bastion twice, once at night and once during the day. There are two restaurants on the battlements where you can relax with stunning views over the river and eat some good food, and the many paths are lovely for strolling along and admiring the city.

Matthias Church

Address: H-1250 Budapest, Pf. 22. Budapest

Situated in the centre of the Castle Quarter, the 700-year-old Church of Our Lady is popularly known as Matthias Church for the nation's famous ruler, King Matthias (1458-90), a patron of learning and the arts who reconstructed the Hungarian state after decades of feudal anarchy. With its distinctive multi-coloured tiled roof and Gothic spire, the church is one of Budapest's best-known structures, and it was here that the nation's kings were crowned and King Matthias was married.

Today the church continues to hold High Mass, as well as concerts, organ and choir recitals owing to its magnificent acoustics. Matthias Church's architecture is a mixture of styles from the various kings, occupations and periods. When the Turks occupied the Castle in 1541 it was converted into a mosque, and the interior walls were whitewashed and painted over with scenes from the Koran. It suffered heavily in the later siege and was restored again in the 19th century, reconstructed in its characteristic neo-Gothic style. Remains of the original medieval frescoes have been discovered underneath the whitewash.

The interior is richly decorated with gilded altars, statues, rose windows and frescoes. Inside is the Church Museum, which gives access to the crypt, and a small collection of religious treasures and jewels. A fantastic contrast is formed by the reflection of the Gothic church in the sleek dark glass sides of the contemporary Budapest Hilton alongside.

Gellert Hill

Address: District XI, Szent Gellért tér 2-6 Budapest

Gellért Hill offers unrivalled panoramic views of the city, taking in both Buda and Pest and the meandering Danube. The hill was named after a bishop who was asked to convert pagan Magyars to Christianity but, according to legend, was killed by being rolled off the hillside in a barrel by militant heathens. A statue of the martyred Bishop stands at the base of the hill. On its summit stands the Liberation Monument, a female figure holding aloft the palm of victory, dedicated to the memory of Soviet troops who died freeing Hungary in 1945. With the fall of communism the inscription was changed to honour those who died for 'Hungary's prosperity'.

Behind the monument is the Citadella, or fortress, built after the 1848 revolution to provide military control against further uprisings. Today it houses a hostel and a museum. The hill is also home to several historic spas, valued for their medicinal qualities. The city's most famous spa, the Gellért Baths, is attached to the grand establishment of the Art Nouveau Gellért Hotel. Here visitors can relax in the thermal waters of the Roman-styled pool with its lion-headed spouts, surrounded by columns and mosaic patterns, or indulge themselves with private therapeutic treatments or a massage.

Chain Bridge

Address: Roosevelt Square or Adam Clark Square Budapest

The Chain Bridge was the first stone bridge to be built over the Danube and is the most famous in the city, still featuring its iconic lion statues. Today nine bridges span the river linking Buda to Pest, but Chain Bridge takes pride of place as the city's primary landmark, a magnificent sight when floodlit at night.

It owes its construction to Count István Széchenyi who decided to build a permanent crossing after having to wait a week to cross the river to bury his father. The Chain Bridge was built by William and Adam Clark, who also constructed London Bridge. It was considered an amazing feat of engineering when it was opened in 1849. The famous stone lions which guard the bridge were carved by sculptor János Marschalkó. They were added to the bridge in 1852 and miraculously were not destroyed in World War II even though the bridge itself was blown up in January 1945 and was only resurrected in November 1949.

There is an urban legend in Budapest that the lions of the Chain Bridge do not have tongues - they actually do, but you can't see them except from above! At the foot of the bridge is Kilometre Zero, the point in Budapest from which all distances are measured.

The Great Synagogue and Jewish Museum

Address: Dohany utca 2-8 in VII district. Budapest

Situated within Erzsébet Town, the charming old Jewish quarter and former ghetto, the Great or Central Synagogue is one of the largest in the world, able to seat 3,000 people. Completed in 1859 the style is typically Byzantine-Moorish, with exquisitely patterned brickwork in the red, blue and yellow colours of the city's coat of arms. Gilded domed towers, archways and beautiful window designs are just some of the features that make this one of Budapest's great landmarks.

The splendid interior glitters with lights, gilded arches and balconies line the walls, the ceiling is covered in Stars of David, and the floor is tiled in decorative stars. On Jewish festivals it is packed with Jews from all over Hungary who come to celebrate within its splendour.

Next door is the Jewish Museum containing relics from the Hungarian Jewish Community, including religious objects from festivals, and the Holocaust Memorial Room. In the courtyard is the Holocaust Memorial in the shape of a weeping willow tree, each metal leaf engraved with the names of Nazi victims.

Parliament Buildings

Address: District V, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3 Budapest

On the bank of the Danube stands one of the world's most beautiful parliament buildings, an imposing sight and a prominent feature of the city's panorama. With its red dome, white stone lace ornamentation and spires, it is the city's most decorative structure. Stone lions flank the entrance guarding a rich interior of marble and gold, statues and columns, and magnificent artefacts, including the 1,000-year-old crown of the first Hungarian King, all of which can be viewed on a guided tour. The grand edifice, stretching for 250 metres (820ft) along the embankment, is one of the biggest national assemblies in the world. The interiors and architecture are truly magnificent and a visit to Budapest is simply not complete without exploring this very rich and historic place. For art or architecture lovers it is a must. It seems like an enormous palace or cathedral and some of the art work collected here is remarkable and priceless.

As you are entering a parliament building you will be expected to submit to security checks. The tours take between 45 minutes and an hour.

Memento Park

Address: District XXII, corner of Balatoni ut and Szabadkai utca Budapest

One of the city's most popular but more bizarre attractions is Memento Park, containing the giant figures of the Communist era that once filled the streets of Budapest. After the change in the political system the monuments glorifying Communism were banished into the exile of this outdoor museum and among the statues, busts and monuments are the forms of Lenin, Marx and Engels, as well as memorials to the Soviet Soldiers and the Communist Martyrs.

There are also exhibitions and films detailing the history of Soviet occupation and Communism in Budapest and Memento Park is historically intriguing if a little odd. Although it seems as though these once powerful symbols and sculptures have been incarcerated, the fact that they were not destroyed was progressive on Hungary's part and the result is a unique museum. This is the only collection in the world of its kind. There is a great little gift shop at the park and some of the interesting souvenirs sold there include cans of air from the 'last breath of socialism' and Stalin and Lenin shaped candles. Photos and films taken for private use are permitted.

Heviz

Address: Lake Balaton region Lake Balaton

Hévíz is the site of Europe's largest and the world's second largest thermal lake, Gyógytó. It is the most extraordinary sight with its huge milky blue surface covered in water lilies and steam. The warm water wells up from a volcanic crater spring about 40 metres (128ft) below the surface and provides year round swimming, although the recommended maximum time in the water during any one session is one hour. The mud on the bottom and edges is said to be slightly radioactive which is good for various medical conditions but only in small doses.

The complex offers indoor and outdoor swimming; a pavilion in the centre of the lake is reached by a covered bridge and indoor swimming takes place in an area enclosed with Plexiglas. Gaps in the plastic lead to the outdoor swimming area - the rest of the lake - where swimmers can float among the water lilies and swim between the platforms bobbing on the surface. There are also various other spa and health treatments that can be enjoyed.

Eger Castle

Address: Eger

This medieval castle, which sits on the small hill overlooking the town of Eger, has been the site of numerous historical events and is one of the most popular and famous attractions in Hungary. The original buildings included a cathedral and the Bishop's Palace dating from the 13th century; the castle was later fortified and the walls provided the cover for the determined defence against the Turks by a small and outnumbered army. The women who fought alongside the soldiers claimed their place in national consciousness during this much-celebrated historical event.

The Dobó István Fortress Museum, in the restored Palace, is one of the most popular museums in Hungary and has exhibitions on the history of the town and castle. Also within the castle grounds is the Heroes' Hall, which holds the grave of the celebrated leader, Dobó István, as well as the Prison Museum, Waxworks, and the underground, rock-hewn artillery enclosures. The best views of the town are from the castle walls.

Szépasszony Valley (Valley of the Pretty Woman)

Address: Eger

This beautiful valley with its rolling vineyards and century-old cellars and taverns is a favourite attraction in Eger. Wine producers welcome visitors into their quaint old cellars, hollowed out of the porous rock hundreds of years ago, where some of the country's finest red wines can be tasted, including the unique Bull's Blood. Legend has it that the name Bull's Blood originated from the times of Turkish occupation when, forbidden to drink wine by their religion, the cunning soldiers told their officers that they were drinking bull's blood to make them strong for battle and hoped the officers would be too squeamish to test the claim.

The rows of cellars are numbered and each has a particular charm, whether it is the sociable owner, the chequered tablecloths of an underground tavern or the wooden barrels of fermenting grapes in the uneven rock passageway. It is possible to visit, by prior arrangement, the 'Istenes Pince' or Godly Cellar, the oldest historic cellar in the region. It operated as a secret church during the Turkish occupation and the stone altar and religious works of art still remain in this very special place. Where the name, 'Valley of the Pretty Women', comes from is unclear but it is a charming name for a charming area.

Keszthely

Address: Western shore of Lake Balaton Lake Balaton

Keszthely is a pleasant university town that has a life of its own outside the tourist season. It has trendy cafes, tree-lined streets and a busy market area with strings of peppers and garlic decorating the stalls beside old fashioned weighing scales. The modern history of Keszthely dates back over 760 years but the area has been continuously inhabited ever since the Roman Empire. Its most important sight is the Festetics Palace, the residence of the wealthy Festetics family, with over 100 rooms. The Helikon Palace Museum and Library are in one of its Baroque wings.

If you're travelling in the area with kids then Varosi Strand is a great beach and amusement area to check out: it has water slides, a big pool and various play areas as well as nice lawns, a beach and loungers for parents to relax on. Keszthely likes to describe itself as the capital of Lake Balaton and it is the best town from which to explore the surrounding lakeside area, including the nearby Kis-Balaton nature reserve - excellent for bird watching - and the thermal lake at Hévíz.

Szentendre

Address: The Danube Bend

Szentendre, 'The Pearl of the Danube Bend', is a quaint old market town situated on the slopes of the Pilis range, with a charm and character of its own. Meandering cobbled lanes, little squares, red-tiled roofs, brightly painted houses, and awkwardly positioned Orthodox churches give it an artistically picturesque setting.

Serbian refugees inhabited the town in medieval times and their style contributed to the charisma of the town's haphazard structure and Balkan flavour. Numerous Serbian churches add to the collection of historical buildings. In the 1900s the town became a favourite retreat for painters and sculptors and ever since it has been known for its art and artists, resulting in a wealth of museums and art collections scattered among the tourist souvenir and handicraft shops.

Being close to Budapest, the town is a popular excursion or day-trip from the capital and has become one of the hotspots for tourism in the country; summer weekends can get rather overcrowded but this is good advertising for the village, if a little inconvenient.

Visegrad

Address: The Danube Bend

Superbly situated on the abrupt loop of the Danube beneath steep hills, Visegrad was once a Roman stronghold on the border of the Roman Empire and the second home after Buda to Hungary's royalty in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Citadel sits high on the hill above the town with commanding views over the river bend and the position was of strategic importance to the Romans. On the banks of the river are the ruins of the magnificent palace, one of the finest ever built in Hungary, which is now the open air King Matthias Museum.

Today the small, sparsely populated town has a pleasantly lethargic atmosphere that belies its past glory and importance and it makes a peaceful excursion from the crowds of the big city. As all of this intriguing history suggests though, the village is a delight for history buffs and retains an old-world feel which is very appealing. The village is also a good base for outdoor activities in the lovely surrounding countryside and there is an excursion centre behind Castle Hill which can organise things like hiking, canopy trails and cycling in the region.

Esztergom

Address: The Danube Bend

Esztergom combines captivating history with small-town riverside charm. One of Hungary's most historically important towns, it was the capital for over 250 years and the birthplace of their beloved first king and saint, Stephen, who was crowned here in the 11th century.

Today it remains the religious centre of the country with Hungary's largest church dominating the hill above the town next to the ruins of the medieval Royal Palace, now the Castle Museum. The colossal basilica was the first cathedral in the country and the instrument for the introduction of Roman Catholicism to the nation. It offers wonderful views from its enormous dome and contains a crypt and priceless treasury collection.

Below is the pretty Watertown District with uneven cobbled streets winding up the hill towards the castle and several interesting museums. Esztergom is conveniently close to Budapest and makes a great excursion from the city but it has much to occupy tourists and many choose to spend more than a day exploring. Esztergom faces Slovakia across the Danube and there is an international ferry crossing here.

Great Circus

Address: 1062 Budapest, Andrássy út 61 Budapest

There's nothing kids love more than a circus performance and Budapest offers a fantastic display of this Hungarian tradition. The Great Circus (Nagy Cirkusz) features an array of clowns, jugglers and acrobats of all kinds to keep children happily entertained. Of course, adults should also be enthralled and impressed by the various acts. Many of the performers are world-famous in their field and they do travel overseas to perform as well. MACIVA, or The Hungarian Circus and Variety Ltd., plays an important part in Hungarian cultural life and is one of the oldest cultural establishments of Hungary. It was built in 1954 and has come to be well known around the world. The circus has a school for performing artists and holds circus camps for children who want to learn some of the skills on display. Special events like parades and festivals occur at certain times of the year. Show times and prices vary according to the season so please check the website for details; it is possible to book online.

Budapest Puppet Theatre

Address: 69 Andrássy út Budapest

The Budapest Puppet Theatre (Bábszínház) is a fantastic attraction for children in the city and a great outing for the whole family if you're travelling in Budapest with kids. While the shows are all presented in Hungarian, kids are still enthralled by the enactment of familiar stories such as Cinderella and Snow White, and can often be heard calling out warnings when villains are approaching or encouraging the heroes in their endeavours. It is amazing how little the language barrier matters when it comes to this kind of storytelling.

You can book tickets in advance online but it is also nice to ask for advice, when you get there, about what is showing and what would be best suited to a non-Hungarian audience. The puppets are works of art and come in all shapes, sizes and colours, with some easily recognisable characters and some creative originals. Most adults will enjoy the performances but you can also easily head for the cafe during the show.

Vác

Address: The Danube Bend

Known as the 'City of Churches', Vác is a pretty Baroque town on the east bank of the Danube Bend. The cultural and commercial centre of the left side of the river, Vác is a popular tourist destination in Hungary, especially as a day trip from Budapest, but despite its many attractions and charms it is still less crowded than some of the other famous towns on the Danube Bend, which is another advantage. The stunning cathedral, founded by the first Hungarian King, St Stephen, is the most popular attraction in Vác, though there are many other sites to visit.

A more macabre attraction is the Memento Mori Crypt, which houses a number of naturally mummified corpses and the incredibly well-preserved clothes and decorated coffins belonging to them; the Memento Mori Crypt is a very famous archaeological discovery which has enabled several breakthroughs in science and ethnography and the crypt is listed as a World Heritage Site. Vác also has a wonderful pedestrianised town square, surrounded by colourful buildings, and a splendid promenade along the Danube River where visitors can enjoy a stroll and an ice-cream. The village is easily and quickly reached from Budapest and is one of the more accessible towns in the region.

Kecskemet

Address: Budapest

An easy 53-mile (86km) drive from Budapest, Kecskemét (pronounced ketch-keh-mate) isn't well-known to outsiders but makes a wonderful day or weekend trip from the city. However, travellers may be seduced into staying longer once they have arrived. While Kecskemét is quite large, with more than 100,000 residents, the place has a uniquely small-town charm with a picturesque town centre. With an abundance of wide streets and open squares, walking around the sunny and scenic city centre, peppered with colourful Art Nouveau buildings, is a pleasant pastime, and there is lots to be discovered.

There are a number of attractions in Kecskemét that visitors will enjoy, including the Schnapps distillery tours at the Pálinka Museum, the Hungarian Photography Museum, the Museum of Hungarian Folk Art and Handicrafts, and the beautiful architecture and art collections at the City Hall. Kecskemét also has some very good restaurants, and visitors can sample the local varieties of apricot brandy made there. Possibly the best way to explore the city is just to let yourself get lost in the lovely centre and see what you can find. The city has existed in some form since at least the 1300s so it is no surprise that it holds many hidden gems for visitors.

Balatonfured

Address: Lake Balaton

Balatonfured has been the most fashionable resort on the lake since the 18th century, when the medicinal centre was established, and people are still drawn here on holiday because of its curative thermal waters. The mineral baths are reserved for patients, but the Balatonfured resort area is popular with tourists and there are three good beaches for swimming. The heart of the old spa town is the shady Gyógy Tér (Health Square) that has a hot spring in the centre and is lined with 19th-century facades.

Among Balatonfured's attractions are a peaceful lakeside promenade, several hot springs and some small museums. The shores of the lake are great for all manner of water activities from sunbathing to yachting. There are also a number of cycle tracks along the lake and through the surrounding region. A wine tasting festival is held in August annually and the famous Anna Ball takes place on the weekend closest to the 26 July (Anna Day) at the Anna Grand Hotel. Balatonfured is also a good base for foodies as it has a great selection of restaurants. The town of Füred has a row of restaurants along the lake serving both Hungarian and international fare and the old town has a selection of more authentic Hungarian restaurants.

Mineral Bath Swimming Pool Park

Address: Eger

The Mineral Bath Swimming Pool Park in Eger is one of the biggest and best baths in the whole of Hungary according to tourist polls. It offers a selection of pools and mineral baths, both indoor and outdoor, hot and cold, recreational and health-related. There is a special pool for kids and this is a great place to visit if you are travelling with children in Eger. There is also an Olympic-sized swimming pool, at a cool temperature, for those who want some exercise as well as relaxation. The pools are very clean and attractive with some interesting water features and there are plenty of food and drinks stalls to keep visitors refreshed.

There are also Turkish Baths, comfy cabins or simple sun loungers available for an extra cost. Although there are some trees to relax under most of the pools are in full sunshine much of the time so you will need sun protection. Unlike some baths in Europe you will also require a swimsuit as nudity is not encouraged. The only downside of this fun park is that its popularity can lead to it being too crowded for comfort - if possible visit on a morning during the week to experience the place at its best.

Indigo

Address: Jokai 13 Budapest

Food Type: Indian

One of Budapest's finest Indian eateries by far, the trendy Indigo is popular with locals and visitors alike and never fails to please with its mouth-watering curries and fragrant dishes. Stylish, yet modern décor and clean lines create a fresh atmosphere and the great food and service make for a memorable dining experience. Open for lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards accepted.

Café Vian

Address: Liszt Ferenc tér 9 Budapest

Food Type: Local

Those looking for a trendy eatery with both indoor and outdoor dining options need look no further than Café Vian. The food is good, the prices are reasonable and many young and hip locals frequent this popular Budapest restaurant. Try the grilled chicken breast 'Vian' style with ratatouille and candied lemon and potato pancake, or the red wine flavoured beef stew with dumplings. Open daily. Reservations accepted.

Nancsi Neni Vendegloje

Address: Ordogarok ut 80 Budapest

Food Type: Local

Also known as Aunt Nancsi's Restaurant, this family-run place is situated in the peaceful Buda Hills. It serves hearty Hungarian food at its best and is worth the short taxi ride out of the city centre. Try the Hungarian black truffle cream soup or the 'joy stew'.

Baraka

Address: Dorottya utca 6, Palazzo Dorottya Budapest

Food Type: European

Luxurious but comfortable, Baraka is a great fine dining option in Budapest, serving up contemporary European food with a global twist. The wine list is impressive and the cocktail options are as international as the menu. The restaurant is also conveniently situated in a lovely old part of the city popular with tourists. Reservations are recommended.

Comme Chez Soi

Address: Aranykéz u. 2 Budapest

Food Type: Italian

Comme Chez Soi is known as the best place to go for Italian food in Budapest. The menu is full of simple and delicious pizzas, pastas, seafood and meat dishes, and there is a varied selection of antipasti options as well. Its generous helpings and reasonable prices have made it increasingly hard to get a table, so reservations are required. Open Monday to Saturday, 11am to midnight.

No vaccinations are required for travel to Hungary and standards of public health are good, but vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended for all travellers. Tap water is safe to drink and food poisoning is not considered a high risk, although visitors are recommended to vaccinate against typhoid if they are spending a lot of time in rural areas and planning to eat outside of hotels and restaurants. Travellers intending on visiting forested, grassy, lakeside or rural areas in spring and summer should also consider a tick-borne encephalitis vaccine but this is usually only necessary for those staying long term.

A reciprocal health agreement with countries in the EU provides nationals with free emergency health care on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). All big towns have pharmacies, but anyone requiring specific medication should bring a supply with them as most medicines are of Eastern European origin and may be unfamiliar. Make sure that if you are travelling with prescribed medications you bring along a letter from your doctor stating your condition and the prescribed medication to smooth your way through customs. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.

Hungarians are generally open and friendly people who will readily strike up conversation. Men and women greet each other by shaking hands and close friends kiss each other lightly on each cheek. Older men may bow to women and kiss them on the hand.

Taxi drivers and waiters expect a tip of 10 to 15 percent in Hungary. Waiters should be handed the cash, rather than have it left on the table. Most people in the service industry expect to be tipped about 10 to 15 percent.

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