Hungary is by far one of the most underrated (and most affordable!) destinations in all of Europe. Most people think of Hungary and only think of its capital city, Budapest. But there’s so much more to Hungary! Rugged nature, extensive history, friendly citizens, quaint cities, and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten await in this underappreciated country tucked away in Central Europe.
With an abundance of thermal springs, horsemanship, and of course gulyás, Hungary has a little something for everyone.
Getting to Hungary
Getting to Hungary is super-straight forward. Your best bet is to fly into Budapest (BUD) or take a train from a neighboring country. From Austria and Slovakia, Budapest takes less than three hours by train.
If you’re coming from the USA (particularly the east coast), it’s super-affordable to take a flight to a major city in western Europe, like Paris or Spain, and then take a cheap RyanAir flight to Budapest if you’re a budget-conscious traveler. I flew from Boston to Budapest for under $200 USD (RT) by transiting through Barcelona and booking separate flights!
When to go
Shoulder season is my favorite time to visit any European country – this roughly corresponds with spring and fall (March-May & September-November). During shoulder season you’ll see lower prices and less tourists.
Summers can get pretty hot in Hungary, particularly the larger cities. This is also when most Europeans are taking their holidays and visiting their neighboring countries. Prices also rise during this time (though Hungary is a very affordable country, even on a budget).
During the holiday season in December and January, Hungary can be quite magical with snowfall and Christmas markets. Depending on your preferences, Hungary is great to visit year-round.
what to see
Hungary has a lot of ‘undiscovered’ and lesser-known places that are worth visiting. Depending on your tastes, you can see some popular places to go below.
|Budapest||Castle Hill, Jewish History, Ruin Bars, Thermal Spas, Nightlife|
|Lake Balaton||National Parks, Beaches, Freshwater Lake, Resort Towns|
|Szentendre||Baroque Architecture, Art Galleries, Quaint Town|
|Hévíz||Lakes, Hot Springs, Spa Town|
|Eger||Wine, Vineyards, Castle|
|Esztergom||Castles, Museums, Cathedrals|
|Pécs||Pécs Cathedral, Early Christian Mausoleum|
|Sopron||Museums, Middle Ages, Forests, Wine|
|Visegrád||Castles, Palaces, Renaissance|
|Siófok||Water Parks, Lakes, Beaches|
|Debrecen||Great Plains Region, Museums|
|Győr||Cathedrals, Churches, Monuments|
|Hollókő||Castles, Open-Air Museum, UNESCO|
|Tapolca||Caves, Lakes, Hot Springs, Castles|
|Gödöllő||Palaces, Castles, Beekeeping|
I could go on! There are so many interesting places in Hungary which I haven’t listed above.
Traveling within Hungary
Public transport in Budapest is fairly easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. The train system in Hungary falls somewhere between western Europe and lesser-developed networks, such as Romania. Renting a car is also an option if you plan on traveling extensively throughout the country.
Detailed Hungary Articles
Skyscanner is the website I use for all of my flights. Other travelers also like Momondo.
Money-saving tip: Don’t input any dates to scan the best available times to go OR simply input ‘Italy’ instead of a specific airport – you may get a much cheaper flight!
When I travel, I personally prefer to use VRBO. I book an entire apartment, giving me my privacy and the comfort of home amenities, such as a kitchen and washing machine. Since my dog(s) travel with me, it also allows me to filter based on pet-friendliness without the stress of disturbing hotel guests.
If you’re traveling long-term, VRBO usually offers discounts for stays of a month or more – the discounts are significant, sometimes 50-60%! It winds up being cheaper than what I would have paid for my apartment rent back in the USA.
If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can get a discount by using my link below.
If you’re a budget-conscious traveler and not travelling long-term, hostels are a great option and are abundant in Hungary.
For standard hotel stays, Booking.com usually offers the best deals.
Hungary is generally a safe country to visit, however petty theft is common, particularly in Budapest. Keep your wits about you in crowded areas, such as train stations, on public transportation, and in tourist destinations. Being aware of the most common scams in Hungary will help a great deal.
In general, trust your judgement, try not to stick out as a tourist, and be wary of unsolicited help.
Money Saving Tips
Hungary is a super-affordable country to visit! You can get great value on accommodations, and food is affordable at both restaurants and grocery stores.
If you want to spend even less on food but don’t have the will (or amenities) to cook for yourself, check out the many market halls for a midday snack or lunch to-go.
If you’re visiting Budapest, check out a free walking tour.
Get on Pinterest and find ‘free things to do in….’ whichever city you find yourself. There are a ton of free things to do in Hungary.
Covid-19 resources for Hungary
Before booking your next flight or accommodations, be sure to stay up-to-date with travel restrictions in Hungary due to COVID-19.