Hungary (and Budapest within it) is an all-time tourist favorite destination. However, if you want to spend a longer period of time in the country, it can be useful to get to know the culture a bit more deeply. There are several programs you can try to feel like a real Hungarian. Let’s see our top tips.
Any culture can be best experienced through food and drinks. If you want to understand the soul of a Hungarian, just try our foods- that will give you a good idea. You don’t even have to go for the fancy restaurant stuff. If you really want something truly Hungarian, go to a market and buy a Lángos (fried dough) with garlic, sour cream and cheese. It’s a very classic cheap comfort food for us and it will keep you full for a long time. Chimney cake (Kürtőskalács) is another classic that has recently become a tourist- favorite, so you can buy it almost everywhere. Some other classics include Cocoa snail (kakós csiga), Cottage cheese rod (túrórudi), Hungarian focaccia (langalló), cheesy buns (pogácsa) or dried sausages or salamis (for example Pick salami).
Some classic Hungarian drinks include syrups and teas. If you drink alcohol, you must try Hungarian wines and palinkas (locals are usually very proud of both).
Another great way to experience Hungarian cousine is visiting gastro festivals- there you usually have a wide variety of classic Hungarian comfort food and street food.
Spas and baths
Hungary is extremely rich in thermal and medicinal waters, which means that you can find a bath or spa anywhere. Swimming and enjoying wellness services are widely enjoyed past times, especially during colder months, when it is cold outside but hot in the water. If you stay in Budapest, you can try famous spas, such as Szécheny, Rudas or Gellért for an authentic spa experience.
If you want to actually learn about Hungarian culture and history, there are many classic and also modern museums and museum experiences you can try. For example, the newly-finished Museum of Ethnography or the National Museum will immediately make you feel more cultured. However, there are more unique and dramatic museums out there too, such as the House of Terror, the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum or the Hungarian Open Air Village Museum.
You can also try classic Hungarian folk arts in workshops. The most popular ones are pottery, embroidery, jewelry making, weaving or basket weaving. Besides, you can also try more folk activities during agricultural and folk festivals, such as sausage making, horse riding or traditional archery.
Places to visit
Many tourists focus only on Budapest, but a large part of Hungarian cultural and natural beauty can actually be found on the countryside. Some real classics you should visit to enjoy the country to the fullest:
- Lake Balaton– we don’t have seaside, but we have the largest lake in Central Europe. And in the summertime, the whole country is swimming here. It’s a can’t miss destination if you like a water holiday. Since it’s also close to Budapest, you can enjoy it for a daytrip or even a full summer holiday.
- Eger– one of the most famous historic town in Hungary. With a lovely castle, amazing wine and great spas around, Eger is truly a must-visit Hungarian gem.
- Visegrád– a large over-the-Danube castle with a charming town and lovely hiking routes around. And all this only a short drive away from Budapest.
- Szentendre– the artsiest town in Hungary, right next to Budapest. It’s a great destination for a lovely historic stroll and some gastro experiences.
- Pécs– probably the most full-of-culture town in Hungary, close to the Croatian border. It was even chosen European Capital of Culture in 2010. It’s an ancient town & was founded by the Romans thousands of years ago.
Festivals and events
Mass outings are very popular in Hungary. From music festivals to gastro festivals and folk festivals there are hundreds of events you can choose from a long list of programs. The most famous ones you should try at least once during your studies:
- Sziget Festival– usually held at the beginning of August every year since 1993, one of the biggest music festivals in Europe
- Balaton Sound– usually held at the end June, every year since 2007, one of the biggest electronic music festivals in Europe
- Budapest Wine Festival- usually held at the beginning of September since 1991, the largest wine event in Hungary
- Mohács Carnival (Busójárás)– the most famous folk carnival in Hungary, usually held at the end of February
- 20th of August celebrations- the biggest national holiday in Hungary, with carnivals, gastro events, a folk festival, family events and a huge firework show
- Sausage festival of Békéscsaba (Csabai Kolbászfesztivál)– the largest gastro-folk-music event of the countryside, usually held at the end of October
- Valley of Arts (Művészetek Völgye)– large folk-art-music festival around lake Balaton, organized since 1989
- Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival– Xmas markets are a big deal in Europe, and the Budapest fair is always among the most lavish ones. It is held every year in the month of December.
- Night of Museums- all Hungarian museums are open for most of the night and you can visit as many as you want for the price of one ticket. Usually held at the end of June.
- Researchers’ Night– many Hungarian unis and research centers open their doors for a full night and entertain crowds with all kinds of cool science- workshops, lectures, lab experiments and more. Usually organized at the end of September.