Attractions Budapest


Hungary's capital straddles a gentle curve in the Danube. It's the administrative as well as the business and cultural centre of Hungary, and virtually everything that happens in the country starts, finishes or is taking place here. But the beauty of Budapest is what really makes it stand apart. Its broad avenues, leafy parks and harmonious blend of architectural styles has earned it the nickname the 'Paris of Eastern Europe'. Budapest also has a turn-of-the-century feel to it, for it was then - during the industrial boom and the capital's heyday - that most of the city was built. The city is well laid-out, rarely confusing, and ideal for walking.

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The walled Castle District is the premier destination for visitors, and contains some of Budapest's most important monuments and museums. It consists of two distinct parts: the Old Town, where commoners lived during medieval times; and the Royal Palace, the original site of a castle built in the 13th century. The Old Town is filled with attractively painted streets, decorative churches and the famous Fishermen's Bastion. The latter was built as a viewing platform in 1905, and named after the guild of fishermen responsible for defending this stretch of wall in the Middle Ages. It has commanding views over the city, and is dominated by seven gleaming turrets (representing the seven Magyar tribes who entered the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century), and a statue of St Stephen on horseback. Immediately south of the Old Town is the Royal Palace. Razed, rebuilt and redesigned over the past seven centuries, the palace houses a number of museums, including the National Gallery, which has an enormous collection devoted exclusively to Hungarian art.

The oldest and one of the most interesting parts of the city is Óbuda. The area is remarkable for its Roman ruins, and its small, quiet neighbourhoods which seem unchanged since the turn of the century. It also has its fair share of museums, including the Kiscelli Museum, which features an impressive art collection and rooms furnished with Empire, Biedermeier and Art-Nouveau furniture. North of Óbuda is the Roman civilian town of Aquincum, the most complete in Hungary. Established at the end of the 1st century, it was among the most developed towns on the continent with sumptuous single-storey houses, fountains and courtyards. Not much remains of that today, but you can still see their outlines as well as those of the big public baths, market and a temple devoted to the sun god Mithras. The Aquincum Museum tries to put it all in perspective - unfortunately only in Hungarian. However, you can check out the 3rd-century water organ, pottery moulds and floor mosaics, and the sculptures and stone sarcophagi outside.

Budapest's other highlights include a cruise along the Danube, strolling along the riverfront or across romantic bridges, browsing through antique bookshops and jewellery stores, or 'taking the waters' at one of the city's many spas.

Budget accommodation can be found in Pest or the Buda Hills, respectively west and east of the city centre, while there's plenty of cheap places to eat in the Castle District. The Esceri flea market (in the XIX district, south of the city) is one of the best and biggest in Eastern Europe, and sells everything from Soviet army watches to Fred Astaire top hats. Budapest has an ample choice of things to do after dark - from opera, theatre, ballet and dance to rock, pop, jazz, and meat-market discos.


Republic of Hungary


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Hungary is located in Central Europe, in the Carpathian basin, among seven neighbouring countries (Slovakia, the Ukraine, Romania, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria).

Area: 93,030 sq kilometres

Total length of the state borders: 2,216.8 km

Population: 10.19 million persons, Capital city: Budapest (pop 2 million)

People: 89.9% Hungarian, 4% Gypsy, 2.6% German, 0.8% Slovak & 0.7% Romanian
68% Roman Catholic, 21% Reformed (Calvinist), 6% Evangelical (Lutheran), 5% Other

Official language: Hungarian
Official currency: Forint

Government: Parliamentary democrac
Ferenc Madl

Highest peak: Kékes (1014 m), Lowest point: Gyálarét (78 m)

Main rivers: Duna (Danube) (length in Hungary: 417 km), Tisza (length in Hungary: 596 km), Lajta, Rábca, Rába, Zala, Dráva, Ipoly, Zagyva, Sajó, Hernád, Bodrog, Szamos, Hármas-Körös and Maros

Largest lakes:
Balaton (596 square kilometres), Velencei-tó (26 square kilometres), Fertő tó (southern part, 75 square kilometres)

Geographic regions:
Alföld (Great Plain), Kisalföld (Small Plain), Nyugat-Magyarországi peremvidék or Alpokalja (Western Hungary or Lower Alps), Dunántúli-dombság (Transdanubia hills), Dunántúli-középhegység (Transdanubia mountain range) and Északi-középhegység (Northern mountain range)


Hungary is situated in the temperate zone, on the borderline of, and affected by, three large climatic zones: oceanic, continental and Mediterranean. It is prone to rhapsodic weather changes and, due to the relative isolation of the Carpathian Basin, the climate has a tendency for droughts, especially on the Great Plain.

The annual average mean temperature is 9.7 °C in the whole of the country and 11.2 °C in Budapest. The mean temperature in the hottest month, July, is 20.0 °C, in the coldest month, January, 2.1 °C. On a hot summer day temperatures may reach 33-38 °C, while in cold winters temperature may drop to -25.0. -30.0 °C.

In the central part of the Great Plain the annual average rainfall varies between 470-550 mm, in the mountains, 700-800 mm. The number of days when the land is covered with snow is relatively few.

The number of hours of sunshine varies between 1700-2200 hours per year, the area between the rivers Danube and Tisza being the most sunny, while the regions with the least amount of sunshine are the Alpokalja (Lower Alps) and the Northern mountains.The annual average wind speed is 2.4 m/sec.

Official holidays

1 January (New Year's Day),
15 March (start of the 1848/49 revolution and war of independence, national holiday)
1 May (Labour Day),
20 August (foundation of state, celebration of King Saint Stephen, national and state holiday),
23 October (start of the 1956 revolution and war of independence, date of the declaration of the Republic of Hungary in 1989, national holiday),
25-26 December (Christmas),
1 November (All Saints' Day)


Hungary's major celebration is the Budapest Spring Festival (March), a two-week cultural extravaganza of local and international performances, conferences and exhibitions. Other important events include: the Budapest Film Festival (February), which premieres new Hungarian films; Busójárás (Mohás; February also), the nation's top Mardi Gras; Sopron Festival Weeks (Sopron; June/July), showcasing ancient music and dance performances; the Folk Arts Festival (Nagykálló; August), one of the biggest and best events of the year; and Jazz Days (Debrecen; September), which is Hungary's top jazz festival. 

Parts of the World Heritage

Hungarian treasures included in the World Heritage list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO):
- In Budapest, the panorama of the two banks of the River Danube in Budapest and the Buda Castle District (on the Buda side, the section from the Buda bridgehead of Petőfi bridge to Víziváros (Water Town) and the Castle Hill including the Gellért Hill and the Tabán, and on the Pest side the area between the Pest bridgehead of Margaret bridge and Petőfi bridge including the Parliament (1987),
- Hollókő, the 55 authentic houses in the old village among the Cserhát hills (1987),
- Aggtelek stalactite cave system, stretching into Slovakia (1995),
- the Benedictine Abbey and church in Pannonhalma, the Millenary Monument, the Stations of the Cross and the Blessed Virgin's chapel (1996),
- Hortobágy National Park, one of the largest and protected short-grass plains in Europe, including the Nine-hole bridge in Hortobágy, the Hortobágy Inn and the Shepherd Museum (1999),
- the complex of early Christian monuments in Pécs: the burial hall and its painted chambers (2000). 

Currency Exchange, Banks

The official means of payment in Hungary is the Forint (Ft, HUF).
Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 HUF.
Bank notes: 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 HUF.

In Hungary there are 28 banks (800 branches), 84 Savings banks (260 branches) and 599 businesses (2230 offices) involved in exchange.
There is no mandatory minimum amount for currency exchange.

In Hungary banks are usually open between 8 .00 - 16.00 on weekdays. Some banks are open on Saturday, but all are closed on Sunday. ATM machines and currency exchange machines are available throughout the country.

The credit cards used most often - AMEX, Diners Club, EnRoute, Euro/Mastercard, JCB, VISA - can be used to withdraw cash from banks and ATM machines and to pay bills in hotels, restaurants and shops. Emblems at the entrance mark the shops where credit cards are accepted. Most banks have their own automated networks.

Detailed information is available on the Bankcard home page.

You can use your bank or credit card to get cash at post offices throughout Hungary. More than 3200 post offices nation-wide provide this service.

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Country Code
for Hungary: 36
City Code for Budapest: 1
Domestic long-distance call prefix: 06
International calls: 00 + country code + phone number Domestic long distance calls: 06 + area code + local phone number

Useful Phone Numbers:
- Telephone wakening service: 193
- Domestic telegram service: 192
- Directory inquiries: 198
- International directory inquiries: 199
- MATÁV Inquiry Plus: 197
- Special inquiry: 267-6767
- Inquiry about issues (yellow line): 397-9797
- Domestic announcement: 191 (when phoning parties that can’t be called directly, it allows users to call them through a telephone exchange)
- International announcement: 190 (to make an international call through a post office)

Telephone numbers in Budapest consist of 7 numbers; phone numbers elsewhere in Hungary consist of 8 numbers, one-digit area code first. Additional services: Hungary Direct, Country Direct, Green number and Blue number.

Public Phones

The public phones work with 10, 20, 50 and 100 HUF coins or with phone-cards available at hotels, post offices, petrol stations, newsagents, kiosks and street vendors.
The minimum charge for a call is 20 HUF.