Have you considered travelling to Hungary? Many people say that by 2020 it will be one of Europe’s star destinations thanks to its many attractions, including the eternal modern Budapest, the still unknown city of Debrecen, its national parks, its healthy wellness offer and, of course, its gastronomy and its vast cultural offer.
Budapest: the charm of its imperial past and the seduction of its present
The charm and seduction of Budapest is indisputable, and therefore, the Hungarian capital does not stop collecting recognitions that endorse its great tourist potential. This year, for example, after a vote in which more than 500,000 travellers took part, the organisation dedicated to promoting culture and tourism in Europe, European Best Destinations, named it the best European destination.
Today, Budapest is living one of its most splendid times thanks to an imperial past and a dazzling architecture that coexists without friction with new proposals of leisure and culture that make it one of the most desired Central European capitals.
Your secret? The Pearl of the Danube has been able to adapt to the traveller of the 21st century without losing its essence. Thus, the city not only preserves its spectacular artistic heritage, which includes places as well known as the Parliament and Kossuth Square, the Széchenyi Lánchíd or Chain Bridge, Andrássy Avenue, Buddha Castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica or the Opera, but also strives to expand its artistic offer. A good example is the ambitious reform of the Museum of Fine Arts, which once again opens its doors to the public with a magnificent collection of Spanish painting, or the new urban art exhibitions that decorate the “City of Elizabeth”.
You won’t be able to say that you’ve been to the capital if you don’t step on one of its famous ruin pubs. These bars in ruins, located in old abandoned buildings and with a most eclectic aesthetics, are the most fashionable places, something very made in Budapest that you should know. Listening to a good live performance, whether on board an old freighter on the Danube or in a lively folk music club, should also be in your diary.
Another reason to travel to Hungary? Its gastronomy
Both Budapest and the rest of the country are experiencing an authentic culinary boom that shows that Hungarian gastronomy is also on the rise. The recipe for your success? A delicious fusion of flavors, ingredients and customs that gathers the legacy of the many peoples and civilizations that occupied this Central European region.
New restaurants, bistros, creative cooking courses, festivals… There are a thousand ways to get to know the universe of Hungarian gastronomy. Traditional cuisine, in family establishments that make classic dishes such as fish soup with paprika (halászlé) or cabbage stuffed with sour cream (töltött káposzta), and avant-garde cuisine that advances on the international scene thanks to the talent of new chefs.
In fact, there are six Michelin-starred restaurants in the capital: Onyx -two stars-, Borkonyha, Costes, Costes Downtown, Babel and Stand. Another formula that never fails is to drop by lively markets such as the central Belvárosi Piac or the Great Central Market to immerse yourself in the daily life of the city and interact with producers in the area.
On the other hand, Hungarian wines enjoy more and more prestige throughout Europe, especially white wines. Hungary has 65,476 hectares of vineyards, spread over 22 wine regions (in Hungarian Borvidék), with an infinite number of small wineries managed by new generations of producers who combine traditional viticulture and new technologies. The result is quality wines from, among others, Lake Balaton, Tokaj – the land of royal wines – Eger, Pannonhalma, Szekszárd and Villány. All you need to do is go into one of the many wine shops in the country and taste different varieties and styles.
Wellness territory: the best thermal waters in Europe
With 80% of its territory full of thermal resources, almost 1,500 springs of more than 270 types and countless certified spas, Hungary offers the traveller the greatest wellness offer in Europe – in Budapest alone there are more than one hundred thermal springs. Thanks to the healing properties of its waters, mineral mud and the country’s microclimate conditions, Hungarian spas are perfect for those who want to regain the longed-for balance between body and mind. Therapies focused on improving health, beauty treatments, massages, climatotherapy, halotherapy, wine therapy…
There are all kinds, from some dating from the sixteenth century as Eger, through other classics such as Rudas and Király in Budapest, to recent openings of avant-garde spas. Among the most unique experiences you can live in a spa in Hungary are, for example, bathing in the spectacular Hévíz Lake – the largest biologically active and natural thermal lake in the world, enjoying a dry carbon dioxide bath in the Mátra hills, or disconnecting to reconnect in one of the pools of the spectacular Széchenyi Spa, one of the largest European complexes of this type.
Travel to Hungary → Debrecen, the unknown jewel of the East
Located just two hours from the capital, Debrecen is positioning itself as an essential appointment among tourists visiting the country. Hungary’s second most populous city has many attractions worth seeing. In fact, it was the center of the Protestant Reformation movement in Hungary, and is therefore also known as “Calvinist Rome.
Among its essential features are the Great Reformed Church -the symbol of the city and the place where the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in April 1849-, the Jewish quarter, the Déri Museum, which exhibits the great Trilogy of Christ by the famous Hungarian painter Mihály Munkácsy, and the MODEM, one of the best museums of modern and contemporary art in central Europe.
All this in a city that also has ruin pubs like the classic and central Roncsbár -a terrace with a grill livened up with live Hungarian popular music-, unique attractions like the multimedia fountain Mist Theater, and perfect places to stroll like Nagyerdő, the great park of Debrecen.
In addition to these attractions, there are two World Heritage Sites just 90 minutes from Debrecen: the Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region with its century-old wineries and castles, the Zemplén Mountains and virgin forests, and Hortobágy National Park.
Hortobágy, the great plain of Europe
Another of the reasons that invite us to travel to Hungary are its national parks. Like Hortobágy, the most famous region of the Hungarian Puszta or Great Plain. The scenery could not be more impressive: the largest prairie in Europe, 80,000 hectares of infinite beauty located in the east of the country that combine nature and tradition.
Herds of wild horses galloping freely, old wells with pulleys, shepherds guarding their flocks of sheep, thousands of cranes crossing the sky during the migration season, Lake Tisza… In short, a great natural and cultural wealth that reminds us of the best times of the mythical Hungarian riders in Hungary’s largest and oldest national park.
And now that you know why travel to Hungary, are we heading for this fascinating country?