in the middle
Hungary is a fascinating country, with Budapest the jewel in its crown. You can easily spend several days exploring the incredible history, stunning buildings and pumping nightlife of this exciting city. After a night out, you might like to unwind in the Rudas Thermal Bath with its hot pools and rooftop hot tub. If you're hankering for some relaxation, then Lake Balaton is the place to go in the summer months or head for one of Hungary's many spa towns and villages.
Hungary hotels come in all varieties to suit every budget. Budapest has the pick of the high-end bunch, so if you're seeking a bit of luxury this is the place to splash out.
Local holidaymakers flock to Lake Balaton in the summer holidays to stay at the numerous guesthouses and campsites lining the shores. It's a freshwater lake in the western Transdanubian region and the lakeside towns of Balatonfüred and Siófok are good places to look for accommodation. On the southern shore, the resort town of Zamárdi hosts the well-regarded Balaton Sound electronic music festival every summer.
The ancient market town of Kecskemét has many fine examples of Art-Nouveau architecture surrounding its main square. The stunning dusky-pink city hall, Városháza, chimes on the hour every hour with tunes by local composer Zoltán Kodály, as well as numbers by Beethoven and Mozart. While you're here don't miss the ornamental palace, Cifra Palota, which many people have compared to a giant gingerbread house.
The sleepy town of Mohács, in southern Hungary, comes to life for the six-day Busójárás festival each February. The celebration features parades, folk music, traditional masks and the ceremonial burning of a coffin, symbolising the end of winter.
Budapest was originally two separate cities, Buda in the west and Pest in the east. The main part of the city is the larger Pest, which is chock-full of incredible historical buildings, particularly along the banks of the Danube. The Parliament Building and Fisherman's Bastion are particular stand-outs. The Shoes on the Danube memorial, honouring Jews murdered on the riverbank during WWII, is simple but very moving.
The city of Esztergom sits on the south bank of the Danube, at the border with Slovakia. It's hard to miss the imposing Esztergom Basilica, the largest church in Hungary. Visitors can climb to the top of the dome to appreciate the breathtaking view of the mountains and the Danube valley.
In the east of the country lies the second largest city of Debrecen. Visitors flock here in summer for the renowned Debrecen Flower Carnival. The week of festivities runs from 15-21 August, culminating in a parade of flower-clad floats, accompanied by singing and dancing troupes.