Hungary has all you could wish from a Vacation destination. A big, culturally vibrant city that isn’t too expensive (yet). Budapest. Folky lush countryside. Ridiculously delicious food. Easy and inexpensive transportation. And from what I have seen, gorgeous Vacation Rentals. If you are looking for hotel alternatives that is.
Getting to Hungary
I flew to Hungary into Budapest. The airport wasn’t huge and I cover how to get from there to the center in my Budapest page. Flights are cheap through Paris or Amsterdam. I met some people who biked from Austria. Some people who came by boat on the Danube. Some friends went by train and said it wasn’t fast but it was pretty.
Communication with the Magyar (Hungarians)
In the cities you will have no problem finding people who will speak to you in English. Once you get out of Budapest and tourist attractions though, it gets a bit more interesting. There is no reference in the Hungarian language. No latin, no greek, no germanic connections. Learn a few basic words like Thank you: Köszönöm and get ready to point a lot. The alphabet is different too. People who have been to Budapest don’t call it Budapest but Budapescht. The Cs are SH. You will get the hang of all the differences while you are in the City. If you don’t, you might want to print this page with the Hungarian alphabet from Wikipedia.
Eating in Hungary
My favorite thing to do when I travel is drink coffee and people watch. My second favorite thing is walk until I am starving and then eat everything. I was a happy camper in Hungary. The coffee culture is strong. In Budapest and Pecs I found tasty expresso. Especially on Ters (squares, usually pedestrian) you can find lots of places to sit and soak in the atmosphere. Hungary has a long history of Austrian occupation and it shows in the pastries (viennoiseries). They have their own twist too. Try the poppy seed rolls (Beigli) and chestnut puree. If you like sausage, you know Debrecen. If you like stews, goulash is no stranger. Every Hungarian region has a twist on soups (Leves) especially goulash (Gulyásleves). You will find lots of paprika and influences from Turkey, France, Austria, Russia and Jewish influences. Micro-breweries weren’t huge when I was in Hungary in 2010. The Slovenian beers available weren’t much better. The Czech beers were the most interesting. You will find some fantastic wines though. Hungary is know for its sweet white, Tokaji. It was christened by Louis XIV as Wine of Kings, King of Wines. Kékfrankos was popular with another french historical figure. Napoleon loved the red wine. Bottles that will cost you $60 in north america are available for $10 and the $5 bottles are often good too. If you are into the strong stuff, Vilmos is delicious. Especially frozen.
Apartments for rent in Hungary
Do you like character? Architecture? Parquet floors and woodwork? The apartments I saw and stayed in in Budapest, Székesfehérvár and in Pecs were beautiful and cheap. A lot was damaged during WWII and the communist days. Not as much as a lot of other places in eastern Europe however and restauration in Hungary was well done. For the cost of a tiny one bedroom rental apartment in New York, you will get a 2 bedroom palace. High ceilings and tall windows are the norm. Heavy hardwood doors and intricate ironwork are too. Expect to pay $60-$100 for a family rental in Budapest and other large cities and half in small towns. You will save on restaurants and have more room to rest you feet after long days of exploration.
Houses for rent in Hungary
Holiday rentals on Lake Balaton and in the countryside are plenty. Hungarians know how to enjoy their vacation time. Mixed with them are a lot of Germans and Austrians who have understood that their Euros go further in inexpensive Hungary. There are some resort and modern properties. My favorite are the small farm villages. In Tihany you will find the best of both worlds with lake Balaton and beaches. There are vineyards and farms all around. Anywhere you might want to explore, picking a vacation rental means you will get to cook the local produce. I like vegetables, eggs and bacon at home. I have to give it to the Magyar though, I never had such tasty produce. Their eggs are creamy, their pigs tender and their cherries sweet. Staying in your own house will make you feel like a Hungarian for the duration of your vacation.