Hungarian Tourist Corp Margit Krt 85
1024 Budapest
Tel: 36 1 175 1682,
Fax: 36 1 175 3819


Physical geography

Hungary, located in the centre of Europe in the Carpathian Basin, is surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, the Alps and the Dinaric Alps. It is situated between the northern latitude of 45 48'-48 35' and the eastern longitude of 16 05'-22 58'. The country lies in the temperate zone at the confluence of three main climatic regions: the Oceanic, the Continental and the Mediterranean. Hungary covers an area of 93,030 square kilometres, one per cent of the whole territory of Europe. Its widest point from west to east is 528 kilometres, and from north to south, 320 kilometres. Neighbouring countries are: Slovakia, Ukraine, Yugoslav successor states and Austria.


In summer the average temperature is 24.7°C and winters are cold.

Economic geography

Hungary is a moderately developed country of industrial-agrarian character. In international terms it has a relatively limited economic potential, with a sensitive foreign economy. At the beginning of the 20th century the level of development of the Hungarian economy resembled that of Austria, Finland, Italy and Spain. In 1994 its per capital GDP was US$4,019. The Hungarian economy's relative underdevelopment in much of the 20th century reflects the unfavourable trends of its long-term economic development. Following the First World War Hungary lost a large part of its territory, population, external markets and raw material resources because of the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The Treaty of Yalta in 1945 which concluded the Second World War created an institutional system, economic structure and an introverted, protectionist economic environment and values alien to Hungary's heritage and development. Although through step-by-step reforms in the mid-60s Hungary was able to distance itself from the prevailing Stalinist and post-Stalinist models, economic growth and exports stagnated in the 1980s.

After the collapse of the communist regime, the following tasks have had to be tackled simultaneously: democratisation of a weakened totalitarian system and transformation of a partly reformed centrally planned economy into a market economy, as well as the geographical regrouping of foreign economic relations.


Population: 10,278,000. Population density per sq km - 63 per cent urban.

A brief history

The inhabitants of Hungary, the Magyars, originate from the Finno-Ugric tribes, through hundreds of years moving to the west, the Hungarian tribes, led by Arpad, settled in the Carpathian Basin in 896, exactly 1,100 years ago, which is used as the founding date of the Magyar nation. A century later, Saint Stephen (Istvan) became Hungary's first king (1000-10380 and was converted to Christianity and canonised. The early years of the Magyar nation were spent strengthening the royal dynasty and the newly introduced Christianity. However, the Mongol invasion in 1241 abruptly halted the country's progress. After 1301 when the Arpad dynasty died out Hungary looked to related royal families for its kings. During the reign of the Anjou kings Hungary played a important role in Europe's economic and cultural life.

In the mid-15th century a new power appeared in Europe, the Turks, who invaded a large part of southeast Europe, were first stopped by Janos Hunyadi, whose son Matthias was elected king at the age of 15, presided over a sort of Magyar renaissance and wielded influence throughout Central Europe. With his efforts he both protected Christian Europe and provided prosperous years for Hungary, but the lack of a strong dynasty and continuous domestic unrest amongst the nobility weakened the nation, thus giving free reign to foreign invasion. In 1526 the Turks defeated the Hungarian army at Mohacs. This was the beginning of the 150-year Turkish reign in Hungary. The country was divided into three parts: the north, ruled by the Habsburgs, the south and the central area ruled by the Turkish empire and Transylvania which was both culturally and ethnographically Hungarian at the time.

In 1686 Buda was freed from the Turks and within a few years they were expelled from the land. The liberation of the country here increased the influence of the Habsburgs and it now belonged to the Austrian crown. Oppression and a stagnating economy frequently inspired the Hungarians to rise up against their kings: Prince Ference Rakozi led an eight-year war of independence (1703-1711), the French Revolution stimulated more unrest; and the Year of revolutions, 1848, generated a freedom fight against the Austrian Empire which brought about a short-lived national government and on 14 April 1849 the Hungarian Parliament deprived the Habsburgs of the Hungarian throne. It proclaimed full independence for Hungary and elected Lajs Kossuth as Governor President. The liberation struggle of the newly established Hungarian army lasted nearly a year, but failed with the intervention of Russian troops - not for the first time in history. Sad years followed the defeat; the Emperor Franz Joseph suspended the constitution and governed Hungary by decree and with the assistance of foreign administrators. Under the historic 'compromise' of 1867, the 'Age of Dualism' commenced; Hungary became a full partner of, though semi-independent in, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

In the 20th century the country first suffered from the losses of the First World War and the rebuilding of the nation and the economic crisis of 1929-1933 further decimated the country before the Second World War. After the arrival of Soviet troops in 1945 the country fell into the trap of the Stalinist regimes. Though the 1956 uprising indicated the wish of the Hungarians for freedom and democracy, it only came with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-1990. As it moves into the next century Hungary is currently establishing a free market system and wishes to rejoin Europe as a full member of the EU.


The most followed religion is Roman Catholic (66 per cent), then Protestant (30 per cent); the rest is Greek Orthodox, Jewish and other forms.

Languages spoken by nationals

Hungarian is spoken throughout the country. It belongs to the Finno-Ugrian language group and differs greatly from all other European languages.


One hour ahead of


The monetary unit is the Hungarian Forint, with an exchange rate of approx 160 to a US$.

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

1 January, New Year's Day - 15 March, National Day - 30-31 March Easter Holiday - 1 May, Labour Day - 20 August, Constitution Day - 23 October, Republic Day - 25 December, Christmas Day.

What one should not fail to see

Budapest, whose panorama is on the World Heritage list, is worth exploring thoroughly. A pleasant walk on Castle Hill on the Buda side shows Buda Castle, the Royal Palace, the Coronation Church, the Fishermans Bastion. From here one can see the Mount Gellert Citadel, Statue of Liberty, Margaret Island and Parliament lying on the other side of the Danube.

Debrece: Reformed Church, reformed College, large forest with Kossuth Lajos University, Dery Museum.

Szeged: Cathedral, ruins of old castle. Open-air festivals take place on Dom Square every summer.

Pecs: ancient Christian crypt, Cathedral, a former mosque, Zsolny porcelain produced here is also exhibited in fine museums.

Sopron: Fire tower, pharmacy museum, ancient streets and Catholic churches.

Szesfehervar: the Cathedral, fountain of the Orb in Coronation Square, ruins of the ancient basilica, Cistercian Church, Castle Bory.

Eger: Church of the Minorite, Eger Cathedral, Fortress of Eger.

Eszterfom: Esztergom cathedral, Treasury, Ecclesiastical Museum, Mediaeval Castle.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

The main tourist season is summer, from May to the end of August, when one can enjoy the lakes, good weather sports (swimming, yachting, etc) and touring (hiking, cycling etc). Spring is rich in cultural events like the Budapest Spring Festival. Autumn brings the International Wine Festival and Budapest Cultural Weeks are very popular.

How to dress

Women: If it is really hot light clothes are recommended. Spring and autumn are windy and rainy so one should wear warmer clothes, sweaters, waterproof shoes and particularly in autumn a raincoat must not be forgotten. Winter is cold, therefore winter coats and hats are recommended.

For men: Lightweight suits in summer and long trousers in spring and autumn, topcoats and sports jackets, and in winter heavier clothes, hats and scarves.

Main holiday resorts

Sunbathing, swimming and water sports: Lake Balaton, Lake Velence, Lake Tisza. Thermal baths and hotels are famous in Hungary: Buk, Sarvar, Heviz, Hajduszoboszlo and Budapest.

Main holiday sports

Swimming, fishing, yachting, windsurfing, rowing, golf, hiking, cycling, horseriding, recreation, medicinal baths and spas.

What to eat and drink

Visitors wishing to try Hungarian cuisine will find catering units of all types throughout the country, from luxury restaurants to take-ways, from inns to snack bars. Menus are generally also in German and English and contain the standard international dishes as well as Hungarian specialities most of the national cuisines also have restaurants in Budapest and there is an extensive network of fast food outlets. The national dish is the Gulys (goulash), stuffed cabbage and different pancakes. The Hungarian wines are excellent; Tokay (Aszu) is considered 'the king of the wines and the wine of the kings'.

What to buy

Hungarian ceramics, Zsolnay and Herendi and the different folkloric handicrafts, embroidery are world famous.

Frontier formalities

Passports and visas

To enter Hungary as tourists, in the case of Europe, nationals of Albania and Turkey need a visa. In case of countries outside Europe visas are not required by nationals of: Argentina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Ecuador, the former Soviet Union with the exception of Uzbekistan, Iceland, Israel, Malaysia, Malta, Nicaragua, Republic of Korea, Republic of South Africa, Seychelles, Singapore, USA and Uruguay.

Health regulations

Vacination - not required to enter Hungary; however, persons diagnosed as having an infectious disease may not enter.


One can bring in duty free a quarter litre of cologne, a small quantity (100 ml) of perfume, and if over the age of 16, 250 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, two litres of wine and one of spirits.

Currency regulations

If you bring convertible currency exceeding a value of HUF50,000 it is advisable to ask the customs officer for a Certificate of Valuables entered.

Main travel routes

By air: from all main capitals of the world to Budapest.

By train: from Hungary to all European capitals.

Representatives abroad

Austria: Ungarishes Tourismusamt, A-1010 Wien Parkring 12, III/6 Stock, Tel: 43 1 512 6641 DW 24/25, Fax: 43 1 513 1201

France: Office du Tourisme de Hongrie, C/O Section Commerciale pres l'Ambassade de Hongrie, 140, Avenue Victor Hugo, 75116 Paris, Tel: 33 1 4704 7646, Fax: 33 1 4727 3563.

Germany: Ungarisches Tourismusamt, D-60311 Frankfurt am Main, Berliner Strasse 72, Tel: 49 69 9291 19 0 from 9 to 12, and an ansaphone thereafter, Fax: 49 69 9291 19 18.

Italy: Ufficio Turistico Ungherese in Italia, Via Alberta da Giussano 1, 20145 Milano, Tel: 39 2 48195 434, Fax: 39 2 48010 268.

The Netherlands: Hongaars Verkeersbureau voor de Benelux, Postbus 91644 2509 EE Den Haag, Tel: 31 70 320 9092, Fax: 31 70 327 2833.

Russia: Vengerskoje Torgovoje Predstavitelstvo, Torgoviy Sovetnik Po Turizmu, 123242 Moskva, Krasznaja Presznya ul 1-7, Tel: 7 095 255 1059, Fax: 7 095 255 5231.

Switzerland: Ungarische Tourismusamt, CH-8035 Zurich, Stampfenbachstr 78.

USA: Hungarian Tourist Board, USA Representation, C/O Embassy of the Republic of Hungary, Office of the Commercial Counsellor, 150 East 58th St, 33rd Floor, New York, NY 10155, tel: 1 212 3550240, Fax: 1 212 2074103.

United Kingdom: Hungarian National Tourist Office, C/o Embassy of the Republic of Hungary, Commercial Section, 46, Eaton Place, London SW1 8AL, Tel: 44 171 823 1032 (public), 44 171 823 1055 (for professionals), Fax: 44 171 823 1459.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on HUNGARY thanks to the co-operation of Hungarian Tourist Corp.