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Hungary

The country’s assortment of cultures can be traced back through its history. A history that has seen it settled by the Magyars (a Finno-Ugric tribe who arrived via Russia in the ninth century) and ruled by the Arpad Dynasty, devastated by a Mongol invasion in the 13th century, ruled by the Turks in the 16th and 17th centuries and later allied to Austria. Being landlocked, this mosaic of cultures and lineage can also be explained by the country’s shared borders with the Slovak Republic, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Austria and Slovenia. Yet despite being landlocked, Hungary contains some beautiful stretches of water (such as Lake Balaton) and pulsates with hot, medicinal springs.

Practical Information

Area: 93 030 km² (35 919 miles²)

Capital: Budapest. Population: 1.8 million

Population: 10 million

Currency: Hungarian Forint (HUF symbol Ft) = 100 fillér

Government: Republic.

Tipping: 10 to 15% is expected in restaurants, bars, clubs, taxis and so on.

Legal drinking age: 18

Time zone: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)

Languages: Hungarian (Magyar)

Cities

Additional descriptions

Hungary: Social customs

Most Hungarians enjoy modern music and dance, although older people still preserve their traditions and culture, particularly in small villages. Handshaking is customary. Both Christian name and surnameRead more should be used. Normal courtesies should be observed. At a meal, toasts are usually made and should be returned. A useful word is egészségünkre (pronounced ay-gash-ay-gun-gre), meaning ‘your health’. A knowledge of German is very useful. Gifts are acceptable for hosts as a token of thanks, particularly when invited for a meal. Casual wear is acceptable in most places, with the exception of expensive restaurants and bars. Formal attire should be worn for important social functions, but it is not common practice to specify dress on invitations. Smoking is prohibited on public transport in towns and public buildings. Travellers may smoke on long-distance trains.

Hungary: Food and local specialties

A good range of restaurants is available, from inexpensive self-service establishments to fine dining eateries. Patisseries (cukrászda), serving cakes and pastries, and coffee shops (kavenas) are also popular. Gerbeaud’s is probably Budapest’s most famous coffee-house. Things to know: There are no licensing hours. Minors are allowed to go into bars but will not be served alcohol. The national specialties are: Halászlé (a spicy soup made with freshwater fish and paprika). Gulyás (Hungarian goulash is a hearty beef, capsicum and paprika soup, Western goulash is called pörkölt or tokány). Gundel palacsinta (pancake served with walnuts, raisins, lemon rind, chocolate sauce and rum). Paprikás csirke (paprika chicken). Kolbasz (sausage spiced with paprika). Tokaji (strong dessert wine). Bull’s Blood (strong red wine). Pálinka (brandy) comes in barrack (apricot), szliva (plum) or cseresznye (cherry) flavour. Beer. Unicum (herb liqueur). Read more popular. Gerbeaud’s is probably Budapest’s most famous coffee-house. Things to know: There are no licensing hours. Minors are allowed to go into bars but will not be served alcohol. The national specialties are: Halászlé (a spicy soup made with freshwater fish and paprika). Gulyás (Hungarian goulash is a hearty beef, capsicum and paprika soup, Western goulash is called pörkölt or tokány). Gundel palacsinta (pancake served with walnuts, raisins, lemon rind, chocolate sauce and rum). Paprikás csirke (paprika chicken). Kolbasz (sausage spiced with paprika). Tokaji (strong dessert wine). Bull’s Blood (strong red wine). Pálinka (brandy) comes in barrack (apricot), szliva (plum) or cseresznye (cherry) flavour. Beer. Unicum (herb liqueur).

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