With a landscape dominated by soaring mountains, shimmering lakes and epic rivers, and a fascinating heritage evident in its picturesque towns and villages, Hungary is fast making a name for itself as one of Europe’s most inviting destinations. This country boasts a staggering eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, which range from Budapest’s jaw-dropping medieval castle to the idyllic village of Holloko and the spectacular Aggtelek Karst caves in the northeast. What’s more, its increasing popularity has resulted in cheap flights to Hungary being more readily available than ever, bringing this Central European gem even closer to British travellers.
If you’re flying in December, you’re in for a treat; Hungary is renowned for its Christmas markets, the most popular of which is the Budapest Christmas Fair. It’s impossible to resist the scent of mulled wine, honey cookies, and cinnamon that wafts teasingly from the stalls in Vorosmarty Square. If you’re after deals, the cheapest months to fly are from January to March, when temperatures are lower – and you might even see snow. Prices tend to be higher in summer, when visitors flock to the capital for the Sziget music festival and the resorts around Lake Balaton are at their busiest.
The most convenient option for UK travellers is to fly to the Hungarian capital – with 85 trips a week from London to Budapest alone, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Ryanair offers flights to Budapest from Stansted, as well as from Manchester, Bristol and East Midlands, while easyJet operates routes from Gatwick to Budapest, and Jet2 flies direct from Manchester, Edinburgh and Leeds. Flight time from London comes in at under two and a half hours.
Most international flights to Hungary land in the capital, and getting from Budapest’s airport to the city centre is simple. The 200E bus connects the terminal to the city’s M3 metro line, where you can change to get to the central Deak Ferenc Ter station. The entire trip takes around 50 minutes. Taxis should cost around 6,500 forints and take about half an hour to reach the city centre; airport shuttles and car rentals are also available from the airport.
The city of Budapest, with its crowning glories of the River Danube and Buda Castle, is quite simply, one of the world’s most beautiful. Climb Castle Hill to explore the Castle District before crossing the 19th-century Chain Bridge to admire the show-stopping architecture along Andrassy Avenue. After sightseeing, relax in one of the city’s public baths. Both the Romans and the Turks were famously fond of Hungary’s thermal baths – the country boasts over 100, and locals and visitors alike still enjoy the waters’ revitalising effects. In the capital, you can unwind in the elegant Szechenyi Baths, and if you’re willing to venture further afield then the quaint village of Heviz, with its large thermal lake, is not to be missed.
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