Budapest © Moyan Brenn
Hungary's location in the centre of Europe, along with its hospitable attitude, makes it one of the best places from which to embark on an Eastern European journey. It is both typically European and distinctly Hungarian, incorporating a mixture of historical and present-day pleasures. The country proudly upholds its traditions, culture and arts, but is attentive to what is new and fashionable in the wider world.
A small landlocked country sharing its borders with seven neighbouring countries, travellers to Hungary should note that it was originally inhabited by the Magyars, an equestrian nomadic tribe. They were eventually converted to Christianity and in the year 1000 their Prince Stephen was crowned the nation's first ruler. Since then Hungary has seen numerous dynastic changes, from Turkish occupation to the era of Communism, and today quaint little towns, cities and ruins in the countryside attest to this turbulent history with a rich mosaic of architectural styles and fortified hilltop castles. The Hungarian people, neither Slavic nor Germanic, are formal, reserved and intensely proud of their ancient nation and its cosmopolitan capital, Budapest.
Most visitors choose to arrive in Budapest which is situated on a lovely stretch of the Danube, a river that gives the city a good deal of its romance and beauty. It is a city of culture and of astounding beauty and grace, and visitors are generally enchanted by it. Outside of the capital the plains, rolling hills and rivers, lakes and vineyards hold much to amuse the visitor. The Baroque town of Eger, with its fine wines, attracts many, and there are a surfeit of charming and historic riverside villages along the Danube Bend, not to mention commanding fortresses, castles and palaces. The resort-lined Lake Balaton and the thermal spas and volcanically heated lake at Hévíz are just some of the country's many highlights awaiting discovery.