Rolling hills, inviting lakes, old world charm - and locals who accept travelers as if they were their next-door neighbors. Those are just a few of the reasons to beat a hasty path to Hungary.
In the capital city of Budapest, citizens young and old fill the open air courtyards of their apartment buildings throughout town, playing games, smoking cigarettes, discussing the day's events, and generally enjoying everyone else's company. The atmosphere typifies Budapest as a whole: an inviting city, pulsating with a certain positive energy amid a beautiful backdrop of castles, bridges and the river Danube.
Other regional attractions have also helped make Hungary a not-so-well-kept secret. Tourists have long discovered the allure of Lake Balaton (the largest lake in Central Europe) and the famous spa town of Heviz. It is here that swimmers strip to their skivvies in the frigid temperatures to bask in the perpetually warm thermal waters.
Endless Vacation Rentals resorts, meanwhile, are located near the top sites throughout this captivating country, and even offer their own set of amenities to enjoy when another day of exploring is done.
Macko Cukraszda (Veszprem). This eatery could be considered a dessert shop or a fast-food joint, depending on your perspective. But you're sure to satisfy your hunger (or sweet tooth) on every visit nonetheless.
Udvarhaz a Harmashatarhegyen (Budapest). Frommers honors this restaurant with a "best view" in Budapest designation, thanks to its commanding view high in the Buda Hills.
Any traditional Budapest coffeehouse. Communism almost put an end to Budapest's coffee house culture, but a few survived and now thrive. Stop in and revel in the magnificent décor, good coffee and great conversation.
Take a cold-weather dip at Heviz. The thermal lake at Heviz (the largest in Europe) is a fairly constant 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's possible to swim even in the dead of winter. And many do. Swimming costs a nominal fee, which also allows access to a locker.
Join the masses at Siofok. Lake Balaton's southern shore offers fun days at the beach extended by long nights in the clubs, as long as you don't mind the occasional invasion of your personal space. If you're a part of the college crowd, this might be the place for you.
Cruise the Danube. Boat rides from Budapest head up river to the charming towns along the Danube Bend (Szentendre, Visegrad).
Stroll the Buda Hills (Budapest). Get lost in nature right in the middle of Hungary's capital city. Hiking trails abound, each providing their own special rewards.
Szigliget Castle (Keszthely). Hike up Castle Hill to view the ruins of this 13th century castle - and enjoy magnificent views of Lake Balaton and the surrounding area.
Vaci utca (Budapest). Bookshops have been overtaken by more modern boutiques, but there's still plenty to like about this street.
West End Center (Budapest). If mall shopping is more your taste, then you might want to try this massive collection of stores, restaurants - even a supermarket - behind the Nyugati Railway Station.