Hungary has been in the center of Europe as a nation for over 1.000 years! With its long history, it is not surprising that cultural elements of both the east and the west are present in the rich traditions and in the historic landmarks that are a part of today's modern Hungary. For example, Romans legions once lived here and have left their mark in the archeological ruins of the town of Aquincum, just outside of Budapest. Also, beautiful Art Nouveau buildings have graced many cities since the late 19th century, a time when Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Even though a landlocked country, Hungary abounds with water! The majestic Danube River flows through the middle of the capital city and its banks divide the city into the hilly Buda side and the commercial Pest side. Lake Balaton (about 2 hours from Budapest) is the largest freshwater lake in central Europe and tourists from all over Europe vacation there. Perhaps the most interesting body of water is the "sea" of 1.300 hot springs that flows under the country. Hungarian s and visitors alike take advantage of swimming in the outdoor swimming pools fed by the thermal waters even in January!
Hungarian food and wine reflect both the land and the people of Hungary. Traditional, hardy dishes containing the all-important ingredient of paprika are served in restaurants everywhere, and fine wines from the country's 22 different wine regions perfectly complement the food. The Turks introduced coffee to the Hungarians - who called it "black soup" - and an entire lifestyle has evolved around the drink. Budapest abounds with coffeehouses - from the elegant to bistro atmosphere - where students, business people, and friends meet to relax and talk over an espresso or cappuccino.
Other important perspectives on Hungary can be found throughout the country. The Great Plains, the home of the Hungarian cowboy, or the town of PĂ©cs, where the first Hungarian university was founded in 1347, for example, indicate the breath of history and the variety of culture in this relatively small country!