Discover the whole truth about “Why Hungary: the pros and cons of Hungary for travelers.” This information is specifically for those who are only planning to spend their vacation in Hungary. I will highlight the issues tourists may face when they visit Hungary and explain why this European country is the right choice for your next journey.

Why Hungary: General Information

Everything in this article is intended for tourists coming to Budapest for a day or two weeks. We understand that when you live as an expatriate in a country, things that you didn’t notice initially can become irritating after six months. Conversely, what initially surprised and bothered you can become routine after a month.

If you plan to move to Hungary permanently, this article is not for you. All the information is aimed specifically at tourists traveling around Hungary and Budapest.

pros of travel to hungary
Living in Hungary as an expatriate permanently is very challenging. However, most of the problems won’t even be noticed by regular tourists. There are far more advantages than disadvantages if you come here for 1-2 weeks.

From the general points, I’d like to highlight why Hungary is a great choice:

  • Convenient location in the center of Europe. Hungary hosts the largest hub for the low-cost airline WizzAir, offering hundreds of cheap daily flights throughout Europe from Budapest. How to get to Hungary: the most convenient options.
  • The country is part of the Schengen area, with all borders open (except with Ukraine), and a standard Schengen visa from any country is required to visit Hungary. More details about obtaining a visa for Hungary.
  • Hungary is relatively small, and you can easily explore the entire country by car. If car rental is your thing, you’ll have no trouble visiting the country’s top attractions. Top sights in Hungary.
  • To add to the previous point, Hungary also boasts excellent roads, cultured and considerate drivers, making traveling in Hungary even more enjoyable.

Pros of Hungary for Tourists

Now, let’s get more specific. Enough of the general information. Here are the main pros of Hungary for travelers:

  • For lovers of medieval architecture, castles, and palaces, Hungary is a dream destination. This isn’t limited to Budapest; there is an abundance of architectural wonders throughout the country. Almost every city has a medieval fortress on a hill, a castle, or a palace of historical significance. Notable examples include Visegrád Castle and Esterháza Palace, both located outside the capital. And, of course, Budapest itself is famous for Buda Castle and the Hungarian Parliament Building.
cons of hungary
Above is the Esterháza Palace, below is the Visegrad Fortress. Both attractions are open to tourists all year round. And there are many such locations in the country, these are definitely pros of Hungary.
  • Hungary offers a pleasant climate with hot summers and mild winters. The average temperature in January-February is 0-5 degrees Celsius. Snow is infrequent and doesn’t last long. Learn more about the seasons and weather in Hungary, including winter and ski resorts.
  • Hungary boasts a fantastic cuisine. It’s delicious, meat-heavy, with familiar ingredients, lacking the ubiquitous cilantro found in Vietnam and the extremely spicy dishes common in Asia. Hungarian soups like goulash and hale are highlights, as are main dishes like paprikash and pörkölt. All very tasty! Explore Hungary’s national cuisine and what a tourist should try.
  • Hungarian wine is affordable. Hungary is home to numerous wine regions, each producing excellent wines, not just Tokaj. Many regions have cellars where you can taste and purchase young wine. Learn more about Hungarian alcoholic beverages.
  • Summertime relaxation at Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe.
pros of hungary
The national cuisine and local alcoholic beverages are clear pros of Hungary. In the photo, you can see goulash soup.
  • Hungary is a very safe destination for tourists. It’s a place where you won’t find many refugees from African countries, which have inundated European capitals. There are no incidents like car window break-ins for a couple of euros, no street robberies at night, and no offers to buy suspicious substances from shady individuals in the city center. Learn more about safety in Hungary and what tourists should be aware of.
  • The most significant pros of Hungary and the reason to choose it is the thousands of thermal springs across the country. Many people are surprised because they are only familiar with the Széchenyi Baths in Budapest, which are just the most heavily advertised. Check out the best thermal baths in Hungary.
why hungary
Less crowded but still great thermal baths like Gellért Baths in Budapest are worth a visit.

The Cons of Hungary: What Can Unprepared Travelers Find Unpleasant

There aren’t many downsides, but there are a couple of main ones that won’t ruin the overall experience, and you might already be aware of them. First, Hungary doesn’t have a sea; it’s replaced by Lake Balaton, which is the national resort. The second downside is the absence of mountains and mountain hiking like neighboring Austria. However, this might not be a downside for everyone.

There are two significant downsides that can genuinely surprise or cause difficulties:

  • Hungarian Language: It’s one of the most complex languages globally, with a highly intricate grammar, and it doesn’t resemble any other European language. When reading signs, store price tags, menus, or listening to locals, it’s often challenging to understand anything. There’s no common ground to latch onto for associations. Moreover, Hungarians generally have limited English proficiency, and it worsens as you move farther from Budapest.
difficulties in hungary
Hungarian language can pose many challenges for tourists. For example, try deciphering the meaning of this menu item in a restaurant – you might not even know where to begin. It’s not like Italian or Spanish, where you can guess a few words and infer the content. In this case, there’s nothing to grasp, and it’s the kind of situation where you look at the text and see gibberish.
  • The second downside is prices. We used to think Hungary was an affordable country compared to the rest of Europe. However, this perception was rooted in the year 2015. Starting from 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s economy plunged into a deep crisis. The forint’s exchange rate is unstable, and annual inflation is no less than 15-20%. Over the course of four years since 2020, prices have doubled. Today, Hungary has Central European prices for all goods and services. It’s definitely not cheaper than Italy or France.
    • For instance, a standard dinner in a restaurant with two beers and two hot dishes can easily cost 30 euros.
    • Food products are also generally more expensive than in many other places.
    • There’s a comprehensive overview of prices in Hungary for various categories of goods and services that interest tourists.
what is strange in hungary
For example, the food plate on Budapest’s Central Market (not in a restaurant) costs 11,990 forints, which is about 32 euros. It’s not just meat; it includes lots of potatoes, salad, and cheese balls. It’s undoubtedly a tourist spot, but 32 euros for a meal on a plastic plate at a market is quite expensive.

Myths about Hungary That You Can Find on the Internet

I’ll debunk or confirm a few myths about Hungary that circulate on the internet. Some of these are quite old and get repeated by people who haven’t actually visited the country. Some myths have no clear origin, and some are accurate. So here goes:

  • There are many homeless people on the streets – this is false. There are very few beggars and homeless people in Hungary. As I mentioned earlier, refugees don’t stay here because of the language barrier and less favorable conditions. It’s better to go to Germany, France, or Italy, where you can expect social assistance.
  • There’s a lot of litter on the streets – this is also false. Most cities in Hungary are generally clean, and municipal services work well. It’s not like Naples.
  • Houses in Hungary don’t have central heating, and it’s very cold – this is partially true. But here’s the reality: Hungary has gas central heating almost everywhere. In every house or apartment, there’s a gas boiler, and residents regulate the radiator temperature themselves. And yes, gas is expensive, utility bills are high, and nobody stokes a furnace or walks around the house in a tank top. When faced with a choice between making the radiators warmer or putting on an extra sweater, the latter is the obvious choice.
    • Additionally, Hungary has many old residential buildings with high ceilings, which also need heating. As a result, it can get quite cold inside apartments during winter.
pros and cons of Hungary for tourists
Hungarians are actually very friendly, they just don’t show it to anyone 🙂 People are definitely the pros of Hungary for all tourists
  • Hungarians are unfriendly and grumpy – this is partly true. But it’s mainly because Hungarians don’t walk down the street smiling at everyone for no reason, unlike other Europeans. This is why this myth exists. However, if you approach locals for help, they are always willing to assist, and you’ll get to know them from a different perspective. It’s similar to Russians and Belarusians, as foreigners often note that they smile less and seem more serious. So, Hungarians share this trait.

In conclusion, why should someone consider Hungary? You should visit because it has beautiful cities and architecture, delicious cuisine, easy logistics within the country, and, most importantly, each city has thermal baths, and not just one.

The only cons of Hungary are the language, which is entirely incomprehensible, and the relatively high price level, which shatters tourists’ expectations of a cheap Hungary. Everything else is excellent.

IMPORTANT: Below are useful links that will help organize your trip to Hungary and Budapest:

  • Flight: Aviasales – compares prices for flights among 30+ airlines flying to Budapest.
  • Tours and excursions:
    • Viator and GetYourGuide – the best services for finding tours in Budapest and Hungary with the largest database of activities in Hungary. They offer river cruises on the Danube, tickets to baths, and 1000+ tours (available in different languages).
  • Accommodation, apartments, hotels, hostels:
    • Hotellook compares the prices among dozens of other booking services and offer the best price
    • Booking – the most popular booking platform
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Hungary
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – the leading and largest car rental service in Hungary.
  • Travel Insurance: EKTA.
  • eSIMAiralo virtual SIM card in Hungary.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel