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  • Day344

    Since Amsterdam where student life and community were the most beautiful thing about the university experience, I have been wanting to live really near to friends, so that we can walk to visit each other, just pop in for a cup of tea uninvited, and in general meet often enough for a short time enough so it does not become a logistical planning game. Tanya and Edmund, with their two girls Leja and Maja, are just that. We met on VUK (our playground exactly half way between our and their home), so most of our activities centre around the kids or at least around the schedule. And it is fun, and nice to know your friend is just a few minutes walk away. Today we went over for christmas biscuit baking evening which played out quite well as no child killed another, toys were shared, furniture kept intact , wine was drunk and cookies came out not burnt and delicious.Read more

  • Day344

    Gergo is away in Switzerland visiting Gilles (while Nancy and Emile on a very sad trip to Argentina),so its just us, the girls at home. We built from lego, did fingertips art, peed a first pee in the potty (Emma), went for a walk in freezing and windy conditions, decorated the wooden house in the garden with physchedelic christmas lights, baked biscuits at Tanya and co, and waited for daddy a bit longer than planned as his return flight got cancelled. Girls just want to have fun!Read more

  • Day26

    Slovakia has been a thoroughly wet experience but at least the wind was on our side and pushed us to more than 100km one day. We were a bit surprised how fast we got to Hungary, but the country greeted us with sunshine on a beautiful section of the Danube. After two great days in Budapest we hit the road again and go South now - pictures of the 'Pearl of the Danube' will follow.

  • Day28

    As Hungary, especially Budapest, is famous for its hundreds of hot springs we were really looking forward to dangle our legs in the healing waters. We found the historical Rudas bath to be the perfect place for us and our muscles were really grateful.

    But as the locals call Budapest the 'pearl', it has a lot more to offer than that: The notorious nightlife with the ruinpubs, cheap beer and expensive cocktails (they were so good that we'll never forget them), the beautiful architecture whereby Art Nouveau meets ugly communists buildings (like Prague, Budapest usually is the site of many "Paris" movies - not so the plot of 'The Spy' which is really set in Budapest) and a lot of history.

    The super greasy Langoš, (called 'communists pizza' by locals, fat bread with sour cream and cheese) rounded out an exciting weekend.
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  • Day4

    New York New York Coffeehouse for am treats
    Metro 1 ride....Budapests historic subway line
    St. Stephens Basilica and today's weddings
    Hungarian State Opera House outdoor opera.
    Night view of Chain Bridge from our boat .

  • Day13

    Spent the day wandering and taking pictures. Checked out churches and the castle. Took a 3 hour walking tour guided by a native Krumlovian. Could not tour the castle because it was Monday and closed. Did enjoy the gardens however. Lots of history. Beautiful place. Got see Maria Teresa. See last picture. Had dinner at the Jacob restaurant. Pricey but very good.

  • Day15

    What a great day. Beautiful weather and saw a lot of the city. Breakfast at the hotel then got onto the HopOn HopOff bus and did the complete loop. Saw Hero's Square and the Citadella and lots of the city's historical sights. Walked up to Fisherman Basilica. Took the river cruise around Margaret Island and had dinner at Casablanca. Then took the night cruise at 8.45 and saw everything under lights.Read more

  • Day36

    A beautiful city. Such interesting buildings. I still can't work out which side of the bridge is Buda and Pest.
    A little shopping for a bag and a magic box.
    Checked out the markets to try some good food.
    Some interesting statues and monuments around.
    Got my hair done to actually finally relax and feel pretty.

  • Day233

    Back on the road! Checked out of our room in Vienna with nary a backward glance - it's been a disappointing place and we definitely won't miss it. Short walk up to Westbahnhof to the underground where we caught the train right across to the far east of Vienna, end of the line at Semmering. Short wait before we hopped on a train heading across the border to Bratislava - probably the closest pair of capital cities anywhere in the world!

    Off the train in Bratislava within about 45 minutes of leaving Vienna, noting how much poorer Slovakia seems than either Austria or Slovenia. More beggars about etc. Waited about 20 minutes for a bus out to the airport where we picked up our car for the next month, a small Skoda Flavia about the size of a VW Polo. Nothing too fancy, but it's got a surprisingly large boot, air-con, cruise control, USB charging and in-built navigation which ticks basically all our boxes!

    First step was to drive immediately back into Austria! We'd rented the car from Slovakia since the rates are much cheaper; this rental was costing us about 15 euros per day! So we headed south into Austria (via a Slovakian McDonalds for lunch) towards the last world heritage site we haven't seen, the Neusiedlersee. This is a large closed lake (ie not fed/drained by a river) that covers a huge area on the Austrian-Hungarian border. It's about 30km long and 6-12km wide in various points, though it's entirely less than 6 feet deep!

    Drove to a few different points of interest on the eastern side, including the visitor centre at Illmitz and the seaside town of Podersdorf. Lots of windsurfers and kite-surfers out on the lake since it was very flat but extremely windy! Very difficult for filming but we managed. Not much information about though which was a bit frustrating, so I couldn't really add much insight to my video beyond what was on the UNESCO website, and Wikipedia!

    Eventually we headed across the border into Hungary to our home for the next couple of nights, Sopron. Checked into our guest-house (via the supermarket) which was sort of a B&B type place, but the owners were out of town for the weekend and the other room was unoccupied - so we had it to ourselves. Nice.

    Got settled in, then headed into town for some dinner. Some nice looking places around, though we ended up having drinks at a fancy bar (a wine and a large beer was about 3 euros), then a traditional local restaurant on the main square. Again the food was very cheap - Hungary in general tends to be cheap, from what I remember. Seems like a nice little town as well!
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  • Day235

    Loaded up the car and left Sopron around 9:30, stopping only briefly to pick up some breakfast croissants and coffee. First stop for the day was the UNESCO World Heritage monastery at Pannonhalma, about halfway between Sopron and Budapest. Arrived after about 90 minutes of driving and it was super impressive, standing on a high mountain and visible as soon as we came off the freeway 20 kilometres distant.

    This is one of the oldest abbeys in Hungary, and played a crucial role in the development of Hungarian writing (bearing in mind that Magyar spoken language had been around for centuries, just not written with Latin characters before). We drove and walked up the hill to the top and bought our tickets, though we discovered that the church was closed until the afternoon due to Sunday Mass.

    But we had a good look around the grounds and the incredible Baroque library, which thankfully we were able to film inside of! Makes a nice change, though I don't think they get a whole lot of tourists up here. The included audioguide was quite good too, though it was location-triggered and would occasionally skip to the next item if you wandered too far away.

    Since it was midday but with another 90 minutes until the church opened, we went back down the hill and picked a restaurant for lunch. It turned out to be a great choice, with local Hungarian food, a roaring fire and a nice cosy atmosphere. I had a bowl of game stew with potato, sausages and bread, while Shandos had a local dish of noodles, sheep cheese and fried bacon. I remember most central European food being quite stodgy, and this certainly didn't disappoint in that regard! I'm also forced to not drink with lunch which is good, since Hungary has a 0% BAC limit for drunk driving. They don't do sting operations like in Australia, but better to avoid it and not create problems. Interestingly, it's the same in much of central Europe (Czechia, Poland and Slovakia all have the same rule).

    Finished our lunch at 2pm and headed back up to the monastery where we examined the church. The foundation stones go back to the 10th century and Saint Stephen, first king of Hungary who ordered the founding of the monastery. Also some interesting highlights of where monks had hid during invasions by the Mongols and later the Ottoman Turks as well. And we had a quick look around the botanic gardens since those were a specific part of the heritage site too - remember that monks were not just religious men, they were also scholars, teachers, scientists and doctors!

    Back to the car where we rejoined the freeway and pointed for Budapest, one of our favourite cities from the 2014 White Christmas trip. This time we were staying in an Airbnb on the Buda side, in a building a street back from the river and directly underneath Fisherman's Bastion. And with free parking!

    Met our host at 4pm who let us in, and were glad to find that the apartment was both huge and well-furnished. Lots of space in the living room, which was probably bigger on its own than some apartments we've stayed in! Bedroom a little small, but on the whole very comfortable.

    Spent some time settling in and relaxing, then headed out for a local dinner. I had a pork schnitzel which was quite tasty, though prices are noticeably higher here in Budapest than in Sopron! Back upstairs where we spent the rest of the evening booking accommodation for the remainder of our roadtrip; we're now booked solid through until early November!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

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