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|Hayley Matthews • 6/08/17|
The Short Version: Steeped in history and culture, Hungary is a romantic place to visit. Vacationers come to this Central European country to relax and recharge at a lakeside resort or medieval bathhouse. In recent years, Hungary has become a favorite tourist destination, especially for couples planning a wedding. Whether you’re taking engagement photos at a historical castle or tying the knot by the shores of a natural hot spring, Hungary offers many breathtaking venues for romance. Vacationing couples can plan a leisurely spa date in the city or an active hiking trek through the mountains of this European destination. From the capital city of Budapest to the vineyards of Tokaj, the country boasts a variety of sights, sensations, and flavors to excite sightseers during their travels. You and your loved one can create cherished memories in the picturesque villages, hilltops, hot springs, and historical landmarks found throughout Hungary.
The number of inbound tourists to Hungary is on the rise — increasing 6.9% from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, the Central European country saw more than 11.4 million visits overall. An impressive stat considering the country has only 10 million inhabitants. Tourists come to the landlocked country from all over the world, but many hail from neighboring countries like Austria and Germany. The destination particularly appeals to adults — 39% of visitors are between 25 and 44 years old and 21% between 45 and 55.
Tourism currently accounts for 10.4% of Hungary’s GDP, and the country racks up around 28 million overnight stays per year. The typical visitor spends just £257 on average per trip, so it’s a budget-friendly vacation option.
When visiting Hungary, tourists discover delicious food and relaxing diversions in an idyllic setting. Hungary’s beautiful scenery and historical sites are a major draw for couples who want a stunning photo shoot or destination wedding. The country’s mountains and monuments perfectly frame romantic moments for vacationing couples.
From museums to horseback riding, Hungary has many attractions to delight people from all walks of life. This destination invites couples to enjoy world-renowned vineyards, lavish spas, and gorgeous vistas in one trip. The official tourism website even lists Hungry’s top seven romantic hideaways to make planning your honeymoon or vacation that much easier.
First on the list is the Mátra Hills, a sweeping mountain range in the north. Adventurous couples can hike through the Mátra Nature Reserve and find a spectacular vantage point on the Kékestető, the tallest peak in Hungary. You and your significant other can snap an amazing photo from the summit to save the memory of your trip forever.
The country’s capital, Budapest, is the most visited destination in Hungary. Known as the City of Spas, this vibrant city has over a dozen historical bathhouses and spas open to the public. Built in 1912, the Gellért Bath features thermal baths, saunas, plunge pools, and an effervescent swimming pool. The Rudas, a Turkish bathhouse, has served as a retreat for bathers for nearly 500 years. Bringing a date to this steamy setting is great way to turn up the heat on your vacation.
Many couples travel to Budapest’s most beautiful sites, such as Gellért Hill, Erzsébeth Lookout, and Vajdahunyad Castle, to take engagement or wedding photos. “A lot of couples come with their wedding gowns to pose in the Hungarian capital, which has been called the Paris of the East,” a Hungarian spokesperson said. “In the last two years, there are more and more Asian couples arriving here to take pre-wedding photos using Budapest’s scenic setting as a backdrop.”
The city also boasts many elegant and exciting venues for a destination wedding at ancient castles, magnificent churches, and upscale restaurants. According to the website, “Budapest is full of secrets, hidden spots to explore, and old favorites to revisit. This is the city where being bored is not an option.”
For instance, Fisherman’s Bastion, a 19th-century lookout tower on Castle Hill, offers tourists panoramic views of Budapest. Plus, the restaurant inside the old fortification is an elegant place with white tablecloths and sparkling chandeliers.
Sitting on top of Gellért Hill or standing under the roofs on the balcony of the romantic Fisherman’s Bastion is a must for romantic people.
Since the days of the Romans, people have journeyed to the Lake of Hévíz, the world’s second-largest thermal lake, to benefit from the healing properties of the hot spring waters. Known as the lake of peace, this biological wonder is the biggest active natural lake in the world. Even in the winter, the waters remain warm and soothing.
“Taking a trip to Hévíz is a good choice for a romantic weekend,” said a Hungarian spokesperson. “Dip in the lake among the pink water lilies and enjoy the cozy, warm water around you — you’ll feel relaxed and refreshed instantly.”
Hévíz is steeped in history with Roman ruins and old churches spread across the small spa town. It’s a popular place for middle-class tourists all year round. You and your loved one will enjoy a peaceful and pampered vacation on these shores.
The Lake Balaton is another tranquil destination a few miles east of Hévíz, an area known for its rich wines and fresh waters. Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe and well worth a visit. Whether sailing on crystal blue waters in the summer or ice fishing on the frozen lake in the winter, tourists can get away from it all on these shores.
“Try the romantic boat cruises, enjoy the world-class wines on a trendy wine terrace, or breathe in the lavender odor on the Tihany Peninsula,” suggested a Hungarian spokesperson. “You can also taste the purple flower in the restaurants and at the ice cream carts!”
From fresh vegetable soups to sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream, Hungarian cuisine represents a combination of tastes inspired by Germanic, Italian, and Slavic dishes. According to the official website, “Hungarian cuisine today shows great regional variety — and this promises a lot of excitement for gastro-curious travelers.”
Each area of Hungary is known for different specialties — from the lamb stew of Karcag to the peach pálinka from Kecskemét. In the northeastern part of the country, Tokaj is most celebrated for its vineyards. This protected region includes 11,149 hectares of classified vineyards and is the origin of Tokaji Aszú wine, the world’s oldest botrytized wine. If you love romantic picnics in the hills, Tokaj is a great place to visit.
In Budapest, couples can dine at world-famous restaurants rich with historical significance. Some of Hungary’s cafes have served as a hub for European artists, philosophers, and romantics for decades. In particular, the 157-year-old Gerbeaud Cafe, famed for gourmet pies, cakes, and confections, and the beautiful New York Café and Restaurant, set in the magnificent Boscolo Budapest palace, are favorite spots for an upscale date night.
According to a Hungarian spokesperson, “You will feel like a royal couple in our gourmet restaurants, like Costes or Onyx, and you will be amazed by our trendy fine-dining bistros, like Bock Bistro or Mák Bistro.”
Whether you enjoy a cozy terrace setting or a buzzing coffeehouse, Hungary has a variety of elegant, intimate, and original dining options for a date. Plus, don’t forget to partake in Hungarian street food; their fried dough treats and sweet pastries are perfect for sharing with a loved one as you walk through the city streets.
Hungary offers a variety of sights to see and tastes to savor with someone special. You can visit historical sites, soak in rejuvenating bathhouses, or sip wine at renowned vineyards on your romantic getaway.
Couples enjoy a memorable escape at the idyllic villages and dynamic cities in this beautiful destination. More and more tourists are coming to Hungary to celebrate momentous occasions like engagements and weddings. Whether you’re proposing atop an ancient tower or dining out in style on your anniversary, you’ll find plenty of charming venues across the country.
Currently, Hungarian officials are working on massive projects to further entice foreigners to visit Hungary. “The tourism industry has always been essential to Hungary, but now the country is doubling down on developing the industry,” a Hungarian spokesperson said. “Visitors can look forward to the renewal of Budapest’s City Park, a more capable and connected airport, and a strong commitment to art, design, music, sports, and culture.”