Home About Hungary

Basic information about Hungary

Official name: Hungary
Area: 93 022 km
Population: 9 797 561 (2017)
Neighbouring countries: Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia
Official language: Hungarian
State form: Republic
Capital and largest city: Budapest (population: 1 729 040)
Other large cities: Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs, Győr
Currency: Forint (HUF)
Time zone: CET (GMT +1)
Major rivers: River Danube (417 km), River Tisza (597 km)
Largest lakes: Lake Balaton, Lake Velence
Highest point above sea level: Kékes (1014 m) in the Mátra Hills
Hungary is a member of OECD, NATO, EU and the Schengen Convention.

Administratively, Hungary is divided into 19 counties with the capital city of Budapest being independent of any county government.

Hungary is among the top tourist destinations in Europe with the capital Budapest regarded as one of the most beautiful cities worldwide. Despite its relatively small size, the country is home to numerous World Heritage Sites, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grassland in Europe (Hortobágy).


The official language of the country is Hungarian, which forms part of the Finno-Ugric language family. Hungarians call their language magyar. Although Hungary is located in Central Europe, Hungarian is not related to any of the languages that surround the country. Hungarian is spoken by 10 million people in Hungary, and cca. by 4-5 million more people outside of the country. There are also sizeable populations of Hungarian speakers in Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, Israel, the U.S., and Australia. Smaller pockets of Hungarian speakers also live in Canada, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria.


Hungary is a landlocked country, situated in the Carpathian Basin. Its two longest rivers called Danube and Tisza divide Hungary into three parts: Transdanubia (to the west of the Danube), the plain between the Rivers Danube and Tisza, and the Trans-Tisza region (to the east of the Tisza).

Hungary’s ‘mountains’ are actually hills, which seldom exceed an elevation of 1,000 metres. Two-thirds of Hungary’s geographic area is less than 200 metres above sea level.

Lake Balaton, covering 598 km2, is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the country. The average depth of the lake is two to three metres, so the water warms up quickly in summer.

There are ten national parks in Hungary. Three of them situated on the Great Plain – Hortobágy, Kiskunság and Körös-Maros – provide protection to the wildlife and fragile wetlands, marshes and saline grasslands of the open puszta. Two are in the north: in the almost completely wooded Bükk Hills and in the Aggtelek region with its extensive system of karst caves. Danube-Ipoly is in Central Hungary, Balaton Uplands is in the West and Danube-Drava National Park is located in the South-west of the country, at the Croatian border. Őrség and Fertő-Hanság are situated at the Austrian border.

Hungary is home to more than 2,000 flowering plant species, many of which are not normally found at this latitude. There are a lot of common European animals here (deer, wild hare, boar, otter) as well as some rare species (wild cat, lake bat, Pannonian lizard), and three-quarters of the country’s 450 vertebrates are birds, especially waterfowls, which are attracted by the rivers, lakes and wetlands.

Climate and Weather

Hungary is in the temperate zone and has a relatively dry continental climate. There are big differences in temperature between the four seasons: summers are hot, while winters are cold. Average temperatures range from -1 °C in January to 21 °C in July. Hungary is protected from extreme weather conditions by the surrounding mountain ranges, the Alps and the Carpathians.

Weather forecast (Hungarian Meteorological Service – OMSZ)

Your costs of living calculator

Prices are shown in HUF (magyar forint). You can change it to:

Category and amount Budapest Debrecen Győr Miskolc Pécs Szeged
Accommodation You can choose only one option. Averages for private and shared flats are based on the calculations of www.otthonterkep.hu.
Dormitory Ask your future university for more details.
110 € 63 € 63 € 116 € 94 € 78 €
Private flat Including utilities.
390 € 279 € 323 € 213 € 222 € 238 €
Shared flat Including utilities.
174 € 126 € 145 € 98 € 111 € 109 €
Basic food
125 € 125 € 125 € 125 € 125 € 125 €
Recreation Please provide the monthly occasions of the different kinds of recreation.
Movie, theatre, concert 8 € 6 € 6 € 6 € 6 € 6 €
Party 16 € 16 € 16 € 16 € 16 € 16 €
Sport activity 6 € 5 € 5 € 5 € 5 € 5 €
Transportation You can choose more options.
Cycling It's free! :)
Public bike-sharing system Only available in Budapest. 8000 HUF/semester.
4 €
Urban public transport Monthly pass with Hungarian student ID
11 € 11 € 7 € 12 € 10 € 13 €
Total costs of living

Brief history

Hungarian conquest

Hungarian people from the Urals arrived in the Carpathian Basin in 895-896, then conquered the territory and settled down. One hundred years later our first king, Stephen I, founded the Hungarian state and integrated the country into the European Christian nations.

Matthias Corvinus and the Hunyadi era

One of Hungary’s most glorious eras was the time of the Hunyadis, in which Matthias Corvinus the Righteous reigned as the greatest Hungarian king ever, leading Hungary to become one of the most important Central European countries.

Turkish occupation

In 1526, after the calamity of the Battle of Mohács, the Ottomans divided the country into three parts: the Habsburgs in the western and northern parts; Turks in the central area; and the Principality of Transylvania in the south-east as the stronghold of Hungarian culture and independence.

Revolution and War of Independence of 1848-49

Following other rebellions in the period of the Spring of Nations in Europe, the Hungarians revolted against the Austrian emperor. The revolution was suppressed by the Habsburgs with the help of the Russian Czar and in 1867 a compromise with the Habsburgs was reached, establishing the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

World War I

As part of the Empire, Hungary lost against the Allied Powers in 1918 and the monarchy fell apart. Following the Treaty of Versailles, Hungary lost two thirds of its territory and 3.3 million Hungarians suddenly became citizens of Hungary’s neighbouring countries.

World War II

After entering the war in 1941, Hungary suffered enormous loss again, including a death toll of approximately one million citizens. The Soviets drove the Germans out of the country in 1945 and stayed here for the next four and a half decades, incorporating the country into the Soviet bloc.

The revolution and freedom fight of 1956

Along with many others in the Eastern bloc, the revolution of ’56 is one of the symbols of resistance against the Soviets during the cold war. Although the revolution was suppressed (with approximately 3,000 casualties), it was a clear message to the Soviets that their plans were not sustainable.

Democratic transformation after the fall of the Soviet bloc

The rapid changes in the Soviet bloc and other international developments led to the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th November 1989, leading to political changes in the entire eastern part of Europe. The countries became free from Soviet rule and Hungary became a republic for the third time. The first democratic, multi-party elections were held in 1990.

Joining the EU

After joining NATO in 1999, Hungary became a member of the European Union in 2004 along with 9 other countries. In the first half of 2011, it held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time.

University towns

Although most of our foreign students live and study in Budapest, the cities in the countryside also have many things to offer for students. We have listed some of the most significant cities below and what they are famous for.


Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial and transportation centre. With almost two million inhabitants, Budapest is the biggest and most densely-populated town in the country and over half of the nation’s GDP is generated here. Consequently, half of Hungary’s university students study here and the majority of professors work here, too, while the proportion of researchers working in Budapest is even higher. The town itself stretches along the banks of the Danube. It has a wide range of universities to choose from regardless of what you want to study.


After Budapest, Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary. It is the regional centre of the Northern Great Plain region and the seat of Hajdú-Bihar county. This city has preserved its rich cultural life. Each year, on 20th August, a flower carnival takes place in the city, offering a variety of entertainment such as folk dance, parades and concerts. Debrecen is home to the University of Debrecen whose main building is a widely-praised piece of architecture. The university has many departments, it is a major research centre in Europe and it maintains a leading position in medical and information technology education.


Miskolc is a city situated in north-east Hungary, and is mostly known for its heavy industry. With a population close to 190,000, Miskolc is the third largest city in Hungary. It is also the seat of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county and the regional centre of the Northern Hungary region. By the 19th century, it had become an important commercial and industrial centre due to its geographical location.
Nowadays, it’s one of the most popular choices for students who come to study in Hungary. Miskolc is full of hidden treasures like the Benedictine Monastery Ruins or the Cave bath of Miskolctapolca, it is also famous for the Castle of Diósgyőr where a medieval bustle is organised annually and for the Bükk National Park with all its fascinating landscapes.
The University of Miskolc is a relatively young institution, founded in 1949. Built in the style of the American campus model, it is surrounded by a large park and various sports facilities.


Szeged is the regional centre of South-Eastern Hungary and the seat of Csongrád county. Szeged and its area have been inhabited since ancient times. The city’s most impressive monument is the Cathedral, which is located in the town centre. Every summer, the square in front of the Cathedral transforms into a huge open-air theatre to host the Szeged Open-Air Festival. Szeged is the sunniest city in the country, with the highest amount of annual sunshine. The charming, warm weather is great for excursions to the town of Kecskemét, the Kiskunság National Park or to Ópusztaszer.
The University of Szeged was founded in 1872 so it has a relatively rich history. At present, it consists of 13 faculties, where you can study almost everything, ranging from humanities to business studies or health sciences.


Pécs is located in the south-west of the country and serves as the administrative and economic centre of Baranya county. Pécs has a rich cultural life and hosts a wide variety of historical buildings, such as the Basilica of St. Peter constructed in the 11th century. Several Turkish buildings date back to the age of the Ottoman Empire and give the city a multicultural atmosphere. The city of Pécs was selected as one of the European Capitals of Culture for the year 2010.
The University of Pécs was founded in 1367, making it the oldest university in Hungary. It now ranks among the top European universities. It has 10 faculties and offers a wide range of courses, covering nearly every possible field of study.


Győr is located in the north-western part of Hungary. The seat of Győr-Moson-Sopron county is located on one of the most important roads of Central Europe, halfway between Budapest and Vienna so it only takes one hour to reach the capital of Austria.
The area has been inhabited since ancient times. Győr has a charming town centre and is abundant in beautiful baroque buildings. The Széchenyi István University is located in Győr and it has an excellent reputation in electrical and mechanical engineering.


Dunaújváros is situated quite near to Pest county, only 67 km away from Budapest. It is the second biggest town in Fejér county after Székesfehérvár. Dunaújváros was an industrial town; during the 50s it became the largest centre of iron and steel works, also the predecessor of the university was founded in 1962 to educate heavy industry workers. You can choose from a wide range of courses in the field of engineering, information technology, economics and social sciences offered by the University of Dunaújváros.


Eger is home to the famous Castle of Eger where several significant moments of Hungarian history took place such as the defeat of the Ottoman army. Today this castle serves as a museum to show how Hungarians lived throughout the ages. This city is worth visiting if you are a wine lover since Eger is the original producer of the famous Bull’s blood wine. The city is full of beautiful buildings built in the 18th and 19th century and despite its small size it has a considerable amount of attractions. The University has 4 campuses across the country: Eger, Gyöngyös, Jászberény and Sárospatak offering available courses ranging from economics and social sciences to pedagogy.


Veszprém is a quiet town only a few km from Lake Balaton. This city was built on five hills and has many ancient buildings such as the Cathedral of St. Michael. This city was given the title of “the town of queens” as Hungarian queens became patrons of the aforementioned cathedral. This town is very close to Lake Balaton, which is definitely worth a visit during the summer as well as the Bakony Hills and the Balaton Uplands National Park where you can take a day trip. Street music festival is annually organised here in July so if you prefer listening to music, visit these concerts performed by Hungarian and international musicians. Pannon University was founded here in 1949 and offers all possible fields of study through 6 BA, 12 MA and 9 PhD courses.


If you like green, panoramic areas but would also like to stay close to Budapest, Gödöllő is a fine choice to conduct your studies at. In the 50s Gödöllő became the country’s agrarian centre due to the relocation of the Agrarian University there in 1950.
Gödöllő is not only famous for its agrarian university but also for the Royal Castle which was built by Antal Grassalkovich as many other monuments in Gödöllő. Szent István University is a very popular choice for students wishing to study agriculture. 

World Heritage Sites

Besides high quality education, Hungary offers many breath-taking places which are definitely worth a visit. You may never get enough of your beautiful host city but we can recommend many other places for weekend trips and holidays. Today Hungary has eight locations on the World Heritage List. Below you can find a brief description about them, so all you need to do is to put on your shoes and go!

Budapest - Banks of the Danube View, Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue

This site has the remains of monuments such as the Roman city of Aquincum and the Gothic castle of Buda. This quarter encompasses the area on the Buda side and attracts locals as well as tourists with its medieval style. Besides the Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and the Fisherman’s bastion the fascinating view of the Pest side behind the river Danube is a good reason in itself to visit here – but the quarter often offers exhibitions, concerts and other amazing programmes.

On the Pest side, Andrássy Avenue was added to the list as it presents a unique architectural image of Budapest, connecting Elizabeth Square in the capital’s innermost area with Heroes’ Square. Now, you can choose from hundreds of exclusive shops, fancy restaurants on Andrássy Avenue. Once you are there, do not miss stopping at the Hungarian State Opera House.

The Old Village of Hollókő and its Surroundings

Are you planning a trip to the Hungarian past? Visit Hollókő!

The old part of the village Hollókő, a settlement nestling in the Cserhát Hills, has preserved its distinctive traditions to this very day. Hollókő was the first village to be declared a World Heritage Site. The history of the village goes back to the 13th century, when after the Mongol invasion a castle was built on Szár Hill.

The village is not just an open-air museum, which exhibits folk traditions, but also a living village where traditions and everyday life go hand in hand. If you want to get the full-experience, go to Hollókő at Easter and be part of the living tradition by taking part in games and wearing the most authentic costumes.

Aggtelek National Park

This area stretches across the Hungarian-Slovakian border and is extremely rich in caves. There is a spectacular 22-kilometre-long system of caves in the region. Dazzling rock and crystal formations with names including Dragon’s Head, Tiger, Mother-in-law’s Tongue and the Hall of Giants, as well as dozens of underground lakes and winding passages can be explored on a different range of guided tours. If you prefer active weekends, Aggtelek is one of the best choices!

Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its Natural Environment

You might not have heard of Pannonhalma before, but here you can find out why you shouldn’t miss it out from your Hungarian bucket list for travelling.

The Archabbey is one of the oldest historical monuments in Hungary; the first Benedictine monks settled here in 996. The 1000-year-long history of the Archabbey is detectable in the succession of architectural styles of the monastic buildings (the oldest dating back to 1224), which house a school and a monastic community to this day.

People visit not just because of the special atmosphere of the place but also because of the “Lavender Days” festival which attracts many. Concerts and creative workshops are held in the huge herb garden of the Archabbey. 

Hortobágy National Park

Hortobágy is a 6-thousand-hectare reservation park that presents how the land looked and how herdsmen and their animals lived here before the modern ages. Hortobágy was the first national park opened in 1973 and it is the largest protected area in Hungary. It is not only engaged in the reservation of wildlife but also plays an important part in environmental education, as well as organising field trips in collaboration with the University of Debrecen. The park is just a few kilometres from Debrecen and it’s very easy to reach by train or by car.

Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs

The ancient cemetery of Pécs (Sopianae) was founded by the Romans in the 4th century. This site consists of churches and chapels with ancient tombs underneath and excavations show that it worked as an ancient Christian cemetery.

Lake Fertő (Neusiedler See)

Lake Fertő is around 20,000 years old situated on the border of Austria and Hungary and it is recognised as one of the most significant natural waters in Europe and considered Europe's largest salt-water lake. Even Celts and Romans lived here in the ancient times and nowadays it is the common territory of Austria and Hungary. The ethnic groups that followed each other in the area had a strong impact on the area’s cultural landscape.


Tokaj’s name must sound familiar to all wine lovers around the world since this region is Hungary’s greatest vineyard extending 11,000 hectares. The area has been protected since 1737 due to its landscape, ecosystem and tradition. The Tokaji aszu wine is accredited as a hungaricum and it is the oldest natural sweet wine in the world. Tokaj is full of wine-tasting opportunities, wine museums and amazing landscapes awaiting your discovery. 

National symbols


The coat-of-arms of the Republic of Hungary is a pointed, impaled shield. The right side consists of a silver double cross on red base, situated inside a small golden crown, the crown is placed on the middle heap of three green hills. On the left side is the so-called Árpád stripes, four silver and four red stripes. The top of the shield features the Hungarian Holy Crown.


The flag of the Republic of Hungary is a tricolour consisting of horizontal red, white and green bands of equal width.

The three colours represent three virtues: red is for strength, white is for faithfulness and green is for hope. Alternatively, red represents the blood spilled for the country, white stands for freedom and green is for the land.


The text of the Hungarian national anthem was written in 1823 by Ferenc Kölcsey, one of the great poets of the Reform Age. The music was composed by Ferenc Erkel in 1844, when he won the contest to compose the national anthem.

Holy Crown

The Hungarian crown was given to Saint Stephen by the Pope on the occasion of his coronation at around 1000. The crown and the coronation insignia (the orb and sceptre, the coronation sword and the coronation mantle) were taken to the US after World War II and were eventually returned to Hungary in 1978. Now they are on display in the Parliament building in Budapest.


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