With its area of 93 thousand square kilometers and hardly ten million inhabitants, Hungary counts among the small countries – but surely the best known countries – on the Earth.

Hungary as member of EU tries to accommodate itself to the large European community by harmonizing its laws and public administration system; at the same time, there are great efforts to preserve cultural, natural and other values that belong only to us and characterize only this small country. Hungary should like to display these unique values to always more and more people born in other countries and interested in Hungary: they all should see our heritage, learn from our history and admire those numerous values that have been treasured up by this small nation, in hardly more than thousand years in the homeland of the Hungarians we appreciate so high. This aspiration seems to be fruitful, as we see an increasing number of tourists in Hungary each year.  Most of them came from the Continent, but the number of visitors from far countries has also been increasing year to year. Nowadays the groups of Japanese, Chinese or Canadian tourists are no rarity around the main sightseeing points of Budapest. In the recent years we can see a positive change: „goulash” tourism has increasingly been replaced by festival, conference and health tourism.

In this latter area, we may even be among the best in 10-20 years from now. All conditions are present (at least in terms of the natural background): Under 80% of the Hungarian soil one can find medicinal waters – in this aspect, Hungary is ranked second (after Iceland) in the world. At present, there are nearly 1300 thermal springs known in Hungary, and their utilization is increasing from year to year. Aqua parks, wellness and beauty farms, fitness and entertainment centers are created. At the beginning, there were only 3 thermal baths, Budapest, Hévíz and Hajdúszoboszló; nowadays, we see several dozens of spa paradises flourishing in settlements that were formerly known only as small villages or  little sleepy towns.

The Hungarian bath culture that has been existed for many centuries owes its existence to these thermal waters; its roots go back to the Roman legions which once were garrisoned in Pannonia. This culture was enhanced by the Turks; by the end of the 19th century, Budapest became one of the best-known spa cities of the world. New baths were built and the old ones were renovated. Among these, one of the most famous is the spa and health hotel Gellért (built in 1918) which was recently ranked the second best complex bath facility in the world. This honor was awarded by a jury consisting of internationally acknowledged experts of tourism. In addition to the services offered by health tourism, always more foreigners are attracted even by the historical and art treasures of Hungary. Many of them are not only visitors to stay for a few days or weeks but to buy a real estate here, spend their leisure time here and relax in Hungary. There are more than two thousand castles, mansions or country-houses in the country; some of them have been bought and renovated by such foreigners spending there each minute of their leisure time.

In addition to visiting Hungarian galleries, museums and historic monuments, enthusiastic lovers of the arts can also attend a large number of events and festivals. {mosimage} One can hardly find a self-respecting town or village today, that would have no event lasting one or several days and displaying the tourists typical characteristics and rarities that can be found only in that area. Of course, gourmands and gourmets can taste the typical flavors of the Hungarian cuisine not only at these events; in addition to international dishes, local specialties are also offered in the majority of old or newly opened restaurants. Besides „goulash” and „pörkölt” known by everybody, one can taste Hungarian dishes that are offered nowhere else in the world. One could hardly find a tourist who could resist stuffed cabbage, cottage cheese noodles („túrós csusza”) or Gundel pancake. Hungarian cooks and confectioners return from international competitions and culinary Olympics with countless medals. The greatest Hungarian confectioners have refined their profession into an art. Whoever likes fine food usually cannot resist wines, appetizing aperitifs or special drinks served with the desserts, either. There can be no really harmonious meal without these, for their taste enhances pleasure and highlights the magnificent taste of the dishes. Our „pálinka” (brandy) is a real „Hungaricum” the trademark of which can be used only for Hungarian products. For example, we find the famous „ágyaspálinka” (bed brandy), Kecskemét apricot brandy, Halas pear brandy or Szatmár plum brandy in the southern parts of the Hungarian Plain.
Wine is one of the most successful and best-known export goods of Hungary. Our viticulturists have always been keen on preserving the traditions of Hungarian wine-growing going back to more than thousand years. The traces of the ancient wine culture can be found in the most beautiful parts of the country. {mosimage} Besides full-bodied wines coming from the Balaton Highlands, Villány, Sopron, Mór, Etyek, Eger, Mátra Lowlands and the hills of Tokaj, light wines grown in sandy areas give also a pleasant drink. Classical Hungarian wines are: „hárslevelű” (Linden-Leaf), „juhfark” (Sheep's Tail), „leányka” (Maiden), „szürkebarát” (Grey Monk) and „kékfrankos” (Blue Frankish); in addition to these, the best types of French wine regions also appeared one after the other in Hungary over the past hundred years: these include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.
After a bounteous and tasty lunch or dinner, it is worth to take walk in the city, town or village where we stay. Nearly all Hungarian towns offer interesting features and special sights for the visitor. Of course, Budapest is the city where scenic spots are the most abundant. But, contrary to the majority of other capitals, in Budapest it is worth to spend some hours (or even some days) by looking at those beautiful, old houses, too, which are not included among the buildings and monuments of art recommended by the guidebooks. The wise builders of the Hungarian capital designed beautiful houses and magnificent portals not only in the inner city (as it was done, for example, in Vienna), but also in the less central areas and along the roads going to the outskirts. Most people look at the buildings only at eye level, but in Budapest the whole façade is worth seeing. The decoration varies from house to house. Much hidden splendor is revealed to the interested visitor he/she has never thought of. The palaces, public buildings and 2-3 storied blocks of flats built at the end of the 19th or in the early 20th century show all characteristic features of the contemporary style. For example, one can see wonderful Bauhaus-style villas in the uphill streets of the Gellért Hill, next door to some Art Nouveau or Neo-Renaissance buildings. They are decorated with richly carved balconies, friezes or even some mosaics on their façade. One can walk in Budapest for hours without finding a house that would resemble the others.