Hungary is famous for many things from the invention of the ball-point pen and Rubik’s Cube to the absolute shroud that covers the true origins of its people but there are a few other things that you might want to know before travelling there. So, without further ado, here are six things you should be aware of before visiting Hungary.
1. Family names first:
This is quite a way to kick off the list for it may appear queer to some of you. Yes, in Hungary, family names are stated first before the given names. If you have any official business to take care of there, try and “reverse” your name for officials and they will smile at you in compassion. Hungarians greatly appreciate outsiders who strive to adhere to the standards of their way of living. So, if someone is introduced to you, make sure you use the adequate names depending on the situation (formally, you will have to use the name that comes first and informally, the one that comes second). Note that some Hungarians may have more than one family name and given name. Fekete Kovács Dóra Ilona, for example, would be such a case where Fekete and Kovács are family names and Dóra and Ilona are given names.
You may have heard about the world-famous Hungarian cuisine from the internet but you will never go through the rite of passage until you try their dishes yourself. The celebrated “goulash” (“gulyás” in Hungarian), for example, is much different from what you may have tasted at western restaurants: more powdered pepper than almost anywhere in the world and more refined water/content rates. Another famous dish that you absolutely have to try out is the “töltött káposzta” (stuffed cabbage) – yes, it is as it sounds: ground meat and rice rolled into a cabbage leaf (all seasoned and specially-prepared). If you are visiting Hungary solely for its cuisine, you will find that your mission is not all that uncommon – that’s how good it really is!
This is one interesting thing: in Hungary, clinking with beer is frowned upon. Whilst doing it with other drinks is perfectly fine, the soft sound of a bottle containing beer colliding with another one is considered disrespectful. This tradition was born between 1848-1849 when the 13 Martyrs of Arad were executed by the Austrian generals. They celebrated the execution by clinking with beer. It is said that the Hungarians vowed to not clink their beers for the next 150 years. Although this would have meant the end of the vow in 2009, many people carry on with the tradition. Some younger people do cite this 150-year deal and carry on clinking casually, though.
4. The haven of natural springs:
Yes, you read that right, Hungary has more than 1,000 natural springs and bathing spots within its bounds and they are all great. From Lake Balaton to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths (one of the largest complexes of its kind in Europe), you can find anything in Hungary. Save a few Euros, convert them into Forints (the local currency) and pack some swimsuits because your experience there is bound to be unforgettable!
You may be visiting Hungary for its cultural landmarks or its cuisine but you should pay attention to the local festivals if you happen to be there during summertime. The Sziget Festival of Budapest is one of the most grandiose ones held in Europe whilst the Fezen Festival of Székesfehérvár is not far behind. If you are a lover of Rock/Metal music, you are most certainly going to enjoy the latter one. Keep your eyes out for other local events as well and prepare for some fun!
In Hungary, tipping is highly advised as most bartenders, waiters and other people who might serve you expect it. In fact, it has become such a rule of thumb, that if you do not tip, you might feel an emotional surge of negativity in the air. Chances are that the people you are not tipping won’t say a thing, but they will frown upon you. Oh, and be sure that you do not say “thank you” until you’ve received your desired amount of change because those words unofficially mean “keep the change.”
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Hungary and how did they affect your trip? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back from time to time for some interesting updates!