The Hungarian Parliamentary building next to the Danube building. Picture: Supplied

At first glance, Hungary is a time machine, filled with structures and monuments that are considered treasure troves by its people and those who visit the East-European nation.

From Roman ruins and medieval townhouses to baroque churches to neoclassical public buildings and art nouveau bathhouses and schools, there’s so much on offer - and we're not just talking about its capital, Budapest.

Walk through Szeged or Kecskemét, Debrecen or Sopron and you’ll discover an architectural gem at virtually every turn. Indeed, some people go out of their way for another glimpse of their favourites, such as the Reök Palace in Szeged or the Mosque Church in Pécs.

Here are 5 reasons to visit Hungary:

1. The Food

It is no secret that food is one of the universal languages of the world, and Hungarian food remains the most sophisticated style of cooking in Eastern Europe. 

Their reputation as a food centre dates back largely to the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th. Despite a fallow period under communism, their cuisine is still some of the most popular food in East Europe, as are their world-renowned wines. From the big-bodied reds of Eger and Villány and white Olaszrizling from Badacsony to honey-sweet Tokaj.

2. The architecture

There is an old city that already existed during Roman times and the former capital of Hungary between the 900’s and 1200’s, called Esztergom which was home to King Bela IV before he moved to the nation’s capital of Budapest.
The Esztergom Basilica. Picture: Supplied
The basilica in Esztergom is also known as the largest church throughout Hungary. Other famous places include Matthias church, St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Fisherman’s Bastion, Hősök tere and Gellért Hill.

3. Hungarian Folk Culture

Hungarian folk dancers. Picture: Supplied

There is one thing that the Hungarians are proud of apart from their food, it’s their folk culture and identity. Hungary has one of the richest folk traditions still alive in Europe.

With exquisite wonderful embroidery that the women of Hollókő stitch to decorate their smocks, skirts and slippers, this is often where the country comes to the fore artistically.

Their traditional music played on a five-tone diatonic scale on a host of unusual instruments, continues to thrive as well, especially at táncházak 'dance houses' – peasant 'raves' where you'll hear Hungarian folk music and to learn to dance too.

4. Activities galore

Once in Hungary - you will never get bored or run out of activities to do. The country has a massive offering of activities ranging from opera, hiking, markets, the Budapest nightlife and tours of their various national landmarks.

One of the top activities done in Hungary (apart from their nightlife) is visiting the opera.
The Hungarian State Opera in Budapest. Picture: Supplied

Apart from the opera house in Budapest being known as one of the most beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings in Europe, it is also considered to be amongst the best opera houses in the world in terms of its acoustics and has an auditorium that seats 1200 people.

The best part? A ticket to the opera won’t hurt your wallet. Ticket prices begin as low as 10 USD (R145) for either ballet or an opera.

5. Nightlife
Raktár Bar in Budapest. Picture: Supplied
Hungary's nightlife is buzzing, especially in the nation's capital of Budapest.

From street markets to popular nightclubs like Raktár Bar, the city's nightlife is a great example of how Hungarians like to have fun while taking a break from their everyday lives in the city.

Return flights to Budapest start from R10 700 when flying from Johannesburg, and tours around the city of Budapest start from 15 USD (R218).