Communism was never a good fit for Hungary, a self-assured and sophisticated nation long-celebrated for its discerning tastes and considerable good looks. Since the fall of the USSR, it has resumed its role as a thriving centre of European commerce and culture, now enjoying unprecedented popularity among international travellers. From the pomp and splendour of Budapest to the feisty folk traditions of its rural villages, Hungary is as passionate and free-spirited as it is idiosyncratic.
Geographically, Hungary is dominated by rolling plains and grasslands, much of it steeped in vineyards and ancient medieval towns. Although land-locked, Hungary is home to three sizeable lakes including Lake Balaton, the largest fresh water body in Europe, where thousands of visitors arrive each summer to bath, swim, boat or otherwise unwind. The mighty Danube River flows through the heart of the country, a suitably regal presence, whilst thermal springs emerge in some 80% of the national territory. Their piping hot waters are the perfect antidote to travel-weary bones.