A good range of restaurants are widely available and table
service is common, although there are many inexpensive self-service
restaurants. A typical menu offers 2 or 3 courses at inexpensive
prices. Fine dairy and pastry shops (cukrászda) offer
good light meals. Specialities include halászlé
(fish soups) with pasta and Goulash gulyás
soup. Western goulash is called pörkölt
or tokány. Stuffed vegetables, sweet
cakes, gundel palacsinta (pancake) and pastries are also very
Eszpresszó coffee bars and Drink bars offer a wide
range of refreshments. Gerbeaud’s is
probably Budapest’s most famous coffee-house. Tokaji
(strong dessert wine) or Bull’s Blood
are recommended. Pálinka or barack
(apricot brandy) is a typical liqueur. Imported beers and
soft drinks are also widely available. There are no
licensing hours, but the legal age for drinking
in a bar is 18 years. Minors are allowed to go into
bars but will not be served any alcohol.
Budapest has many nightclubs, discos
and bars. There are 2 casinos in Budapest and one next to
the Sofitel Hotel, and one near Buda castle.
Cinemas in major towns show English-language films. In the
summer months the popular Lake Balaton resort
has a lively nightlife.
Western Hungary in particular has a lot of good wine cellars.
Visitors would do well to search out traditional folk music
and dancing, as the gypsy music which is so common in restaurants
is not considered the ‘true’ folk tradition of
Hungary. The magnificent Budapest Opera House
stages regular performances, and seats are quite cheap.
Special purchases include embroideries, Herend and
Zsolnay porcelain and national dolls.
Department stores are open from Monday-Wednesday and Friday
1000-1800 hrs, Thursday 1000-2000 hrs, Saturday 0900-1300
Food shops are open from Monday-Friday 0700-1900 hrs, Saturday
For a detailed list of festivals and special events celebrated,
contact the Hungarian National Tourist Office or see online
The following is a selection of special events occurring in
Hungary in 2005:
18th- April 3rd
of the Budapest Spring
Budapest Early Music Festival.
of Our Age.
Hungarians enjoy modern music and dance, although older people
still preserve their traditions and their culture, particularly
in the small villages. Handshaking is customary and both Christian
name and surname should be used. Normal courtesies should
also be observed. At a meal, toasts are usually made and should
be then be returned. A useful word is egészségünkre
(pronounced ay-gash-ay-gun-gre), meaning ‘your health’.
Few people speak English outside the hotels, big restaurants
and tourist offices. A knowledge of German is quite useful.
Gifts are acceptable for the hosts as a token of thanks, particularly
when invited for a dinner or lunch.
Casual wear is acceptable in most places, with the exception
of expensive restaurants and some bars. Formal attire should
be worn for important social events, but it is not common
practice to specify dress on invitations.
is prohibited on public transport in towns and public buildings.
Travellers may smoke on long-distance trains.
Military installations should not be photographed
and other restrictions are usually signposted.
10 to 15 per cent is expected for nearly all services in the
restaurants, bars, clubs and taxis.