I have finally managed to get round to writing a little bit about what we experienced in Hungary. After a few changes to our initial plan, we are glad that we started in Hungary. The weather was fantastic and it was different enough from Ireland to feel like you are actually travelling but not so different for it to feel like we had landed on a different planet. Budapest was as expected. It had lots of culture, period architecture and buildings, mixed with some communist style calamities. The Parliament, the Castle, the Danube and the bridges across the river stole the show, especially at night.
If you are visiting Hungary – you will get away with English in Budapest, the but moment you move away from Budapest, no-one will speak English. German is spoken to some degree by everyone.
In most towns we visited there are ample cycle lanes and in the more touristy areas like Lake Velence and Lake Balaton, there are hundreds of kilometers of cycle lanes that take you pretty much everywhere you wish to go in the area.
The drivers are very considerate towards cyclists. In some circumstances, it appeared to us that, they would rather have an accident with another car than injure a cyclist! We felt safe at all time – not just on the roads – but in towns and villages. Crime doesn’t seem to be a major issue, public drunkenness and general loutish behaviour was non-existent where we visited. In general, everyone we had dealings with were very friendly.
Most importantly, for cyclists at the start of their tour, the countryside is flat – hardly a hill of note to be found anywhere. The scenery is mostly flat farmland – which was very pleasant for us to cycle through.
The Hungarian people seem very proud of their country. The streets were clean, the grass verges were largely free of litter. We would frequently see teams of people (both paid and volunteers) cleaning up any stray litter and pulling up weeds in the footpaths and verges.
The infrastructure is excellent. There are plenty of motorways and A roads for cars and trucks to get from A to B as fast as possible, but also plenty of small roads for us cyclists who want to enjoy remoteness and the scenery.
Prices for accommodation and food is reasonable (even for us) if you don’t mind hunting around a bit for the cheaper places, rather than going to the first place that you see. Prices for accommodation can always be negotiated – off peak season at least!
All in all, we had a great experience in our first country on our trip and would definitely recommend it to other travellers.