Hortobágy is both the name of a village in Hajdú-Bihar county and an 800 km² national park in Eastern Hungary, rich with folklore and cultural history. The park, a part of the Alföld (Great Plain), was designated as a national park in 1973 (the first in Hungary), and elected among the World Heritage sites in 1999. The Hortobágy is Hungary’s largest protected area, and the largest natural grassland in Europe.
Hortobágy is a steppe, a grassy plain with cattle, sheep, oxen, and horses, tended by herdsmen, and it provides habitat for various different species (342 bird species have been documented, including the Common Crane, Dotterel, Stone Curlew and Great Bustard). One of its most iconic sites is the Nine-holed Bridge. Traditional T-shaped sweep wells dot the landscape, as well as the occasional mirage of trees shimmering in the reflected heat of the Puszta.
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it serves as the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre.
Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, its extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest in the world. Other highlights include a total of 80 geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city attracts about 2.3 million tourists a year.
Lake Balaton is a freshwater lake in the Transdanubian region of Hungary. It is the largest lake in Central Europe, and one of its foremost tourist destinations. As Hungary is landlocked, it is often affectionately called the “Hungarian Sea”. The Zala River provides the largest inflow of water to the lake, and the canalized Sió is the only outflow.
The mountainous region of the Northern shore is known both for its historic character and as a major wine region, while the flat Southern shore is known for its resort towns. Balatonfüred and Hévíz developed early as resorts for the wealthy, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that landowners, their vines destroyed by lice, began building summer homes to rent out to the burgeoning middle classes.