Budapest © Moyan Brenn

Hungary's location in the centre of Europe makes it one of the best starting points for an Eastern European journey. It's both typically European and distinctly Hungarian, incorporating a mixture of historical and present-day pleasures. The country proudly upholds its traditions, culture and art, while staying attentive to the modern world.

Hungary has seen numerous dynastic changes throughout its history, from Turkish occupation to the era of Communism. Quaint little towns, countryside ruins and storied cities attest to this turbulent past, with a rich mosaic of architectural styles and fortified hilltop castles. Neither Slavic nor Germanic, the Hungarian people are formal, reserved and intensely proud of their heritage and the cosmopolitan capital, Budapest.

Budapest is situated on a lovely stretch of the Danube. The river gives the city an air of romance and beauty, enchanting visitors with its astounding grace. Outside the capital, the rolling hills, rivers, lakes and vineyards hold much to amuse the visitor. Indeed, the Baroque town of Eger attracts many with its fine wines.

There is also a surfeit of historic riverside villages along the Danube Bend, not to mention commanding fortresses, castles and palaces. Other popular tourist spots include the resort-lined Lake Balaton and the thermal spas and volcanically-heated lake at Hévíz.