Hungary offers visitors one of the major cultural capitals of Europe, thermal water centers and a lake resort area among its treasures. It’s a fairly compact country, enabling you to see as much as possible during your stay. Hungary can be divided into five tourist regions including Budapest and its surroundings, Balaton, Puszta and Lake Tiszta, Pannonia (Transdanubia) and Eger-Tokaj Hilly Wine Region.

Start your exploration of Hungary in the capital city of Budapest, home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites including the lovely Danube River. The city is divided in two by the Danube, with each side boasting its own personality. Buda, on the west bank, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage site, the historic castle district of medieval streets and houses, and the Royal Palace. Pest, on the east bank, and is where you’ll find the major shopping, dining and nightlife. Highlights here include the largest parliament building in Europe, The Great Synagogue -- the second largest in the world -- and Andrássy Avenue, the iconic boulevard and Budapest’s third UNESCO World Heritage site.

Head for the “Hungarian Sea,” the 50-mile-long Lake Balaton for fun in the sun and sailing. Located about three to four hours by rail from Budapest, the lake’s summer water temperature is around 80° F., which is warmer than the average air temperature in the morning and in the evening. Party-goers will enjoy Siófok, the largest town on the southern side.

Explore local vineyards in the region as well as the nearby spa town of Hévíz, home to a natural thermal lake. There are actually more than 1,000 hot springs throughout Hungary, many of which are now baths and spas. Others include the Szechenyi baths in Budapest.

Be sure to stop at the Vaci Utca, a pedestrian shopping street on the Pest side, to get your fill of gift shops, galleries and boutiques. Also include the nearby farmer’s market at Liberty Bridge. Don’t go home without the national spice, paprika -- hot or sweet.

The national dish is goulash, and any visit to Hungary should include a couple of samples of the dish so you can decide your favorite version. Besides Hungarian restaurants, you’ll be able to find international cuisines and Jewish foods. Hungary has 22 designated wine regions, so be sure to sample the local favorites wherever you area.

Hungary's international airport is Budapest Ferihegy Airport. MALéV Hungarian Airlines is the national airline. Another international airport is located in Debrecen, three miles from the city.

There are no regular domestic flights. Budapest lies in the center of Hungary and any point in the country can be reached within three to four hours via regularly scheduled bus and train service. Boat cruises connect Budapest with resorts along the Danube Bend in northern Hungary.

Within the city of Budapest, you can get around via public transportation either by bus, tram, trolley bus or underground. There are also suburban railway lines reaching to the outskirts of the city. It is best to call for taxi service instead of hailing one in the street for the lowest rates.

Hungaryhas a temperate climate, where January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 30° F., and August the warmest with an average temperature of 70° F.