Hungary, a country nestled in the heart of Europe, boasts a long and glorious history, vibrant culture, and diverse landscapes. This Central European gem is famous for its capital city, Budapest, but big city life isn't for everyone. I moved to Hungary in 2017 and haven't left yet. While I've chosen Budapest as my home abroad, there are some other options many outside of Hungary don't realize.
Whether you're drawn to the bustling energy of the capital or the tranquility of lakeside living, Hungary offers a variety of options for any of you who are considering moving here.
Let's take a closer look at some of the best places to live in Hungary.
Budapest is Famous for...
As the capital and largest city of Hungary, Budapest is renowned for its stunning architecture, thermal baths, ruin bars, and the majestic Danube River. The bustling metropolis is a hub of vibrant nightlife, cultural events, and historical landmarks such as Buda Castle, the Hungarian Parliament Building, and the Fisherman's Bastion.
Pros of Living in Budapest
There's always something to do - living in Budapest is a lot of fun! Budapest is a cultural hub, offering theaters, museums, and galleries for art enthusiasts. The city is also quite intercultural, so you can try both traditional Hungarian cuisine and international food.
As the economic center of Hungary, Budapest provides numerous job opportunities in various industries and multinational companies. Thanks to its central location, you're able to visit neighboring countries such as Austria or the Czech Republic quite easily!
Cons of Living in Budapest
Compared to other Hungarian cities, the cost of living in Budapest is relatively higher. Also, because of its dense population, this beautiful city can experience heavy road traffic, especially during rush hours.
Pécs is Famous for...
Pécs, located in the southwest of Hungary, is celebrated for its well-preserved Roman architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and the Pécs Cathedral. The city has a rich history dating back to ancient times.
Pros of Living in Pécs
Pécs has a strong cultural diversity, with numerous festivals, theaters, and art events throughout the year. Home to the University of Pécs, it is also an educational hub, attracting students from around the world, contributing to a lively atmosphere. It's also close to Hungary's famous Villány wine region, making Pécs a great city base for wine adventures.
Cons of Living in Pécs
Job opportunities may be more limited compared to other cities like Budapest. For those seeking a bustling urban environment, the smaller population of Pécs may feel comparatively quiet.
Debrecen is Famous For...
Debrecen is the second-largest city in Hungary and is recognized for its historical significance, including the Great Reformed Church and the University of Debrecen.
Pros of Living in Debrecen
The city is home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Hungary, giving interested students access to great educational opportunities. Debrecen boasts numerous parks and green spaces (such as the Great Forest), providing a pleasant environment for residents. The city also hosts various cultural events (such as the famous Flower Carnival), festivals, and concerts.
Cons of Living in Debrecen
Since it's such a small city, the nightlife scene in Debrecen may not be as vibrant as in Budapest. Also, as the city is spread out, some areas may require a car for convenient access even though there are public transportation options available.
Eger is Famous for...
Nestled in the western part of Hungary, Eger is famous for its well-preserved Baroque architecture, the Castle of Eger, and the production of Egri Bikavér, a renowned red wine.
Pros of Living in Eger
Eger's charming old town and well-preserved historic sites make it an attractive place for those who appreciate cultural heritage.
The city is situated in a wine-producing region, offering residents the chance to explore local vineyards and wineries. In fact, one of the most notable attractions is a visit to the Valley of Beautiful Women, where you can spend the day tasting high quality wines from all sorts of different cellars.
Eger is also well-situated to the surrounding countryside, and nature lovers can pay a visit to Bukk National Park.
Cons of Living in Eger
Like other smaller cities, Eger may have fewer job opportunities compared to larger urban centers. Also, during peak seasons, Eger has to deal with swelling tourist crowds.
5. Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton is Famous for...
Lake Balaton, often referred to as the "Hungarian Sea," is the largest lake in Central Europe and a popular destination for water activities, festivals, and relaxation. The lakeside towns dotted around the coastline all give you different reasons to settle there.
As a rule of thumb, the northern shore of the lake is known for more peaceful, upscale towns (such as Balatonfüred) that are concerned with sailing and wine tasting, while the southern shore is known for being lively (like in the party capital, Siófok), and even family-friendly thanks to the shallow water that stretches far out into the lake.
Pros of Living in Lake Balaton
The lake and its surrounding areas provide breathtaking landscapes and a serene environment. Residents can enjoy a wide range of recreational activities like water sports, cycling, and hiking. Since Balaton is such an established tourist destination, living in one of the towns around Lake Balaton offers the chance to experience a vibrant tourist atmosphere during the summer.
Cons of Living in Lake Balaton
Some towns around Lake Balaton may experience a seasonal economy, with tourism being a major driver. When it's the off-season, life at Lake Balaton becomes truly quiet. Also, smaller towns around the lake may lack the urban comforts found in larger cities.
Szeged is Famous for...
Known as the "City of Sunshine" for its high number of sunny days, Szeged is famous for its stunning architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and the University of Szeged, one of the oldest and most prestigious in Hungary.
Pros of Living in Szeged
With a reputable university, Szeged attracts a diverse and dynamic community of students and academics, making it an academic hub. The city hosts numerous festivals, including the Szeged Open-Air Theatre Festival, drawing artists and performers from around the world.
Cons of Living in Szeged
Szeged is situated in the southern part of Hungary, and at a 2-3 hour train journey, it's not well-positioned for a quick trip up to Budapest (however, it's well-positioned if you want to have adventures in Serbia or Transylvania). While the city thrives in academia and culture, job opportunities in certain industries may be limited compared to larger urban centers.
Győr is Famous for...
Győr is renowned for its well-preserved Baroque architecture, charming old town, and its strategic location at the meeting point of three rivers—the Danube, Rába, and Rábca. Positioned close to the Austrian border, it's often chosen by professionals because it's an affordable city that's a convenient halfway point between Budapest and Vienna.
Pros of Living in Győr
Győr is a thriving industrial center, home to the Audi factory, making it an ideal location for professionals in the automotive and manufacturing sectors. The city isn't short on historical charm, as its old town boasts picturesque old town streets, medieval buildings, and a rich history that adds to its overall vibe.
I love sitting in the main square for a coffee or an ice cream! With several parks and the Rába Quelle Thermal Bath and Spa, Győr offers opportunities for relaxation and outdoor activities.
Cons of Living in Győr
While Győr has its share of historical charm, it may not offer the same variety and frequency of cultural events as larger cities like Budapest. For those seeking the hustle and bustle of a larger city, Győr's relatively smaller size might be a drawback.
Sopron is Famous for...
Situated in Western Hungary, Sopron is famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture and unique status as the only city in Hungary that held a referendum to decide whether to stay part of Hungary or join Austria after World War I. Not to mention, if you've ever seen the ubiquitous Hungarian Soproni beer in any bars...well now you know where it gets its name!
Pros of Living in Sopron
Sopron's old town features cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and the iconic Firewatch Tower. The region is known for its vineyards, and Sopron wines, especially the Kékfrankos variety, have gained recognition among wine enthusiasts (definitely take the time to sample the local wines!
Sopron's proximity to Vienna makes it an attractive option for those seeking international experiences, as there is easy access to the Austrian capital.
Cons of Living in Sopron
Similar to Szeged, Sopron may have a more limited job market compared to larger cities like Budapest. Sopron's tranquility and small-town atmosphere may not suit individuals seeking a bustling urban lifestyle.
About Living in Hungary
Visas in Hungary
Most people who move to Hungary do so because of their job - be that teaching English, teaching at an international school, or from a transfer with an international company. If that's the case, you might be limited when choosing exactly where you decide to live in Hungary.
Although, since Hungary is part of the European Union, Europeans can freely decide to live in Hungary, choosing which of these best cities will be your new home.
Hungary is always one of the European countries that offers a visa for remote workers, meaning you can legally bring your online job to Hungary with you, even if you're not from the EU. This is called Hungary's White Card and is worth investigating if you already work online and dream of living in Hungary.
The official currency of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). While major cities and tourist areas often accept credit cards, it's advisable to carry some cash, especially in more rural regions. Expats often find that the cost of living in Hungary is relatively affordable to other major cities, making it an attractive destination for those looking to stretch their budget without sacrificing quality of life.
Hungarian, known locally as Magyar, is the official language and is quite unique from the languages of any of the surrounding countries. While English is increasingly spoken, especially in the capital and among the younger population, learning some basic Hungarian phrases can help you navigate daily life, win points with the locals, and better understand Hungary's rich culture!
It'll be easier to learn the language once immersed in it, especially if you study in-person and practice daily, but I recommend getting a head start at least with the basics by practicing the language with Mondly.
One of the things I love about living in Budapest is that it's so well-located to travel all around Europe and beyond! Hungary's central location makes it a convenient starting point for travel adventures.
Whether it's a weekend getaway to Vienna, a road trip to the picturesque countryside of Slovakia, a beer weekend in Prague, or a visit to the seaside towns of Croatia, Hungary's strategic location provides ample opportunities for exploration.
Also there are convenient transportation routes within Hungary via the MAV railway network.
Where Will You Live in Hungary?
While I'm biased toward Budapest myself, Hungary has so much more to offer beyond the beautiful architecture and bustling life of its capital city. Whether you're drawn to a quieter life in the countryside or you're pursuing your studies, Hungary's different cities can suit various preferences and lifestyles.
It's essential to consider factors such as job opportunities, cultural offerings, and lifestyle preferences when choosing the best place to call home.
All photos by depositphotos.com