Hungary: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Hungary guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

Travellers writing diary accounts usually treat Hungary rather cursorily as they make tracks for ‘more exotic’ Romania or places beyond.

Between the Woods and the Water (Patrick Leigh Fermor) Describing his 1933 walk through Western and Central Europe to Constantinople as a young man, Fermor wrote the classic account of Hungary.

Under the Frog (Tibor Fischer) An amusing account of the antics of two members of Hungary’s elite national basketball team from the end of WWII through the 1956 Uprising.

Danube (Claudio Magris) A colourful account of the author’s journey through Central Europe, following the path of the Danube; written a handful of years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Hungarian Girl Trap (Ray Dexter) Insightful personal account of life in modern-day Budapest for an expat who, like so many others, fell in love with a beautiful Hungarian girl.

Hungary & the Hungarians: The Keywords (István Bart) Subtitled ‘A Concise Dictionary of Facts, Beliefs, Customs, Usage & Myths’, this book will prepare you for (and guide you through) just about everything Magyar – from ABC (a kind of greengrocer under the old regime) to Zsolnay.

Stealing from a Deep Place (Brian Hall) Sensitive but never cloying, the author describes his tempered love affair with the still-communist Budapest of the 1980s while completing a two-year cycle tour of Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

The City of the Magyar or Hungary and Her Institutions in 1839–40 (Julia Pardoe) This three-volume part-travelogue, part-history by a British spinster is priceless for its vivid descriptions of events such as the devastating Danube floods of 1838.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.