Hungary is in the temperate zone and has a relatively dry continental climate. There are big differences in temperature between the four seasons: summers are hot, while winters are cold. Average temperatures range from -1 °C in January to 21 °C in July. Hungary is protected from extreme weather conditions by the surrounding mountain ranges: the Alps and the Carpathians. In the summer swimsuits are necessities. Hungary has hot water to spare. There are more than 1,000 natural springs in the country (and the world's largest thermal lake at Hévíz, near Lake Balaton), with 118 in Budapest alone.
Hungary is a landlocked country, situated in the Carpathian Basin. Its two longest rivers called Danube and Tisza divide Hungary into three parts: Transdanubia (to the west of the Danube), the plain between the Rivers Dunabe and Tisza, and the Trans-Tisza region (to the east of the Tisza). Hungary’s ‘mountains’ are actually hills, which seldom exceed an elevation of 1000 metres. Two-thirds of Hungary’s geographic area is less than 200 metres above sea level.
Lake Balaton, covering 598 km2, is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the country. The average depth of the lake is two to three metres, so the water warms up quickly in summer.
There are five national parks in Hungary. Two of them situated on the Great Plain – Hortobágy and Kiskunság – provide protection to the wildlife and fragile wetlands, marshes and saline grasslands of the open puszta. Two are in the north: in the almost completely wooded Bükk Hills and in the Aggtelek region with its extensive system of karst caves. The smallest park is at Lake Fertő situated at the Austrian border.
Hungary is home to more than 2000 flowering plant species, many of which are not normally found at this latitude. There are a lot of common European animals here (deer, wild hare, boar, otter) as well as some rare species (wild cat, lake bat, Pannonian lizard), and three-quarters of the country’s 450 vertebrates are birds, especially waterfowls, which are attracted by the rivers, lakes and wetlands.