BUDAPEST is one of Europe’s under-rated cities – it might be a city break the first time you visit but you’ll want a longer stay next time for sure to fit in all there is to do.
It’s first and foremost a beautiful city, split in two by the awesome River Danube.
On the one side, Buda, with its cobbled streets and centuries-old charm. On the other bank of the river is Pest, which rose to prominence much later during the 19th century.
The best way to explore each embankment is by tram which wind their way past the major landmarks on both sides of the river, but for a truly unforgettable view of the city take a Danube cruise – an awesome experience.
Budapest for sight-seeing
The key landmarks of hilly Buda are in the Castle District, home to the gothic Matthias Church and the domed Royal Palace. The City Park sweeps up to monumental Heroes Square, renowned for its Old Master paintings and frescoes.
The Park is a popular venue no matter the season. The Vajdahunyad Castle lies in the background and dominates the view. During the summer a paddleboat trip across the lake is a must while in winter it’s transformed into an ice rink for local and visitors to skate on.
Set aside a few hours during your stay to visit the Hungarian Parliament Building in Kossuth ter. Guided tours of the Parliament are available when the National Assembly is not in session. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and is well worth the price, as it covers the main entrance stairs and hall, one of the lobbies, the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels.
And if someone suggests you need a bath while you’re in Budapest, don’t take offence. They are recommending a trip to one of the many thermal springs in the city.
Hungary is a land of thermal springs, and Budapest is the only capital city in the world that is so rich in waters with healing qualities. Budapest is also one of the few places where you can experience traditional Turkish baths dating back to 16th and 17th centuries. Visit Rudas, Kiraly or Veli Bej.
Budapest for shopping
The Váciutca pedestrian street between Vörösmarty square and the Market Square is Budapest’s largest shopping centre. This is where you will find the international fashion houses, souvenir shops, wine shops and several galleries.
But it can be pricey. Many locals think that the prices in this area are too high and instead do their shopping in Pest’s gigantic Westend or in the shops in the Great Ring, the boulevard around the city centre.
It’s worth visiting Nagycsarnok on Vamhaz street, Budapest’s great market hall built in 1896, which has everything that Hungary can offer in the way of speciality food.