Straddling the Danube River, with the Buda Hills to the west and the Great Plain to the east, Budapest is a gem of a city.
The Hand of Man
Budapest’s beauty is not all God-given; man has played a role in shaping this pretty face too. Architecturally, Budapest is a treasure, with enough baroque, neoclassical, Eclectic and art nouveau (Secessionist) buildings to satisfy anyone’s appetite. Overall, though, Budapest has a fin-de-siècle feel to it, for it was then, during the capital’s ‘golden age’, that most of what you see today was built. Nearly every building has some interesting or unusual detail, from art nouveau glazed tiles and neoclassical bas-reliefs to bullet holes and shrapnel scorings left over from WWII and the 1956 Uprising that still cry out in silent fury.
The Past Is Near
They say the past is another country, but it’s always been just around the corner in Budapest. Witness those scars from WWII and 1956. There are sad reminders like the poignant Shoes on the Danube memorial, but ones, too, of hope and reconciliation – like the ‘sword’ of the former secret police building on Andrássy út now beaten into the ‘ploughshare’ that is the House of Terror, with both sides of the story told. And there’s joy as much-loved concert halls get built and renovated, metro lines extended and busy streets pedestrianised.
Eat, Drink & Be Magyar
There is a lot more to Hungarian food than goulash and it remains one of the most sophisticated styles of cooking in Europe. Magyars even go so far as to say there are three essential world cuisines: French, Chinese and their own. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Budapest’s reputation as a food capital dates largely from the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries and, despite a fallow period during the days of Communism, is once again commanding attention. So, too, are its world-renowned wines – from Villány’s big-bodied reds and Somló’s flinty whites to honey-gold Tokaj.
In the Soak
Budapest is blessed with an abundance of hot springs – some 123 thermal and more than 400 mineral springs, in fact, from 14 different sources. As a result, ‘taking the waters’ has been a Budapest experience since the time of the Romans. The choice of bathhouses is generous – you can choose among Turkish-era, art nouveau and modern establishments. Some people come seeking a cure for whatever ails them, but the majority are there for fun and relaxation – though we still maintain it’s the world’s best cure for what Hungarians call a macskajaj (‘cat’s wail’, or hangover).
Why I Love Budapest
By Steve Fallon, Author
I love Budapest for all the right reasons – architecture (especially art nouveau), romance (particularly the views from the bridges) and sticky apricot jam (only on toast) – and some of the wrong ones, too (killer pálinka, rickety trolleybuses, and checking bodies out in the Turkish baths). When I first came to Budapest (by chance, as it happened), I was bowled over by an often sad but confident city whose history seemed too complex to comprehend, by a beautiful and expressive language that I considered impenetrable, and by a people I thought I’d never know. I stayed on to learn more about all three.
Best places to stay in Budapest
Budapest city guide
Budapest is a paradise for explorers.
Exploring the 'ruin pubs' of Budapest's seventh district
Budapest’s seventh district, once home to a flourishing Jewish community before World War II but which languished for decades after, has emerged as one of the best bar-hopping 'hoods on the busy Pest side of the Danube...
Shopping in Budapest
Best places to eat in Budapest
Budapest - Planning (Chapter)
Your journey to Budapest starts here.
Beginner's guide to Hungarian wine
Budapesters love their wine and take it seriously, but in summer spritzers of red or white wine and mineral water are consumed in large quantities. Knowing the hierarchy and the art of mixing a spritzer to taste is important and will definitely win you the badge of 'honorary local'. A kisfröccs (small spritzer) is 100ml (3...
Tours of Budapest
Budapest - The Castle District (Chapter)
Castle Hill (Varhegy), core of Budapest’s history, is packed with important museums and other attractions.
Budapest Half-Day Sightseeing Tour
With a half day to discover Budapest, the Grand City Sightseeing Tour makes the perfect introduction for the first time visitor. With hotel pickup included and the option of a morning or afternoon departure, see all the key sites from the comfort of your motor coach.
Budapest Airport Private Arrival Transfer
Travel from Budapest International Airport to your Budapest City hotel or Budapest river cruise port. Transfer services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The world's hottest cool places
The rewards for braving the cold are many. The northern hemisphere offers wonderful winter travel, with fewer crowds than in the summer months. A dusting of snow makes anywhere look charming, and it's one time of year when you can get away with wearing seriously nasty jumpers...
Budapest - Southern Pest (Chapter)
Jozsefvaros (Joseph Town) and Ferencvaros (Francis, or Franz, Town) are traditionally working class and full of students.