Budapest has something for everyone – from dramatic history and architecture to healing thermal waters and a nightlife that is unrivalled in Eastern and Central Europe.
Budapest’s beauty is not all God given; humankind has played a role in shaping this pretty face too.
The Human Touch
Overall, though, Budapest has a fin de siècle feel to it, for it was then, during the capital’s ‘golden age' in the late 19th century, that most of what you see today was built.
They say the past is another country, but it’s always been just around the corner in Budapest. Witness the bullet holes and shrapnel pockmarks on buildings from WWII and the 1956 Uprising.
The Past at Hand
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 – left and right – told.
There's a lot more to Hungarian food than goulash, and it remains one of the most sophisticated styles of cooking in Eastern and Central Europe.
Magyars may exaggerate when they say there's three essential cuisines – French, Chinese and their own. But Budapest’s reputation as a food capital dates from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Despite a fallow period under communism, the city is once again commanding attention. So, too, are Hungary's excellent wines – from Eger's complex reds and Somló’s flinty whites to honey-sweet Tokaj.
Budapest is blessed with an abundance of hot springs. As a result, ‘taking the waters’ has been an experience here since the time of the Romans.
The array of bathhouses is generous – you can choose from Turkish-era, art nouveau and modern establishments.
Some come seeking a cure for what ails them, but the majority are there for fun and relaxation – though we maintain it’s the best cure for what Hungarians call a macskajaj (cat’s wail) – hangover.
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