Located right in the centre of Hungary, with the romantic river Danube running through it, Budapest is a dazzling and fascinating city that has absorbed snippets of culture and history from many different countries and eras. Budapest is beautiful at all times of the year, with the thermal baths or skiing in the Buda Hills to enjoy mid winter and city walking and pretty parks to see in the summer months. However, it must be said the best time to visit Budapest is when the temperature is warm and the air crisp, in spring or autumn.

Budapest is known for its stunning buildings, river cruises and thermal baths, all of which are easily navigated by the charming tram system running through the city. There are several islands dotting the city on the river Danube and these are well worth a visit for their parks and activities, or even clubbing. River cruises or tours are popular and a great way to see the splendid buildings lining the banks of the river.

Lots of Budapest's magnificence can be enjoyed just from walking along the banks of the Danube. The stunning Parliament building and Buda Castle or Royal Palace are both spectacular examples of neo-Gothic architecture, and there are several Gothic churches in the city for history lovers.  The incredible Vajdahunyad Castle, resting on the edge of the river, is a fairy tale display of all the styles of Hungarian buildings, mixing art nouveau and baroque with gothic architecture. The fine art museum is right next to the palace of art and the Aquincum museum holds great examples of Roman remains. The city has lots of parks and green spaces, including the popular Memento Park with its famous  communist memorial.

Budapest is a city of cafés, and the old coffee houses retain their decadence of yore, warmly lit and bedecked in marble and wood, art nouveau lamps create a true bohemian feel. You can enjoy fine Hungarian pastries such as pozsonyi kifli, a nutty fruity pastry or the warm cinnamon flavoured chimney cake, while sipping strong coffee. Hungary is famous for its fantastic pastries but also for its warming goulash, or stew, to keep you going in the evenings. 

A trip to Budapest wouldn't be complete without a trip to the baths; a natural thermal hot spring sometimes called medicinal baths due to the healing and soothing mixture of natural chemicals in the water. There are baths outdoors, open in the evening and even when the city is covered in snow and there are gorgeous indoor baths in a Roman decorative style. 

Overview

Renowned for its natural hot springs, visitors have simply not experienced Budapest without 'taking to the waters' as the locals call it. The city is peppered with historic baths waiting for visitors to take a dip; the baths are even known to host parties that run all through the night! Budapest is just as infamous for its lively culture as it is for its architectural beauty. Home to the 7 day Sziget Music Festival, Budapest is fast becoming the place to go for a European city break. Culturally, Budapest is overflowing with gastronomic delights, from typical dishes like Goulash, to doughy cheesy delights such as Langos. From al fresco dining in amongst the city's bustling streets, to the must-visit Great Market Hall; visitors are somewhat overwhelmed with choice when it comes to tasting the plethora of delicious foods and drink on offer in this vibrant city.

Highly influenced by Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Neo-Classical styles, it is easy to imagine how utterly superb Budapest's architecture must look. However, it is not until visitors are walking amongst the romantic chain bridges, picturesque museums, theatres, churches, baths and ruins that they get a real sense of the city's vibrant and colourful history dating as far back as the 13th century. Budapest is a stunning city offering wonder after wonder to anyone who visits.

Key Facts

  • Currency: Hungarian Forint (HUF) and Euro (EUR)
    Language: Hungarian, English widely spoken
    Approximate flight time from the UK: 2 hours
    Time zone: GMT +1

Great For

History lovers: With more archaic monuments and dramatic buildings than any historian could hope to find, Budapest can easily take a week to discover its historic past alone.
Photographers: Around every corner, snap-happy visitors will find another photo opportunity. The city's romantic architecture and pretty streets really lend themselves to be photographed.
Foodies: With both local and international cuisines available to taste, Budapest is the place to be for a truly immersive cultural experience. From restaurants, cafes, bars and markets, foodies are spoilt for choice in this colourful city.

Royal Palace

Also known as Buda Castle, the Palace has astoundingly been rebuilt several times since it was first built in the 13th century. The palace has transformed from Renaissance to Baroque and Neo-Baroque styles making it a real sight to behold as it stands today. There are many parts that make up the palace including the Hungarian National Gallery which displays Hungarian art through the centuries including paintings and wood sculptures. The Budapest History Museum can also be found here, this a great way to learn about the city's fascinating history. The Palace can be reached by foot, bus or funicular.
Address: Királyi Palota, Budapest, Buda, Castle Hill, District 1
Opening hours:
National Gallery: 10am - 6pm, Tuesday - Sunday
Budapest History Museum: 10am - 6pm, Tuesday - Sunday (March - Oct). 10am - 4pm, Tuesday - Sunday (November - February)

Széchenyi Thermal Baths

As one of Europe's largest natural medicinal baths, this is the ideal spot to take to the waters, wind down and relax, and with 18 pools to choose from visitors are spoilt for choice here. The baths have been developed throughout the 1900s to include a Jacuzzi, hot tub, sauna, a massage parlour, and even a medical department which provides drink therapy, carbon dioxide baths and mud treatments. Set amongst a magnificently grand building, this is both a unique and picturesque way to experience Budapest's famous thermal baths.
Address: Budapest, XIV. kerület Állatkerti körút 9-11. H-1146
Opening hours: Outdoor Pool: 6am - 10pm, Indoor Pools: 6am - 7pm (Monday-Sunday)
Cost: Prices vary per time of day, full day tickets start at 4,400 HUF
Website: http://szechenyispabaths.com/

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

This is the city's first bridge connecting Buda and Pest before they were known as just Budapest as it is today. Ornately decorated by English engineer, William Clark, the bridge displays detailed lion heads and the Budapest coat of arms. Once it is lit up at night, the bridge becomes a romantic walkway ideal for evening strolls and for spectacular views of the Danube running below. During weekends lively festivals are often held on the bridge which should not be missed for a taste of the city's vibrant culture.
Address: Széchenyi Lánchíd, Budapest
Cost: Free

Budapest Parliament building

Situated in the Pest area of Hungary's capital, Budapest's Parliament building dramatically overlooks the Danube signifying a pivotal moment in Hungary's political history. Exuding Neo-Gothic elegance and grandeur, the building is said to be partly inspired by the Palace of Westminster which is clear to see with its many turrets and arches scaling the building. Guided tours of the building are available which takes visitors through the main hall to the lobby and into the old House of Lords and to the Crown Jewels. The tour takes around 45 minutes and is a great way to learn a bit about Hungary's past.
Address: Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary
Opening hours: 8am - 4pm, October - April, 8am - 6pm, May - September.
Cost: Tickets should be booked online, prices vary per group size, time of day and year
Website: http://www.budapest-parliament.com/

Fisherman's Bastion

A visit to this attraction is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy some of the most magnificent panoramic views of Budapest. Overlooking the Danube, visitors will find ornate balconies with views of Budapest Parliament across the river, which looks particularly spectacular when it is lit up during the evening. The Bastion has seven magical turrets to represent each founder of Hungary since 895, creating a fairytale-esque effect which makes the Bastion a must-see attraction on the Buda side of the Danube.
Address: Budapest, Szentháromság tér, 1014 Hungary
Opening hours: All day every day
Cost: The majority of the bastion is free to visit; upper turrets have a small entrance fee of around 700 HUF
Website: http://www.fishermansbastion.com/

Have you been to Budapest recently? What are the must-do experiences that you'd suggest? Do you have tips on how to stretch that holiday budget a bit further or know of a hidden-gem that’s easy to miss?


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