Beautiful Budapest is Hungary’s capital and the country’s biggest city. Steeped in history and dazzling architecture, a weekend spent there is never wasted.
Formerly split into two towns, Buda rising from the Western hills and to the East, the flatter Pest. Separated by the River Danube, they were connected by the Széchenyi Chain Bridge in 1849.
This boulevard is 1.4m long and links the City Park with Erzsébet Square, the largest inner city green area. Andrássy Avenue was made a World Heritage Site in 2002 and is lined with spectacular Neo-Renaissance mansions and buildings, including the State Opera House, Hungarian University of Fine Arts and the Ferenc Hopp Museum of East Asian Arts. Spend a morning here discovering the amazing architecture and enjoy a relaxed brunch in one of the many cafés dotted down the avenue.
From Andrássy Avenue, take a walk down to the City Park and visit one of the city’s many spas, Gellert Spa. This Art Nouveau decorated building is over a century old and houses 10 pools to relax in after a day sightseeing. The outdoor wave pool is popular in the summer and lots of fun. Top tip: take your own flip flops. Suitable footwear is compulsory on the pool decks. They can be bought but usually at an inflated price.
Hungarian National Museum
Budapest has over 200 museums, so you’ll never run out of places to explore. The biggest is the Hungarian National Museum, located in a three-acre garden specifically bought to house the museum. If you have plenty of time to spare, you can take a slow saunter through the archaeological and ethnic relics of Hungary’s past.
Down the Danube
Looking to expand your horizons into unchartered tourist territory? Take a trip down the Danube to Szentendre, just north of Budapest. It’s a quaint town mapped by cobblestone streets and can easily be explored by foot. Visit the Szamos Marcipán Múzeum and enjoy delicious treats in the café, take a leisurely stroll down the riverfront or grab an ice cream at the Centrum Ice Cream Parlor. Life in Szentendre is appreciated at a slower pace than busy Budapest, and it’s the perfect location for a relaxed day trip.
Eat, drink and be merry at Szimpla Kert
In recent years, ‘ruin bars’ have become increasingly popular with tourists in Budapest. These bars are usually situated in derelict, pre-war buildings kitted out in eclectic and quirky furniture and interiors. Szimpla Kert is the oldest of the bars and hosts a cinema and live music. We recommend enjoying an evening here and sampling the delights of its bakery or the homemade style street food they offer.
A night at the opera
For something a little different, enjoy a resplendent night at the opera. The city’s Hungarian State Opera House opened in 1875 and shares the Neo-Renaissance theme of so many of the historical buildings in the area. The building has a spacious terrace to enjoy a drink before you experience one of the many spectacular shows in the evening, or you can book a daytime tour for a more detailed look at the venue.
Star in your own fairytale
Fisherman’s Bastion, situated to the West of the city in Buda, resembles a castle from a fairytale. Originally built in the 19th century to serve as lookout towers, today they offer unrivaled panoramic views of Budapest.
Delve into communist history
Momento Park is an open-air museum filled with statues and plaques from Hungary’s communist history. It sits atop a hill in suburban Budapest, removed from downtown after the fall of communism in 1989. Statues of leaders such as Lenin and Marx stand as proletariat music blasts out over the hill. It’s a must-see if you’re interested in discovering more about the history of Budapest and Hungary.
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