Nestled in the heart of Hungary is a beautifully ornate city full of architectural delights. Its richly historic city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and was once nicknamed the City of Spas for having the most thermal baths and medicinal springs in the world.
The city proudly takes great care in preserving its past, possessing many cultural museums and iconic buildings, such as Parliament, the Fisherman's Bastion, the Chain Bridge, and Saint Stephen's Basilica. Divided by the Danube river, Buda and Pest are but two sides to the same coin. Along the river’s banks are seven islands, the star among them being Margaret Island. The island features recreational areas, nightclubs, pools, sports facilities, and terraces filled with Budapest's lively nightlife during the summer. At night, the city’s iconic sites are lit up, elevating their grandeur against the dark of night, providing a sparkling backdrop that is perfect for a romantic evening stroll.
The tastes of Hungary
Possibly Hungary’s most well-known dish is the creamy and comforting Chicken Paprikash, a paprika-based stew typically served with dumplings or pasta. The best versions of the dish are often made by locals with secret, multigenerational family recipes, but many restaurants feature their own take on the dish. Other deliciously unique snacks include lángos (fried dough topped with cheese and sour cream) and the Kürtőskalács, or Chimney Cakes, which are basically a crisp, hollow cinnamon roll.
The baths of Budapest
Budapest’s baths are synonymous with relaxation and wellbeing. The city’s 120 baths range from Buda’s old-world elite style to Pest’s chic modern version, and they offer an elegant and inviting way to experience a piece of Budapest’s history. The best-known of Budapest’s baths are the Gellért Baths. Housed in a spectacular building with world-class facilities, they include a huge indoor pool that is surrounded by columns and crowned by a stunning glass dome. The Rudas Thermal Baths, built by the Ottomans in 1550, feature an octagonal pool that is covered by an impressive dome and surrounded by smaller pools and baths. Considered to be the largest spa in Europe, Széchenyi has 15 pools that contain groundwater, saunas, steam baths, and other features, all housed in an imposing 1913 building in the Neo-Gothic style. Lukács Thermal Bath used to be the meeting point of artists and writers; today, it is a favorite among locals, making it less touristy than other baths in town.
The sights of Budapest
One could spend a lifetime strolling Budapest’s lively streets, admiring the ornate architecture and touring the countless museums. The most iconic landmark is Buda Castle, a palace atop a hill with sweeping views of the city. Connecting Buda and Pest is the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, the first bridge to span the Danube. Guests can visit St. Stephen’s Basilica, which was named after Stephen I, the first King of Hungary (whose right hand is housed in the reliquary). A few blocks north is the landmark Hungarian Parliament. This amazing structure ranks as the third largest Parliament building in the world, and offers tours daily. A stroll down Andrássy Avenue, an iconic boulevard lined with spectacular Neo-Renaissance mansions a number of restaurants and high-end shops, leads travelers to Heroes’ Square and one of the finest museums in Budapest, The Museum of Fine Arts. The beautiful museum opened in 1906, and has since remained a shining gem in the city’s Neoclassical crown. The portico, with its impressive columns, welcomes travelers to a magnificent arts center’s vast collection includes pieces from Ancient Greece and Rome, and the works of contemporary art masters. Budapest is home to many points of interest, and like any big city, its pleasures never cease.
The best time to go
Tourists come and go throughout the year, enjoying the warm, sunny days of summer as much as the brisk winter nights. Almost every month has something to offer, be it blankets of snow and theater openings or art and spring festivals. In other words, it is always a good time to visit Budapest.