Budapest is a Central European metropolis unlike any other; it combines over one thousand year’s worth of history and culture with nature in a remarkable way. The bustling inner city of the Pest side and the romantic hills of the Buda side are separated from each other by the River Danube, along which 3 islands are dotted, creating a very diverse and picturesque cityscape. With such assets to boast with, no wonder Budapest has been entitled the “Pearl of the Danube”. The city is divided into 23 districts, with 17 on the Pest side, and only 6 on the Buda side. Each district has its own unique flavor and hidden treasures in need of discovering. From parks and squares, through museums and Turkish era bath houses, to throbbing nightlife, Budapest has it all and is guaranteed to entertain!
Being a highly centralized country, Budapest is undoubtedly the centre of Hungary, not geographically but socially, politically and economically. This is why the capital is inhabited by a stunning one fifth of the country’s total population, being roughly two million people.
BUDAPEST IN A NUTSHELL
In the core of the Pest side inner city is Deák Square, the biggest junction of the city where all three metro lines intersect each other, next to which the green Elizabeth Square lays, the central park of the city decorated with an artificial lake. It is from here that the Andrassy Avenue stems, the longest and grandest boulevard of the city leading all the way to the City Park. South of the Andrassy is the Jewish District conserving the Jewish culture of the city with four synagogues, giving home to little designer boutiques, small pubs and restaurants. North of the inner city is the Kossuth Square where the imposing building of the houses of Parliament stands, along with two other architectural masterpieces; the Museum of Ethnography and the Ministry of Agriculture. The largest Roman Catholic church of the city, the St. Stephen’s Basilica is located south of the Parliament. Vörösmarty Square and the Váci Street with its elegant Secessionist buildings are two gems decorating the centre between the Deák Square and the River Danube. At the end of Váci Street is the Central Market Hall, a great place to experience authentic Hungarian food in an authentic Hungarian atmosphere. The Danube Embankment, known as the Duna-Korso with its gorgeous view of the Buda hills is the place to go for a stroll.
The hilly Buda side owns the city’s natural assets, and is the place to go if one gets full to the brim with buildings and statues. The Gellért Hill is the tallest hill of the inner city with its 270 meters, decorated by the Statue of Liberty, the Citadel and a statue of Bishop Gellért with an artificial waterfall trickling down beneath it. The astonishing panorama from the top is a must see. On the Castle Hill is the Castle District - the oldest district of the city - with the Royal Palace. Here you can enter the Buda Castle Labyrinth, just one of the many caves in the city, and go wine tasting in the Royal Wine House and Wine Cellar Museum. From the Fishermen’s Bastion, the view of the Pest side is incredible. A geological fault line runs along the Buda Embankment, responsible for the several million liters of thermal water coming to surface here in Budapest, and it is this water that feeds the numerous bath houses of the city. Just two of the many baths are the Turkish Rudas Bath and the Gellért Spa and Bath located along the embankment.
FLAVORS OF BUDAPEST
What makes Budapest so unique is the way it combines nature with culture. Fifteen minutes in any direction from the inner city is a green park, an island, a hill or a river. The City Park at the end of Andrassy, the Margaret Island a few meters north f the Parliament, and the St. John’s Hill, the tallest hill of the city await those wanting to relax after hours of strenuous sightseeing.
Hidden in the jungle of Pest are numerous museums full of treasures. There is no aspect of Hungary’s history that is not covered by an exhibition or another. The Heroe’s Square gives home to two museums located on opposite sides: the Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery.
Budapest is one of the great spa cities of Europe, and it is said that one has not experienced Budapest until they have visited at least one baths house. Baths have existed here since the Roman times, but it was the Turks who best exploited the water resources.
Hungary is not as famous for its wine as it should be; the country has many outstanding wine regions, with the two most celebrated ones being Tokaj and Eger. The grapes of Tokaj are famous for their honey-sweet white desert wines, while the grapes of Eger are famous for their spicy red wines, the Bull's Blood in particular.
Erzsebet Korut 9-11
Vörösmarty Square 7
Goldmann György tér, Petőfi Bridge Buda