The preferred destination of foreigners visiting Hungary for the first time is always Budapest to get an experience of the city’s rich history, natural sites and unique cuisine. The capital of Hungary was formed in 1873 when three different towns – Buda, Pest and Óbuda – united resulting in the birth of today’s cosmopolitan Budapest which is affectionately known as the “Queen of the Danube”. Geographically, Budapest is situated on both banks of the Danube: the industrial Pest on the right bank, the hilly and historic Buda on the left bank and Óbuda on the outer edges of the city.
The area has been successively ruled by many different cultures in history – Celts, Romans, Mongols, Germans, Austrians, just to name a few. The mark of each nations remains on the Hungarian capital in cobbled streets, hidden courtyards, Turkish baths and old-world architecture. The architectural beauty of Budapest has earned for it the nickname “The Paris of the East,” for its Roman ruins, contemporary postmodern designs, and an array of major works commissioned in 1896 to mark the millennium since the arrival of the Magyars in Hungary.
Budapest is a heart-stealer. It has all the luxury of Western Europe with a Hungarian twist at half the cost. This is the city that toes the line between “Eastern” and “Western” European culture, filled with marvelous restaurants and cafes, breathtaking churches and museums, lively arts, plenty of bathhouses where you can soak in mineral water coming straight from over 100 thermal springs. Vibrant music festivals and a modern nightlife scene attract a younger crowd as well.
When to go to Budapest
No matter when you come to Budapest it is magical in all four seasons. The city offers something for everyone from gastronomical journeys to cultural events and last but not least, great spa complexes all year long. You prefer the first sunrays in fresh spring weather? Enjoy a romantic walk amongst the trees or an excellent picnic on the lawns on one of the verdant islands on the Danube. Or explore galleries and the fashionable ruin pubs in the city. Do you find music festivals and other outdoor venues alluring in the heat of the long summer days? Sziget Festival held every year in August is for you. It has grown from a grass-roots, low-profile 1993 student bash into one of Europe’s largest music and cultural events with over 1,000 performers playing everything from rock and metal to pop and hip-hop tunes nonstop. As the changing leaves start covering Budapest at fall, the city’s cultural agenda is busier than ever, offering an eclectic mix of dance, music, theatre, and food festivals. Winter is romantic in the snow-covered Budapest. The elegant Andrássy Avenue has the most beautiful lights at Christmas time and the several Christmas markets with the joy of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine are also worth a visit.
Things Not to Miss in Budapest
- Treat yourself in one of Budapest’s world-famous thermal spring spas. I offer you the two most prestigious thermal baths of Budapest. Meet the locals at Széchenyi Spa or take a relaxing dip in the stylish Gellért Spa.
- Take a tour on Margaret Island which is the green heart of Budapest. It lies in the middle of the Danube between Margaret Bridge and Árpád Bridge. There are plenty of nice instagrammable spots to take photos 🙂 e.g. the Japanese Garden or the Water Tower. You can also have a picnic in the grass.
- Heroes’ Square, located at the end of the grand World Heritage Boulevard, Andrássy Avenue, is also a must-see. It is the proud home of the Millennium Memorial, the Heroes’ Monument and two of Budapest’s major museums, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art. Discover it on two wheels. 🙂
- Festival Latino is a festival that celebrates Latin-American cuisine and culture in Budapest. It is held in the garden of Havana Salsa Bar and Restaurant in various time during the summer season. Follow the facebook page of Festival Latino en Hungria to get up-to-date information about the festival. Check out the video below. 😉
- For those travellers who are on a budget, here I round up 10 free things to do in Budapest 😉
- For the perfect city break in Hungary’s elegant and vivacious capital check out the best things to do in Budapest in style.