On a brief trip through Eastern Europe, I left lovely Prague to head to Budapest. When I arrived, I was awe-struck by the beauty of this city. It was a perfect combination of gorgeous and varied architecture and the Danube River cutting the city into its two sides of the hills of Buda and Pest. Many claim Budapest to be the Paris of Eastern Europe. I would like to say that it deserves a category and name of its own. With enough to keep a shutterbug busy, foodies satisfied, and nightlife seekers full entertained, Budapest is a home run for the senses.
As I mentioned, my trip was short. I certainly did not experience it all. In fact, It pains me to admit that I didn’t take advantage of the thermal baths in Budapest, which are very popular (and typically one of my first stops). Although the memories are fresh in my mind, my trip was not recent. So, I have asked Marina, a peer and travel writer, to give a guide of Budapest to assist in whetting your palate of travel to Budapest. Take it away Marina!
A Short Guide to Budapest
Budapest is beautifully situated on the Danube River in central Hungary. Many do not know, that Budapest is a tale of two cities as it used to be two separate cities, both Buda and Pest, located on opposite sides of the bank of the river.
Budapest is known for its many historical buildings, including the Academy of Sciences, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Grand Synagogue. Visitors will be able to explore both the Buda and the Pest sides of the city and there are several ferry tours along the Danube from where visitors can enjoy views towards this historical city.
The Hungarian National Museum is one of the city’s most visited museums. There are several permanent exhibitions, including an exhibition dedicated to History of Hungary. Another exhibition is that of Hungarian Scholars that have had an impact on the history of the country. Additionally, there is a hall dedicated to the History of People of the Hungarian Lands, including the tribes which lived in the region before the Stone Age.
The Museum of Fine Arts has several exhibitions of paintings and sculptures. Located on the Pest side, there are many other attractions nearby, including the City Zoo, the Széchenyi Spa and the Vajdahunyad Castle. On the Pest side of the city visitors will find the Terror House Museum. Ancient Roman ruins can be found at the Aquincum Museum.
The city is known for its many thermal baths, which are the reason why many visitors choose to travel to Budapest. There are several thermal spas where visitors will be able to relax and enjoy massages. It’s interesting to note that part of the hot springs located on the Buda side of the city were built during the Roman Empire.
The springs have hydrogen carbonate water and/or sulphuric compounds. They are known for their mineral properties. The city was ruled by the Ottoman Empire and this has left the city with several authentic hamams where the bashas and pashas used to bathe. These historical hamams include the Császár, Király, Rác and Rudas baths. Later on, after the city gained the Bathing City status, more historical baths were created. The Gellert Bath and the Széchenyi Baths are located in large buildings. There are several types of baths, some with medicinal rooms and others with saunas and steam rooms.
History on the banks of the Danube
Most of the city’s historical buildings are located on the banks of the Danube River. Visitors can visit the Citadella, an ancient citadel and fortress known for its views towards the city and the river. The citadel is located on Gellért Hill, near the Fisherman’s Bastion. The Old City Walls are located a short distance away from here. The Old City Walls used to be the defensive walls of Pest. Another main landmark is the Aquincum, a Roman amphitheater. Located on the Pest side of the city, the Parliament Building is one of the city’s symbols (seen at beginning of post).
The Fisherman’s Bastion is located in the Castle District, on the Buda side of the city. The Bastion is known for its views towards the city center. The Matthias Church is located nearby, on the territory of the Buda Castle, which is one of the city’s main attractions. Visitors who want to explore the Buda part of town will be able to take the funicular train to the top of Buda Hill. During the ride they will be able to enjoy views towards the Danube River and the other half of the city.
**Guest post provided by Marina, an avid explorer and travel writer for Destina.co.uk, which provides hotel and hostel bookings around the world.
**Photo by Hannah Gleghorn