Budapest

Travel guide - Budapest

Buda and Pest were once two cities separated by the Danube River. It was not until 1873 that the two cities were officially merged to form Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Shaped by its history, this city contains an impressive blend of architectural styles. While you’re visiting, do as the locals do and test the thermal baths!

The history of Buda and Pest, joined together to form the pearl of the Danube

Start your visit at Buda Castle on top of Castle Hill. There you will find the Fisherman’s Bastion, built in the neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque styles. You can also view Matthias Church on Holy Trinity Square, with its magnificent varnished tile roof and Gothic bell tower. Next, head for the Chain Bridge. Completed in 1849, this was one of the world’s first suspension bridges.
The Hungarian Parliament is also worth visiting. Its neo-Gothic style was heavily inspired by the British Parliament in Westminster. The facade is even more remarkable by night. Continuing along the banks of the Danube, stop by the Shoes on the Danube, a memorial to the dark period of Nazism. You can also admire the 90-metre-high dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica in Pest, the Byzantine-style Great Synagogue and Heroes Square.

Budapest, the European capital of Turkish baths

Budapest has 118 natural hot springs! This makes it a top destination for travellers wishing to test the Turkish baths, thermal baths, hammams, hot tubs and other types of thermal treatments. Locals frequent these establishments to keep fit, but also to keep up with friends and colleagues. There’s a very popular tradition here of playing chess while soaking in the water, which is heated to between 20 and 38 degrees!
Built in 1913 in a neo-Baroque style, the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, found in Városliget Park, are the largest in the city. The site includes 18 pools and 10 saunas. You can also try the Kiraly baths or the Rudas baths, which are the most traditional Turkish baths in town. The luxurious Gellért baths, built in an Art Nouveau style, are reserved for VIP clientele! We suggest you go early to avoid the crowd.

The cultural richness of Budapest’s many museums

The House of Terror museum offers a glimpse into the country’s history. This building, which once belonged to the Hungarian secret police, teaches visitors about the different dictatorships that Hungary has endured. At Buda Castle, visit the Budapest History Museum or discover impressive works of art at the Hungarian National Gallery.
The Budapest Museum of Applied Arts offers interesting exhibitions and its varnished tile rooftop is a work of art in itself! The Hungarian National Museum, with its architecture inspired by Greek temples, is consecrated to the history of Hungary. The Palace of Arts (Müpa) is a cultural hub that includes a contemporary art museum, a concert hall and a very modern theatre.
You can also stop by the Vasarely Museum, dedicated to abstract art, or the Museum of Ethnography which honours the traditional Hungarian way of life. Finally, don’t miss the Hospital in the Rock Museum which is built into a cavern that was once used as a bunker.

Hungarian-style shopping

For a few hours of shopping, head to the Belvaros neighbourhood in the tourist centre. There are many designer boutiques on this elegant neighbourhood, specifically on Vaci Street and Deak Ferenc, nicknamed “Fashion Street”. You can also enjoy a delicious cake from famous Maison Gerbeaud, which dates back to the 19th century.
Another place to do your shopping is Gozsdu Passage, between Király Street and Dob Street. More authentic than Vaci Street, this road is sprinkled with small boutiques.
You can also stop by the Budapest markets, such as the Central Market Hall or the slightly better-pricedHold Utca Food Market. Next, you can have a picnic in Városliget Park or on Marguerite Island.
During your stay in Budapest, you’ll also have the chance to try Hungarian specialities such as goulash, a traditional dish made with meat, potatoes and tomatoes. Of course, you must have a drink in a ruin pub, a hip bar with atypical decor that’s unique to Budapest.

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