Travel to Budapest Hungary and you’ll visit one of Europe’s most beautiful cities
with a rich history more than 1,000 years
old. Graced with architectural masterpieces, fine museums, and called “Queen of
the Danube,” today’s cosmopolitan Budapest is spread across both banks of the
Danube River. With ancient Buda on the right bank and modern Pest on the left,
lovely Chain Bridge and several other historic bridges connect the two. Verdant
islands that are popular Budapest attractions lie in the river between them.
Though settled as early as the first century, Budapest as we know it began in 1046 when Saint Gellert was killed by pagans on Gellert Hill now one of the premier Budapest attractions and which is topped by a statue of the saint overlooking the city. Two hundred years later, Castle Hill became another destination for Budapest travel when the first Royal Palace was built. Here also is turreted Fisherman\'s Bastion with its terraces providing marvelous views of the Danube and the Parliament Building.
For the next 400 years, Budapest Hungary saw self-rule, especially under King Matthias whose Matthias Church is next to the Royal Palace. In 1541, the Turkish pashas decided to travel to Budapest and conquered the city for the Ottoman Empire. Their most enduring legacy is the number of Turkish baths they built, and a Budapest travel itinerary might include visits to one of the many baths and thermal spas developed by the Turks.
When the Austrian Habsburgs helped recapture the city from the Turks in 1686, Budapest Hungary became part of yet another empire, and it was not until 1873, after nearly 30 years of revolution, that Buda and Pest became united and the capital of the newly-independent Hungary. From this date until the outbreak of World War I, Budapest Hungary experienced a Golden Age. A Budapest holiday was the high spot of a European tour for rich aristocrats, and the city became a cultural, intellectual, and economic center for all of Europe. When you travel to Budapest today you will still experience some of the freewheeling excitement of that time. Germany occupied Budapest during World War II, and then the entire country came under Soviet influence. Since the end of communist domination of Eastern Europe, a revitalized Budapest is again vibrant and beautiful.
The best places for Budapest shopping are pedestrian-only Vaci Utca and Grand Boulevard. In these areas, you’ll discover tasty Hungarian cuisine while dining at sidewalk cafés amidst wonderful turn-of-the-century architecture. To experience shopping like a local, go to the Central Market or one of the city’s several large department stores.
If you’re looking for other things to do you’ll find that Budapest travel and transportation are fairly simple. The city was made for walking, and you can reach many Budapest attractions on foot. Similarly, the public bus and metro systems are quite efficient, stopping at all the major attractions. Visit the nineteenth-century National Museum, Budapest’s most famous monument, housing the precious Hungarian royal regalia. Cross over the Danube bridges, and see how the imposing Parliament Building dominates Pest. Explore Heroes Square, with its monuments to the Hungarian kings. Perhaps you’ll visit Budapest’s Margaret Island, which lies in the rivers between Buda and Pest. Margaret, daughter of King Bela, spent her life in the convent on the island. It is now a recreational stop on a Budapest holiday and its thermal spas are very popular.
Any Budapest holiday is always highlighted by the legendary Danube River,
which travels through the city on its way from its source in Austria to Romania’s
Black Sea. Within an easy day trip’s distance from Budapest is the beautiful
Danube Bend, a triangle formed by a deep bend in the river. You can board ships
for river cruises in Budapest and reach
two of Hungary’s most charming small towns Szentendre
and Eszertergom while enjoying leisurely
cruising. Or visit Lake Balaton to
experience water sports and beaches in
a country with no seacoast.
Top image: i_nerantzis (flickr)