Paris has its high fashion and romance, Rome has its glamour and buzz, but there is something deeply exotic about Budapest that other European cities struggle to match.
This fascinating capital city has natural beauty in spades, from its expansive Great Plain, to its natural springs, to the mighty Danube.
But it can be equally proud of the imprint artists and architects have left on the city.
Visitors with an eye for stunning architecture will have their head turned by Budapest. Every civic building seems to wear its status like a fine robe. Even buildings with a functional purpose have style, with fine examples of baroque, neoclassical, and art nouveau architecture at every turn. The Elephant House, in Budapest Zoo, is an art nouveau treasure, as is the entrance to the zoo itself. In fact, no-one should leave Budapest without paying a visit to these zoological gardens, which are a treasure trove of exotic plant and animal life.
Enjoy Being A Tourist In The Slow Lane
You don’t have to visit the tourist attractions to soak up the atmosphere of Budapest. Stroll through its pedestrianised main streets, linger on its bridges to enjoy the views, stop at its cafes to sample local delicacies. Some of my favourite spots to stop for a bite to eat are Lukacs Confectionery and Coffee House, on Andrassy Avenue, and the eye-catching Taskaradio Espresso, which is a vivid palace of 1950s and 1960s retro décor. Find it in Papnovelde Street, in the city centre.
Take The Waters and Take the Train
If your idea of city travel involves ticking off attractions, you will have plenty to keep you occupied in Budapest.
Don’t go home without spending a restful hour enjoying some of the city’s 123 thermal springs. Taking the waters has been a habit here since Roman times, and bath house architecture is something to behold – with Turkish-style establishments and art nouveau beauties on offer across the city.
In the hottest months of the year, many Budapest families retreat to the vast Buda Hills for some respite. So visiting ramblers are well served by a free network of trails, with maps on sale from the city’s bookshops. This shouldn’t be a risky past time, but if you are planning to take on some adventures during your holiday, remember to sort out your multi-trip insurance before you go.
If you fancy a quirky means of travel, opposite the Hotel Budapest you will find the terminus of the 19 Century Cog Railway. This gem carries sightseers on a climb up to Széchenyi-hegy, one of the prettiest districts of the city.
One of the most surreal tourist attractions in the city is Memento Park, in southern Buda, an open air museum where relics of Communist Hungary demand attention. More than 40 busts and statues of Marx, Lenin, and other socialist icons, tell a story of political foment, and of the heady power of propagandist art.
The Blue Danube
It might be a cliché, but you mustn’t leave Budapest without taking a boat trip on The Danube. Many companies offer sightseeing cruises, some of which include walks on nearby Margaret Island, or evening dinner.
No tourist guide can prepare you for the variety of things to do in Budapest, so book your trip to this lovely city, to unearth some favourite spots of your own.