Preserved in time during half a century of Communism, Budapest emerged in the 1990s as a glorious relic of the Hapsburg Empire. It’s easy to understand why, what with with a centuries-old tradition of piping hot thermal baths, an abundance of Baroque-era and neo-Classical castles, and the finest food, wine and cafe culture in the region. Here, you can step back in time in both Buda and Pest, the western and eastern halves of the city, respectively, which are separated by the Danube.
Things to see
Vaci Utca is the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare. Shops and eateries line this busy stretch where tourists can easily spend half a day maxing out their credit cards.
Budapest is a city of bridges but there really is only one worth making a fuss over – the 19th century Szechenyi Chain Bridge. The view of both sides of the city from here is like none other. The bridge is particularly magical at night when its cast iron ornaments are illuminated by flood lights.
The best place to unwind is the Gellert Thermal Baths and Swimming Pools with their intricate mosaics and modern spa facilities.
Hotels in Budapest
Budapest has developed an impressive range of hotels in its two decades of renewed tourism, with some surprisingly cheap hotels.
Visitors who wish to experience the city as it was in its Austro-Hungarian heyday can find luxury in the vicinity of the spas and the castle, along the riverfront. Here, you’ll find opulent, heritage lodgings as well as more modern offerings.
Where to stay
Pest, the city center and historical heartbeat of Budapest, is where the penny pinching travelers stay. Accommodation here is popular because it’s varied, affordable and central to most of the city’s landmarks.
Across the river from Pest is Castle Hill, a far more upscale area with equally upscale hotels. Castle Hill is quiet, exclusive and perfect for visitors who want to experience the finer side of the city.
How to get to Budapest
Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) is the country’s largest gateway and the city’s only airport. All international and domestic flights land here.
Train services have come a long way since the earliest days of Hungary’s break with its Soviet controlled past. Regular services arrive from Vienna, which is less than a 3 hour train ride away.