Budapest is emerging from years under the yolk of communism to discover a glorious past and is slowly developing into one of the most vibrant and charismatic cities in Europe. Budapest is two cities in one divided by the meandering jewel that is the Danube. Located on the west shore, Buda retains the history and culture with its medieval back streets and castle; while on the east of the river, Pest is the commercial heart of the city, vibrant, cosmopolitan and elegant despite years of communist stagnation.
The key to truly getting the most out of a visit is to see the main sights – which will leave the city indelibly marked on your conscience.
A large city – but once you have your bearings depending on where your accommodation is located most sights are reasonably walkable.
So what to see:
This medieval build, palace and fortification complex is almost a city in itself, as it postures elegantly over the river promenade casting a watchful eye over the citizens of Pest. Constructed in 1265, it has been rebuilt and expanded over many years of imperial rule and was the residence of Hungarian royalty. The castle now houses the Budapest History Museum and offers spectacular views over the Danube and city.
Like something out a fairy tale, this neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque building is all about bluster with its turrets and parapets as it provides a taste of eastern mystery to the Buda side of the city. , Just a short walk from Buda Castle, this major tourist attraction was built as a defensive bastion for the guild of fishermen. Another site worth checking out whilst in this locale is Mathias church, just which is the second largest church in Budapest, constructed in 1015.
Rising majestically above the Danube, Gellert Hill was named after Saint Gerrard who was thrown to his death from the hill. A great place to view the city particularly as the sun starts to set.
A walk along the pest side of the river affords stunning views of the castle and hills in Buda. Watch riverboats cruise by as you enjoy a bowl of goulash – and don’t miss the line of 118 shoes which are dedicated as a memorial to the Jews executed during WWII.
Dominating the Pest side of the river the Budapest Houses of Parliament are one of the oldest and largest parliament buildings in the world. The striking exterior is matched on the inside with a unique interior design includes huge halls, over twelve miles of corridors, a 96-meter high central dome, and 691 rooms. Tours run when Parliament is not in session, but no cameras are allowed.