A city in a stunning natural setting with a rich architectural and historical heritage, offering an unmatched combination of culture, fine cuisine and thermal baths… A city on either side of the majestic Danube: Buda, with its romantic streets and alleyways, and Pest, an effervescent cultural centre. Take your pick – or enjoy its diversity!
Divided in two by the Danube, the city is made up of Buda on one side: with Ottoman-era thermal baths at the foot of the spectacular Gellért Hill, the royal palace and Matthias Church, it radiates calm and peace. One the other side lies Pest, vibrant and lively, with its slew of museums rich in cultural and historical treasures, extraordinary Secessionist architecture, its majestic Parliament building considered as one of the most magnificent in the world, Saint Stephen’s Basilica surrounded by pedestrian streets, and its entirely renovated Jewish Quarter and Palace District.
Besides its historical value, Budapest has a highly developed cultural scene with its world-class festivals, theatres, museums, concert halls and sporting events. For relaxing and enjoying nature, Margaret Island is the city’s “green heart” (considered by many to be one of Europe’s best city parks) – the perfect place to enjoy a stroll, various sports, swimming in outdoor pools or soaking in thermal baths and spas. As for foodies, the celebrated creations of Hungarian cuisine are a definite must!
UNESCO World Heritage sites
Budapest is one of the few cities in the world where almost every street in the downtown area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; most attractions are located within walking distance. The banks of the Danube, including the beautiful bridges and the Hungarian Parliament Building, are protected by UNESCO. The Castle District and the steep Gellért Hill arching over the river with the Citadel and the Liberty Statue on the top are also listed as UNESCO Heritage Sites. The elegant Andrássy Avenue with its beautiful turn-of-the-century buildings and historical neighbourhood is also recognized by UNESCO.
Spas and baths
The incredible popularity of the thermal and medicinal baths of Budapest is well founded: two thousand years of history, and the long-term occupation of Hungary by the Romans and the Ottomans, have influenced the development of a bathing culture here. Perhaps the best known of the baths is Gellért, an iconic sight with its Art Nouveau building. Lukács Thermal Bath is a veritable treasure where writers, actors and artists start their day. Széchenyi Thermal Baths is one of the largest spas in Europe, while the recently renovated Rudas can boast of a fine rooftop terrace complete with jacuzzi.
In wine, truth
Our wines are unique as the produce of Eger, Tokaj, Villány or Somló each have very distinctive taste and structure. The balanced wines of Eger, the complex sweets of Tokaj, the structured reds of Szekszárd and Villány, and the ashy whites of Somló: Hungary can indeed be proud of an amazing spectrum of wine varieties. Numerous cellars are worth visiting in person because they have great restaurants and can provide accommodation in the spirit of quality wine tourism.
Ruin pubs are the “living proof” of legendary Hungarian creativity. These special pubs were opened in tenements and factory buildings earmarked for demolition. They were equipped with recycled furniture and worked on by contemporary artists. Each of them has a style of its own. These unique, fun and undeniably trendy places would seem to go hand-in-hand with the street food craze.
While traditional goulash soup and pörkölt have a well-established reputation, the culinary revolution has taken over Budapest, as well. From street-food made from local, all-natural ingredients to haute cuisine creations featured in the Michelin Guide, Budapest has it all. Don’t miss the Great Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok) where you can find all kinds of products from paprika to linen, lace and pottery. To make the visit whole off you’ll have the opportunity to taste the spices and specialities of the country, the famous Hungarian salami, Tokaj wine and Palinka. The Downtown Market (Hold utcai Vásárcsarnok és Belvárosi Piac) enables you to kill two birds with one stone: Shop for farmers’ produce right in the heart of the city, and enjoy some great street food.
Fun Facts: Hungarians in your daily routine
- As a professor in Szeged, doctor and biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi won the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking discovery of vitamin C.
- Mathematician János Neumann worked on the theory that led to the development of computers.
- Research work conducted by Károly Goldmark served as the basis for the development of television.
- Dénes (Dennis) Gábor, a Hungarian-born British scientist and researcher, invented holography.
- Journalist László Bíró gave the world the perfect ballpoint pen in 1931 with a help of his chemist brother, György.
- The best-selling toy of all time, Rubik’s Cube, was invented to explain how geometry worked in three dimensions by architecture professor Ernő Rubik.
- Pioneers of modern aviation Oszkár Asbóth and his team developed the early prototype of the helicopter in 1928 that managed to take off.
- Pulitzer Prize is synonymous with excellence in the fields of journalism, literature and musical composition is founded by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-American publisher.