Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is certainly one of the most delightful cities to visit in Europe. It boasts of impressive architecture, cool green spaces, vibrant cultural scenes and rich historical heritage – all of these earned the city a much-deserved nickname of “Pearl of the Danube”. Budapest is also strategically located at the center of Europe’s similarly popular destinations such as Austria, Croatia and the Ukraine, among others. Also, it offers tourists great value for money, without sacrificing on the quality of sights and overall travel experience.
Getting Around Budapest
You can simply hop on a plane from dozens of major cities in Europe, Asia, North Africa and Middle East to get to Budapest. Direct flights are not hard to come by because there are several airlines servicing the area. The country’s major airport is located about 10 miles from the city center and taking a taxi to get to your destination remains the most efficient, albeit most expensive, transportation option.
You can expect the same straightforward service from minivans, however, you need to be with several other similarly-bound passengers before its driver agrees to leave the airport – unless, of course, you offer to pay for the missing passengers. However, if you are a savvy traveler who finds fun in reading maps and figuring out which direction to take next, then you can begin your adventure with a bus (Bus 200E) or train ride to the capital.
Trams and buses are indispensable if you are to explore Budapest on your own. Fortunately, a numbering system is now in place making it much easier for tourists to get around the area cheaply. Some of the most popular numbers to remember are: Trams for Danube sightseeing tours are No. 2 for Pest and No. 19 for Buda; for Pest’s inner ring road, Trams 4 and 6 will take you there; and, for the Buda area get on Buses 16 and 16A to get to the castle and Bus 105 for general exploration.
If you only have a few days to spend in Budapest, then it is best to get to the city’s highlights straight away. Architecture, history and arts enthusiasts should head out to the Buda side of the city and get to the Castle Hill for a day-long exploration of the site’s many attractions. The most popular is the impressive Royal Palace, which also holds the National Gallery and its vast collection of paintings. Just a stone’s throw away from the palatial grounds are the lofty landmarks of the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. The area is also home to a good number of museums that offer insights into the Budapest’s history, music and military advancement, to name a few.
On the other hand, the major attractions on the other side of Budapest – the Pest side of the Danube – are concentrated downtown. Take in the view of the majestic Parliament Building standing sentry over the mighty river, examine the neoclassical architecture of St. Stephen Basilica, explore the biggest Synagogue in Europe and hop around the many impressive museums here, and you will soon realize that you need more than just a few hours to squeeze in these many interesting sights in just one go.
Also, don’t miss taking lazy strolls along Budapest’s beloved promenade – from the Andrassy ut Boulevard all the way to the City Park. Take your time and enjoy the many attractions you will pass by along the way such as the State Opera House, the House of Terror and the Hopp Museum of East Asian Art. If you love to spend time in lush surroundings, Margaret Island is also worth your time.
Finally, if you are up for some therapeutic baths, Budapest offers more than a few thermal bath facilities – from the most opulent to the most affordable – where you can bask in the experience of rejuvenating your weary muscles after a long day of sightseeing around the beautiful city.
Did you know, Budapest is the perfect pre or post addition to many river cruises. Not taking a river cruise, no worries, it’s still a wonderful stand alone destination or combines well with visits to Prague and Vienna. Contact us today to see how you can visit this delightful historic city.