Travelled and Written By Henry Seth
The capital city of Hungary, Budapest, has now become a popular travel spot for those looking to discover the beauty and history of Eastern Europe. Prior to the creation of the city now known as Budapest, the city was divided in two by the Danube River; with Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank, the city was formally united in the mid 1800s. A city filled with so much history, culture, and beauty Budapest will surely satisfy your travel bug. Historically only reachable through European gateway airports, Budapest is now more accessible than ever. With new non-stop service from a handful of US cities, both American Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines are offering direct routes from the US to Hungary.
What To Do
Budapest has something to offer for all types of travelers. From great restaurants and nightlife to beautiful museums and architecture, surely everyone will find something to love in this city. For a beautiful view of the city, make sure to make your way to Buda Castle. Located on the top of Castle Hill, or the Castle District as locals call it, the Castle now is home to the National Gallery which highlights the Hungarian fine arts. Even more breathtaking is the view that the Castle District offers. As one of the highest points in the city, Castle Hill offers unobstructed views of the Danube River and the city below.
Each hour be sure to watch the Changing of the Guard outside of the Hungarian Presidential Palace on Castle Hill. The ceremonial Changing of the Guard features a few minutes of saluting and choreography of the soldiers changing.
After the hike (or tram ride) down to the base of Castle Hill, surely you will be hungry and looking for a bite to eat. Located on the other side of the Dunube is the magnificent Great Market Hall. The first level of the Hall is filled with vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits, meats (mostly traditional sausage and salami), and baked goods. Up on the second level, you will find more local food stands and eateries along with souvenir shops selling traditional Hungarian items, such as handmade lace and porcelain. Be sure to try goulash, the Hungarian national dish, a stew-like meal served with chunks of beef and vegetables and seasoned with paprika.
A truly unique experience is to enjoy a drink at one of Budapest’s many “ruins bars”. These dive bars are primarily located in abandoned or depilated buildings in the Jewish Quarter of the city. These buildings were evacuated or destroyed in the years following World War II, and in the early 2000s, people started opening up bars and pubs in these spaces. What started out as a young crowd looking for a cheap drink, these ruins bars have turned into a true Budapest hotspot. Often buzzing at night with music and drinks, these popular bars are at the center of nightlife for the younger crowd in Budapest.
Where to Stay
No trip to Budapest is complete without a visit to the thermal baths. The oldest and most well-known bath, Szechnyi, is over 100 years old and features 18 different pools. The water is heated by natural thermal springs and is a popular spot among tourists of all walks of life. It is often very crowded, so it is recommended to go early in the morning or later in the evening hours to avoid the mass crowds.