If your ideal city break destination is packed with romantic waterways, heaps of attractions and stunning architecture, then Budapest is the city for you! The Hungarian capital city is young and vibrant and has an enviable classical music scene. Actually comprised of two cities; Buda (west) and Pest (east), the Danube River provides the separation. And the Danube River, Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue trilogy have earnt a coveted UESCO World Heritage Listing. Budapest is also one of the cheapest citybreak destinations in the world!
Journey along the romantic Danube River
Flowing from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea in Southern Europe, is the mighty Danube. Meandering through ten countries including Hungary, the serene waterway allows for a romantic cruise. Travellers can opt for a multi-day trip or just a one hour sunset cruise that takes in the key sights along the banks of the UNESCO listed Danube. Buda and Pest come to life and those with itchy feet can journey to Vienna and Bratislava along the Danube. Watch the video below for an insight.
Explore the Budapest Castle District
Within Hungary there are eight World Heritage Sites, one of which is the combined site of the Danube, Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue. The exquisite Buda Castle and palace complex contains a wealth of must-see sights such as the Royal Palace (Királyi Palota), Matthias Church, traditional medieval houses, Fishermen’s Bastion and intriguing museums, all set within quaint streets. The Royal Palace was originally constructed in the 13th century but has had many newer additions following World War II, where it was destroyed by fire. The Castle Hill district offers superb views over the river and of Pest.
Enjoy the parks on Margaret Island
In northern Buda lies pretty Margaret Island, which offers peace and calm away from the city. With lush flower gardens, majestic old trees, meandering pathways and well-maintained paths, this is the perfect chill-out spot for all the family. The island is connected to Budapest city by two bridges either side of the shaped island, which is in the middle of the Danube. And at 2.5km, there’s enough space to walk and cycle for half a day.
Discover Buda’s Museums
There are a clutch of interesting museums and galleries located within Buda, such as the Museum of Óbuda located within Zichy Castle that has an array of local history exhibits. Fine arts are on display at the Museum Kiscell, whose Baroque complex was originally constructed for monks. And the Béla Bartók Memorial House is dedicated to the late great Hungarian composer, with a large house brimming with objects, as well as a well-tended garden.
Walk Budapest’s Jewish Quarter
Take a thought-provoking walking tour of the Jewish Quarter which is packed with unique heritage and historical sights. The Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park honours the man who prevented the deportation of Jews during World War II. The Tree of Life pays respects to the 5,000 people that lost their lives during the Holocaust. The Temple of Heroes is a small synagogue that commemorates the Jewish soldiers that fought in World War I. Also on the tour are the Rumbach Synagogue which was designed by Otto Wagner and opened in 1872 and the Kazinczy Street Synagogue which is the second largest synagogue in the world, after New York. The Great Synagogue can hold 3,000 people and underwent a massive renovation in the 1990s. Also stop by the Shoes on the Danube Memorial, which is a sombre memorial to those Jews that were shot into the Danube at the time of World War II.
Explore Downtown Pest
The Downtown region of Pest is dominated by the Parliament building, which is the biggest in Europe! Modelled on the London version, this is where the crown jewels are stored. Tours are free for EU passport holders. Rivalling the parliament for sheer size is the Greek-cross shaped St. Stephen Cathedral which features many ornate mosaics, including that of Christ's resurrection. Also stop by the Ethnographic Museum which looks like Berlin’s parliament and is home to some interesting exhibits beneath the ornate frescoes.
Stroll the Andrássy Avenue
The Andrássy út boulevard is part of the UNESCO World Heritage inscription and lies within Pest. Built in 1872, it runs from Erzsébet Square to Városliget and is a Budapest landmark. Built to replicate the Champs-Élysées in Paris, this is the city’s main shopping district and is lined with restaurants, boutiques and theatres, such as the State Opera House.