Hungary’s capital Budapest is one of those grand old cities oozing with bygone opulence and vibrating with life.
There’s the Váci Utca, possibly Budapest’s most famous pedestrian street, with its fancy shops and restaurants right next to old-fashioned market halls and street vendors. The covered markets offer everything you could possibly need and they’re a great source for authentic Hungarian food – I just hope you like paprika, because you can buy it in any conceivable form.
Getting around Budapest is child’s play. The underground and trams are very easy to navigate, even if you do not speak or read Hungarian. The M1 or Millenium Underground (which is the yellow line running the length of Andrássy út) is continental Europe’s oldest underground railway and still in use today. And even if you get lost in the city, you’ll always find your way back if you orientate yourself on the river Danube, which runs right through the city.
One of the things Budapest is famous for, is its thermal baths. Arguably the best-known one is the Gellért Bath, a gorgeous bath in Jugendstil architecture, although there are 21 baths in total in Budapest, some of them several hundred years old.
Budapest’s history, from the Osmans to the Habsburg rule and part of the Soviet Union can be seen everywhere. Grand buildings like the Buda Castle, the Parliament building and Halászbástya (Fishermen’s Bastion) are a part of Budapest as are Hungary’s “Champs-Élysées” Andrássy út, Hősöktere (Hero’s Square) and various museums ranging from the Kunsthalle and Museum of Fine Art to the House of Terror.
On warm days, locals and tourists alike flock to Danube Island Margit-sziget (Margaret Island) with its parks, World Heritage Water Tower – which offers great panoramic views – and an open air theatre. Nearby Óbudai Sziget is home to the Sziget Music Festival every August. Music lovers should check it out, as it has repeatedly been voted Europe’s best festival.