Budapest is one of the most intriguing cities in Europe, and also one of the most overlooked. The city has a rich history and vibrant culture that should appeal to tourists, but tends to lag behind the “big” cities of Prague and Kiev when it comes to capturing the traveler’s gaze.
As a result, Budapest has a legitimate claim as something of a hidden wonder; many have heard of it, but few take the time to visit. Budapest is effectively two cities in one; Pest and Buda, separated by the Danube River, offering a different experience on each side. If you want to experience a European city break that offers a variety of cultural and historical choices, then you’re not going to want to overlook this incredible city of two halves…
Things To Do In Budapest During The Day
Many tourists like to make a river cruise their first port of call. The dedicated vessels offer beautiful views, a calm environment, and stunning vistas overlooking the city itself.
When you have seen the city by river, why not try something entirely different and head underground? The Palvolgyi Caves are a truly glorious experience, and quite unlike anything else found in European capitals. The caves contain thousands of ancient fossils, as well as the fascinating stalactite and stalagmite formations one always expects. Easy to walk and well-sized, the caves offer a glimpse of the world beneath the city, and a gorgeous one at that.
If you’re in need of a rest following an afternoon exploring the caves, then a visit to one of Budapest’s natural thermal spas will put a spring back in your step. There are over 100 different spas and baths to choose from. The Dander Baths are particularly well thought of; while the Szechenyi Baths are set in a beautiful location that you’ll want to enjoy for hours on end.
When you’re feeling more like yourself, take the time to visit some of the historical attractions in the city. The Parliament building is a must for fans of architecture, while St. Stephen’s Basilica is a historical and spiritual site of interest that should have a place on any Budapest “to see” list. If you visit the Basilica during December, you will also have the opportunity to explore the famous Christmas Market that takes place in the adjacent square.
Finally, consider a visit to the monument “Shoes on the Danube”, a moving tribute to victims of the fascist Arrow Cross during the second world war.
Things To Do In Budapest At Night
When night falls, a different side of Budapest comes alive. The Pest side of the city should be your first port of call, so take the time to explore your options– you won’t be short on choices, and you’ll delight in finding so many venues where you can dance until dawn if you so choose.
If you’d prefer something a little more relaxed, then a sunset Danube cruise is well worth considering. Alternatively, you can stay on shore and explore the plethora of different restaurants, or sample the Culinary Walk that showcases all the varieties of food on offer.
Below are a few useful pieces of advice for those thinking of traveling to Budapest.
Tipping is standard in restaurants, even when gratuity has been added to the bill. A tip of between 10-20% should be sufficient. Service personnel are less frequently tipped, but if you feel you wish to tip a hotel porter, for example, then you can do so– although it’s not expected.
Budapest Airport is relatively close to the city center, especially when compared with other European capital cities. The distance is around 22 kilometers, so you’re not going to be able to walk, but there are plenty of transport options you may want to consider. You can grab a taxi, book a private transfer from Budapest Airport to the city centre, or use the public transport options if you prefer.
Navigating The City
Budapest is a city of trams; you will see them everywhere, and they are by far the simplest and most effective way to navigate across the city when you’re out exploring. They are also inexpensive, and can take you close to all of the major attractions. There is also a good bus network which is mostly reliable; the trams, however, should be your first choice.
Budapest has so much to offer to the curious tourist; if you decide to give this fascinating city a try, then you won’t be disappointed with what you find.