Image source: Flickr - Paris Sharing
Budapest is a wonderfully complex and addictive city that straddles eastern and western Europe. Extending across the Danube, the city is divided, and no matter where you visit, you will discover a beautiful architectural gem from a forgotten century. From the unique language to the love for classical music to historic buildings from every century, Budapest is a rich and diverse city to explore. Here are my five best tips the get the most out of your visit to Budapest.
Visit the Royal Palace
An iconic part of Budapest, the Royal Palace is a massive complex situated on a huge hill on the Buda side of town. Built in the 14th century, what stands today has been remodeled many times over the years. Now there are several incredible museums you can visit and take in, especially if it's cold outside. Walking up and down from the palace will give you great views of the city.
Relax in a hot spring
Dating back to Ottoman Empire times, there is a big tradition of spas and thermal baths around Hungary, and Budapest is no exception. There is no shortage of places to choose from, but when I was there, I made sure to visit the historic, iconic and very popular Széchenyi Spa, the largest spa in Europe. Soaking in the hot water in a yellow building that dons many postcards around Budapest, it was a fabulous way to warm after chilly touring and even meet some locals. Don’t forget you’re on vacation!
Explore the old Jewish quarter
Before World War II, Budapest was home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe, and visiting nowadays it would be a shame to forget that period. While exploring the city, it's impossible not to recognize the marks that war left behind on Budapest. It’s worth spending half a day or so walking around the Jewish Quarter, especially on a walking tour, and taking a peek inside the famous synagogue and old cemetery.
Watch the sunset from the Fisherman's Bastion
The Fisherman's Bastion was my favorite surprise from Budapest. Built more than a century ago, it's a beautiful lookout point built in the neo-gothic style. Made up of 7 towers, it was symbolic for the Magyar leaders who came to this region of Europe and settled over a thousand years ago. Nowadays, it offers some of the best views of the city, and it's fun wandering around the towers and narrow paths and stairs, looking for the next beautiful vantage point.
Listen to classical music
Similar to Vienna, there is a long tradition of classical music and opera in Budapest,and the highlight of my time there was listening to a classical music concert at the Royal Palace one afternoon. Home to composers such as Franz Liszt, you'd be hard-pressed to find a place with so many options to hear live music. Another great way to pass the time if you love music is to tour the Hungarian State Opera House.