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Travel to Budapest

More and more people fly to Budapest, eager to explore the two sides of the capital city of Hungary, only to realise it has a thousand more. Budapest, dubbed the Queen of the Danube, is full of grace and edge, pride and passion, drama and romance. The river cuts right into the heart of the city, splitting it nearly in half and revealing its many, many wonders. Get on the water to take in Budapest in all of its grandeur and watch it come alive with a million lights after the sun sets. Roam cobbled streets, admire Art Nouveau façades, uncover well-kept secrets, click glasses and get lost in the swirl of cultures, landscapes, flavours and colours that is Budapest.

 

Fly to Budapest, Hungary for:

Spread out on both sides of the magnificent Danube, the ‘Paris of the East’ is two-faced in the best possible sense. With its dreamy hills, bucolic greenery and record number of natural thermal springs and caves, Buda is full of grace and calm, while the Pest side is pulsing with life. The two parts unite with the distinct charm, striking beauty and rich past of the city, which attracts millions of tourists every year and make them fall in love at every corner. Its tumultuous history, carved by caesars and chieftains, emperors and sultans, regents and prime ministers, lingers wherever you look, whether it’s a wall ridden with bullet holes from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 or an old-world café, once populated by the country’s literary elite.

 

Immerse in the city of baths

Anyone who’s ever been to the Hungarian capital will tell you to start your big Budapest adventure by climbing up the Castle Hill, and we’re not here to argue. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the crown jewel of the Buda side, it’s home to a dizzying array of attractions. Kick off your quest at the 700-year-old Matthias Church, scene to countless coronations and a prime example of Central European Gothic architecture. Immerse in the panoramic view from Fisherman's Bastion and discover the Buda Castle, housing the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Descend to the Pest side to take a closer look of Budapest’s premier landmark, the Parliament building, and go inside for a glimpse of the Holy Crown that once belonged to the country's legendary king, Saint Stephen. Take a well-deserved break in one of the city’s many thermal baths. After all, if you leave the ‘City of Baths’ without getting into one, have you really been there? Complete your Budapest escapade with a tour discovering the city’s vast Soviet-era heritage. Wander around the colossi of Communism in Memento Park or the haunting rooms of the House of Terror, a symbol of Nazi and Stalinist domination.

 

Goulash and beyond

Goulash soup, a dish synonymous with local cuisine, is a must-try and a must-try-again. It has everything Hungarians hold close to their heart – and stomach: meat, veggies and heaps of paprika. Try it at Menza Restaurant, right in the middle of Pest’s ever-buzzing Liszt Ferenc Square. A pioneer in Budapest's recent gastro-revolution, Borkonyha wows with Michelin-starred pan-European fine-dining experiences and wows some more with a wine list of some 200 Hungarian wines. On a related note, Hungary’s viticulture matches up to the best in the world, but it’s well worth judging for yourself. Look for Drop Shop, an off-the-beaten-path boutique wine bar and shop near Jászai Mari Square, and start testing. Just a short walk from the Chain Bridge, Stand25 Bisztró is a perfect choice for trying classic Hungarian dishes made from fresh, local ingredients by star chefs Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll. For a deep dive into Budapest’s booming street food scene, pick a queue for one of the food trucks at Karaván, an outdoor courtyard with dozens of options for grub on the go, vegan-friendly included. Die-hard burger fans will find their mecca in Zing Burger, which serves juicy burgers, Philly cheesesteaks and snacks. And of course, you shouldn’t leave the city without trying the ultimate Hungarian street food: lángos. Grab a piece of this golden savoury dough packed with grated cheese and sour cream at the Great Market Hall.

 

Time for some shopping and a ruin pub crawl

The Hungarian Champs-Élysées, Andrássy Avenue, is the epicentre of Budapest’s luxury shopping scene. Fashion Street, stretching from Vörösmarty Square to Deák Ferenc Square, and neighbouring Váci Street boast an impressive lineup of the most coveted but more wallet-friendly brands and shops for souvenir hunters. If you’re looking for something truly special, local designer goodies are hard to beat. Fashionistas and design enthusiasts should head straight to MONO art & design, a popular concept store, stocking a gazillion products from rising and established local brands, from clothing through ceramics to notebooks. Then proceed to Printa Design Shop, a treasure trove of Budapest-inspired, eco-friendly gifts, all created by Hungarian artists. For the best in fresh produce, meat, baked goods, arts and crafts and Hungarian delicacies, look no further than the Great Market Hall. Or put your bargaining skills to the test at Gozsdu Weekend Market, a street market for all things vintage on Saturdays, and arts and crafts on Sundays. If you’re down for some serious partying, stay right where you are. Pest’s vibrant bar scene centre, Gozsdu, is a labyrinth of cosy courtyards, hip ruin pubs and jam-packed terraces. Continue your pub crawl with a fröccs at the Instant and Fogas club empire and chase it down with a pálinka at Kazinczy Street’s iconic Szimpla Kert. For gigs and dusk-till-dawn parties, make your way to A38, which has been voted the best bar in the whole world by Lonely Planet readers.

 

Become an islander, dash through the snow and follow the Sisi trail

Get some fresh air in the green lung of Budapest, Margaret Island. Find your inner peace in the Japanese Garden, catch the next show at the music fountain or take a soothing dip in the island’s thermal bath, Palatinus. Festival-goers are in for a treat on a neighbouring island, Óbuda, which hosts one of Europe’s no. 1 music festivals, Sziget, every August. Avid hikers can get their kick without leaving the city at Budapest’s highest point, János Hill (János-hegy). Snowy days see kids and adults gleefully sledging down Normafa, while warmer months attract nature lovers looking for the perfect picnic spot or a hiking trail with a view of Budapest. Has the Hungarian capital put a spell on you? Trust us: venturing out of the city can be just as enchanting. Catch a train from Keleti Railway Station and explore the Gödöllő Royal Palace, a former summer residence of Hungary’s beloved Habsburg empress, Queen Elisabeth, aka Sisi. Take a suburban train from Batthyány Square or a riverboat from Vigadó Square and visit Szentendre, a hotspot for artists since the 1930s and a colourful escape for locals and tourists alike. Follow the sharp curve of the Danube Bend and make a stop at Visegrád for a breathtaking view from its 13th-century citadel.

 

Budapest airport

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, formerly known as Budapest Ferihegy International Airport and still often called just Ferihegy, is situated 16 kilometres from the city centre. Despite being Hungary's premier commercial airport, it’s easy to navigate: Terminal 2A and 2B are connected by Sky Court, a sprawling shopping area. It’s also easy to reach: bus no. 100E runs between the airport and Deák Ferenc Square, the very heart of the city. Taxis and car hire are also available.

 

Budapest weather

The climate of Budapest is continental, meaning cold winters and warm summers. But it also means that the Hungarian capital is a perfect destination for a spring or autumn city break. In May, June and September the days are mostly sunny, temperatures are pleasant and a light jacket is all you need for the evening and chillier days. Winter usually brings grey skies, misty mornings, rain or snow showers and average temperatures around 0°C. Upside: spectacular Christmas markets (yes, plural) all over town.

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