Hungary’s fascinating and culturally immersive capital is separated into its component ‘Buda’ and ‘Pest’ sides by the Danube River and is a mainstay of practically all river cruises which explore this iconic waterway. Buda’s home to the majority of the city’s historical attractions, while Pest is a more lively and cosmopolitan counterpart. Budapest is one of Europe’s largest cities, packed full of elegant attractions and iconic landmarks. Of course, there’s a wide choice of excursions available which are expertly tailored to take in all the absolute must-sees.
As you approach the city and catch sight of its iconic Parliament Building on the banks you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was built specifically with the delight of cruisers in mind. The Neo-Gothic masterpiece was inspired by London’s Houses of Parliament and, as well as functioning in a modern-day political capacity, it is also one of the city’s key landmarks. A guided tour will tell you all about its history and give you the chance to see more of its incredible architecture.
The Castle Hill area in Buda is another of the city’s most popular areas in the heart of the city’s medieval district. Cobbled streets, baroque architecture and scenic squares all contribute to the atmosphere and cultural delights. Fisherman’s Bastion is a must-see, a 19th-century folly which boasts fairy-tale turrets and towers, as well as exceptional views.
Matthias Church is the key attraction to be found on the area’s main square and is a beautiful piece of architecture, used as the venue for numerous coronations of Hungarian kings-past. Though it suffered intensive damage during the Second World War, its interiors were rebuilt with previously unseen medieval areas exposed and plenty more to see, making it a fantastic attraction.
The Hungarian State Opera House is another incredible landmark, dating back to 1884 and built in the style of perhaps the world’s most famous venue of its kind, the Vienna Opera House. Whether you’ve time to take in a performance or not, the building is a breath-taking piece of Neo-Renaissance architecture. It is possible to take a tour, but many visitors agree that a performance is the best way to appreciate the reason that this building was built for. Also built in the neo-Renaissance style, St Stephen’s Basilica is another incredible building, which took 14 years to complete. Its 300-foot dome is undoubtedly the most striking feature, with plenty more architectural wonders to witness, both inside and out.
If a Budapest bargain is what you’re after, be sure to head for the Great Market Hall, where you’ll find such national exports as Hungarian pottery and lace. If you’re in search of some local fare, try goulash soup, with a Gundel pancake for dessert.
Suggested Read: Port in focus: Budapest