The capital of Hungary, Budapest is divided by the Danube River into two parts. Buda, with its quiet alleyways and streets, is perfect for a peaceful getaway. Pest is lively and vibrant, with a more energetic vibe. This city is well-known around the world for fun festivals, theatres, museums, sporting events and concerts. With pleasant thermal springs and extraordinary cave systems, this destination promises to amaze you at every turn.
Top things to see and do in Budapest
- Visit the Buda Castle Quarter and Danube embankment, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The former is an ancient town district, home to important historical monuments like the old Royal Palace. The latter offers beautiful sights of the urban landscape, including views of the Roosevelt Square and the Parliament building.
- Visit Szent Istvan Bazilika, St. Stephen’s Basilica, which is the oldest church in the city. This neoclassical Catholic cathedral houses the most sacred relic of Hungary: the mummified right hand of St. Stephen. You can also admire the treasury of ecclesiastical objects here for an interesting lesson on religion.
- Learn about the nation’s rich history at the Hungarian National Museum. Founded in 1802, this institution has several significant works of art and exhibits. Here, you can find Celtic gold, memorabilia from socialist times, a Broadwood piano used by both Liszt and Beethoven, and St. Stephen’s crimson silk coronation mantle, among other interesting things.
- Pay your respects at the Shoes on the Danube Bank. This well-known landmark commemorates the mass killings of Hungarian Jews from 1944 to 1945 by the anti-Semitic Arrow Cross Party. Created in 2005, this moving memorial consists of 60 pairs of shoes set in concrete along the Danube bank.
- Travel back in time at Halászbástya, the Fisherman’s Bastion. This 19th-century castle is where the guild of fisherman defended Budapest in the Middle Ages. Its towers and turrets resemble a Disney World castle, promising you a fairytale experience.
Tips for travellers
Budapest has a large network of underground caves waiting to be explored. The second-largest one in Hungary, Pálvölgyi Cave, was discovered in 1904. It has been a protected natural preservation area since 1944 and is 29 kms long. Located in the Buda Hills, it is known for its amazing rock formations, extraordinary stalactites and narrow passages. If you’re feeling brave, descend into these caves filled with dripstone. Remember to wear a jacket or jumper, as the temperature is around 11° Celsius.