Visit Budapest

Budapest

OVERVIEW


Budapest is the capital of Hungary. This beautiful city is located on both sides of the river Danube and has about 1.7 million inhabitants.

 

Hungary became a full-fledged market economy in 1989 and has reformed its political and social institutions drastically since then. The country is now a member of the European Union and Budapest has become one of Europe's top destinations for weekend trips.

 

Interesting Tidbit

 

Hungarian history reads like a good old spy thriller. The country and its capital city changed hands more times than Austria's legendary Empress Elizabeth (“Sissi”) changed clothes.

 

In Roman times most of the area formed part of the province of Pannonia. These Pannonians traded successfully with places as far away as Spain. During the 4th century Germanic and Hun invasions made an end to Pannonia, but the Hungarians we know today, the Magyar, only came to the area around 900 AD.

 

What many people don't know though is that in 1241 Genghis Khan's Mongol troupes plundered and destroyed the cities on the Danube. Imagine that? They came all the way from the steppes of Southern Siberia!

 

After a brief Turkish spell, Budapest became an Austrian possession in 1686. Only after the Great War and the collapse of the Hapsburg empire did Hungary arise as an independent state, although the Nazis occupied Hungary during World War II and the Soviets exerted their influence for decades afterwards (resulting in the famous Uprising of 1956).

 

These events have all left their marks on the cityscape, which is opulent and incredibly diverse. Budapest is definitely one of the most important cultural gems in Central Europe.

 

Hot Spots

 

Too many to mention.

 

On the right bank of the Danube, i.e. in Buda, there's the walled Castle Hill (Várhegy) with its many monuments, churches and fortified walls.

 

Pest, on the other side of the river, offers what is arguably Europe's most impressive parliament building, Andrássy Avenue (Andrássy út), Heroes Square (Hősök more) and the Millennium monument, as well as Nagykörút Boulevard with plenty of shops and hotels.

 

When in Budapest there are two types of venues you simply have to visit:

 

1. One of the city's many bathhouses and natural springs, some of which date back to the Turkish era. We recommend three of them in particular: the Rudas, Gellért and Széchenyi Spas.

2. The city's famous coffee houses.

 

Culture

 

Of course there are plenty of museums in Budapest. Here's just a few of them: the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Neprajzi Múzeum, Szepműveszeti Múzeum, Ernst Museum, Ludwig Museum Budapest and the Soros Center for Contemporary Art. Do visit the astonishing Hungarian State Opera House as well!

 

Want to have a drink? There’s plenty of choice in that department, too. We recommend Ötkert (in a ruin), Instant (very nice atmosphere) or Negro (near Ötkert).

 

Land-Based Casinos

 

When in Budapest, make sure to gamble in style.

 

We can heartily recommend the Tropicana Casino (close to Vörösmarty tér) for blackjack, Caribbean Stud poker, punto banco (baccarat), dice, progressive poker games and American roulette.

 

Or visit the famous Las Vegas Casino in Hotel InterContinental, which offers six different progressive jackpots on the fun slots. Central Europe’s luckiest player to date recently celebrated a massive win there of €225,000 (and he only risked €1)!
 

Upcoming Events Across Europe

  • Rhine in Flames, Germany

    Germany’s most famous waterway gets lit up by fireworks displays every Saturday night in May. The illuminating spectacle takes place all along various points on the Rhine River each weekend. Each town along the river celebrates with events and festivals which include music, dancing, and great food. There’s no better way to brighten up your weekend German getaway.

  • Cannes Film Festival, France

    The Super Bowl of cinema, the Cannes Film Festival is arguably Europe’s biggest event of the calendar year. Tens of thousands flock to the French Riviera to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s top actors walking the red carpet steps. Glitz and glamour rule the day as films of all genres take center stage from May 11–22.

  • Chelsea Flower Show, England

    Put on by the Royal Horticultural Society from May 24–28, be prepared to be greeted by 11 acres of the UK's finest flowers, gardens, and nursery exhibits. You’ll surely develop a passion for plants as you stroll through the vibrant, blooming event grounds.