Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is one of the most magical of places to visit in Europe. But I should ensure that you know the correct way of pronunciation is “Boo-Dah-Pesht”. Like Paris, it is divided into districts and quarters. Buda contains districts 1-3, 11, 12, and 22 covering west of the Danube. Pest (Pesht) contains districts 4-9 covering the east of the Danube. Buda includes Buda Castle and Buda Hills.
Budapest has approximately 2 million inhabitants and approximately 2.7 million visitors yearly. I was one of them. What I found amazed me. I will not bore you with history or politics of this city, you can find that quite easily by a quick Google search. But, this is a historic city and it matters. The city was created in 1873 by the merger of three cities: Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. There are 7 bridges and 2 railway bridges In Budapest. Except for one bridge (Erzsébet híd), all bridges were destroyed during the Second World War were restored to the original style. Its roots trace back to the Stone Age but its known history begins with the Roman town of Aquincum founded in 89AD.
Its later history the Turks conquered Hungarian Belgrade in 1526. After that, part of Hungary fell under the Ottoman Empire, the other became part of the Hapsburg Empire. In 1848, a rebellion was undertaken against the Habsburgs. Through this brutal battle, in 1867, the Habsburg monarchy was transformed into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With a booming economy after the revolution and the creation of a dual monarchy, the independent cities of Pest, Buda, and Obuda were merged into one city called Budapest in 1873.
There are many places to stay in this very large city. I chose to stay at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Pest side of the Danube. This hotel was chosen as it is located directly across from Buda Castle and has easy access to all the sites. You have direct Buda Castle views and views of the Chain Bridge which is gorgeous at night.
To be honest, when I visited Budapest, the most I really knew was the Viking Cruise commercial with its riverboat sailing gracefully past the Parliament building. But Parliament is, for me at least, the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, the Big Ben of Budapest, and it was everything. Central to the city is the river itself as it cuts the city in half. This fact is enhanced by taking in the beauty during a night cruise. Here you’ll get to bask in the up-lit glow of the Castle and Parliament. Camera flashes popping around us from up and down both banks and riverboats as everyone gets their selfie or pose with a significant other with Parliament as the backdrop.
This is a big city- be prepared to walk. On the other hand, I can recommend taking a tour of the city by Budapest Tuk Tuk (https://budapesttuktuk.com)where you’ll see the city like no other way possi-
ble. Our guide, Robert, took us to places one could only get by two or three wheels, or by walking. The tour was about three hours and was very personalized by Robert. He took us to one of his favorite places, a park dedicated to the history of Buda and Pest. He asked us what we had already seen so he would not be repeating and so we would see the most on our tour. We covered in hours what it would have taken days to see by any other means. Even better, he picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel. Really, this is a must do for a different way to tour a city. It gets excellent (5 dots) reviews on TripAdvisor.
Another different way to see a city is to do a food tour. Ours was very different and covered a lot of ground. No, really, I think we must have walked six miles. When you tour a city by its cuisine, you delve deep into its culture. This was a most informative and delicious tour that began by having Unicom and palinka at 11:00 A.M. I can strongly recommend Food Tour Budapest and it too has excellent TripAdvisor reviews. One of the stops is at the market at I. Szamu Vasarcsarnok or the Great Market Hall. It is an indoor market with a history dating back to the 1890s. The tour provides a taste of many delights but most importantly, goulash, Hungarian style of course.
To our surprise, our trip coincided with the Budapest Wine Festival at Buda Castle. In September, urban dwellers ascend to Buda Castle, admiring the scenic views of the city that overlook the Danube, Parliament, and the Chain Bridge. Here, over 200 wineries offer thousands of wines for sampling and enjoying reds, whites, and bubbles to one’s heart’s content. The festival takes place on the Buda Castle grounds around the cobblestone streets, folk dancing, and folk song in the air. This was an amazing experience to stumble upon and I recommend this event if it coincides with your visit too. I must say also, Hungary has some of the best wines I have tasted.
Great sites to see are:
- Buda Castle
- The Chain Bridge
- Margaret Island
- Hero’s Square
- Great Market Hall
So, when you visit a city, don’t forget to dig deeper by attending local events and taking a tour of the city’s local cuisine. Your trip will be made all the richer and unforgettable memories will be had.
Thanks for tripping with me