Budapest: the Jewel of Eastern Europe
Interestingly enough, Budapest generates more revenue from tourism than the rest of the country’s cities combined. This astonishing fact reveals that the authorities have clearly put years of diligent effort into making Hungary’s capital the region’s economic and cultural hub to great effect. Whenever you take a stroll through its bustling streets, no matter the season, you will regularly hear a cocktail of languages explaining the surrounding architectural marvels and their historic significance. And with the glorious Danube River dividing the city into Buda and Pest, it is safe to say this European urban center is one large World Heritage Site in itself.
There are many reasons why travelers flock to Budapest. Whether you are into monumental landmarks and ancient geothermal springs or want to absorb the youthful and artistic atmosphere, this city has it all. It is packed with museums, theaters, operas, bars, and clubs, everything you need for a dynamic nightlife. From exciting Budapest stag do weekends to the summer festival excursions, the Queen of Danube offers everything to those who are eager to celebrate and explore.
What to see and do?
Somehow every tour of Budapest has to include the Parliament in its itinerary. And for a good reason: Based on the British House of Parliament, this Neo-Gothic domed structure is a magnet for both photographers and architects alike. It is one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings that was inaugurated in 1896 during the 1,000th anniversary of Hungary’s existence as an independent state. Every inch of the exterior has something for the eyes to behold but the interior is even more lavish. Intricate staircases, ornamental mosaics, stained-glass works, and the Holy Crown of Hungary displayed since the year 2000 decorate its seemingly endless halls and corridors.
Across the River Danube on the Buda side of the city are the seven towers of Fisherman’s Bastion, which look like something that originated from a fairy-tale. Constructed in Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque styles back in the 19th century and restored after WWII, this landmark takes its name from a medieval fisherman who stood against invaders on the other side of the wall. When you take the funicular or walk to the top by foot, you will enjoy a picturesque view of the city stretching out as long as the eye can see.
Next to the Fisherman’s Bastion is the majestic Matthias Church, which boasts an eclectic amalgamation of architectural styles. The reason why this church is so architecturally diverse is because it has undergone significant expansion and renovation throughout the centuries, rendering the structure unique in its design. Its rococo spire laden decorated with gargoyles and intricate details will be the first thing that catches your eye. The main body has that French flair with diamonds and chevrons embellishing the rooftop. The interior is teeming with geometric patterns and the tilework beautifully complements the restored fluted pillars, frescoes, and stained-glass windows. Head upstairs to have another look at the city’s panorama, where you will see all of Budapest’s iconic bridges, including the Liberty Bridge and Szechenyi Chain Bridge.
What about entertainment and shopping?
Central Market Hall
You cannot go wrong with the popular Central Market Hall because it offers everything you need to bring authentic souvenirs back to your friends and family. This indoor market is the oldest and largest Neo-Gothic structure suited for this purpose. The basement features a fish market, pickled goods, and butcher shops, the first floor is suited for spices, wines, liquors, sweets, and fresh produce, while the second floor is mostly teeming with eateries and quaint souvenir shops. And if you really want to know why the Central Market Hall is so popular among tourists, try some deep-friend lángos – a local specialty.
As for the entertainment, the whole of Europe, not just Hungary, is well aware of the elaborate party happening during Sziget festival, which brings some of the most popular names in the music industry to date. However, Budapest has a lot of hidden gems, too, and its young residents often love to visit all sorts of music venues and cultural events, which steer clear from the mainstream. Wherever you turn you will eventually stumble upon cafes and bars, which work late hours and gather colorful crowds so it is easy to blend in and enjoy the urban hustle and bustle.
Budapest genuinely is nothing like the rest of Hungary. Its blend of modern and traditional is seamless as if history and future are melded together. Considering how many foreigners swarm the city, you will feel like you are in a miniature version of the world nestled in an intricate and pristine European setting. Naturally, words and photos don’t even begin to do Budapest justice, so book your tickets today and experience what this majestic city has to offer on the spot.