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Travel to Budapest



1 September 2014

Enjoy our guide to Hungary's capital city

Considered by many to be one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, the Hungarian capital was once two separate cities, Buda and Pest, which were unified in 1873. Despite Budapest’s relatively short history, the city boasts a rich and vibrant history reflected in the many cultural attractions for tourists to enjoy. World Heritage sites blend with a multitude of dining and shopping options, as well as extensive hot water baths, to create a city full of welcome surprises.

Hungary boasts the world’s largest thermal water cave system, resulting in plenty of thermal baths and spas across Budapest. They range in size and style, the largest of which is Széchenyi Baths, where you can play chess while enjoying the water. The Gellért Baths is perhaps the most well known, the elegant structure attracting lovers of architecture as well as bathers. Bringing the experience very much into the 21st century is the Four Seasons Gresham Palace, with its modern facilities and high-end treatments. 

This elaborately decorated building is a masterpiece, combining nods to the musical theme of its purpose with Neo-Renaissance and Baroque styling. While its capacity is modest at a little less than 1,300, what it lacks in space it makes up for in its splendour, which is why it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. Renowned composer Gustav Mahler was a director in the city for four years from 1887, and in 1984 a major renovation project was completed, 100 years after the opening of the building. The opera season runs from September to June, and guided tours of the venue are available in between performances. 

The most beautiful of Budapest’s bridges, Chain Bridge is also the first to permanently connect Buda to Pest. Scottish engineer Adam Clark completed the structure in 1849, and it was widely regarded at the time as a wonder of the world. It still enchants the many visitors to Budapest, and the walk across the Danube, particularly at night, is a special experience. The squares at either end of the bridge are perfect for people watching, and the bridge often plays host to festivals and entertainment. Interestingly, when the bridge was first opened, there was a toll, a levy that the aristocracy had to pay as well as the ordinary citizens. This was the first time that nobility had been taxed in Hungary. 

With some of the city’s best architecture and plenty of museums and other cultural sites, Andrásy Avenue is deserving of its World Heritage Site status. It connects City Park with Budapest’s centre, and not only will you find the aforementioned opera house, there are plenty of side streets with cafes and restaurants to sit and take in the architecture. High-end brands are in abundance, so shopaholics and avid window browsers are also catered to. 

POPULATION: 1,740,041
LANGUAGE: Hungarian
CLIMATE: Cold winters are quickly forgotten due to the long summers, which boast high temperatures rivalling the warmest Mediterranean destinations.
HISTORICAL FACT: In 1990 Hungary held its first free elections since 1945.
FAMOUS CITIZEN: Harry Houdini, the world-renowned escape artist and illusionist, was born in Budapest in 1874 before moving to the US.
DID YOU KNOW? The Budapest Card allows holders to use public transport for free, provides discounts at attractions and restaurants, and comes with useful mobile apps.



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