Overview

Parliament buildings from Castle Hill
Parliament buildings from Castle Hill © Paul Micallef

Known as the 'Queen of the Danube', magnificent Budapest exudes a cultural sophistication that entices and enchants. It graces both sides of the river with grand historic buildings, regal bridges, and graceful tree-lined boulevards. The city's elegant beauty and romantic atmosphere has given it Parisian status among the Eastern European countries.

Budapest offers the visitor the familiarity of European grandeur with a distinct Hungarian flavour. This is evident in the neo-Gothic Parliament buildings, sidewalk cafes, and Magyar cuisine; classical concerts and Hungarian folk music; and the cobbled streets of medieval neighbourhoods and shady parks. Highlights for visitors include a river cruise on the Danube and a thermal bath in one of the Turkish-era bathhouses.

Budapest was originally two cities built on either side of the Danube, namely Buda and Pest. The two districts are still distinct in their contrasting makeup. The older and more charming Buda comprised of atmospheric cobbled streets, little picturesque coloured houses, and a medieval, neo-Classical mixture of architecture set among the gentle hills of the west bank. It is famous for its historic Castle Hill, featuring the Royal Palace; museums and galleries; St Matthias Church; and the ramparts of Fisherman's Bastion.

Pest lies on a flat plain and is the commercial core of the city. It bustles with fashionable shopping areas and has characteristically wide, leafy boulevards. Andrássy Boulevard is the Champs-Elysées of Budapest, lined with a typical mosaic of architectural styles and buildings with the enormous Heroes' Square at the end.

A history of numerous wars and invasions, with repeated destruction and rebuilding, has created the Budapest of today, with an amalgamation of styles, created over time during periods of loving restoration by a proud and resilient nation of people; it is a city of charm and character and never drops out of favour with travellers.


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