The best way to enjoy the delights of Budapest is to explore the different areas on foot. With an old town area, thermal baths, ancient churches, an opera house, history museum and huge indoor market there is a lot to see, so take it at your own pace.
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and home to a population of 2 million people. The city is situated on both the banks of the Danube River. There have been settlements on each side of the water since the Stone Age, one side named Buda and the other Pest. In 1849 the Chain Bridge joined the banks together to make one, splendid city.
The Medieval buildings and cobbled streets of Budapest create a unique atmosphere. The Castle District has been named a World Heritage Site and there is a lot to see here from Trinity Square, Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion. There are many thermal spas to choose from, but Szecheryl Baths is the largest, and it's easy to pass many hours here. It's also worth spending some time at the Central Market - a huge indoor market that has local food like blood sausage, cheeses and meats on the lower floor, and embroidery, crafts and souvenirs on the second floor.
The city comes alive at certain times of the year when huge events take place filling the streets with people. Every August Budapest is home to a large pop and indie music festival called the Sziget Festival. From June to August each year the Summer Festival sees Hungarian dance, local comedy, opera and classical music performances all around the city. In the centre each June a weekend beer festival lets visitors sample ales or every kind from lunch time until the early hours. In December the Christmas Fair takes place by the Basilica.
Things to Do
When it comes to making an itinerary of things to do in Budapest, visitors are spoiled for choice. Whether you plan to arrive in winter or summer, there is plenty to see in this city. Here are the top 5 things that you simply must not miss.
Climb Castle Hill
Declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, the highlight of the Castle District is the view across the city and the Danube. This area is the old town where the buildings are Baroque and Gothic in style. The Royal Palace, History Museum, Labyrinth and Trinity Square are all in this castle area. If you don't fancy walking up, you can hop on the funicular. Remember to include a stop at the Fisherman's Bastion - the architecture is amazing.
Visit one of the oldest buildings in Budapest
Over 700 years old, Matthias Church is where both Charles IV was crowned and King Matthias held his wedding celebrations. The interior is highly decorated and the frescoes on the walls are spectacular. Remember to look up and see the colourful ornate tiles on the roof. Concerts and organ evenings take place on different dates throughout the year. There is also a museum in the church which is worth stopping by.
Take a thermal bath
There are a number of public baths in Budapest but the largest and oldest is Széchenyi. There are 21 pools in total here including thermal spas, swimming pools and whirlpools, plus there's a huge sunbathing deck. The grand yellow building is picturesque and houses two indoor pools, a sauna and a treatment room where you can book massages or mud soaks. The baths are open all year around with closing times altering for different seasons so make sure you check before you go along.
##Try some local food at the market
The Central Market is very big and has hundreds of stalls. You can sample local delicacies and produce, such as blood sausage, cheeses, meats, wines and beer. Vendors sell street food and there are cafes on the top floor too. On the second floor you can find souvenirs, plates, clothing and sweets to name just a few items. The building itself is unique, don't forget to look up at the beautiful ceiling structure.
Cruise the Danube
See both sides of Buda and Pest from the water by hopping on a Danube Cruise. Sail under the bridges and be sure to stop off on Margaret Island. There are a few different options to choose from including some evening cruises which offer dinner onboard and dancing as well. Some trips offer excursions a little further down the river if you have more time.
Calendar of events
Festivals and events attract thousands of tourists to Budapest each year. There are several which take part in the summer, and a few around Christmas time.
Sziget Festival: This a huge musical event that lasts for seven days in August. Well-known bands from around the world perform and festival-goers enjoy a week of partying. Various camping options are available to book in advance from sleeping in an open hammock to hiring a tent that's already erected.
Budapest Summer Festival: This takes place over June, July and August. Classical music, theatre, opera, comedy, folk dancing and ballet events are scheduled at indoor and outdoor venues all over the city. Ticket prices vary depending on the event you wish to attend.
In front the St Stephen's Basilica a Christmas market is held each December. An ice-skating rink, craft stalls, food kiosks and local folk dancing are all part of the fun that takes place to celebrate the advent. The market is open from 10am until late into the evening each day.