The capital of Hungary and the largest city in East-Central Europe, Budapest is a gorgeous and budget-friendly vacation destination. Although you could easily spend an entire week in Budapest, you can also combine it with a trip to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia or other beautiful nearby countries, all of which are well-connected by train.
Budapest is divided by the Danube River into two sides: Buda and Pest. Originally two separate cities, they were united in 1873. Most of the sites and hotels are on the Pest side, but the Buda Castle and surrounding area is not to be missed. The entire city is very well connected and easily accessible by foot, tram, rail (Europe's oldest underground railway), bus and even boat.
You really get a sense of the former grandeur of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when you catch your first glance of the true castle on the skyline. The Buda Castle, on the bank of the Danube, was completed in 1265 and is nearly 2 square miles. Marvel at the baroque ballrooms, stroll through the well-manicured gardens and enjoy the fine sculptures. The smaller Vajdahunyad Castle (completed in 1908) on the Pest side is in the middle of City Park and looks like something out of a fairy tale, complete with moat and spires.
Even if politics aren't your thing, the Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the city's most notable tourist attractions. Completed in 1904, the impressive structure is one of Europe's oldest legislative buildings and is the biggest building in the country (and the third largest Parliament building in the world). Constructed in a Gothic Revival style, the Hungarian Parliament Building is also houses the Crown Jewels and Holy Crown of Hungary.
Budapest is famous for its ornate and grandiose baths, where people have gone to relax and heal in the waters for centuries. The Sechenyi Baths in City Park is one of the largest baths in Europe with three outdoor pools and 15 indoor pools, all of different temperatures and fed by two natural thermal springs. The Gellert Baths, on the Buda side, are another famous bathhouse that is worth visiting for its sensational Art Nouveau interior alone.
With its diverse history, Budapest is home to some phenomenal examples of religious structures. Near Buda Castle sits the famous Matthias Church, which was built in the Gothic style in the late 1300s. Also worth visiting is the beautiful Dolhany Street Synagogue, which is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second biggest in the world.
There is so much more to do in Budapest! Visit the wonderful art and history museums, check out the gorgeous opera house, go shopping on Andrassy ut, stroll through City Park or take a cruise along the Danube. And don't forget to enjoy the wonderful Hungarian cuisine (food lovers should head straight to the large, indoor Central Market).
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