I went to Budapest last month for a couple of days and stayed right in the centre of town. Budapest has a population of 2 million people and the name comes from combining what were two towns – Buda and Pest together. If you are heading over to Hungary, I would recommend taking the hop on hop off bus to see all the sights in Budapest. Here are just 10 to visit.
1) Jewish Synagogue
Construction of the Dohány Synagogue began in 1854 for the Jewish community which numbered 30,000 at that time. It is a beautiful building, featuring Byzantine and Moorish elements and has been completely restored thanks to private funding by Estee Lauder and Tony Curtis, Jewish-Hungarian, Americans.
The building is situated right on the river Danube between the Chain Bridge and Margaret Bridge on the Pest side of the Danube. You can go inside the building on a guided tour of Parliament when it is not in session, tours are available in English, German, Spanish, Italian and French.
3) Market Hall
This is the largest indoor market in the city which is home to nearly 200 stalls selling vegetables, meats, sausages and souvenirs across 3 different floors. The lowest level is a supermarket with fresh fish and meats and on the top floor is a market of handicrafts and Budapest souvenirs. The market is open every day except Sundays.
4) National Museum
Built in 1847, this museum has many Hungarian historical relics dating back from the early 9th century until the modern day. I did not have enough time to visit this museum but apparently it houses Beethoven’s Broadwood piano.
5) Opera House
The Budapest Opera House is located on the Andrássy Avenue. The Opera House can fit up to 1200 people and is supposed to be one of the best in the world in terms of its acoustics. It is a nice part of town, lots of restaurants and cafes nearby to chill out in before or just after a show.
6) Heroe’s Square
You can take the hop on hop off bus to Heroe’s square which commemorates the leaders of the 7 tribes who founded Budapest and is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. There are two fine art museums on either side of the square, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Arts (Mucsarnok). If you are a fan of museums, I would suggest you spend at least an afternoon here.
7) Boat cruise
For 15 euros, you can have a hop on, hop off bus and boat cruise valid for 48 hours. The boat cruise was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the tour and stops by Margaret Island.
Budapest is well known for its baths, some are male and female mixed, others only on certain days, there are also bath parties called “spar ties”. Lonely Planet has recommended, Rudas as they are the most recently renovated baths which were built in 1566 and have an octagonal pool, domed cupola with coloured glass. Unfortunately as I was not feeling well, the last thing I wanted to do was go in a bath so I cannot vouch which is the best but the Szechnyi and Gellert Baths are very popular.
9) Margaret Island
Located between Buda and Pest, this 2.5km long island and 500m wide is a national park. You can get off on stop 7 on the yellow route or stop 3 on the blue route (on the boat). It is a great place to relax, peace and tranquility in the heart of the city. There is an outdoor swimming pool as well as open areas to have a picnic.
You can take the Funicular Railway up or jump on the hop on hop off bus to the Citadel and from there enjoy panoramic views of the Danube river, the Elizabeth Bridge, Parliament. Later on this summer, there is a Festival of Folk Arts in the Buda Castle.
I would suggest visiting Budapest with a friend. It did not feel the safest place to walk around late at night and hence I did not take full advantage of the night life. Have you been to Budapest before? Let me know which places you visited, connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.