The following post is brought to you through cooperation with Kempinski Hotels. As always however all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
Boasting a vibrant atmosphere, an eclectic arts scene and a wealth of history and architecture to discover, the capital city of Budapest is one of the best alternative holiday destinations in Europe. While Hungary may not be the first choice for many, Budapest promises a breathtaking cultural experience that has earned it the title of “Paris of the East”, not to be missed by those seeking something a little different on their summer break.
Budapest is largely considered to be a town of two parts: Buda, the area of the city west of the Danube River, is considered the old city, and is home to the smaller Castle Hill area, where many of the city’s oldest landmarks can be found. The more modern Pest district is located to the east of the river, and is generally associated with a livelier atmosphere. It’s also where you’ll find most of the luxury accommodation, like the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus close to the riverbank. Most attractions are within walking distance, but there’s also an easy tram system that connects the city if you feel like you’ve been on your feet too long.
History lovers should start in Castle Hill, where many of the oldest attractions are situated close together. Here you’ll find the Royal Palace, a neo-Baroque building that houses the National Gallery and the National Széchényi Library, making it the ideal way to step back in time for an afternoon. Fisherman’s Bastion is another popular attraction here, a large white lookout tower with views across the city, originally for the Guild of Fishermen, that was charged with guarding this part of the wall close to the fish markets during wartime. Castle Hill is home to around ten museums, so make sure you set aside a day or two to see them all.
Elsewhere in the city, the Parliament Building in Pest is perhaps the most popular photo opportunity, a great neo-Gothic monolith on the bank of the Danube River. Take a walk along the Andrássy Út Boulevard while you’re in Pest to find a number of other museums and attractions. Art galleries can also be found across the river in Buda – head to the Kassák Museum for a taste of classic and contemporary Hungarian art.
Budapest is at the heart of Hungary’s rich classical arts scene, and across the city you’ll find theaters, opera houses and performance venues for all tastes. The Hungarian State Opera House is worth visiting at least once – you can take a guided tour, but for a more authentic experience just book a reduced visibility seat and enjoy a performance for the same amount of money. Students should head to the Palace of Arts, where you can enjoy a discounted rate on standing tickets for the ideal budget night out before dinner and drinks.
These are just a few ways to enjoy one of the great cities of Europe, Budapest.