Every year, the Hungarian capital seduces numerous visitors. Budapest has character aplenty, with imposing landmarks, hearty food and moderate prices.
Formed in 1873 by merging Buda, Óbuda and Pest, Budapest is best viewed on your first trip via a boat trip on the Danube—Europe’s second largest river.
The city’s turbulent 2,000-year history has left its mark, from the Turkish occupation, the Habsburg period and the revolution of 1848. Today, a haunting memorial on the Danube of 60 pairs of shoes commemorates the sad chapter of the Jewish pogroms during the Second World War.
But not everything is gloomy. Budapest has also produced many artists and celebrities, including Harry Houdini, Ernő Rubik (inventor of the Rubik’s cube) and Robert Capa, the war reporter and co-founder of the Magnum photo agency.
The queen of Hungarian cuisine is the paprika—the base of many of Hungary’s national dishes, which are traditionally prepared in bogrács (cooking pots).
A hearty gulyásleves (goulash) is a must. Braised beef, onions, garlic, tomato paste and paprika powder are the main ingredients. Similarly popular is a variation with sauerkraut and pork, known as Szegedin goulash.
Lángos is the perfect snack on the go. You can get the fried yeast dough pieces topped with sour cream and cheese on every street corner or at the Karaván Street Food Market. If you feel like tasting a variety of authentic Hungarian delicacies, a visit to the Great Market Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in 1897, is a must.
Of course you can’t leave without a sweet treat. Café Gerbeaud is a traditional coffee house in the style of the Wilhelminian period—with stucco, chandeliers and wooden furniture. Opt for the Dobos cake made of chocolate butter cream and biscuits with caramel icing.
Budapest offers a variety of things to see and do. The magnificent, Neo-Gothic parliament building—with its 365 turrets by Imre Steindl—sits on the banks of the Danube and is charmingly illuminated in the evening.
The oldest bridge in Budapest, the Széchenyi Lánchíd, is a popular photo op and just as impressive whether day or night. Before it was built in 1849, boats had to be interconnected to get from Buda to Pest.
The most dramatic view of the city is promised at Fisherman’s Bastion. This neo-Romanesque monument, completed around 1905, is within sight of the palace. Once the seat of kings, the building today hosts the National Gallery, the Historical Museum and the National Library.
What is Budapest without its thermal baths, the most sublime of which is Gellért Bath? Opened in 1918, it enchants with Art Deco architecture and an Art Nouveau gallery.
Today, the Jewish quarter is the main draw for young creatives and artists. In addition to modern street art, the famous ruin pubs can be found here with Szimpla Kert as the most popular. Within the walls of dilapidated buildings you can dance to electronic music, enjoy a long drink and lose yourself in the midst of art installations. Our tip: Purchase one of the watercolor prints of Budapest from Gábor Vitáris. It’s the perfect souvenir.
Maison Bistro & Hotel
The Maison Hotel & Bistro is housed in an 18th century Baroque building and offers 17 rooms. Another eight modern, spacious rooms overlooking the garden are located in the Petite Maison. The combination of modern and historic furniture is charming, while the continental breakfast guarantees a good start to the day.
Queen’s Court Hotel & Residence
The Queen’s Court Hotel & Residence stands for comfort. The 74 spacious, individually designed suites and apartments are equipped with a queen or king bed, bathroom and kitchen in a classic style. The retro spa area with an indoor pool, fitness center, sauna and various wellness treatments delight visitors.