A city of two tales, where the River Danube divides hilly Buda from flat Pest and old from new. From the moment I glimpsed Budapest from the window of a taxi taking me to my hotel, and saw buildings towering above in a myriad of styles and colours, I knew I was in for a treat.
The Romans, Magyars, Turks, Austrians, and Soviets have all left their influence upon the city, a city that wears its history through its architecture. Few places can offer a cityscape like Budapest, one that is as beautiful as it is eclectic. Whether you're looking for a romantic break, a girls (or boys) weekend away or just a little solo adventure like me, Budapest is for everyone.
Exploring Buda - The Castle District and Gellert Hill
I think the best way to get to know the city is by starting at the top and making your way down. So cross the Chain Bridge to the base of Castle Hill and walk the ascent to the Castle district where you'll discover breath-taking panoramic views of the Danube and city.Matthias Church - The most famous church in Budapest and for good reason. Whilst churches have a tendency to melt into one this beaut of a building is fabulously unique. The walls and stained glass windows are wonderfully colourful and intricate whilst on the outside, the roof is a masterpiece of tiled precision.
Fisherman's Bastion - Built in the early 20th century in a neo-Gothic style, specifically to act as a panoramic viewing platform across the Danube, Margaret Island and Pest. The National Gallery - Housed in the former palace, the Hungarian National Gallery is home to a big collection of paintings from Hungary and across Europe.
In the late afternoon take a walk or catch a quick taxi ride to Gellert Hill (taxis are pretty cheap in Budapest by most European standards). This area is rich in greenery and known for having the best view of Budapest and three impressive monuments for you to explore for the rest of the afternoon.Gellert Statue - This monument, designed by Gyula Jankovits and erected in 1904, is in honour of the 11th century bishop St Gellert who converted the Magyars to Christianity. Legends says that Gellert was put to death by pagans at this spot by putting him in a barrel and rolling it down the steep Gellert Hill and then throwing it into the Danube. Ouch!
Liberation Monument - This monument created by sculptor Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl, was erected in 1947 by the Soviet's to commemorate the Nazis' defeat. Standing at 14 metres tall the statue of a woman bearing a palm leaf is visible from many points in the city.The Citadel - A fortress at the top of Gellert Hill, the Citadel is a large U-shaped structure built about a central courtyard and houses sixty cannons. As you can imagine from a place of great strategic importance, the views of Pest are show-stopping.
Tour of Parliament Building & the Jewish Quarter
Now you've explored Buda, today is all about Pest, known for its grittier streets, ruin bars, St Stephan's Basilica and of course, the famed Parliament building.You probably spent a long part of the day swooning over the House of Parliament yesterday, so kick off the day by taking a tour of this architectural masterpiece. Unfortunately, I didn't plan ahead before arrival so when I tried to book tickets I couldn't find an available spot on the English speaking tours so take my advice and book beforehand.