Pearl of the Danube or Paris of the East - a delightful weekend in Budapest
Budapest, called the little Paris of the East-Central Europe, is considered by many tourists to be the one of the most beautiful cities of our continent. Monumental buildings, bridges hanging on the water like beautiful, modern webs, as well as radiating avenues, perfectly visible from the most representative place in Budapest, Castle Hill - one must admit that the architecture of the city is deliberated, majestic and often simply a real masterpiece.
The tourist route
If we have only one weekend to explore Budapest, it has to be a very intense weekend. There’s a lot to see there. Firstly, it is worth mentioning that most of the hiking trails in Budapest lead along the Danube river - the most magnificent and important monuments are located on its both banks, and there are seven road bridges that connect Buda with Pest. They were built in different styles, so the whole creates a wonderful panorama, which can be admired from Gellért Hill. The first bridge, which had connected two parts of the city, was the Chain Bridge, and was built from the initiative of István Széchenyi. Both ends of the bridge are guarded by astonishing stone lions.
Not only the architecture of the building in Budapest says that it’s an old city with a rich history and culture. Numerous impressive museums and galleries (60) are just waiting for tourists. The interiors of the Royal Castle were dedicated for the purposes of museum. The largest of museums are, among other things, the National Museum, National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Exhibitions organized there, those regular as well as occasional, attracts both culture enthusiasts and simple tourists, amazed by the abundance of exhibits.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Above all, a spot really worth seeing is St. Stephen’s Basilica (Pest), in which is kept one the most important Hungarian relic - mummified hand of the first king of the Magyars. It is the biggest church in the capital of Hungary (it fits in up to 8500 people). Ninety-six meter high dome particularly attract tourist with its interior mosaics depicting God the Father, as well as the tympanum of Mary as the patroness of Hungary. The dome’s observation deck is open for tourists, so it is worth to take the opportunity and admire the interior of the basilica.
We surely cannot ignore the largest in Europe and second largest in the world (right after New York's Emanu-El) Great Synagogue, where masters such as Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns played the organs.
A great impression is made by the building of Fisherman's Bastion with eye-catching white, fine buildings. It’s exceptionally beautiful by night, when it’s appropriately illuminated. Apart from the Bastion, another place to visit are the ruins of a former Roman settlement, the city of Aquincum. Now, on its territory is the museum of Roman fortified camp, where visitors can see the remains of military amphitheater and baths.
The Margaret Island
In Budapest, there are a lot of spots where you can rest among nature. The inhabitants usually choose Margaret Island as a place to rest. It’s an island on Danube river, and has a big, on-site park with an original musical fountain (which plays Strauss’s waltzes), there are swimming pools, cross-country trails and cycling routes. Another impressively big enclave of nature is the Wood. This is an area with amusement park, zoo and a copy of the castle of Dracula in mini version. You can go for a romantic walk to the Wood – there’s a water area where you can float a boat.
However, if we want to spend the time more actively, it’s best to go to the western part of Budapest. In this region you can explore the surrounding caves, go hiking on the hills or take a ride by a cable car. And if you feel tired, there’s a great remedy – a bath. Budapest is full of them - after all, the city is situated on hot springs. The hot springs that rise from deep within Gellért Hill, are thought to have the healing powers, and among other things, solve the circulatory problems and help with respiratory diseases. Tourists eagerly benefit from it, just like from the thermal pools of the Gellért Baths complex.
Apart from astounding history, churches and the ruins of ancient settlements, the Pearl of the Danube hides another surprise. It’s the first Tropicarium with the largest sea aquarium in Central- Eastern Europe, where visitors can explore the underwater flora and fauna of fresh and salt waters or the lush vegetation of the Amazon forest. The place is worth visiting during the stay in Buda, because you won’t see such a large exposure, seeming to be straight from the jungle, anywhere else in Europe.
We cannot forget about the information about costs of entries to the tourist objects. Arriving in Budapest, you have to be aware of the costs ranging from 1000 to 2000 Forints. A good solution would be buying a Budapest Card, which gives us a discount on entrance fees to many interesting places. It enables us to go not only for the cultural events (such as concerts) or attractive viewpoints. It’s an economical purchase – you gain nice discounts in restaurants and discounts for guide service. And who knows, maybe you next trip to Budapest will be much longer?