Nestled by the western Buda Hills, the eastern Great Plains and the unbelievably romantic Danube River, Budapest is easily one central Europe’s most beautiful cities. Mother Nature has left an incredible legacy there, but so have the people that have called Budapest home for centrueis. The capital is an architectural gem, with neoclassical, art nouveau, baroque and eclectic buildings lining broad tree-lined streets. Parks offer quite respite while museums overflow with treasures and pleasure boats float lazily down the scenic Danube. The city is a true delight both day and night, offering plenty of cultural indulgences under the sun and a festive atmosphere under the stars.
The Buda side of the Danube is dominated by the Buda Castle, which offers some of the finest views over the city and an impressive complex of museums. Originally built in the 13th century as a royal Hungarian palace, the castle went through numerous renovations and reconstructions before being reduced to rubble by the Soviets in 1945. Decades later, the royal residence was remarkably re-created to become the country’s premier cultural center. The southern wing is home to the Budapesti Torteneti Museum, featuring exhibits that detail the city’s history from its 1686 liberation from the Turks to the 1970s. The Magyar Nemzeti Galeria comprises the center of the palace, showcasing the country’s fine art, including Gothic statues, medieval paintings and contemporary works. The western wing houses the Orszagos Szechenyi Konyvtar, which highlights over 2 million volumes of medieval manuscripts, correspondence and codices.
One of the most popular highlights in Budapest is Matthias Church, a stunning example of late Gothic architecture. Built in the 14th century, the church’s exterior is guarded by many gargoyles, and the interior is a masterpiece of ornate painted walls. Visit early in the day to enjoy the serene silence before the crowds arrive.
Fast-forward in history to 1902, when construction on Budapest’s Parliament Building was completed. Composed of nearly 700 sumptuously decorated rooms, the building holds seemingly endless treasures for visitors. One of the most impressive is the crown of St. Stephen, Hungary’s most significant national icon, along with his orb and ceremonial sword. Tours are available in eight languages three times a day, but reservations are recommended to get a glimpse of this must-see attraction.
Budapest is filled with parks that offer a break from the hectic urban atmosphere. One of the most lovely is Margaret Island, where locals picnic, cycle, walk and enjoy the green space in the city’s heart. Visitors can stroll around the old convent’s ruins and pay their respects at the tomb of St. Margaret herself.
The communist history of Romania is on full display at Memento Park, where an odd collection of statues glorifies Soviet ideals and heroes. The park also contains a small museum that screens fascinating training videos used by the secret police.
At night, head to the city’s seventh district on the Pest side. The streets behind the Great Synagogue are filled with ruin pubs, springing up in abandoned buildings and vacant lots. Hip locals spend their evenings there, sipping strong beers on picnic tables and unwinding with live music, art exhibitions and film nights. If you crave something swankier, the most posh street in the city, Andrassy Ut, is just a short walk away. There, you can feast on traditional Hungarian cuisine at Michelin-starred restaurants, catch a performance by a local theater troop or sway to the sounds of a jazz quartet.
Budapest Geographical Location
Budapest is located north of the center of Hungary and is its largest city.
The approximate population of Budapest is 3,285,000.
Hungarian is the official language of Hungary and is its most commonly spoken language.
Budapest Predominant Religion
- 52% Roman Catholic
- 16% Calvinist
- 14% None
- 11% Other
- 3% Lutheran
- 3% Greek Catholic
- 1% Other
A large majority of Hungarians identify with Christianity although less than half responded that they believe in God when surveyed.
The official currency of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint.
Summers are usually pleasant in Budapest, although there are occasional heat waves, and the winters are cold sometimes accompanied by snowstorms.
Budapest Main Attractions
- Royal Palace
- Budapest Opera House
- Parliament Building
Other Attractions in Budapest
- Heroes’ Square
- Historical Museum of Budapest
- St Stephens Basilica
- Great Synagogue and Jewish Museum