The picturesque capital of Budapest rests at the country's centre, on the lovely Danube River, and is the business, administrative and cultural centre of Hungary. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, well defined with wide avenues, lush parks, and plenty of variation in architecture.
You can easily walk Budapest's centre and there is much to see, with a fine selection of museums and monuments in and around the walled Castle District. Buda, which contains the medieval old town, lies on the south bank of the river and rests on hilly terrain which is dotted with beautiful churches and ancient ruins; while the well known Fishermen's Bastion provides panoramic views over the city. Here you'll also find the hot-spring baths for which the city is famous. Also worth seeing is the Royal Palace, which contains several interesting museums, most notably the National Gallery. Across the river, Pest is the newer, flatter side of the city full of stately buildings and wide boulevards.
Originally two separate cities, Budapest was created in 1872 through the joining of the cities Buda and Pest. Budapest is sometimes called the 'Pearl of the Danube' which is the river that separates the two halves of the town from one another. Today it is ten times larger than all other Hungarian cities.
Though now combined, the districts of Buda and Pest have still managed to retrain their distinctive character. On the west bank you will find the winding streets, amazing vistas and the Castle district of Buda. On the east bank you will find a bustling commercial center, theaters and the opera house in Pest. The two banks are joined by three main bridges.
If you start your tour in Buda, you should head towards the Castle District. The area has been burnt to the ground three times in its 800 years of history, but it has been rebuilt each time. Here you will find winding streets filled with brilliant statues, breath-taking views and an interesting mix of architectural styles. The Castle District is UNESCO protected. The reconstructed Buda Castle now houses a number of museums. Beneath the Castle, you might try a tour of the Castle Labyrinths which have a rather spooky undertone. The multi-colored dome of the Matthias Church is perhaps one of the most popular sights in Budapest. It was converted into a mosque and then reconverted into a church 145 years later. If you have the energy to climb the spiral staircase within you will find the Museum of Ecclesiastical Art. For the more daring, you will find the Hotel Gellert and Baths, the most famous Turkish baths in Budapest.
Most of the buildings you will find in Pest date to the 19th century. The building of Parliament is 96 meters tall and has housed the Hungarian crown jewels since 1999. A little further away is the Great Synagogue, the largest in Europe and second largest in the world. In the synagogues garden you will find the Holocaust Memorial a giant tree made of metal. On each of its leaves is the name of a family which perished during the holocaust. Right next door you will find the Jewish Museum. St Stephen?s Basilica offers two main items of interest. The first is the Panorama Tower which offers a 360 degree view of the city. The other, more gruesome item, is the mummified right hand of St Stephen, a revered religious relic. Also worth seeing is the State Opera House, the Millennium Monument and the Museum of Fine Arts. The City Park has a zoo, circus, amusement park and lakeside castle and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. When done looking at the attractions, you can row a boat, don a pair of skates or hire a bike-trolley to navigate the shaded paths of the park.
There are many other sights and attractions worth seeing in Budapest. You can spend time in museums, art galleries, restaurants, bars, night clubs or other entertainment venues. Public transport is inexpensive so getting around is easy. There is only one way to truly enjoy Budapest by going there to experience it for yourself.