The Pearl of the Danube(or Duna) lives up to its name. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have been to. Take into account the cheap cost of living and excellent exchange rate and it is easy to see why it is one of the best in Europe.
First I have to get my biggest negative out of the way. There is no main square for the city. I understand this is a personal preference, but this is my blog so everything here is my personal opinion. Where was I? Oh yes, a main square. One of the reasons I love Poland and Germany so much and dislike Vienna and most other cities is the having or not having of this wonderful area. A main street is so uninteresting, but a main square in the Summer time or during Christmas festivals is one of the best locations in the world.
With that out of the way let us proceed with Budapest proper. The main street, Vaci utca, is full of the usual shops, cafes, and restaurants with hosts trying to get you to sit down for a meal. This is where most tourists will spend their time. A shame really but normal for tourists in every city really to stay in the tourist areas. You can really get the Hungarian culture and vibe by trying out a hamburger at McDonald’s, or a local coffee at Starbucks or Coffeeshop company, or maybe purchase some locally made clothes at H&M. Okay, enough sarcasm. Let us move on to some of the tourist attractions and a little geography lesson.
Budapest is actually a combination of two places separated by the Duna river. Buda is on the west and is built into some hills. It is the greener and nicer area. Pest is the business district and contains most of the shops, cafes, and restaurants. Atop Buda is a castle. While not too impressive in itself it does offer wonderful views of the city owing to its high location. Also here is a Communist statue referred to as the giant bottle opener. You will understand why when you see it. The other main attraction in Buda is Fisherman’s Bastion. Now this is impressive. I will not try to describe it. You must go and see it for yourself.
Now over to Pest. There are many sights on this side of the river. The most prominent being Parliament. A masterpiece of architecture, you must view it from the Buda side, the tour boats, and by walking around it during the day as well as at night. Do all three mind you, not just one. Then there is Hero’s Square which is a normal giant Communist sculpture, the Basilica, and….you know what, just walk through District 5 and you will find unlimited sights to keep you occupied. There are also the spas which are a big deal. They are exactly what you expect. A bunch of different temperature pools, some looking and feeling like motor oil and others smelling of eggs. A great time all around.
I actually do have one more complaint to discuss and that is about the Hungarian people. Not a big issue in Budapest since there are so many expats and tourists, but quite annoying in the countryside. Scratch that. I will discuss the people in a separate post.
So let me sum up. Budapest is a stunning city with enough to keep everyone busy every single minute for weeks. It is many times cheaper than other European capitals in Europe. It has some of the cheapest flights in Europe with excellent connections and a brand new and modern airport. There are festivals almost every week to keep you entertained and the wine is fantastic. There are very few things better than spending a stint in the Pearl of the Danube.