City of the Month: Budapest

Each month we showcase an exceptional European city – Budapest is our focus in November…

Hungary’s capital is a cultural hub and offers baroque, neoclassical, eclectic and art nouveau buildings alongside contemporary architecture. The city is divided into two parts by the Danube river: Buda – the hilly west bank – is predominantly recreational and residential, while Pest – the flatter east bank – has commercial and industrial zones as well as residential space.

Budapest sits on top of a network of geothermal springs – some of which are known to have medicinal effects, due to the mineral content of the water – and the city’s numerous bathhouses range from Turkish-era and art nouveau to modern.

Summary: With a rich history, dramatic architecture, and wealth of culture; thermal waters and buzzing nightlife; and strengths in commerce, finance, research, and technology, it’s no surprise that the city attracts up to 12 million international tourists each year.

In 2019 Budapest won the accolade of Best European Destination in a major European Commission poll and it’s a perfect destination for:

  • Leisure groups
  • Students
  • MICE
  • FITs

BUDAPEST FACTFILE

Population of Budapest: 1.75m

Location: situated in the north-central section of Hungary.

Nearest airport: Budapest International Airport is 16km south east of downtown Budapest.

Getting around Budapest: The city has an extensive public transport network of buses, trams, underground trains (Metro) and above-ground suburban trains (HÉV) that run from the early hours of the morning to 23:00 as well as night buses.

What to eat and drink in Budapest: Cuisine is dominated by traditional stews seasoned with paprika, such as Hungarian goulash (beef and vegetables), chicken paprikash (chicken, pepper, onion, garlic, tomato, and sour cream), lecsó (a vegetable dish), or sólet (kidney beans, onion, and barley, garnished with an egg). Lángos – a deep-fried dough served with garlic oil, sour cream and grated cheese – and sponge cakes with cream, raisins, walnuts, and chocolate sauce are popular.

Typical drinks in Budapest include fröccs – a wine spritzer with soda water – and pálinka – brandy distilled from fruits such as plums, pears, peaches, cherries, and grapes.

Weather/seasons in Budapest: Budapest has a mild temperate climate, with relatively cold winters (November – early March) and a fair chance of snowfall. Summers are long and warm, running from May until mid-September, with sudden heavy showers possible in May and June. Spring (March and April) and autumn (mid-September until late October) are generally mild.

Budapest’s top 10 must-visit landmarks and attractions: 

  1. The Danube – a peaceful cruise will take in views of the UNESCO World Heritage status riverbanks.
  2. Rudas Baths – Budapest boasts many bathhouses and spas but this one, built in 1566 but recently renovated, is one of the most popular.
  3. Fisherman’s Bastion – a fairytale neo-Gothic terrace on Castle Hill riverbank, with spectacular vistas.
  4. The Shoes on the Danube Bank – a poignant tribute to the 3,500 civilians killed by fascists in Budapest during the Second World War.
  5. St Stephen’s Basilica – Budapest’s largest church can hold up to 8,500 people and is one of Hungary’s most iconic buildings.
  6. Chain Bridge – the magnificent suspension bridge opened in 1849, to connect Buda and Pest, and is a symbol of national pride and is stunning when illuminated at night.
  7. Margaret Island – a tranquil and serene space on the Danube, linked to Buda and Pest by bridges at either end.
  8. Buda Castle, the Hungarian National Gallery, the Castle Museum, and the National Széchenyi Librarythe spectacular 13th-century palace is a UNESCO site that sits atop Castle Hill.
  9. Dohány Street Synagogue, Hungarian Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Tree of Life memorial – Europe’s largest place of Jewish worship (and the second biggest in the world).
  10. Parliament House – one of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks.

Budapest’s top events throughout the year

  1. Farsang or Budapest Carnival season – combining Christian tradition with pagan rituals, 6th January marks the start of a colourful festival time, with decadent food, masquerade balls, and music to celebrate the forthcoming spring.
  2. Summer on the Chain Bridge festival, the Summer Festival Budapest, Sziget Festival, the Festival of Folk Arts – August is a month of music, culture, dance, performances, traditional Hungarian food and drink, and fireworks by the river Danube.
  3. Christmas – from late November, Vörösmarty Square hosts a festive market with arts and crafts, exhibitions, live entertainment, food and drink.

Check out our 3-day Budapest FIT City Break or contact us for a tailor-made itinerary for your clients, perhaps combining the nearby cities of Vienna and Prague.

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