I fell head over heels in love with Budapest the very first time I visited. I love it for all the right reasons- architecture, museums, romance, food, Turkish baths and it is surprisingly cheap. Budapest is often described as the Little Paris of Eastern Europe.
Budapest is not only famous for the monuments reflecting its rich history, but also for the ruins who settled there. Remains of both the Romans and Turks can still be seen in the city. Budapest is divided into two sides, Buda and Pest, which represent two different characters of the city. Buda, on the west side of the river is hilly and semi-suburban and offers medieval streets and houses, museums, caves as well as roman ruins. It is far greener, residential and harder to navigate by public transportation. When in Buda I always get the same feel of Montmartre. It is very nice to visit, walk around and relax.
On the other hand Pest is the urban centre of the city, on the east side of the river. The Parliament, basilica, synagogue, opera, Central Market Hall, National Theatre can all be found here and in pretty much walking distance of each other. Quite obviously, the river Buda offers breathtaking views of Pest, and vice versa.
The number of spas in Budapest is enormous and the good news is that these are found on both sides of the river. Vaci ucta is one of the oldest shopping streets in Pest and it is also a great place to stroll. Gerbeaud is found at the end of Vaci utca and is the ideal place to relax and watch the world go by.
When in Budapest do not forget to try some of tastiest Hungarian dishes. There is a lot more to Hungarian food than goulash. Without any doubt Hungarian cuisine offers plenty of delights for those willing to try including soups, stews, casseroles and superb cakes and pastries. Hungarian dishes are known to be very spicy. Hungarians love soup. A three course meal always starts with soup. The soup is typically followed by meat dishes. The Hungarian paprika gives food a unique taste and colour to meals. However, do not get the impression that Hungarian food is too spicy. A very common way to make an authentic Hungarian stew is to braise onions in hot lard and adding paprika. Other common Hungarian ingredients include garlic, parsley, bay leaves, tarragon, celery, thyme and caraway seed.
One of the biggest and picturesque cafes in Hungary is called Café Gerbeaud. It serves amazing coffee and scrumptious dessert in a very lavish setting of marble and dark- grain wood.
Located at the end of Budapest main shopping street, Andrassy Avenue (Heroes Square) is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is home to the museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Arts and the most prominent feature is the Millennium Memorial. I remember my friend telling me about the Opera when she learnt that I will be visiting Budapest. I thought she was exaggerating about how beautiful it is but I was totally blown away as soon as I set foot in it.
Walking is probably the best way to get around in Budapest. Most of the city center and historic districts are accessible by foot. However, it is very important to point out that Budapest has an excellent public transport system. You will notice that most of the city streets are lined with cables, as Budapest has a vast system of streetcars and buses. It also has an efficient metro system; the metro system is one of the oldest in the world.
I find Budapest a quite unique city, it appeals to everyone. Historical traces are left everywhere, the architecture is magnificent and a diverse cultural life is present. Budapest has just the right size that makes is great to stay at and experience a pleasant holiday.