JENNIFER WALKER: Budapest's Top 10 Tourism Destinations
JENNIFER WALKER in BUDAPEST / An
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(SFC) Split down the middle by the Danube River with eclectic and exquisite architecture lining each side, Budapest is most definitely one of Europe's most photogenic cities. While the best way to enjoy Budapest is to simply saunter its streets and immerse yourself in local life, sometimes you just want to tick off those must-see landmarks. If you're after sight-seeing then this list is for you.
Buda Castle crowns the city from above and features on nearly every postcard of the city. While much of the palace dates back to the Habsburgs, if you stroll away from the main parts of the castle, you can also see some of the ruins and the foundations and turreted walls belonging to the older castle. Take a look inside at the Hungarian National Gallery for a lesson on Hungarian art history or travel through time in the Budapest History Museum for a spot of culture.
Located on the Pest side of the Danube River, the neo-gothic parliament building is another landmark that's become synonymous with Budapest's landscape. You can take a tour inside this grand monument, but make sure you book in advance. However, even taking a stroll around this spired building is worth the visit.
St. Stephen's Basilica
St. Stephen's Basilica is said to be one of the most photographed buildings in Budapest, and while it's certainly impressive on the outside, it's the domed rooftop that makes it worth a visit. After having a look round the gilded interior, make sure you take a hike up the stairs to the viewing platform outside the dome for 360 degree views across the city.
The Dohány Street Synagogue & the Jewish Quarter
At the heart of Budapest's lively downtown area, the Jewish Quarter has gone from former ghetto in World War II to trendy nightlife spot, but history still lingers round each corner besides the ruin bars. The Dohány Street Synagogue is perhaps the most famous, with two towers topped with golden onion-shaped domes and its neo-oriental style. You'll also find a cemetery in the garden along with the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Tree sculpture in the garden behind as poignant reminder of history.
At the top of Andrássy Avenue, Budapest's own Champs Elysées, Heroes' Square opens up the gate between the city center and city park with a grand monument. Heroes' Square was built at the turn of the 20th century, and features kings and notable figures from Hungarian history in the colonnade that encloses this memorial (which contrary to popular belief is not actually a tomb) to the heroes who gave their lives to Hungary and its independence. Behind this grand square you'll find City Park, Budapest's most photogenic green lung.
There's a reason why Budapest is named the City of Spas, and the steamy thermal baths are definitely part of the main city attractions. Whether you choose the outdoor grandeur of the Széchényi Baths, the belle epoque beauty of the Gellért Baths, or the steamy Turkish baths, make sure you pack a swimsuit on your next visit to Budapest.
Set high above the Danube river with its turrets and colonnades, Fisherman's Bastion is a certainly a romantic spot in the Hungarian capital. With views of the Hungarian Parliament and the Danube River to one side, and Matthias Church to the other, if you're looking to take some beautiful photos of the Danube Panorama, this is the spot to come.
Danube Banks & Bridges
Take a stroll along Budapest's Danube Banks to see the city the best way (or even better if you can hop onto a boat to do it). Budapest's bridges are beautiful in their own right, with the Chain Bridge and Liberty Bridge being the most beautiful, but you can saunter along the walking paths taking in the sights from both sides of the river. Head up towards the Hungarian Parliament to the poignant Shoes on the Danube Memorial, commemorating the Jews shot into the Danube during the Holocaust.
Hungarian State Opera House
Even if you're not booked in for a show, the Hungarian State Opera House is worth paying a visit for its architectural reasons. If you want to take a tour inside this grand building on Andrássy Avenue, the Opera House run walking tours during the day, but to experience it at its best, see if you can buy a ticket to a show there.
For a hike with a view, take a walk up Gellért Hill. It's not the highest hill in the city, but it's the one closest to the center. From the Citadel, you can see the entire city spreading out below, and definitely worth the walk just to see Budapest from above.
** JENNIFER WALKER is an ex-physicist turned freelance writer specializing in art, travel and culture, with a focus on Budapest, Hungary. She's a blogger for herself at Off the Bohemian Track, along with the Huffington Post and Perceptive Travel, and she writes about Budapest culture and gastronomy for The Budapest Times, We Love Budapest and Budapest Local. She has written and worked for: DK Travel (Penguin books), Lonely Planet, BBC Travel, The Guardian, CNN Travel, VICE News, Slate, Quartz, Tripadvisor, Draft Magazine, Paste Magazine, The Calvert Journal, Oryx (Qatar Airways' in-flight magazine), OxfordWords, Viator, Gadling, The Matador Network, GOOD Magazine, Atlas Obscura, Bootsnall, Move Guides, Inside Guides, The Expeditioner, ARTES Magazine, Kunstpedia, The Culture-ist and Untapped Cities.
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