Until 1873, Budapest was actually two cities, Buda and Pest, on either side of the Danube. Buda, on the west side, is known for its medieval architecture and spectacular castle while Pest, in the east, is the modern, working heart of the city, and is home to the impressive Parliament building as well as a clutch of fine museums and fantastic art nouveau buildings.
In 1987 Budapest became a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to the cultural and architectural significance of the monuments on either of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and the elegant avenues of Pest. Today the city is well known for its world class classical music scene as well as its buzzing youthful nightlife.
Budapest is a charming place to visit at any time of year, but summer is a particularly popular time to visit. Open-air bars and alfresco restaurants do a roaring trade, and the scenery around the Danube looks its best. Danube cruises ply their trade up and down the river from early spring until late autumn, and offer an excellent way to combine a visit to Budapest with a chance to see the other most important cities of central Europe, including Vienna and Bratislava.
In winter time Budapest is a very atmospheric city, and Christmas is a particularly good time to visit as guests can frequent colourful Christmas markets, enjoy seasonal opera and ballet performances, go Ice skating at the city park or even ride the city’s illuminated ‘Christmas tram’.
An extremely popular activity for locals and visitors alike is visiting one of the city’s many spa bath complexes to ‘take the waters’. Hungary is rich in natural mineral springs and it has been a tradition since roman times to enjoy a dip. The most famous of the city’s bathhouses is the lavishly appointed art nouveau Gellért Baths. Otherwise you may wish to visit the huge and palatial Széchenyi Baths or even the ancient Király Baths, founded by the Turks in the 16th century.