ABOUT BUDAPEST

Budapest is truly a magnificently beautiful city. It is cool and vibrant and has an undeniable vibe stemming from a unique combination of cultures and influences from the West, the East, and the Balkans. It astounds you every time you visit, with the flat urban Pest side contrasted with the majestic green hills of the Buda side overlooking the famed Danube River, with picturesque bridges connecting the two.

Beyond its natural beauty, this charm-filled city is an architectural dream. You can find Roman ruins, Turkish baths, memorials from the Ottoman Empire, gothic, baroque, neoclassical, and eclectic-style buildings, but most of all fine examples of the magnificent Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Bauhaus movements from the last hundred years. Each building and stone have innumerable stories to tell. This is especially true in the historic Jewish Quarter, where you can find Europe’s largest synagogue, or in the Palace District, where you’ll find spectacular buildings built after the devastating great flood of 1838. The Royal Castle and its cobbled medieval neighbourhood will transport you back to centuries ago. 

The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites, European Heritage Label sites, and Europa Nostra Prize winners. It is an important cultural centre with significant art galleries and special museums. If you wish to understand Hungary and its people, start exploring fine art and the musical heritage first. In the National Gallery located in the Royal Castle, you will be astonished by the paintings of Hungarian artists. We draw your attention to the realist Munkácsy, who was a close friend of Liszt and Hubay, the 20th-century avant-garde Csontváry, the symbolist Gulácsy as well as the Hungarian “Fauves” and the Eights (Nyolcak), who admired the new music of Bartók and Kodály in the first quarter of the 20th century. The Museum of Fine Arts offers internationally recognised magnificent temporary exhibitions.

Visit some smaller, but unique museums such as the glass-artist Miksa Róth Memorial Museum, the museum of op-art painter Victor Vasarely,  the art-nouveau Ráth Villa,  or the recently refurbished modernist villa hosting the Museum of Hungarian Architecture named after an operatic star of the country. The Museum of Ethnography just moved to its final home, into a spectacular modern building, while the Light Art Museum opened in a former covered market hall. Every year the last Saturday of June hosts the Nights of the Museums.

Many widely celebrated photographers are of Hungarian origin (Robert Capa, Brassaï, André Kertész, Martin Munkacsi, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy), therefore photography has its own important centre, the Capa Contemporary Photography Center.  Close to it the Mai Manó House – The Hungarian House of Photographers  offers a large variety of photo exhibitions. The Budapest Street Photography Collective unwraps how local contemporaries see the city. If you have a special affinity for archive photos, visit the collection of an exemplary civil project called FORTEPAN

One of the most striking and moving Holocaust Memorial is in Budapest, the  “Shoes on the Danube” memorial, near the Parliament. Close to it, you can find a beautiful public square (Szabadság tér – Liberty Square) with rather controversial and contrasting statues. If you love hidden and surprising sculpture gems, try to locate the famous Hungarian invention the GÖMBÖC [ˈɡømbøt͡s]; or the adorable “guerilla” mini statues. Guess whose miniature sculpture can be found at the Liszt Ferenc International Airport of Budapest?:-)

Discover the city of composers and musicians such as Liszt, Bartók, Solti, Kodály, and Kurtág, and learn more about the landmark institutions and museums of music.

A really unique artefact of the city is a water organ from the time of the Roman empire, which has been restored and is on exhibit in the Aquincum Museum. 

It is a city of breath-taking views, from the hills, the domes, church towers, a balloon, or from the bridges you can find places of spotting spectacular views. Do so either daytime or night-time when the city is illuminated and lights are dancing on the waves of the river. Crossing the bridges lets you see the city and the Danube from a different perspective. No wonder it is often called the “Pearl of the Danube”.

After hours of walking, you can relax in one of the green parks or in the famous thermal baths of the city. The use of mineral-rich hot springs goes back to the Roman Empire, altogether you can find nine public spas built in Ottoman, Art Nouveau, or Neo-baroque styles, all located in the vicinity.

Where hot spas erupt, caves are formed, and the Buda side offers numerous caves to visit, one even hosts an old hospital in the rock.

Budapest is a cosmopolitan capital, however, when you visit, bear in mind you are in a country whose language is like no other, Hungarian being one of the few non-Indo-European languages in Europe. It might disappoint you not understanding a single word of this strange language, but the Hungarians are known to be very hospitable, and this shows wherever you go. In Budapest, you can easily communicate in English or German.

Budapest has become one of Europe’s best-loved short-break destinations. Easy to reach by plane, train, coach or car (though to discover the city you’d better leave your car behind). There are thousands of accommodation options: hotels from luxury to regular, private rooms and apartments, etc.

Budapest is just the right size. Quite compact and easy to explore, it is a very walkable city, with an excellent system of public transport of metro lines, buses, trolleybuses and trams (streetcars) to help you to get around quickly and easily. Metro Line 1 is a UNESCO World Heritage metro line, which has been operating since 1896, and is the oldest underground in continental Europe. The newest line (Metro 4) has been awarded for excellence in contemporary architecture and design. Be sure not to miss a ride on Tram No. 2 along the Danube embankment, where you’ll have perfect views of the sights along the river, including the castle complex, Fisherman’s Bastion, Parliament, and most of the beautiful bridges. This scenic tram journey is one of the 10 most amazing tram rides in the world!

Budapest is well known to be very safe, however, it is a capital city, be careful around big stations, in crowds, with unlicensed taxi drivers. For the latest COVID regulations please, read this tab.

Budapest has been emerging as a foodie destination for a while now, and there are always plenty of opportunities to enjoy all sorts of delicious food and drink, or just spend a few hours in one of Budapest’s historic cafes. The city offers haute cuisine, fine dining establishments, and Michelin-starred restaurants, but there are also plenty of lower-priced traditional Hungarian restaurants. Other places serve all types of international cuisine, and you can find a large variety of street foods too!

When it comes to typical Hungarian dishes, of course, goulash is the first to mention, however, there are many other delicious, yet relatively unknown meals prepared and served in authentic ways in restaurants that will prove that Hungarian food isn’t all about paprika:-). Try the unbelievably large variety of soups, learn more about the “főzelék” (pottage or veggie stew), go for a lángos, try a kürtőskalács (chimney cake), and for breakfast get the Hungarians’ favourite breakfast pastries, the túrós batyu and kakaós csiga (chocolate roll). Every August there is a competition for “The Cake of the Country” resulting in wonderful creations from local ingredients. Give it a try! 

More and more people have recognised the top quality of Hungarian wines, the local spritzer called fröccs, craft beers, and the local spirit, the fruit-based pálinka. Market halls, food halls, and the famous “ruin bars” will complete your adventure. The Uniquely Hungarian chapter of this website offers a carefully curated selection for you and our Liszt&Wine Tour combines the discovery of classical music heritage with a wine tasting in a special wine bar.

There’s always something going on in Budapest. Each season has its music, dance, film or food festivals and events, but they are not overcrowded with tourists. The “birthday” of Hungary, the establishment of the Hungarian state is celebrated with a huge fireworks display on the 20th of August.

Thanks to its mild continental weather, it is easy to visit all year round. Though winter can occasionally be very cold, the award-winning Christmas markets, design fairs, the Nutcracker in the Opera House, the Lumina Park in Margaret Island, and the historic outdoor ice rink in City Park let you embrace winter, and make it a magical time of the year.

Did you know?
The painter of the iconic frescos and the glass artist of the magnificent stained-glass works of Parliament and the Liszt Academy of Music are the same artists. The painter is Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch, while the glass artist is Miksa Róth.
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Did you know?
The outstanding politician of the Hungarian Reform Era, Count István Széchenyi was a friend of Liszt. Széchenyi, among other major achievements, initiated the construction of the Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
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Did you know?
The historic Broadwood piano, which is exhibited in the National Museum of Hungary, originally belonged to Beethoven. Later it became the property of Liszt, who donated it to the museum.
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Did you know?
The newest venue of the Budapest Opera House as a rehearsal, production, training and storage centre is the Eiffel Art Studio. It is a converted industrial monument, a 135-year old railway building complex.
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Did you know?
The Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest is the only institute in Europe being awarded both the Europa Nostra Prize and the European Heritage Label.
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A quick guide to the neighbourhoods of the city: Pest is the flat, urban side, while Buda is the green, hilly side of the city. The center of the city is called District 5. or Roman numeral V. This area contains the Parliament, banks, ministries, the Danube Corso, and the shopping streets. On the opposite side of the river are the Castle District (I.) and the Tabán. The old Jewish District is located in the area of Districts 6 and 7 (VI. and VII.) embracing two important synagogues: The Great Synagogue in the Dohány utca (street) and the Rumbach Street Synagogue. However, this area also hosts the majority of the “ruin bars”, why which is also called the party quarter hosting many bars, restaurants, and lively nightlife. District VIII. is divided into two very contrasting parts, the inner part located between the Inner and the Grand Boulevard) is known as the Palace Quarter with magnificent palazzos, parks, churches, and the lively Ráday utca,  while the area beyond the Grand Boulevard is a more humble area of Pest. The inner part of District XIII. called Újlipótváros has beautiful examples of art-nouveau buildings, and is home to many famous artists. It is really worth taking a walk via Pozsonyi út from the Margaret Bridge up to the Szent István Park, to enjoy the beauty of the buildings and a less touristy atmosphere offered by small businesses. In the inner part of District XI. on Buda side one can enjoy a similar experience by taking a walk on the Liberty Bridge (Szabadság-híd), and continue on Bartók Béla út, or head up to the Gellért Hill. The Buda side is the green heart of the capital. By public transport, one can easily reach the greenery to enjoy the fresh air, wander in the woods, or visit the caves in the main Buda districts (II, XII, XI).

“What else could we wish for? A magical tour with wonderful guides in a magical city on the topic of music. What a pleasure wandering around with like-minded people, hearing all the fascinating stories and details, breathing in the atmosphere of this uniquely beautiful city. Can't recommend enough!”
Esther Hargittai (UK, Israel)
musician, choral conductor, Kodály approach educator
"Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable, engaging and full of marvelous anecdotes to share with us. The information shared had a terrific balance of insightful historical, factual and humorous information. It was a pleasure to be guided by someone who has an obvious love and pride of her country's cultural heritage and was eager to share it, make suggestions for further exploration and patiently answer our questions."
A musician from the U.S.A.

SEE HOW OTHERS VIEW BUDAPEST

Unique, enlightening and highly enjoyable!