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24 hours in Budapest

clock 6th August 2015 | comment0 Comments

A true jewel of eastern Europe is the Hungarian capital Budapest. Dubbed the 'Paris of the East', the city is one of great beauty and has plenty to see and do.

Sitting on the banks of the Danube, Budapest has become the starting point of many Iglu river cruises voyaging through Hungary onto Slovakia, Austria and Germany. The vast majority of these itineraries include a night or two stay in Budapest, so you should take full advantage of this and spend at least a day exploring this glorious city.

Here is our guide to spending 24 hours in the Hungarian capital.

What to see

When Budapest was formed it brought together the separate cities Buda and Pest, which were split by the Danube. It is now divided into 23 numbered districts, which are still classed in one of the two, Buda covers the west area of the Danube while Pest covers the east. Such is the majesty of Budapest is that it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

It prides itself on having a unique atmosphere and a growing nightlife, not to mention its rich history of classical music. The architecture in the city is truly breathtaking and none more so than the Hungarian National Parliament building, making this the perfect place to start your tour of the city.

Hungarian National Parliament building


The largest building in Europe, this Neo-Gothic structure has stood in the heart of Budapest since the 1880s. With a startling 691 rooms, all more decadent than the last, it is hard not to be overawed by this magnificent structure. It stands in the Lajos Kossuth Square, named after a Hungarian lawyer, politician and Governor-President of the country in 1849, widely respected as a freedom fighter during his life.

Guided tours of the parliament building are available, where you will be able to see the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels. The latter were lost and stolen many times and it wasn't until the end of World War II that they were handed over to the US Army, and did not return to Hungary until 1978.

Another reminder of the scars of the war is much more sombre. On the banks of the Danube, between Kossuth ter and Szechenyi ter, is the Shoes on the Danube memorial. This collection of bronzed shoes has been placed here to honour the Jews who were shot by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during the war.

There are plenty of free activities across the city and not many are better than a walk across Chain Bridge. The first bridge to connect the Buda and Pest sides of the capital, it was considered to be a wonder of the world when it was completed in 1849 and is often referred to as the 'Pearl of the Danube'.

Budapest Chain Bridge


It was damaged during the war, resulting in a complete rebuild in 1949. It has a connection to the UK, as chief engineer Adam Clark was a master builder hailing from Scotland.

If you are visiting Budapest for the first time then you need to experience just one of the city's many baths. The traditional Turkish baths draw off Budapest's rich thermal waters and some can trace their history back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Take a dip in Rudas, Kiraly or Veli Bej for the ultimate in relaxation.

Arts and culture

Budapest is hugely proud of its arts and culture scene, making a trip to the famous Opera House an absolute must while in the city. This beautiful Neo-Renaissance building has been in Budapest since opening its doors in 1884. It has featured the work of esteemed composers such as Ferenc Liszt and director Gustav Mahler. See a performance here and enjoy a truly immersive experience. It is not just music where Budapest reigns supreme in the cultural stakes. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Ludwig Museum are two absolute musts when it comes to art. The former is dedicated to paintings, drawings and sculptures of European origin and even features the horseman sculpture carved by Leonardo da Vinci.

Budapest Opera House


The Ludwig Museum is a homage to contemporary art of Hungarian and European origin. It displays artworks from the past 50 years, which have been collected by Peter and Irene Ludwig. The pair believe that the museum helps to bring the east and west closer together and features works from the likes of Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Jasper Johns, among others.

Food and drink

If you want to experience some delicious Hungarian cuisine then there is only one place to head to - the Central Market Hall. Officially called Kozponti Vasarcsarnok, it is the largest indoor market in the city and has been here since the 19th century. Selling a large selection of sausages, meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables it will provide a great insight into day-to-day Hungarian life.

You will be able to sample some traditional goulash, which is a meat soup with potatoes and paprika that is normally served as a main dish. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous then sample the toltott kaposzta, a stuffed cabbage filled with meat in a paprika sauce and served with sour cream.

If you have a sweet tooth then why not try a somloi galuska, a poem on biscuit dough, cream and chocolate sauce. A trip to the Central Market will be able to perfectly top off a day in Budapest.

The Danube river is a hugely popular route for top river cruise lines, with Budapest being a must-visit destination along the way. With lines such as AmaWaterways, Saga River Cruises, Avalon Waterways and more visiting this fantastic city, be sure to browse our Danube River cruise deals and be on your way to your Budapest adventure!



The most inspiring museums on the Danube

clock 27th July 2015 | comment0 Comments

The length of the Danube is packed with intriguing cities, each with their own set of remarkable museums, galleries and exhibitions. When you take our 8 Day Danube Cruise, you get plenty of time to explore the likes of Vienna and Budapest at your leisure, but with so many great things to see it helps to have an idea of what’s on offer.

Here are a few of the best museums on the Danube.

Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) - Vienna

 


The romantic city of Vienna certainly isn't lacking when it comes to culture and history. After all, Mozart spent a great deal of time here producing some of his most iconic works. Yet while music is as much a part of Vienna as the Danube itself, it’s the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) that we recommend you visit if you only have time for one museum. This magnificent gallery, located close to the equally brilliant Imperial Palace, was built in 1891 to house the imperial family's art collections. Today, the art museum contains one of the biggest and best collections in the world, with a number of iconic pieces hanging on its walls. On top of the largest Bruegel collection in existence, you will find Raphael’s "Madonna in the Meadow," as well as works from Rubens, Velasquez, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Address: Maria-Theresien-Platz , 1010 Wien

The House of Terror Museum - Budapest

 


With a name like the House of Terror, you know that you are in for a grisly time in this museum. Housed in the former communist secret police headquarters, this horrifying, yet intriguing museum documents the fate of those who fell foul to the Hungarian fascist and communist regimes of the 20th century.

Many of those who disappeared into the halls of this wicked building were detained, questioned, tortured and even killed here and the exhibitions at the museum take you through the hopeless tales. As the most interesting chapters of history are often the darkest, this museum tops the lot for Budapest. Address: 1062 Budapest, Andrássy út 60.Andrássy út 60.

Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelaende - Nuremberg

Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds, or Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelaende, is one of the most fascinating relics from Nazi Germany. This huge parade ground was once the platform from which the Nazis would host their famous rallies and displays of power. Some 50,000 people could attend the rallies from the viewing gallery and by taking in the permanent exhibition "Fascination and Terror", you will gain a better understanding of the effects that these authoritarian displays might have had on the German people. Address: Bayernstraße 110 90478 Nürnberg

 

LENTOS Kunstmuseum (LENTOS Art Museum) - Linz

As a former European capital of culture in 2009, Linz has plenty of clout in the museum department. Explore the realms of biology, Austrian history, literature, and more - there’s even a cowboy museum, if Stetson hats and the Wild West are your thing. However, the pick of the bunch has to be the LENTOS Art Museum. One of Austria’s most important art galleries, LENTOS boasts a stunning collection of Modern Art ranging from the thought-provoking to the downright bizarre.


The building itself is an impressive sight at night as it lights up in different colours. As it’s right on the banks of the Danube, you may catch a glimpse of this impressive museum in the evening as you settle down to dinner. Address: Ernst-Koref-Promenade 1, 4020 Linz, Austria

Bratislava City Museum (Mestske Muzeum) - Bratislava

Learn all about the rich history of Bratislava and the surrounding region in this concise and fascinating museum. The museum was established in 1868 and documents the earliest periods of Slovakia right up until the 20th century. Split into eight museums throughout the city, the main one is the Museum of the City History, which covers every aspect of Bratislava from culture to social life. To top off your visit, head up the tower and enjoy the sensational views of the city's Old Town. Address: Radnicna ul 1, Bratislava 815 18, Slovakia (Staré Mesto)

 

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A Day in Budapest

clock 13th July 2015 | comment0 Comments

Updated February 2017

 

 

Budapest is without a doubt one of the most fascinating cities on the Danube. What with its stunning buildings, diverse history and relaxing hot springs, it’s no wonder it features as a must-see stop on almost all of our river cruises. With our Danube River cruises, you will have the chance to explore Budapest for the best part of the day, giving you a real chance to get under the city’s romantic skin.

Here are a few of the best bits you don’t want to miss out on.

Shoes on the Danube

A powerful tribute to the many Jewish Hungarians that were killed in WWII, the Shoes on the Danube Bank mark a dark period in the city’s modern history. The Arrow Cross militiamen who carried out the slaughter are said to have ordered the victims to remove their shoes at the edge of the river. They were then executed so that their bodies fell into the water to be washed away. You will find the display on the west bank of the river on the Pest side of the Danube Promenade. It’s just a short walk away from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

The view from Fisherman’s Bastion

From this picturesque spot, you can see all along the length of the Danube from a panoramic platform. Not only are the vistas sensational, but the neo-Gothic design of the Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) also makes it worth the trip. You’ll find it on Castle Hill, close to another one of the city’s most stunning buildings; the Matthias Church. This ornate Roman Catholic place of worship towers grandly above the area and contains one of the most impressive religious interiors in Budapest.

Have a beer in a “ruin” pub

Kerts or “ruin” pubs, as they are known in English, are a unique drinking venue to the city of Budapest. Formed in derelict, abandoned buildings, trendy bars have sprung up all over the city, kitted out with old furniture and donated wares. They serve a double purpose: firstly, they are some of the coolest places to drink in the city and, secondly, they provide a place for communities to gather. Ruin pubs are dotted all over the city, in and among some of Budapest’s best attractions, making it easy to visit one or two during your sightseeing travels. Ruinpubs.com gives you an excellent breakdown of the Kerts in the area, complete with map and directions. For an authentic experience in Budapest, don’t miss out on these rough-and-ready gems.

Buda Castle at night

Before you head back to the ship, you must take a moment to see Buda Castle lit up at night. This huge, historic complex comprises of both the Royal Castle and the Royal Gardens, and has long been the official residence of the kings of Hungary. A World Heritage Site, this glorious castle also has within it the Budapest History Museum, which tells the story of the city from its founding years up until the modern period.

The Spas

One of the most unique quirks about Budapest is the amount of spas that you’ll find located around the city. The Gellert Baths is one of the best known and most visually alluring of the spas, but as a result of this it can become overcrowded, especially in the peak season. For the most novel experience, try the Szechenyi Baths’ outdoor pools, which are regularly used by tourists and locals alike. Veli Bej, the oldest Turkish bath in the city, is a much more intimate and quieter affair and can be found at Fejedelem Way - just don’t forget your swimming gear.

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