Written by Adri Bruckner
Spanning the majestic Danube River and crowned by a hilltop palace, Budapest is as grand as Paris. Nevertheless, the Central European capital adds its own special flair.
In summer, Budapestians spill onto the streets to enjoy coffee, cake, and conversation, or soak in the historic, healing hot-spring baths. Try the newly renovated Rudas Baths, whose domed Turkish pool was built in 1566, or the neo-baroque Szechenyi bath complex, which boasts 18 pools.
With your newfound health and energy, stroll down tree-lined Andrassy Avenue, dotted with shops such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Hungarian porcelain manufacturer Herend. Stop for a tour or a performance at the glittering gilt-and-velvet Opera House. At the end of the avenue is Heroes’ Square, lined with statues of Hungary’s founders and kings, and flanked by art museums.
Opposite the landmark Chain Bridge is Gresham Palace, an art nouveau masterpiece carefully restored to its original grandeur. The palace is now a five-star Four Seasons Hotel with panoramic views of the city.
Budapest’s culinary scene features four Michelin-starred restaurants, including Onyx and Costes, and the only Nobu in Central Europe. For an unforgettable Hungarian eating experience, ask the experts at bespoke culinary tour company Taste Hungary. Local specialities include grilled goose liver, hearty beef goulash, and chicken paprikash.
Travelling through history
See the sights in a Ford Cabriolet limousine (historylimousine.com) or a 1934 Citroën Avant (oldtimerbudapest.com). The adventurous can even learn to drive the communist-era classic, the Trabant (rentatrabantbudapest.com). Ready to read up? Try Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and its Culture by John Lukacs.