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From caves to castles, Budapest has it all

The Hungarian Parliament Building is a popular tourist attraction.
Stroll down Andrassy ut, an upmarket boulevard.
Margaret Island is one of the city’s largest parks.
The city’s castles are open to the public.
An enchanting view of a castle.
Many neighborhoods are home to fine architecture.
Heroes’ Square honors soldiers who have died in combat.

Europe is commonly known as a popular tourist destination, with Paris, Prague and Amsterdam among the most visited cities of the region.
Budapest, the pearl of the Danube, is well worth considering too.
Located in the heart of Europe, Budapest transforms into an urban playground as soon as temperatures soar and it has seen an increase in tourism in the past few years. From simple strolls through its many parks and outdoor festivals to the hot water springs of its lavish historical bath houses, from its grand art nouveau architecture to the cool ancient caves beneath the royal palaces of Buda, Budapest has it all.
The city is alive by day and night and has many tourist-friendly areas that are refreshingly un-touristy.
The days can be quite long but there is nothing like a Hungarian sunset to help one unwind. One of the city’s best features is its many outdoor dining areas, a great way to experience Hungarian gastronomy that is sure to satisfy every foodie’s desire. One must never pass through Hungary without a taste of their renowned Goulash soup — trust me, you will love it!
From the hills of Buda to the flatlands of Pest, dotted with commercial buildings and squares, it is a city with two distinct personalities.
The inner city is located in both Buda and Pest and divided by the mighty Danube river.
Buda is dominated by the grand Hapsburg palace, known as Buda Castle, a must-visit to start off the tour of the city with its adjoining Fisherman’s Bastion. The area is located atop Castle Hill and visitors can get a scenic view of Pest on the other side of the Danube.
The historic palace grounds, with pebbled roads and royal pillars, provide amazing panoramic views of the hills behind it to the expansive city below it. The medieval Fisherman’s Bastion is home to a scattering of small shops and cafes serving local delicacies. The Castle district, as it is known, dominates the Budapest skyline and also houses the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery and the National Szechenyi Library, overlooking the historical Szechenyi Chain Bridge that joined the two parts of the city some 150 years ago.
Budapest is the only European capital that boasts natural caves in the middle of the city. They are located under Gellert Hill and are open for tourists to visit and explore. The Labyrinth is located in the center of the Castle Hill area and is remarkably child-friendly. The 1,200-meter-long cave has spacious corridors and exhibit rooms. It is believed that Ottoman rulers buried treasures in these caves during their rule and Turkish tomb relics and stone monuments from the Gothic and Renaissance eras are on show.
One of the best features of Budapest is its pedestrian-friendly quality — almost everything is accessible by foot and public transportation is dependable. Tickets are available at underground stations that also include buses and tram lines. The city’s subway system is among the oldest on the continent.
Margaret Island, one of the city’s largest parks, is a vast open area offering a secluded oasis away from the buzz of the city. The island was once home to the city’s most prestigious families but now has only one official resident. Still, people regularly flock to this serene space to enjoy outdoor excursions.
The island is home to a petting zoo, a relaxing Japanese garden, musical fountains, eco-friendly playgrounds, bike routes (bike rentals are available), a bath house, a fitness park and the annual Budapest summer festival. An open beach can be found on the island where visitors can swim and enjoy a nice summer day, however, it is best to check the weather beforehand. There is also a swimming pool complex that includes a warm thermal bath, baby and toddler pools as well as a wave pool. It is best to visit during the week as it gets crowded on the weekends.
The island has an amazing panoramic view of both Buda Castle and the Hungarian Parliament Building and since it is an open park area, it is a great location for a full day of entertainment away from the surrounding concrete jungle.
The inner city is known for its boutiques, restaurants and cafes and the Gozsdu Weekend Market where locals showcase their arts and crafts — quirky items not found anywhere else in the city. There are many tours available but it is best to just grab a map and walk your way through the city.
Be sure to visit the Hungarian Parliament Building, known as the Orszaghaz, which translates to “house of the country.” The neo-Gothic building is one of the largest building in Hungary and the third largest parliament building in the world. Visitors are allowed to explore the building complex at certain times but some areas are restricted, specifically when a meeting is in session. Bullet holes are still visible on its walls overlooking the river Danube as a reminder of the Hungarians’ resilience during the two World Wars.
There is an interesting height restriction law of the land where buildings can not exceed the height of the dome of the Hungarian Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica.
The neighborhoods behind the building are known for their fine architecture. There are parks hidden within the neighborhoods and small restaurants, bistros and cafes serving new and eccentric cuisines.
Stroll down Andrassy ut, a tree-lined boulevard flanked by breathtakingly beautiful neo-Renaissance mansions, townhouses and boutiques. The street is a reminder of the country’s glory days, with many areas marked as World Heritage sites. The street ends at Hosok tere, or Heroes’ Square, noted for its semi-circular statue complex featuring the seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important leaders and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that honors all Hungarian soldiers who have died in battle.
Heroes’ Square serves as an entrance to City Park, home to the popular Szechenyi thermal baths and Vajdahunyad Castle, modelled after the infamous Corvin Castle in Transylvania. The public park is close to many playgrounds, the city zoo, Budapest circus, an amusement park and many more entertainment outlets that are suitable for all ages.
All summer long, there is an abundance of things to do within the city limits and beyond. For instance, Tihany, a village overlooking Lake Balaton (the largest lake in Central Europe), makes for an enjoyable visit. There is also the Hortobagy region, dotted with many little villages with traditional cottage rentals available. The picturesque village of Holloko takes you back to the 13th century with its peasant houses and residents who still retain their colorful traditional attire.
The city of Budapest and its surroundings are great to visit during the spring, summer and fall months with the city’s amenities attracting visitors from miles around.
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