Having many architectural gems, a romantic ambience and a flourishing cultural scene, Budapest certainly deserves the name Paris of the East. But unlike France’s capital, Budapest hasn’t been around for a long time. Less than 200 years ago the city was established by merging Buda and Pest – two cities with distinct personalities.
For centuries, both Buda on the western bank of the Danube and Pest on the opposite side have been populated. However, the two cities have developed so separately that the first bridge spanning the Danube – the marvellous Chain Bridge – wasn’t built until 1849. While Buda is characterised by stout rampant, palaces and mediaeval architecture, Pest displays a modern and dynamic metropolis with businesses and cultural scenes.
Located on a series of hills overlooking the Danube, Buda is the former capital of the Kingdom of Hungary. It comprises one-third of Budapest’s territory and houses the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, as well as the Citadella. Although the golden time of Buda has long gone, its imperial air and wealthy past still linger on every street and building of the Castle District. From Buda, you can enjoy a breath-taking view across Pest where the heart of Budapest beats.
Visit Buda, but stay in Pest
This recommendation sounds true. Rolling on flat terrain, Pest is where Budapest’s city life is most vivid. It is busy, jolly and bourgeois, with a wide array of bars, cáfes and gourmet restaurants. From food enthusiasts to pub crawlers, everyone will fall in love with Pest.
Pest also boasts several architectural gems, including the Heroes’ Square featuring Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, the opulent Opera House and the majestic St. Stephen’s Basilica. Most noteworthy is, however, the neo-Gothic inspired the Hungarian Parliament Building. Covering nearly 33,000m² and comprising of 691 rooms, it is the largest building in the country and houses the National Assembly of Hungary.
Despite being so different, Buda and Pest have joined together to create the most livable city in Eastern Europe. The opening of the Széchenyi lánchíd (or Széchenyi Chain Bridge) in 1849 officially marked this unification. The 375-metre long bridge was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark in 1839, followed an initiative by Count István Széchenyi (hence comes the name of the bridge). Its centre span is 202 metres long and was one of the largest in the world at that time. Since then, the Chain Bridge has become an icon of Budapest symbolising advancement, national pride and the linkage between East and West.
Practical Information in Budapest
- Bus 16 or 16A – Station: Dísz tér. The bus runs from Metro: Deák Ferenc tér. Or Bus 105 to Clark Ádám tér, then take the funicular. But keep in mind that the funicular ticket is not included in the Budapest Travelcard.
- Apart from the parliament building, most attractions are located along the Metro line 1. The parliament building is accessed by Metro line 2 – Station: Kossuth Lajos tér. You can only visit the parliament building as part of a guided tour. English tours can be fully booked very quickly, so book well in advance.
61 thoughts on “Budapest: One City, Two Identities”
Beautiful! I did not know that about Budapest. I would love to visit one day!
Thank you! 🙂
Wonderful pictures.. would love to stay connected with you. I am a travel blogger too. It would be nice of you to stop by and share your views with me. Here is the link to my blog https://valoniapiresblog.wordpress.com/
Sure do! Thanks for visiting 🙂
Lovely photos Len!!
Thanks a lot!
Oh such gorgeous photos, Len! I loved each of them. Mine were mired in the gloom of a harsh winter!
Thank you! I know how miserable the city is during winter. Grey, cold and dirty. It looks like a black and white movie. I used to be there in February 2014 and immediately missed the windy Hamburg 🙂
Imagine missing Hamburg during the winters. Hahaha. That possibly says it all. Btw I still loved Budapest despite the bone numbing cold. We spent time downing mulled wine and shots of Palinka and walking a lot till our feet went numb with the cold (inspite of well insulated shoes)!
Always a pleasure to read your adventures. The photos are magnificent!
Did you visit recently? You always seem to capture the most “classic” shots. Love the blue skies!
What’s happening in Hamburg?? The news don’t look pretty.
Hamburg is a battlefield now thanks to some idiots who have nothing to do 🙁 Their action is meaningless. G20 is just a reason so that they can destroy the city. I live just 10 minutes away from the so called “forbidden zone” so I am start getting used to police siren and helicopter sound 🙂
Yeah, I was in Budapest this June. This time the feather was in my favour. I was there a few years ago during winter. The city looked so miserable that I could not make a single photo 🙂
That’s very sad to hear about your city. People just use all sorts of reasons to vent. I’m not going Hamburger this time, would loved to have met you. 🙂
True, I don’t travel in winter.
I can offer you a free walking tour 😛
Gosh. I’ve just added Budapest to my ‘must visit’ list. Thanks.
My pleasure! 🙂
Wow incredible photos as always, Len 🙂 You never disappoint with photos! New York Cafe looks so grand and elegant. I visited Budapest last year, and my favorite site was the ref-roofed church in Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s really a great city but my number one city in Europe is still Prague 🙂
Thanks a lot, Pooja! I tried to make a comparision as well, but at the end I couldn’t find out my favourite 🙂 I like them equally, each city is spectacular in its own way. But in term of cuisine, Budapest is the winner. Czech food is much similar to German food, so it does not really impress me 🙂
Nice reportage Len, Budapest is high on my bucket list. You make me feel even more curious now. Good job! 🙂
Glad to hear that! 😉
Rich in heritage buildings, Budapest seems to be a perfect place for architecture enthusiasts — that’s why it’s been on my wishlist for the longest time. Impressive photos of a majestic city, Len! I’ve been hearing about the increasingly authoritarian government, though. Did you feel any tension in the air when you were there?
Thank you, Bama! Regarding the government, I did not feel any tension at all. There are even less polices and soldiers on the street than in France or Germany. But my stay was short so I cannot tell much about the situation there. The only thing that was controlled during my trip was the public transportation ticket 🙂 Constantly!
Nice to know that.
Wow ! Your amazing photos really attract me to visit the beautiful city of Budapest.
Thanks! Glad that you like them 🙂
Stunning views, this city has so much to offer.
Totally agree with you, Nano! So far, Budapest is my favourite city in Eastern Europe. Prague is beautiful too but in my opinion, it cannot compare to Budapest in term of food 🙂
Your photos are phenomenal! How long would recommend visiting for? Thanks, Len!
Thank you! I think 3 days (max. 4 days) would be enough to see all major sights. Buda is quite compact so it is easy to walk from place to place. Pest is much bigger so it will take more time. You should plan at least 1/2 day for the thermal bath as well 🙂
I swear I am not doing this on purpose but last time I had just booked my tickets to Bremen when I read your post about Bremen. And now I have just booked tickets to Budapest for this autumn and then I ended up reading this post of yours. 😀 but thanks for all the useful information!
LOL! Telepathy 🙂 We can read each other’s mind via Internet. By the way, how can you find an affordable flight from Finland? I checked a little bit and the cheapest one I could found is over 300 Euro for a one-way direct flight from Helsinki to Hamburg 🙁 The other way around is more expensive, 500+ Euro. Does Finland have a budget airline?
It’s super expensive to fly anywhere from Finland… The only cheap flights you can get are from Tampere to Bremen and from Turku to Gdansk and even those are quite expensive/cheap only every now and then. And no we don’t really have any budget airlines.
That’s why I usually go to Sweden! Cruise from Turku to Stockholm costs about 12€ and from Stockholm you can get super cheap flights. Also I haven’t yet done it but you can get quite cheap flights from Estonia and cruise from Helsinki to Tallinn costs only a few euros. So making budget trips from Finland or to Finland is quite interesting 😀
Thanks a lot for the information! I intended to fly from Hamburg to Riga, and then go up to Helsinki. But I could not find a way to fly back 😛 The cruise from Turku to Stockholm might be a solution. How long does it take?
You can either take day cruise or night cruise. Night cruise is more expensive if you are alone. Day cruise is a lot cheaper. Usually under 15€ but it takes about 12h. Because you can see Finnish archipelago, it’s worth the time. (Just be prepared for meeting a lot of drunk people on the cruise…)
And if you are visiting Helsinki the cheapest way to get to Turku is by bus. There is this company called “Onnibus” that has very cheap bus tickets. And if we talk about Finnish cities I like Turku more than Helsinki. There is more things to see and do so I recommend spending some time there too. Sorry for the long message! 🙂
No worry! Thanks a lot for the helpful information 🙂
This is so well written, and the pictures are gorgeous!
Thanks, Pippa! I am glad that you like it 🙂
This is so helpful! Thanks Len, I am going there soon 🙂
My pleasure! Good luck with the weather and I wish you a great time in Budapest 🙂
Thanks very much! I am very excited about Hungarian foods in particular. 🙂
Stunning photos! Thanks for sharing. I am spending two days in Budapest next week, it is going to be my first visit to the city. It looks incredible, the architecture is quite interesting. I have made plans and let’s hope 2 days are enough to see most of the city.
I should stay in Pest, but I am going to spend the nights in Buda at a friend’s place!
And again… thanks for sharing.
My pleasure! I think it is possible to see all the main attractions within two days. You also have a local guide, so I guess it will be much easier for you to travel from A to B. Wish you luck with the weather and have a nice trip! 🙂
It’s top-notch expensive to fly ball anywhere from Finland… The only punk flights you can fetch are from Tampere to Bremen and from Turku to Gdansk and even those are quite expensive/punk only every now and then. (Just be disposed(p) for group meeting a draw of inebriated people on the sail…)
And if you are visiting Helsinki the punkest style to fetch to Turku is by heap.
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Very interesting story of Budapest I didn’t know.
Thank you! 🙂
Gorgeous photos… definitely need to visit New York Cafe!
I think it looks more like a palace than a cafe 🙂 Thank you for your compliment!
Fantastic Len! The photos are so clear!
Many thanks! 😀
Unfortunately never been there but hopefully I will some day. I enjoyed your description of the two distinct cities that later merged together. On my most recent trip to Germany I was intrigued by this seemingly quite common occurrence of two cities on either side of a river (in this case the Moselle) uniting as one but still retaining some distinct personalities.
Oh nice! I didn’t know that there was a merging on the Moselle as well 🙂 Which cities are joined together?
Traben-Trarbach and Bernkastel-Kues are two I can think of off the top of my head.They are of course much smaller places than Budapest. Both are gorgeous towns, well worth a visit.
The towns looks indeed amazing!
I appreciate your advice, Len. Visit Buda but stay in Pest! We’re planning on visiting the city next year. Beautiful shots too.
Many thanks 😀
I’ve wanted to visit here and your lovely photos have reinforced that to me. Thanks for this virtual tour.
My pleasure 🙂 I’m glad that you like it.
Lovely photos and quite an interesting post : I didn’t know Budapest used to be two separate cities.
Thank you 😀