Budapest, Hungary’s Sophisticated Capital

Budapest is considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. Its mix of architectural styles, broad boulevards and the Danube river dissecting the city make it unquestionably one of the prettiest European capitals. Once you see the buildings along the river and the iconic Chain Bridge illuminated at night you’ll understand why Budapest is often referred to as the Paris of the East. 


Photo Credit: Penny Sadler

Budapest, once two cities (actually, there were three but we won’t get into that right now), Buda and Pest, is divided by the Danube River. Buda is the oldest part of the city on the west side of the river and Pest is on the east. It is also important to note that Buda is the hilly side of the city, therefore it’s the best place for views over the river.

Connecting it all is the dramatic Szechenyi Bridge or Chain Bridge. This was the first permanent bridge to connect both sides of the city. It has become an emblem of peace and trade connecting east and west.

Many people do not know that the bridge was blown up by the Nazis during WWII and nothing was left but the two towers. After reconstruction was completed it reopened in 1949.

Photo Credit: Penny Sadler

Budapest is full of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Even the banks of the Danube have a UNESCO designation for their historical and cultural significance. Other UNESCO sites are Buda Castle Hill and Andrassy Avenue.

Key Sites On Buda Castle Hill

Buda Castle was built in 1265 but was added to over the centuries. Formerly the home of Hungarian kings, today it houses the National Library. It is an excellent lookout point over the Danube River.

 The Fisherman’s Bastion commemorates the 1000th year of the Hungarian state. It took twenty years to complete and is a mix of Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque styles. This is another fantastic place to take photos of the Pest side of the city. You’ll also get a great view of the Parliament Building which is likely just as recognizable as the Chain Bridge.

Experience the Danube

Journey to the heart of Old World Europe and see where empires were built, and Kings and Queens crowned
Matthias Church is named for King Matthias who has the enviable reputation of most popular Hungarian ruler. The interior is exotic and appropriately it was the coronation church for the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth.

You’ll find many cafes and shops on the Hill as well. Plan to spend about a half day visiting Buda Castle Hill.

To get there you can walk across the Chain Bridge and follow a footpath, or you can walk across the bridge and take the funicular to the top of the hill. You can also hire a taxi to take you but it’s a fun walk if you’re able to do it.

Key Sites On The Pest Side Of The Danube


There is more gorgeous architecture, food, and culture to absorb on the Pest side of the river. Walk or hire a tour to take you along Andrassy Avenue, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

Thermal Baths

No trip to Budapest would be complete without a visit to one of the thermal bath houses. The most well known and the oldest is the Szechenyi Baths located near Heroes Square. Other bath house options include the Ruda Baths and the Géllert Thermal Baths. No matter which you choose you’ll experience an authentic side of life in Budapest. Plan about a half day to experience the baths.

Market Hall

The Market Hall was built in 1897 and is a great place to spend a couple of hours. A feast for all the senses you can simply walk through the market, stop for some delish Hungarian food, or take a cooking class.

Shoes On The Danube

Within walking distance of the Chain Bridge, this moving sculpture is a tribute to the thousands of Jewish citizens killed by the Arrow Cross, part of the fascist Hungarian militia, during WWII.

About Penny

Penny’s background as a professional makeup artist has honed her eye for fine detail, which compliments her work as a travel and wine writer and photographer. Working in television and film production introduced her to the who’s who of the travel world, including Southwest Airlines CEO and founder Herb Kelleher, Colleen Barrett, Gary Kelly, and Virgin Airlines founder, Richard Branson.
These serendipitous meetings and her own travels inspired Penny to found the travel site, Adventures of a Carry-on, in 2012. 
 Since then, Penny’s adventures have taken her to some of the world’s most exciting wine regions and on some bucket list trips. She has picked wine grapes in Italy, explored 2000–year old caves in France, and sailed the coast of Maine in a historic schooner.
Penny obtained her first wine credential in 2015 through the Wine Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She’s always open to a glass of wine and good conversation. In 2017 Penny was voted one of the sexiest female travelers. 

Budapest is undoubtedly a city you’ll want to spend time exploring.

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