Stars and Lights Budapest Apartments


Click on the name to open a box with picture and information on the sights: opening hours, entrance fee, interesting facts

Budapest iSights__parliaments home to the third largest Parliament building in the world. The Parliament Building covers an area of 18,000 sq meters (193,750 sq feet), it has 691 rooms, 20 kilometers (12,5 miles) of stairs and it is 96 meters (315 feet) high. There are 90 statues on the façade and 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of 23-carat gold was used to decorate the interior. Building begun in 1885 and the Neo-Gothic palace was completed in 1902.

Guided tours of the Parliament are available when the National Assembly is not in session. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and is well worth the price, as it covers the main entrance stairs and hall, one of the lobbies, the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Tours are held in several languages. Admission (in 2015) is HUF 2,000 for EU citizens (HUF 4,000 for non-EU citizens), and the ticket office is at gate “X”.

The best way to take the tour is to buy your ticket in advance (online at, as lines tend to be long and slow-moving and there are only a limited number of tickets available. For more information and to book a group tour, visit the Parliament’s website at Also, if you hold a European Union passport, don’t forget to take it with you, as you get a discount from the entrance fee.

The opera hOpera_05ouse in Budapest stands as one of the most beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings in Europe. When it was opened in 1884, the city shared the administrative duties of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with Vienna. In fact, Emperor Franz Joseph commissioned its design. Construction included the use of marble and frescos by some of the best artisans of that era.

You can tour the Opera House during the day and learn about its gorgeous architecture as well as enjoy a world-class performance in the evening. Guided tours are offered daily at 3 pm and 4 pm in English, François, Deutsch, Italiano and Español. Tours in Japanese are offered Mondays and Saturdays. Tickets are available in the Opera Shop and tours take about 45 minutes.

A performance at the Budapest Opera is a fantastic experience and it won’t break the bank. You can get quality tickets for as little as USD 10.00. Click here for this season’s premiers and highlights.

A similar post reminded me that I never finished processing this HDR pano. Pano merged in CS5 from five verticals, each captured as a 5-bracket set. Used {-2, 0, +2} from each, HDR merged with Nik HDR Efex Pro before pano stitching in CS5.At the time of its construction, Chain Bridge was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Chief engineer Adam Clark, a master builder from Scotland, completed the span in 1849. Paris may have its Eiffel Tower and Rome its Colosseum, but Budapest has the Chain Bridge. Beloved by Hungarians, the Chain Bridge (Lánchid) is the pride of the city.

Spanning the Danube between Clark Ádám tér (Buda side) and Széchenyi István tér (Pest side), the Chain Bridge (Lánchid) was the first to permanently connect Buda and Pest. There has been a pontoon bridge on the river since the Middle Ages enabling passage from spring to autumn. During winter, the river froze making crossing possible; however, there were times when the weather changed abruptly and people got stuck on one side. In 1820, this happened to Count István Széchenyi, when he had to wait a week to get to his father’s funeral. This experience led him to decide that a permanent bridge had to be built. He became a major advocate of the project and founded a society to finance and build the bridge.

The histoSONY DSCric Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) is over 700 years old. The church was the scene of several coronations, including that of Charles IV in 1916, the last Habsburg king. It was also the venue for the great Hungarian King Matthias’ two weddings, hence its name.

The history of the church serves as a symbol of the city’s rich past. The eastern gate of the church was built in the 13th century, when Buda was founded following the Mongolian invasion. The central part of the church was built around 1400, and from as early as the 14th century, monarchs were crowned here as kings. In the 15th century, King Matthias’ royal wedding was also held here. During the Turkish conquest, soon after Buda was captured, the church became the city’s main mosque. The walls were whitewashed and covered with carpets. After the Turkish occupation, Buda lay in ruins. In the 17th century, an attempt was made to restore the church in Baroque style.

Following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867, Matthias Church was the scene of a big coronation ceremony when Franz Joseph and his wife Elizabeth were crowned, and thus the Austro-Hungarian Empire was established. Towards the end of the 19th century, a major reconstruction took place, and the building was restored using many original parts and regained much of its former splendour.

There is an entrance fee to visit the church, which includes entry to the museum as well. If you would like to pray or simply enjoy a moment of silence, the sacred chapel is open all day, free of charge.

Buda_Castle_01The first royal residence on Castle Hill was built in the 13th century, after the Mongolian invasion. It was extended in the 14th century, becoming probably the largest Gothic palace of the late Middle Ages. Construction continued in the 15th century, following the marriage of King Matthias Corvinus and Beatrix of Naples in 1476. Many Italian artists and craftsmen accompanied the new queen, bringing the Renaissance style to Buda. The palace was completely destroyed when liberating Buda from the Turks. In the 18th century, a small Baroque palace was built, which is identical with the core structure of the present-day palace. During the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the palace gave home to lavish ceremonies symbolizing peace between the dynasty and the nation. The process of rebuilding the Royal Palace continued in the 19th century, and it was finished in 1904. At the end of World War II, the palace was badly damaged. It was rebuilt once again, in Neo-Baroque style, using many original parts.

Today, Buda Castle is home to the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Library. Other attractions include the Lion Courtyard; the Matthias Well, a bronze statue of King Matthias; and the statue of the Turul Bird, the mythological bird of the Magyars.

FishermensBastion_01Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya) is only 100 years old, and is a favourite lookout. In medieval times, the fish market was nearby and the bastion was built to commemorate the fishermen who protected this part of the city. The seven tent-like turrets symbolize the seven Hungarian tribes that arrived to the Carpathian Basin in 896.

There is a fee to enter the lookout at the top level of Fishermen’s Bastion, however you can enter the lower level lookout for free and the view is equally beautiful.

Budapest_Funicular_04It’s a short ride up to Castle Hill, about three minutes, but it offers great panoramic views and it’s also a lot of fun. The Funicular (or Sikló, as it is called in Hungarian) first opened in 1870, and it was designed to provide a cheap commute for the clerks working in the Castle District. Once you have reached the top, Castle Hill offers many nearby sights worth visiting.

The Funicular has two stations, the lower station is at the Buda end of the Chain Bridge and the upper station is on Castle Hill, between Royal Palace and Sándor Palace.

Hours of operation:
Monday – Sunday: 7:30 am to 10 pm
2014 Ticket prices:
Adult: HUF 1,100 one way, HUF 1,700 return
Child: HUF 650 one way, HUF 1,100 return

Labyrinth_Buda_02The Labyrinth is situated in the complex of caves and cellars beneath Castle Hill. The underground labyrinth system served as a large shelter and hospital during World War II, but the Turks also used it back in the 16th century, mainly for military purposes. Remains dating back to the Turkish era confirm that part of the Labyrinth was also used as a harem. In the 15th century the Labyrinth gave home to a prison and it’s most famous prisoner was Vlad Tepes, better known as Count Dracula, held in captivity by Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus.

The underground labyrinth is about 6 miles long and the part, which can be visited, is one mile. Tours include ‘Labyrinth with Lanterns’, offered daily from 6 pm and ‘Kids’ Labyrinth’, offered every Sunday between 10 am and 3 pm. Night tours, birthday parties and educational programs are also available.

Opening hours:
Monday – Sunday: 10 am to 7 pm
Entrance fees:
Adult: HUF 2,000
Student & senior: HUF 1,500
Children 6-12 years old: HUF 600
Budapest Card: 25% discount.

HeroesSquare_05Laid out in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of Hungary, Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) is the largest and most impressive square of the city. Located at the end of Andrássy Avenue and next to City Park, Heroes’ Square is one of the most visited sights in Budapest. Surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Kunsthalle (Hall of Art) on the right, Heroes’ Square is also a station of the Millennium Underground.

The Millennium Monument in the middle of the square was erected to commemorate the 1000-year-old history of the Magyars. Archangel Gabriel stands on top of the center pillar, holding the holy crown and the double cross of Christianity. The seven chieftains who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary can be seen on the stand below. Statues of kings and other important historical figures stand on top of the colonnades on either side of the center pillar.

When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. The Habsburg emperors were replaced with Hungarian freedom fighters when the monument was rebuilt after World War II.

CityPark_04City Park is the largest park in Budapest. The first trees and walkways were established here in 1751. In the first decades of the 19th century a park was created, which became the first public park in the world. In 1896 the Millennium Celebrations took place here, leaving many attractions behind.

Vajdahunyad Castle, a replica of a Transylvanian castle of that name, was built to show the various architectural styles found in Hungary, and has Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque parts. The castle is surrounded by an artificial lake that’s used for boating in the summer and turns into an impressive ice skating rink in the winter, which is a local favourite. The history of the City Park Ice Rink (Városligeti Műjégpálya) goes back to the 19th century, when skating was considered a favourite winter pass time by the elite. It first opened on January 29th 1870 and Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, was present for the inauguration ceremonies.

The Budapest Zoo, the Museum of Transport, the legendary Gundel Restaurant and the famous Széchenyi Baths are also located within City Park. In addition, there are playgrounds, slides, wooden castles and monkey bars in the park to keep the small ones entertained.


Vörösmarty Square is a popular square in the heart of Budapest, located at the northern end of Váci Street. It was named after the renowned Hungarian poet Mihály Vörösmarty, whose sBudapest Christmas Markettatue can be seen in the middle of the square. This is where the Millennium Underground begins and this is where every year the Christmas Market is held. The main attraction here is however the famous Gerbeaud Café, a tenant since 1870. The newest addition to the square is a high-tech, glass-covered mall/office building.

Each year, from the end of November to the end of December, Vörösmarty Square is transformed into the annual Budapest Christmas Market. Visitors can browse over 100 stands offering unique Christmas-themed arts and crafts. A giant Advent calendar on the façade of the glamorous Gerbeaud building, exhibitions, live entertainment and food & wine are also part of the festivities. Each day, between December 1st and 23rd a new window is opened in the Advent calendar, accompanied by light and music shows. Children’s programs include artisan courses and puppet shows.

The scent of traditional Hungarian foods like lángos (fry bread with a variety of toppings), kürtöskalács (a cone-shaped sweet hollow pastry), roasted meats, fried sausages and other delicacies like home-made strudels, töki pompos (oven-baked dough) and roasted chestnuts wafting in the air is sure to whet your appetite. Soak up the holiday atmosphere and keep yourself warm while strolling among the wooden stalls of the market with a cup of mulled wine. The magical atmosphere of the Budapest Christmas market is a truly unforgettable experience.

Good to know: The Christmas market is a great place to pick up some unique hand-made gifts as all products on sale are checked for quality and certified by the Association of the Hungarian Folk Artists.

Andrassy_Kornyek_18Andrássy Avenue, recognized as a World Heritage Site. It is great for walks alongside the beautiful turn-of-the-century buildings or people watching in one of the many cafés. It’s a long avenue, however the Millennium Underground Railway runs beneath it, should you feel tired. The State Opera House is one of the most famous tenants on Andrássy, but the avenue is also home to many upscale boutiques, including Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna, Burberry and Gucci, and to several other attractions.

The intersection of Andrássy Avenue and the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút) is shaped like an octagon, hence its name: Oktogon.

Andrássy Avenue was built to connect the city centre with City Park (Városliget). Construction began in 1872, and the avenue was inaugurated in 1885. Its Eclectic Neo-Renaissance palaces and houses were built by the most distinguished architects of the time. Aristocrats, bankers, landowners and noble families moved in. The iconic avenue was named after Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy, a key advocate of the project.

At the time of its completion in 1885, Andrássy Avenue was considered a masterpiece of city planning and even public transport was prohibited to preserve its character. This brought about the idea to build a railroad beneath it. The Millennium Underground Railway, the first subway line in continental Europe, opened in 1896. The line transported people from the city centre to Városliget, the main venue of the Millennium celebrations.

Millennium_Underground_05At the time of its completion in 1885, Andrássy Avenue was considered a masterpiece of city planning and even public transport was prohibited to preserve its character. This brought about the idea to build a railroad beneath it. The first subway line in continental Europe opened in 1896 and is still in use as the M1 or the yellow line.

Like many other buildings in Budapest, the Millennium Underground Railway was commissioned to celebrate the Millennium in 1896. Trains ran along Andrássy Avenue, from Gizella Square (today Vörösmarty Square) to the Zoo in City Park, in a northeast-southwest direction. There were eleven stations, nine were underground and two were above the ground. The length of the line was 3.7 km (2.3 miles) at that time; trains started in every two minutes. It was able to carry as many as 35,000 people a day (today, about 100,000 people travel on it on a workday). The history of the subway line can be seen at the Underground Museum.

The Millennium Underground is still in use

AcademyofMusic_02The Academy of Music (Zeneakadémia) in Budapest was founded in the 1870s, enabling talented music students to receive higher education in Hungary, which until then was possible only abroad. One of the biggest supporters of the conservatory was Ferenc Liszt, the famous Hungarian-born composer. In 1873, the Parliament decided to create the institute, and Ferenc Liszt was elected as president.

The Academy opened its doors in 1875, and in a short period of time it became one of the most prestigious musical institutions in Europe. The square in front of the building was named ‘Liszt Ferenc tér’ in honor of the great composer. Today, the square is packed with indoor and outdoor cafés and restaurants, creating the perfect atmosphere for lunch, laidback cocktails or dinner. It’s a trendy and busy place.

Following two years of extensive renovations, the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music reopened its doors in 2013.

Markethall_Bud_01Built at the end of the 19th century, the Great Market Hall is the largest indoor market in Budapest. Among other things, on the ground floor you’ll find a large selection of sausages, meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. On the second floor, there are food stands and plenty of vendors selling handicrafts, clothing, embroidery, chessboards and other souvenirs. Paprika and Tokaji are also sold here. In the basement, there is a fish market, a small Asian grocery store, a supermarket, and a small drugstore. While focusing on Hungarian products, on International Gastro Days (held on Fridays and Saturdays), the Central Market Hall also features the food and cuisine of a foreign country.

The building also has some architectural significance. The metal roof structure is still the original, and the roof is covered with decorative Zsolnay tiles. There are four other markets like this in Budapest, which were all built in the same style (these are in Klauzál tér, Rákóczi tér, Hold utca and Hunyadi tér). An interesting fact is that all five buildings opened on the same day, on February 15th 1897.

Because of its location and size the market hall on Fővám tér was chosen to be the ‘central’ market hall by the city as opposed to the other markets ranked as ‘district’ markets. When it opened ships sailed right into the building using special docks. The old customs house across from the building is now part of the Corvinus University. Today, the Central Market Hall remains a wonderful food market and a must-see, even if you don’t buy anything. It’s often visited by celebrities and foreign dignitaries.

Opening hours:
Mondays: 6 am to 5 pm
Tuesday – Friday: 6 am to 6 pm
Saturdays: 6 am to 2 pm
Sundays: closed


Danube_Promenad_0_4The Danube Promenade (Dunakorzó) extends between the Elizabeth Bridge and the Chain Bridge in Pest along the banks of the Danube. This location was always popular for promenading, especially in the 19th century. Back then the Promenade was home to several famous hotels such as the Ritz, the Bristol and the Carlton. Their cafés, overlooking the Danube and the Buda Castle were immensely popular. These days a new row of luxury hotels attempts to recreate the pre-war ambiance.

Things to see when walking from Elizabeth Bridge towards Chain Bridge:

Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd)
Probably the most elegant bridge in Budapest was named in honor of Queen Elisabeth, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph. The original suspension bridge was built at the end of the 19th century, but the damage sustained in World War II left the bridge beyond repair. Using the old pillars, a new bridge was built in the 1960s.

Vigadó Concert Hall
The Romantic building of the Vigadó Concert Hall was inaugurated in 1865. It is located on Vigadó tér, a small square next to the Marriott Hotel. The Vigadó hosted performances by Liszt, Mahler, Wagner and Von Karajan. The building was badly damaged during the war and it didn’t reopen until 1980. Most Danube cruises depart from Vigadó tér.

Little Princess
Don’t overlook the statue of the Little Princess on the Promenade, sitting on the railings by the embankment; she is one of Budapest’s newest attractions.


Shoes_Danube_01The Shoes on the Danube is a memorial to the Budapest Jews who were shot by Arrow Cross militiamen between 1944 and 1945. The victims were lined up and shot into the Danube River. They had to take their shoes off, since shoes were valuable belongings at the time.

The memorial was created by Gyula Pauer, Hungarian sculptor, and his friend Can Togay in 2005. It contains 60 pairs of iron shoes, forming a row along the Danube. Each pair of shoes was modeled after an original 1940’s pair


GeelertHill_06Gellért Hill (Gellért-hegy) offers some of the best panoramic views of Budapest. Starting your sightseeing here is not just a wonderful experience and a good first impression of the city, but it also makes orientation much easier. It’s like laying out a map of Budapest in front of you. You can see the structure of the city and the difference between the hilly Buda side and the flat Pest side, with the Danube dividing the two.

The hill was named after bishop Gellért (Gerard), who was thrown to death from the hill by pagans in the fight against Christianity in 1046. His statue, which faces Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet hid) and holds a cross, can be seen from many parts of Pest. At the top of the hill is the Citadel (Citadella), a fortress built by the Habsburgs after defeating Hungary’s War of Independence in 1849. It was a prime, strategic site for shelling both Buda and Pest in the event of a future rebellion.

Gellért Hill was a strategic military position in the Second World War as well as the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, when Soviet tanks bombarded the city from here. Budapest’s Statue of Liberty stands on top of the hill, and she can be seen from all parts of the city. Liberty was erected during the Communist era, commemorating the liberation from Nazi rule.

Gellért Hill Cave Church (Sziklatemplom) – A network of caves exists within Gellért Hill. The first modern entrance to the caves was built in the 1920s. The Gellért Hill Cave served as a chapel and a field hospital during World War II. Today it belongs to the Hungarian Paulite order and it continues to serve as a church, but its unique setting also makes it a favorite tourist attraction.


Great Synagogue_05The Great Synagogue in Dohány Street (also known as Dohány Street Synagogue) is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world, capable of accommodating 3,000 people. It was built between 1854 and 1859 in Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish style, in the wake of Romanticism. Originally, there was a residential block next to the synagogue. In fact, Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, was born in one of the houses located there. This site is now part of the complex and home to the Jewish Museum.

The buildings and the courtyards of the Synagogue include the Jewish Museum, the Heroes’ Temple, the Jewish Cemetery and the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park.

The Raul Wallenberg Memorial Park, home to the Holocaust Memorial, is located in the backyard of the Great Synagogue. The Holocaust Memorial, also known as the Emanuel Tree, is a weeping willow tree (by Imre Varga) with the names of Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust inscribed on each leaf. The memorial was sponsored by the Emanuel Foundation of New York. The foundation was created in 1987 by Tony Curtis in honour of his father, Emanuel Schwartz, who emigrated to New York from Mátészalka in Hungary.


St. Stephen BasilicaFor beautiful, panoramic views of Budapest walk up the stairs (364 steps) or take the elevators up to the dome’s observation deck (open April 1st through Oct 31st). There’s no cost to enter the church, but there is a nominal fee of HUF 500 to go up to the observation deck. The Basilica has two bell towers and Hungary’s largest bell, weighing 9.5 tons, which is located in the south tower.

St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and can hold up to 8,500 people. Although in architectural terms it’s a cathedral, it was given the title of ‘basilica minor’ by Pope Pius XI in 1931. It took more than 50 years to build the Basilica. Building commenced in 1851, and the inauguration ceremony took place in 1906 and was attended by Emperor Franz Joseph. During its construction, in 1868 the dome collapsed and rebuilding it had to start almost from scratch, which explains the delay in the Basilica’s completion. Architect Jozsef Hild who drafted the original plans and supervised the construction died in 1867. Miklós Ybl, one of Europe’s leading architects in the mid to late 19th century, who also designed the Opera House, took over. When the dome collapsed in 1868, Ybl had to draft new plans.

Originally designed in neo-classical style by Hild, the Basilica was finished in neo-renaissance style based on the plans of Ybl. The dome is 96 meters high, the exact same height as the Budapest Parliament Building. In fact current building regulations stipulate that no other structure in Budapest can be taller than 96 meters.

The patron saint of the church is St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary. His mummified right hand is kept in a glass case in the chapel to the left of the main altar. The beautiful interior is also noteworthy as it is decorated by famous artists of the era.

Guided tours of the Basilica are also available Monday through Friday between 10 am and 3 pm, for a fee of HUF 2,000.

Organ concerts are held on Mondays starting at 5 pm year-round. Tickets are HUF 3,000. If you are a fan of classical music check out the Basilica’s event calendar (in Hungarian only) for concerts held throughout the year.

Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica on Christmas Eve for the city’s largest Midnight Mass.


Memento Park 01Statue Park
Statue Park is probably the best-known attraction within Memento Park. The gigantic monuments displayed are powerful reminders of dictatorship. Don’t be afraid to climb up next to Lenin for a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

Grandstand and Stalin’s Boots
The Grandstand is the replica of the tribune where Communists leaders would stand, waving at marching crowds on state holidays. It also served as the pedestal for the giant statue of Stalin, which was pulled down during the revolution in 1956, leaving only his boots behind.

Northern Barrack
This exhibition hall is the replica of an authentic military barrack. It houses temporary exhibitions, a photo collection of the 1956 Revolution, as well as the 1989-90 political changes.

Other features of Memento Park include a cinema, where ‘The Life of an Agent’ is played non-stop with English subtitles; a Trabant, which was the most common vehicle in the communist bloc; and the Red Star Store, for unique, communist-themed souvenirs.

Opening hours:
Monday-Sunday: 10 am to sundown

Entrance fees:
Adult: HUF 1,500
Student: HUF 1,000
Budapest Card, Hungary Card: HUF 1,000
English-language tour: HUF 1,200 (tour fee is in addition to the entrance fee). The 45-minute tours run from 11:45 am several times a day.

Getting there: The easiest way to get there is to take the direct bus transfers from downtown Budapest, available daily at 11 am (in July and August also at 3 pm). The bus leaves from Deák Ferenc tér (accessible by all Subway lines M1, M2 and M3), from the bus stop marked Memento Park. Cost is HUF 4,900 per person, which includes return transportation and entrance fee to the museum.

Memento Park is also accessible by public transport. Take bus No. 150 from the corner of Fehérvári út and Bocskai út (Újbuda Központ, Allee Shopping Mall). The ride to Memento Park stop is about 25 minutes. Buses run every 20 minutes (at :10, :30 and :50) Monday to Friday and every 30 minutes (at :00 and :30) Saturday and Sunday. Or, take Volánbusz No. 710, 720, 721 or 722 from Kelenföldi Pályaudvar (Kelenföldi Railway Station, Etele tér). The ride to Memento Park stop is about 10 minutes. Buses run every 15 minutes.

Cave_PalVolgyi_03Budapest is famous for its natural underground caves, which were formed by thermal waters over millions of years. There are two beautiful natural caves in the Buda Hills just waiting to be explored – the Pál-völgyi Stalactite Cave and the Szemlő-hegyi Cave. Filled with spectacular formations, both caves were discovered by accident, in the early 1900’s.

The Pál-völgyi Stalactite Cave (Pál-völgyi Cseppkőbarlang) is a multi-level labyrinth with amazing rock formations. It’s also the longest cave in the Buda Hills, stretching more than 7 km (4.3 miles). Guided tours take about 45 minutes, and expect to do some climbing and narrow passages.

The Szemlő-hegyi Cave (Szemlő-hegyi Barlang) is quite different. There are no stalactites instead it’s filled with several beautiful crystal formations. The cave has exceptionally clean air, and its lowest level is used as a respiratory sanatorium. Expect a smooth walk, and this cave is great for kids as well.

Opening hours and entrance fees:

Pál-völgyi Cave
Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am to 4:15 pm
Monday: closed
Guided tours only. Tours start quarter past every hour. Minimum age: 5.
Entrance fees:
Adult: HUF 1,400
Child, student & senior: HUF 1,100

Szemlő-hegyi Cave
Every day except Tuesday: 10 am to 4 pm
Tuesday: closed
Guided tours only. Tours start on the hour.
Entrance fees
Adult: HUF 1,300
Child, student & senior: HUF 1,000

Combined tickets for both caves: HUF 2,000 for adults, HUF 1,600 for children, students & seniors

The temperature is cold (about 50 F, 10 C), even in the summer, so bring a warm sweater along with your hiking shoes.

MargaretIsland_010Walking the length of the island takes about 20 minutes, but most visitors spend time at the Hajós Alfréd and the Palatinus outdoor pools. The Palatinus water park is a popular place in the summer, especially on the weekends. The 11 outdoor pools, including two for children, are in a beautiful setting. If it is too cold to go for a swim, an island tour introduces relics hailing back to the island’s religious origins, including a 12th century convent and ruins of a Franciscan and a Dominican church. During summer months, bicycles, inline skates and ‘bringóhintó’, a four-wheeled bike for four, are available for rent. Since vehicles are prohibited, the island is a fantastic escape from the bustle of the big city and a great place to work out, swim a few laps, or go for a run.

There is an excellent rubber-coated jogging track around the island (3.3 miles / 5350 meters, marked at 500 meter intervals). When the weather is nice Margaret Island is also great for a picnic. In the summer, take in an outdoor concert at the open-air theater located next to the famous Art Nouveau water tower.

Attractions on the island include the Centennial Memorial which commemorates the 100th anniversary of Budapest, a Japanese Garden, a tiny zoo, a music fountain, and an octagonal water tower, built in Art Nouveau style in 1911. The outdoor theatre hosts operas, concerts and plays during summer.

The thermal water on Margaret Island is famous for its healing effects. The natural, thermal water running beneath the island was first brought to the surface in 1886. In addition to its healing power, a day at the Danubius Health Spa is also a great way to relax and unwind.

Margaret Island is not only a popular destination during the day, it comes alive after sunset too. Young adults mingle and dance to a backdrop of canned music underneath a ceiling of stars in Holdudvar, a popular summertime restaurant, bar and open-air cinema. Another favourite hang-out, known for its artsy vibe, is Wndrlnd.

In the Middle Ages, Margaret Island was called the Island of the Rabbits, simply because there were many rabbits there. The island received its current name after Saint Margaret (1242–1270), the daughter of King Béla IV, who lived in the Dominican convent on the island. King Béla IV vowed to raise his daughter as a nun if Hungary survived the Mongol invasion. Ruins of this 13th century Dominican church and convent can still be seen.

Among the present historical monuments on the island are the 13th century ruins of a Franciscan church, as well as a Premonstratensian chapel with a Romanesque tower from the 12th century. Churches and cloisters dominated the island until the 16th century. During the Turkish occupation, the monks and nuns fled and the island was turned into a harem. In the 18th century, the island was chosen to be the resort of the palatines. Palatines were the highest dignitaries after the king. It was declared a public garden in 1908. Since then, Margaret Island serves as a recreational park. The island houses various sports establishments, like the Palatinus water park, the Alfréd Hajós sports pool, tennis courts and an athletics centre.

Aquincum_03From the first century BC to the fifth century AD, western Hungary was part of the Roman Empire. It was called Pannonia, and its largest town was Aquincum, the ancestor of Budapest. As the center of Pannonia, Aquincum played an important leading role. The excavated ruins date back to the second century, when the city had around 15,000 inhabitants. Remains of an amphitheater, mosaic floors, tombstones, statues and a reconstructed water-organ are the main attractions.

The first Roman ruins were found in 1778 by a wine maker. Luckily, the significance of the find was recognized immediately, and the remains were shortly identified as the Roman town of Aquincum. Since then, more of the area has been excavated; however, so far only one third of the former settlement has been unearthed. Besides Aquincum, Hercules Villa (accessible only as part of a guided tour) and Thermae Maiores (Big Bath, a former Roman bath complex) are open to the public.

Aquincum is located in the oldest part of Buda, called Óbuda, which literally means Old Buda. Óbuda was united with Buda and Pest in 1873. Today, Óbuda forms part of District 3. In addition to the several excavated Roman ruins, Óbuda also has a Baroque and a modern side. Its center, Fő tér (Main Square), is one of the most charming squares in the city. Budapest’s Shipyard Island, which hosts the biggest annual music festival, the week long Sziget festival, is also in this part of the city.