Danube Bend tour
The most picturesque section of River Danube as it runs through Hungary is at the Danube Bend, located between Esztergom and Visegrád; to explore it is best to take a cruise in a leisure boat or a hydrofoil.
Esztergom was the ﬁrst capital of the Hungarian State and remained so for 250 years. The city has been the seat of the Archbishop of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church for a millennium and the largest cathedral in Hungary is situated here with its Renaissance-style Bakócz Chapel. Visegrád is one of the prettiest historical cities on the Danube – lies at the point where the narrow river valley opens up, and was once also the capital. The royal palace, famed across Europe, was built by Károly Robert in the 14th century and rebuilt by King Matthias in the Renaissance style in the 15th century. The top of this high hill is crowned by the Fellegvár (Citadel) which was built in the 13th century. From the terrace of this castle, you’ll be treated to a splendid view over the Danube Bend. South of Visegrád, our way is led to the town of Szentendre which was fashioned into a little Mediterranean-style town by the Serbs ﬂeeing here from the Turks. It is well worth spending at least a day strolling among the small Baroque and Copf houses, making your way through the narrow cobbled streets and along winding steps, and have a trip to the Open-air Ethnographic Museum (or village museum), that introduces Hungarian folk architecture and culture.
Budapest historical monuments
Hungary’s position at the heart of Europe has made its capital one of the region’s most important cities. Such elevated status is reﬂected in the grandeur of its buildings, bridges and boulevards. The city has experienced a turbulent history and some castles, palaces and fabulous baths have been destroyed. What remained has been supplemented with the modern structures – splendid concert halls, sleek bridges and state-of-the-art wellness centres – of a forward-looking nation embracing the new millennium. The River Danube not only transports visitors but deﬁnes the landscape. Danube Bank its Budapest section was deservedly declared a World Heritage Site.
The Castle District in Buda is the ancient kernel of the capital’s right-bank settlement. Everything that surrounds it was once only suburbs. From whatever direction you reach the Castle District, you cross the ramparts which completely encircle Castle Hill. The whole area within the ramparts is protected as an ancient monument: the lines of the streets and the foundations and architectural remains of the buildings retain the atmosphere and memories of the medieval and eighteenth and nineteenth-century capital. We recommend you to visit: Millennial Park, Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthias Church, Royal Palace, Funicular, Citadel, Statue of Liberty
The view of Pest on the left bank is dominated by the dynamic economic and social marks of the development of large middle class housing units throughout the 19th century. Don’t miss the Parliament, Opera House, St. Stephen Basilica, Synagogue, National Museum, Great Market Hall, Museum of Applied Arts, Art Hall and Museum of Fine Arts, Square of Heroes and Vajdahunyad Castle
There is a unique way of discovering Pest side: the floating bus RiverRide. The bus departs from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and as a bus goes around in the city centre, next to historical monuments, than runs into the Danube and continues its trip as a ship along the river down to the Chain Bridge.
Wherever you drill in Hungary, it’s likely you’ll ﬁnd medicinal water below the land surface. The therapeutic beneﬁts of such water were already recognized by the medieval period and baths have been built. Today Budapest has over 100 open spas/baths! Most of the spas are in a fabulous historical environment. The spas offer swimming pool, thermal bath, sauna, fancy bath, Turkish bath, children’s pool and massage. Entry fees: 8-18 EUR.
- Széchenyi Thermal Baths (http://www.budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu/en) is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe; it was built in 1913 in neo-baroque style. It’s located in the City Park.
- Gellért Thermal baths (http://www.gellertbath.com/). One of the historical thermal baths, its use dates back to the 15th century. The today’s interior, including colorful mosaics, marble columns, stained glass windows and statues were made in 1910’s.
- Rudas Thermal Bath (http://www.budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu/en) is an outstanding example of architecture, dating from the Turkish period from 16th century. The central feature is an octagonal pool, over which light is thrown from a 10 m diameter dome, sustained by 8 pillars.
- Király Thermal Bath (http://www.budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu/en). Most part of the present-day bath dates from the Turkish period, including most notably the fine cupola-topped pool. The König (king) family rebuilt the bath in the 18th century.
Because of the basic characteristics of limestone karst formation, the hills are exceptionally rich in caves. Approximately 200 smaller and bigger caves can be found under the capital, and several caves open to visitors. (http://www.budapestinfo.org/caves.html). It’s always 8-12 C inside the caves, perfect place to escape to on a hot sunny day. Entry fees: 4-15 €.
- Pálvölgyi Cave unlike most karst caves; these are formed by rising thermal waters.
- The Pálvölgyi-Mátyáshegyi Cave system provides 3h trip in a real labyrinth system situated mostly under the elegant residences of Budapest, 50-70m beneath the surface.
- Szemlő Hill Cave can be performed by kids as well, by climbing lots of steps. The walk reveals a chamber of aragonite formations.
Park Memento. In this park 42 pieces of art from the Communist era are displayed. Historical monuments of “Hungarian-Soviet Friendship” and “Liberation”, as well as statues of famous personalities from the labor movement, soldiers of the Red Army and other gigantic pieces: Lenin, Marx, Engels, Dimitrov, Captain Ostapenko, Béla Kun and other “heroes” of the communist world. Entry fee: 10 €.
House of Terror. Having survived two terror regimes, it was felt that the time had come for Hungary to erect a fitting memorial to the victims, and at the same time to present a picture of what life was like for Hungarians in those times. House of Terror Museum – the only one of its kind – is a monument to the memory of those held captive, tortured and killed in this building. Entry fee: 8 €.
Challengeland (http://www.kalandpalya.com/), is the most notable adventure park in Budapest. It is located in a heavily wooded area, where the nature set is ideal for testing the physical endurance of all adventure seekers, regardless of age or experience. The paths designed at sundry levels of difficulty, the climbing walls, as well as the challenges yielded by the natural topography and profile of the place, all these can turn a visit to Challengeland into a thrilling experience.
Margaret Island is a 2.5 km long island, 500 meters wide, 0.965 km² areas, in the middle of the Danube in central Budapest. The island is mostly covered by landscape parks, and is a popular recreational area. Its medieval ruins are reminders of its importance in the Middle Ages as a religious centre. One may visit the small Japanese Garden with a mildly thermal fish pond; the tiny zoo, the “Music Fountain”, the octagonal Water Tower of 57 m or the Palatinus water park.
Trip to Eger
Eger is one of the most beautiful towns of Hungary with lots of historic buildings. It lies in the valley of the Eger Stream, in the hill-country, which extends over the western foot of the Bükk Mountains. Actually Eger’s establishment coincides with the church – founding activity of our first king, St. Stephen. He established here one of the ten bishoprics that were organized before 1009. Viticulture began in the region as early as the 11th century, when monks in the bishopric of Eger brought grapes indigenous to their own country with them into Hungary. The town and the castle played a big role in Hungarian history; inhabitants had long fights against Mongols and Turks. The buildings and monuments represent Turk influence as well as medieval and baroque style. After the Turks had been expelled from the region, wine-growing began to develop again.
Most of the wine-cellars established at the beginning of the 19th century can be seen today. The wine growers of Eger have demonstrated both here and abroad that Leányka, Királyleányka, Hárslevelű (Linden-Leaf), Olaszrizling (Italian Riesling), Muskotály (Muscatel), Tramini, Szürkebarát and Chardonnay wines are equal to the challenge of both domestic and foreign competitors. If local wine producers exploit the full potential of the region, experts believe the Kékfrankos, Blauburger, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir wines can also expect a great international future. The spiciness, fieriness and relatively high acidity of the red wines of Eger are what typify Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) which is indeed the most known wine of the region.
Gödöllő and Domonyvölgy
Gödöllő is situated 30km east from Budapest in a hilly wooded environment. Its name is first mentioned in the beginning of the 14th century. The golden age started in the 18th century when Count Antal Grassalkovich started his construction in the town. He built a U shape baroque style palace and a spectacular garden. The garden, which clearly represented elements of aristocratic taste, financial well-being and political power alike, was created in French style. The palace (http://www.kiralyikastely.hu/) became popular for the regrouping Hungarian aristocracy of the 18th century. A century later the Palace was given to Francis Joseph I and Queen Elisabeth (emperor and empress of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy) as a coronation present. This event greatly influenced the development of Gödöllő in the following decades. The Royal Palace was the home of the 2011 Hungary EU Presidency year, serving as the meeting place for ministers from EU.
Few minutes from Gödöllő in Domonyvölgy the Lázár Equestarian Park can be found (http://www.lazarlovaspark.hu). The six time carriage driving world championship Lázár brothers brought their dreams to life by uniting the atmosphere of a Hungarian village and high quality Hungarian hospitality with the excitement of a high quality European horse stable. In the Equestrian Park one can visit the traditional Hungarian farmyard, the competition stables, the Championship Hall, and enjoy the spectacular horse shows and Hungarian cuisine.