Budapest Christmas markets long experienced the fate of “Cinderella”, overshadowed by their more famous neighbours. But Budapest markets are unique as they do not allow merchants to resell goods there. Only small producers and craftsmen may offer their products there. You can buy unique merchandise such as ceramics, leather and textile goods, used art or the work of photographers and artists – strictly handmade at the markets. Seasonal specialities go without saying, including popular Hungarian sausages and baked chestnuts. You can also take part in creative workshops, happenings, visit concerts and other cultural events.
For the first time, this year’s markets will be enhanced by a giant 3D video mapping projection. Moreover, Budapest Christmas markets are the most ecological out there, with strictly LED lighting and all plates, cups and cutlery made from naturally degradable materials. Even the Advent ice-ring uses special energy-saving and ecological material instead of ice. The main Budapest Christmas markets are located on St. Stephens square (Szent István tér) and around the basilica of the same name from 10 November 2017 to 2 January 2018.
Csárdás, spicy meals with a paprika base, spas and sights – this is Budapest. A modern city with a touch of Austro-Hungarian nostalgia and ever-present memories of ancient Rome and the Ottoman Empire. Still untamed and unique.
Flatlands with the River Danube overshadowed by a sharply rising hill dominated by Buda Castle, the original seat of Hungarian Kings. The Castle, enclosed behind a stone wall, dates back to the 13th century. According to some tour guides, it is one of the most beautiful castle complexes in the world. The renowned Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church are just a few steps from the Palace premises. You can spend an entire day there and still not cover everything. The sights are in perfect harmony with a fantastic atmosphere co-promoted by vendors of local art and trinkets. But who knows, perhaps there is a future Picasso or Vincent van Gogh hidden among the local street artists. There is also a great view of the city from the iconic heights of Buda hill.
The opposite site of the River Danube is dominated by the neogothic Parliament building with nearly 700 rooms. It is one of the oldest government buildings in the world. The Parliament has become a visual symbol of the Hungarian capital. St. Stephen’s Basilica is also a sight in Pest worth visiting. Dedicated to the first Hungarian Christian King, it is without doubt the most important ecclesiastical building in Hungary. However, Budapest is also a place of Muslim pilgrimage with the 16th century Gűl Baba’s tomb. Crowds of tourists usually head to Heroes’ Square, dating from the end of the 19th century, with an iconic statue complex featuring important Hungarian national leaders, or to Váci utca, one of the most prominent streets of the Hungarian capital in terms of the mix of different architectural styles, cafés, clubs and boutiques. Also, do not skip a stroll down Andrássy avenue, another cultural pillar of Budapest.
Would you rather take it easy? Then go to one of the world‑renowned thermal spas or visit some of the local parks. There are over a hundred thermal springs and wells in Budapest. Together, they put out more than 70 million litres of 76 ˚C warm water a day. The first spas were built by the Romans, and later, the industry flourished under the Turks. You can enjoy the Roman style spa in the Raitzen Baths, while the Turkish tradition is best experienced in the Rudas Baths. If you prefer neither, you can still enjoy the Neo‑classicist Széchenyi Thermal Baths.
Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube River is probably the most famous of Budapest parks. However, you can also relax in Városliget, i.e. the city forest from the 19th century, with an artificial pond and a copy of Vajdahunyad Castle. Each of its pavilions features a copy of authentic details of one of the country’s most important buildings.
The city lives after dark, too, with numerous clubs open until dawn, the most interesting being Ruin Bars in houses assigned for demolition. Try, for example, High Society’s favourite, Instant, with several bars, stages and gardens. If you are not a fan of pop music, you can enjoy one of the two opera houses or 47 theatres.
Budapest history dates back to the 1st century BC, when Celts settled there. Later, they were replaced by Romans, Huns and Slavs. In the 10th century, Hungarians settled there led by Prince Árpád. They never left the country of their choice, but were dominated throughout its history by, for example, Turks (the Ottoman Empire) or Habsburgs (the Austro-Hungarian Empire).
Buda prospered on the right bank of the Danube River, while Pest flourished on the left. It was not until the 19th century that Budapest as we know it today was created by joining three independent parts, namely Buda, Old Buda and Pest.
Say no more. Budapest equals exquisite cuisine. You should try different types of goulashes, called Perkelt by Hungarians. If you make the mistake of ordering “goulash”, you will get something rather resembling a goulash soup. Cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat, fish soup and many kinds of spicy salamis and sausages are also worth trying. Rest assured that the vast majority of meals will contain both fresh peppers and paprika, as the country is home to this spice. Krémes, puff pastry stuffed with custard, is the most traditional Hungarian dessert. You must also taste great Hungarian wines, the most famous being from the Tokaj region. If you wish to make the food tasting experience unforgettable for more than just your taste buds and gall bladder, go and enjoy tasting Hungary at the Tasting Table, a venue appraised by foodies in the New York Times.