An elegant square with four symmetrical buildings in a circle arch. Four impressive statues of people depicted in the struggle against the Turks decorate the lawns. To the North of this square, Andrássy avenue changes its face and becomes a residential area.
The old buildings with façades often decorated with sculptures and sometimes aging, give way to some fine villas and private mansions strewn about. Many Embassies are located in all this part.
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After a hard day of major sightseeing on Day 1, take the plunge and relax in one of Budapest’s world-renowned thermal baths, while still admiring its architectural beauty, then get out and about again to uncover some of the unique buildings that reflect the country’s varied and troubled past.
The therapeutic waters of this neo-Baroque bathing bonanza will revitalize tired joints and set you up for a fulfilling day. That’s providing you don’t spend all your time being slow cooked in the hot pools, which will leave you seriously sleepy.
Alternate between hot and cold pools, saunas, and steam rooms and take some time out in the mediumtemperature pools or just chill out on a deckchair.
The most luxurious pool is the outdoor semi-circular one, from which steam dramatically rises in the cold of winter as locals play chess.
The whirlpool is great for kids.
Time: 2 hours. Go early to avoid the crowds, especially in summer. For more information please reed our post Best Baths in Budapest.
Location: Budapest, Állatkerti körút 11.
Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe that this fairly authentic-looking folly was once made out of cardboard and dates back barely a century. Vajdahunyad Castle went up as a temporary structure as part of the Magyar millennium celebrations in 1896, depicting the various Hungarian architectural styles over the centuries.
By 1908, Vajdahunyad had been transformed into a collection of stone replicas representing treasured creations from right across the Magyar realm. Particularly prominent are the ramparts facing the lake from Vajdahunyad Castle and Sighişoara’s clocktower, both in present-day Romania.
Time: 30 minutes.
Location: Metro: M1 to Hősök tere / Széchenyi Fürdő.
Fine Arts Museum (Szépművészeti Múzeum)
The Fine Arts Museum is closed for reconstruction for about 3 years since march 2015.
The mighty Habsburgs who once ruled as far as Spain and the Netherlands acquired an astonishing collection of impressive art works, many of which found their way here. A tour de force in European art from the 13th to the late 18th centuries, lovers of Madrid’s Prado gallery will see similarities with this collection, which is also particularly strong in Spanish masters, with El Greco, Velázquez, Murillo, Ribera, Cano, Zurbarán and Goya all represented. El Greco’s Annunciation, painted in the late 16th century, is set to heavenly clouds and bright lights, while Velázquez’s early work Peasants Around a Table, dated around 1619, magically preserves the timehonored tradition of getting stuck into conversation over a few drinks.
Time: 1,5–2 hr. Go early when major temporary exhibitions are running.
Location: Budapest, Dózsa György út 41. Opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5:30pm. Metro: M1 Hősök tere.
Walk up Andrássy út
You are more than likely to have explored portions of this, the grandest of Budapest’s boulevards on Day 1 when checking out the Opera House, but further examination is rewarding. Walking from Heroes Square the first stretch is lined with luxurious villas, including Kogart, an arts center and restaurant.
Further up, Andrássy út is traversed by Kodály körönd, a striking square of faded but ornately painted town houses.
Time: 30 minutes.
It’s funny how both the Fascists and the Communists both favored this location on classy Andrássy út to do their worst. An address that seems to be cursed, this visually impressive museum caused controversy with its highly politicized opening in 2002. Seen by many as an affront to the re-spun Hungarian Socialist Party, which once ruled Hungary with an iron fist but has changed beyond recognition, on behalf of their archrivals Fidesz, it was even sponsored by the then Fidesz Prime Minister Victor Orbán. More about the: Terros House
Cynics’ claims are backed up by the fleeting coverage of Fascist Hungary and the much denser coverage of the red terror. However, the fascist Hungarian Arrow Cross Party ran the country for only a year, coming into power in 1944, but what a gruesome year that was, with the previously protected Jewish population being shipped off in droves to concentration camps.
Politics aside, from the Russian tank that greets you; to the pictures of victims and their jailors; the industrial and dark classical soundtrack; film footage and interviews; genuine exhibits including Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross uniforms; and the trip to the cells and gallows.
Location: Budapest, Andrássy út 60. Metro: M1 to Vörösmarty utca.
With its onion domes, Moorish and Byzantine influences, Budapest’s great synagogue not only pioneered a new style of Jewish architecture, it also spawned the father of modern Zionism who was born here, Tivadar Herzl.
Time: 15 minutes.
Location: Budapest, Dohány utca 2. Metro: M2 to Astoria.
Applied Arts Museum
You might have encountered this remarkable-looking Art Nouveau masterpiece by Ödön Lechner, Budapest’s answer to Gaudí, if you took the road in from the airport. Lechner, who also worked on the building’s plans with secessionist sidekick Gyula Pártos, created a Hungarian take on the Art Nouveau movement, adding Hungarian folk touches and emphasizing certain eastern influences on Hungary.
Accordingly, traces of architectural styles from as far afield as India can be detected, and the bright green and gold Zsolnay tiles that adorn the roof and dome are more Oriental than European. You may find more info about this Museum here.
Sunrise to sunset, you can find a number of garden areas on the enchanting island in the Danube. During the summer months, the whimsical fountain, set within one of the beautiful garden areas, plays classical music while spraying water in time to the music.
The island did not become a public park until 1908. Before that time only the leaders of the upper classes could set foot on it. Plebeians should take advantage and visit with a picnic.
The name is Freedom Square in English. Surrounded by historical buildings, including the U.S. Embassy, this well-tended green space has gardens interspersed with pedestrian walkways.
There are plenty of benches under shady trees for relaxing and even a small children’s playground for a family rest stop. It is also home to the tall obelisk with a star on top, the last remaining monument to the Soviet Union’s liberation of Budapest after World War II.
Szent István Park
This attractive green park in the XIII district is often overlooked by visitors who don’t even know it’s there. It’s a flowering oasis during spring and summer. To reach it, take tram No. 4 or No. 6 to Jászai Mari tér and walk parallel to Margaret Island three blocks along the Danube to reach it. The gardens are open from 6am to 8:30pm.
If you take the Millennium walking tour, you will discover the four pleasant garden areas, each with its own statue.
Jókai tér & Liszt Ferenc tér
Where they are intersected by Andrássy út just past Oktogon, each has attractive flower gardens. The Liszt Ferenc side is always shaped like a giant valentine heart. If you continue down Liszt Ferenc tér, an umbrella of trees will shadow you as you walk along the winding path.
For those looking for a quick lunch or a brief coffee and chat in between excursions or sightseeing, here are two recently redeveloped and "cool" locations which come fully recommended: one is Liszt Ferenc Square off Andrássy Avenue not far from Oktogon, the other is Ráday Street which starts from Kálvin Square. Both places are packed with cosy restaurants, bars, cafés and a youthful clientele. From a single star to 4-star, you’ll find every kind of restaurant here serving everything from traditional Hungarian to Chinese and even Argentinean cuisine.
Again, just off of Andrássy út in district VI, you will find an extended sidewalk with a planter built up from the ground filled with flowers. Beyond the flowerbeds is a modern, tranquil water fountain. Benches are provided for a rest stop, so give your feet a break and enjoy the views.
Hollán Ernő utca
Just as the street starts off Szent István körút in the XIII district, there is a pedestrian street for one block. Like Nagymező utca, a new pedestrian area has been created complete with flowers and a water fountain decorated with colored lights.
ENJOY A SUNSET IN BUDAPEST
From the Riverside
As the sun sets, you will find many locals and visitors flocking to the riverside to enjoy people-watching, admire the sunset, and just plain relax. Depending on how busy your day was, you may either want to find a bench to sit on and unwind, or take a stroll onto one of the bridges that span the mighty Danube, the second-longest river in Europe.
This thermal is open until 10pm. Relax in the hot spring waters while watching the end of the day’s sun’s rays as they fade into the horizon.
Margaret Island (Margit-sziget)
This island, once called Rabbit Island, was home to the cloistered nuns’ convent founded by Princess Margaret, daughter of Béla IV, who promised his daughter to nunnery. Enjoy the flower gardens or the singing fountain as the sun sinks into the western sky.
Sip a glass of wine in this romantic sunset spot. On Castle Hill, it overlooks the city on one side and St. Matthias Church on the other.
Academy of Sciences Park
For a casual place to relax, sit in the park across the street from the academy and take in the engaging architecture, the river view, and a beautiful sunset on Széchenyi István tér.
The Sculptural Grounds at Buda Castle
There is a powerful statue called the Matthias Fountain. It is based on a legend of King Matthias, who, while on a hunting trip through the forest, came across a woman stranger, Ilona; she fell in love with him instantly, not realizing he was the king. He reciprocated the love.