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The River Danube flows right through the heart of Budapest and thus creates a point of reference for visitors who are either on the old cobbled streets on the Buda side, or in the 19th century boulevards on the Pest side. Your interests will decide on which side of the Danube you will spend most of your time. Anyone interested in history will find it difficult to tear oneself away from Buda, where the Palace summit creates an atmosphere of medieval Budapest. Shopaholics will very soon be enticed by the other side of the river where the shops and nightlife compete for everyone’s attention. Budapest is really the fusion of three towns, Buda, Óbuda and Pest. Back in 106 AD, the Romans founded the city of Aquincum in the north-east corner of the Danube. Several changes of population later, at the end of the 9th century, the Magyars arrived. They were descended from a Finnish-Ugrian tribe with roots in Siberia. The Magyar city, with its palace and ring-wall, came to be called Buda, and Aquincum was later called Óbuda. The other side of the river was also settled, in the area which would later be called Pest. Having been invaded by the Turks - and later by the Austrian army - in 1867 Hungary was elevated to an equal partner in the Austro-Hungarian double monarchy. Budapest became one of the most important ports on the Danube and soon also an industrial centre.
Budapest will keep you busy in all weather. There are great parks, walks and outdoor baths for the good weather and a plethora of museums, lovely restaurants and outdoor baths, across a range of very different city quarters. There is no problem finding things to do in Budapest, on the contrary- you will struggle to find the time to do them all!
Hungarian food is honest and despite today’s influences from all over the world, the Hungarians are still preserving their traditions. Modern Hungarian cuisine is among the best in Europe and also very inexpensive. You will find most restaurants, and the best ones, on the Pest side.
Budapest has many lovely cafés, ranging from breakfast bars and stylish eateries to the most delicious confectionaries, (a sort of a cross between a café and a bakery, with just a few seats). You are sure to find just the perfect type to fit your mood. Simply choose a cream cake and a coffee and relax!
Budapest has all kinds of nightlife, from smoky beer halls to Bohemian artists’ clubs and expensive champagne bars. Recent years have seen the rise of the ruin bars, a curious phenomenon where derelict buildings are given a new lease of life as bars, nightclubs and restaurants, complete with quirky decor and a very laid-back atmosphere.
Budapest is famous for its moderately priced antiques which you can find in places such as the Falk Miksa utca quarter. One of the most popular Hungarian souvenirs is handmade Herend porcelain, which has been in production since 1828. The beautiful, hand-painted vases, dishes and porcelain have won many gold medals at various world exhibitions. The factory’s own shop is on József Nádor square. Around the corner lies Vörösmarty Square, where you can either gather energy with a cup of coffee and a cream cake at the city’s most famous patisserie, Café Gerbeaud, or carry on to the former Luxus department store with the international fashion houses’ most famous stores. The Váci utca pedestrian street between Vörösmarty square and the Market Square is Budapest’s largest shopping centre. This is where you will find the international fashion houses’ own stores, souvenir shops, wine shops and several galleries. Do not miss the small cross-streets with their sweet little shops and upscale wine merchants. Many Budapest residents think that the prices in this area are too high and instead do their shopping in Pest’s gigantic Westend or in the shops in the Great Ring, which is what they call the boulevard around the city centre. The new, young shops are scattered around the centre on the Pest side. Király Street is being transformed into a design centre. Do not miss Nagycsarnok on Vámház street, Budapest’s great market hall built in 1896, which has everything that Hungary can offer in the way of food. Here you can buy Hungarian specialities such as, for example, the world-renowned Tokay wine Tokaji Aszú. “The wine of kings, the king of wines” – its special flavour is of sweet, overly ripe and shrivelled grapes. A dessert wine which complements cakes and desserts perfectly. On the first floor, they sell high quality Hungarian souvenirs such as cloth, garments etc. Link: http://budapest.gotohungary.com/shopping-for-gifts-and-souvenirs
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