The beautiful city of Budapest, capital of Hungary, is one of the largest cities in Europe and straddles the Danube River (originally Buda was on one bank and Pest on the other). It is often the jumping off point for a river cruise or the end point of one. It is recommended you add a pre- or post stay to your river cruise to enjoy its various highlights. It can not be appreciated in one day, or even two!

Most places of interest are within walking distance of each other and bicycles are available to rent as well to cover more of the city if you are not participating on a guided tour. If you are not physically inclined for active walking or biking and wish to shun the cost of taxis, the city is well covered with buses, trams and metro lines. There is even an English language website for line and fare information. Generally, those over 65 travel free of charge on public transport.

Budapest straddles the Danube, and river cruise ships are a common sight. (Canstock)

What to see or do? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Experience a thermal bath. Budapest has public and private thermal baths: your basic baths, baths with added extras (esthetics,massage, sauna, etc) and baths that offer out-of-doors sunning areas as well. You should assume children under 14 are not allowed. Though you can bath semi-clothed or nude in private, gender-specific areas, think of the thermal baths in the same way as you would swimming pools in North America: that is, with swimsuits, bathing caps, lockers, paid towel service and so on.

    Szechenyi Baths are the largest medicinal baths in Europe. (Bigstock)

  • Bring out your inner child. Visit the Budapest Zoo, home to over eight hundred animals and one of the oldest in the world. Or ride the Children’s Railway into the hills surrounding the city. To reach its starting point, you may first wish to experience the Cogwheel tram. After, a simple tram ride will take you back to the city again. It is a delightful way to experience the countryside.
  • Shop… with a difference. Check out the Central Market Hall. It located in the city center and is the oldest (and more importantly to a shopper), the largest, covered market in Hungary. Here you will find all your souvenirs ! Just don’t plan to shop on a Sunday – it will be closed as many places are in Budapest.

    You’ll find souvenirs at the Central Market. (Bigstock)

  • Visit a church – Matthais Church. Its proper name is Church of the Blessed Virgin . Hungary’s popular ruler, King Matyas, obviously liked the church as he was married there – twice. It is an odd but pleasing  mixture of many styles from medieval, to sumptuous baroque, to art noveau as it adapted and changed with Hungary’s rulers over the centuries. Outside the church, look for the many figured column erected by survivors of the plague. Interesting historical evidence is everywhere in the city – the architecture, the statues, and many museums.
  • Wander the Royal (Buda)Palace. This destination  is a smorgasbord of things to see.  Built in the 1300’s, it has been destroyed and rebuilt six times. Perched high above the city,  it can be reached by stairs, funicular rail or bus. The Savoyai Terrace there has one of the best views of the city. The terrace is located at the front of the National Szechenyi Library.   Other buildings contained in the grounds are the National Gallery, the Budapest Museum of History, and the Hungarian National Museum. Be sure to throw a coin in the Matyas Fountain in the Hunyadi Garden to ensure you return to beautiful Budapest!

    Royal (Buda) Palace with the city in the foreground. (Bigstock)

There are of course many more things to do and see in Budapest including a vibrant night life and fine dining – all what one would expect in the “Paris of the East”!

Contact your trusted travel professional at this agency about a river cruise including the stunning city of Budapest. He or she has knowledge of many available river cruise lines to suit you and can arrange all the peripheral details such as flights, transfers, and hotels to ensure you have a stress-free vacation. See also the article on “Count Dracula’s” Castle should you wish to explore further afield.

Header image of the Parliament Buildings courtesy of Bigstock. Article first appeared on Real Travel Experts.