Destination Discovery: Budapest, Hungary
The Pearl of the Danube, and one of my personal favorite cities in the world, Budapest, Hungary, is a must-visit destination in Central Europe. Combining jaw-dropping architecture, historic religious landmarks, and the world’s largest thermal water cave system, Budapest is oozing with old-world charm for a new world traveler. Two cities (Buda and Pest) form one unbelievable travel experience. Discover where to stay, spa, and snack on world-renowned goulash in Budapest.
Where to Stay
With its prime location near the Chain Bridge and the banks of the River Danube and its stunning views of Buda Castle, the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace is a sight to see in its own right, not to mention a luxurious place to stay while in Budapest. The palace was built in 1906 and after a five-year $110-million restoration, the hotel was brought back to its original art nouveau-style glory. The palace reopened in 2004 with added amenities including an indoor lap pool and spa which features signature treatments using local Hungarian moor mud. Of the 179 gorgeous guest rooms you can opt for accommodations fit for royalty in one of 19 suites with vaulted ceilings, private balconies, and breathtaking views. Make your stay truly unforgettable and book the Stage Presence experience. You’ll take center stage at the Hungarian State Opera House for a private dinner and performance. What’s more? The Opera House closes for 3 days prior to ensure everything is to your exact specifications.
For a more modern, but still conveniently-located stay, check out the Hotel Palazzo Zichy. In the historic Palace quarter on the Pest side of the city, the hotel once served as the residence of a Hungarian Count. Pick from contemporary-styled junior suites and guestrooms at this 80-room hotel, where breakfast is complimentary and landmarks are just a few steps away.
Where to Spa
When in Budapest you’re in the world’s largest thermal water cave system, so a visit to the springs is a must! Once known as The City of Spas, Budapest boasts 123 hot springs that deliver over one-million gallons of water each day. Visit the well-known Szechenyi Baths, the oldest on the Pest side of the city and one of the largest. The outdoor pools are surrounded by ornate statues and temps in the water reach up to 100 degrees F. This experience is a social one and not as luxurious as say, a visit to the spa at the Gresham Palace.
Where to Snack
Stop at the largest café in the country (and tourist hot spot) the 150+ year-old Cafe Gerbeaud in Vörösmarty Square for some people watching, a latte, and some chocolates or visit the First Strudel House of Pest for world-class strudel. Visit Fisherman’s Bastion and have lunch at the restaurant through the iron gates while enjoying unbelievable views from the terrace. Enjoy some pre-meal wine tasting and a cheese plate at Faust Wine Cellar. For dinner enjoy an 8-course dinner with wine pairings at Csalogany 26 or up the romance at Gerloczy. For a truly unforgettable dining experience, book a table at Michelin starred Borkonyha
What to See
Take a strudel-making class at Great Market Hall and visit the Museum of Applied Arts and Nagytétény Castle. Take a stroll the St. Stephen’s Basilica, a Roman Catholic Basilica named for the first king of Hungary, and go up to the cupola for a panoramic view of the city. Visit the Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Take a photo in the iconic Hero’s Square and stop by the Vajdahunyad Castle in City Park of Budapest. Walk across the Chain Bridge up to Castle Hill where you can meander around Buda Castle the former Royal Palace of Budapest, and visit the spot at Matthias Church where kings were once crowned. Grab your camera and enjoy a leisurely visit to Margaret Island and rest up for a Ruined Pub Tour that night, a true must when visiting the city. Stops along your tour should include Szimpla Kert, Instant, Fogasház and Wndrlnd!