For many people Hungary is Budapest, beginning or end point for the 14 day river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam and vice versa. It is a great city and well worth a few days to explore properly. Once part of the huge Austro-Hungarian empire, Budapest has some impressive buildings including their Parliament Houses based on the British House of Parliament and has bridges between western and eastern cultures. You can stroll along the Danube and stop for coffee and cake, indulge in the local goulash and soups or relax in a Turkish bath.
One of the great things to do in Budapest is to stroll the riverbank and check out the connections between Hungary and Australia, and be reminded of the contribution of Hungarian nationals – Rubik of the cube is just one. Cross the Pearl Bridge to the Buda side (Buda is high on the hill, Pest is flat and the main part of the city) and take the funicular up to the top – or climb if you are fit!
The beautiful St Mattias Church is well worth a wander, and the Fisherman’s Bastion will give you spectacular views over Pest and especially of the river and the houses of parliament. But go further into the city of Buda and you will be rewarded with little shops and ruins of the castle and views over to the hills beyond the city.
In Pest the market is a focal point. You can get anything and everything there. The Hungarian florint is still used and Hungary is still amazing value for money. Pick up paprika to spice up your cooking, or indulge in beautiful handcrafted embroideries in the shops along the main shopping street. Heroes Square does its best to impress and is surrounded by museums to help explain their history. Some impressive statues. The Turkish baths are nearby.
The Jewish synagogue is a fascinating visit. Hire a guide to get all the lowdown on the history, and have a look at the garden around the back which is a memorial as well as a pleasant retreat. If you are a music buff the Opera House runs tours you can take to see the fading grandeur of this building.
Away from the city there are spa towns to explore like Lake Heviz and the town on Lake Balaton Tihany with its Benedictine monastery.
The Hungarians are friendly and welcoming. Allow several days to get to know the city, and several more to explore beyond.