The City of Budapest is recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in the world that attracts some 20 million visitors each year. Budapest contains two very different cities, Buda on the west bank of the River Danube and Pest on the east bank. Reminiscent of Vienna, Budapest offers a similar experience at much more affordable prices. But Budapest is also distinctly Hungarian, and its people are proud of this ancient capital and its historic contributions to the cultures of Europe. The Port of Csepel (Hungarian) officially became part of Budapest in 1950. For more information on the many things to see and do in Budapest, please visit the city's tourism website.
Budapest has a transitional climate that varies between the extreme conditions of the Hungarian plains and the more temperate climate of western Hungary. Summer heat waves can be oppressive, and winters can see heavy snowfalls. Air and water pollution are serious problems in Pest. Temperatures range from an average high of 27 °C (82 °F) in July and August to an average low of -3 °C (27 °F) in January.
Budapest's National Gallery is located inside the Royal Palace, and it contains an amazing collection. It is the country's largest public collection of fine arts in Hungary. Its exhibitions are divided into six main sections: medieval and renaissance stone; Gothic wooden statues; late Gothic altars; Renaissance and baroque arts; 19th and 20th Century paintings, statues, and coins; and contemporary art. There are several other museums on Budapest 's Castle Hill that visitors will want to check out. They include the Historical Museum of Budapest, the Music Museum, the Military Museum, the Marzipan Museum, the Pharmacy Museum, and the Museum of Medieval Judaism.
The Royal Palace, or Buda Castle, is the historic complex of Hungarian kings. First completed in Budapest in 1265, the Royal Palace (or Castle) is located at the southern tip of Castle Hill near the old Castle District that contains many medieval, Baroque, and 19th Century homes and public buildings. It is part of the Budapest World Heritage Site. King Louis the Great built a keep at the Royal Palace in the 14th Century. Sigismund of Luxemburg added a chapel and palace to the Budapest complex in the 15th Century. King Matthias the Just had the southeastern fortifications and a Renaissance palace built in the latter part of the 15th Century. When Hungary's kings ruled there, the Royal Palace in Budapest was one of the finest royal places in Europe. Neglected during Turkish rule, the original palace was destroyed during the 1686 siege. Rebuilding began in the 18th Century under Empress Maria Theresa after the medieval ruins were cleared. Other sections were added during the 19th Century under Francis Joseph I. In 1800, Joseph Haydn conducted "The Creation" here. Destroyed again in 1945, rebuilding efforts uncovered the remains of the medieval palaces and fortifications, which are being restored. Within the Budapest Royal Palace are the Hungarian National Gallery and the Museum of the Hungarian Working-Class Movement. The Palace Museum (Budapest History Museum) is in the southern wing, telling the story of the Palace and the city and displaying the recently-excavated Gothic halls and sculptures.
Budapest's Church of Our Lady, better known as Matthias Church, was built in the middle 13th Century and has been restored, repaired, and remodeled many times since. King Matthias the Just was married here, and the last two Hungarian Habsburg kings were crowned here. Different features of this Budapest church represent Renaissance, Ottoman, and Gothic periods. Inside the Matthias Church is the beautiful Loreto Chapel with a 1515 statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ that Budapest locals hid behind a plastered wall while the Turks ruled. The Ottomans used the church as their main mosque without ever discovering the statue. The statue was revealed in 1686 when an explosion crumbled the plaster wall. The Budapest Museum of Ecclesiastical Art is in an upstairs gallery, and it includes displays of religious art and a replica of the Hungarian crown.
Fishermen's Bastion offers great panoramic views of Budapest. Built in 1905 for decorative purposes, the Fishermen's Bastion is located in the Castle District near Matthais Church. This white-stoned Budapest structure is of combined neo-Gothic, neo-Romanesque design with lots of turrets, parapets, and climbing stairways. It has seven towers, each symbolizing one of the Magyar tribes that came to Budapest and Hungary in the late 9th Century. Located in the Fisherman's Town neighborhood of Budapest, it was built on the site of an old medieval fish market. From the top of the Fishermen's Bastion, visitors enjoy glorious views of Budapest and many of its most popular landmarks.
One of Budapest's most famous landmarks, Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge crossing the River Danube between Buda and Pest. Opening in late 1849, the Chain Bridge is connected to the Buda hinterland by a 350-meter long tunnel through Castle Hill. The bridge contributed to the prosperity and rapid growth of the towns of Buda and Pest before they became Budapest. People demonstrated on Chain Bridge for independence in 1989, and it has since become a symbol for Hungarian liberty.
Visitors will also enjoy the 1-1/2 hour Cruise and Dinner on the Danube where they enjoy a wonderful three-course dinner and live music while viewing the Budapest cityscape lights by night from the River Danube.
Travelers who want to visit Budapest and the Port of Csepel by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.