Budapest, city of harmony and hospitality
Budapest is called the Pearl of the Danube because of its highly favourable geographical position and weather conditions. The capital with its area of 525 sq kms is situated on the banks of the River Danube. Hungary has a continental climate, the average yearly temperature is 11°C, daily temperatures hover around 25°C during the summer time and 3°C during the winter. Summer is the sunniest time of the year. Although the weather in Budapest varies greatly through the seasons from early spring till late November, tourists can enjoy visiting beautiful sights and meeting local people famous for their hospitality.
In 1873 the separate towns of Pest lying on the east bank, and Buda and Óbuda on the west bank of the river were united into one administrative unit. Nowdays Pest is twice as big as Buda, and its population is twice as much as that of Buda on the hilly side of the Danube. The population of the city is about 2 million which means that 20 per cent of Hungarian citizens live in the capital.
Strange as it may sound, Budapest’s present colourful and metropolitan character is due to its difficult and stormy past. Buildings and architectural monuments built by invaders and occupiers are part of a valuable cultural resource which enrich Budapest’s townscape. The Romans built their provincial capital called Aquincum on the west side of the Danube. There are several remains (amphitheatres, public baths and religious shrines) from this time even today which can be seen in outdoor and indoor museums in Óbuda. Gül Baba’s turbe and the popular Turkish baths (Király, Császár, Rudas Baths) are historical and cultural signs of the 150-year-long Turkish occupation in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Habsburg Empire had a great impact on the city: a great number of buildings were erected in Baroque, Neo-classical and Art Nouveau styles. In the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Budapest became the melting pot of Central Europe: German, Slovakian, Serbian and Jewish settlers left their cultural fingerprints on the city. Since the change of the political system in 1989 the international and metropolitan character of Budapest has developed further on. Come and explore the colourful and exciting scenes of Budapest life.
City of Spas and Baths
Budapest belongs to the group of prestigious and traditional European spa cities such as Karlovy Vary, Marienbad and Baden-Baden, boasting an abundance of thermal baths, artesian and thermal wells, wellness centres and spa hotels. Wellness and spa tourism in Budapest has become a fast-growing industry in recent years. Many tourists visit one of the city’s thermal baths, enjoy quality services and plunge into the fascinating atmosphere of spa venues.
People living in the area had always made use of the unique opportunities offered by the thermal waters found here, but significant bath culture started only in the Roman period. Some of the baths built in the Middle Ages are still open today. Lukács Bath in the second district (Frankel Leó Street 25-29) was founded by knights of the Order of St. John. The world-famous Gellért Spa in the eleventh district on the west bank of the Danube (Kelenhegyi Road 4) had been one of the favourite spas in Budapest for many centuries. The Turkish occupation contributed to the development of bath and spa culture. More baths were built than any other public buildings, some of them can be visited even today. Rudas Bath in the first district (Döbrentei Square 9), Császár Bath (Frankel Leó Street 31) and Király Bath in the second district (Fő Street 84) are situated on the Buda side and welcome guests who would like to be a part of the long-lasting bath tradition.
Széchenyi Bath is situated in the City Park opposite the Luna Park. It takes only 2 stops on the Millennium Underground to get there from Smart Hotel Budapest. The bath is quite new compared to other Budapest baths: it was built in 1909-13, extended in 1926 and restored to its original splendour very recently. Széchenyi Bath is considered the hottest spa in Europe supported by a spring nearby. The well is almost a kilometer deep and the temperature of the spring is 74°Celsius. The water must be cooled down so that visitors can bath in the beautiful open-air and covered swimming pools.
City of Culture
Budapest is considered to be one of the most significant cultural centres of the European continent. The Hungarian capital has a great number of cultural attractions: 837 protected monuments, 223 museums and galleries, 40 theatres and 7 concert halls provide an unrivalled experience to art-hungry visitors. A relevant percentage of tourists come to Budapest to enjoy the cultural programmes and festivals that are organised all year round. The most famous and popular ones are the Spring Festival in March, the Budapest Fringe Festival in April and the Autumn Festival in October. They always offer a rich programme of events for people with an interest in classical music and theatrical arts. The festivals feature world-famous Hungarian artists as well as outstanding international performers. The Island Festival at the beginning of every August is Central Europe’s biggest pop-rock music event. Thousands of young festival-goers flood Hajógyári Island, have a week of entertainment and enjoy a diverse blend of music and theatrical arts.
You will see that Budapest offers an infinite list of quality programmes for people with different interests at any time of the year.
City of Gastronomy
Hungarian cuisine is known all over the world. Traditional dishes are often spicy and make use of such ingredients as paprika, pepper, garlic and onions. The most famous Hungarian soup is called goulash and almost every tourist has a taste of it when they come to Hungary. But goulash soup is only one item on the rich menu of Hungarian restaurants: taste authentic dishes and enjoy mouth-watering, spicy stews and soups with yummy desserts. Hungarian cooking is varied, deliciously creative and the flavours of dishes are based on old traditions in spicing and preparation methods.
In recent years hundreds of new restaurants have been opened in Budapest. The city’s gastronomy has become extremely colourful and international. You will find restaurants of any major world cuisines such as French, Italian and Chinese. In addition to the most popular ones there are a great number of exotic restaurants as well.