Travel Tuesday – Hungary

Szechenyi Baths.
Photo by ibolyka1

Sitting in the centre of the continent, Hungary is a diverse country with a rich mosaic history and culture. From the endless glimmering lights of its capital Budapest, to its romantic valleys and picturesque towns lining the Danube River as it weaves through the country’s shifting landscape, Hungary charms at every turn.

View from Buda Castle.

Budapest, Hungary’s proud capital, is one of the best-loved cities in Europe for every kind of traveller. Pockets of culture crop up unexpectedly throughout the city and there is an abundance of grand architecture. The Buda Castle, the city’s striking feature of grandeur sits on Castle Hill in a little web of cobbled streets. The view over the Danube of the Chain Bridge and the monuments creating the skyline on the Pest side of the river is spectacular in both the gleaming sunlight and the under the stars as the city’s parties come to life. For Budapest does offer irresistible nightlife, from the big clubs, to the street parties to the unique ruin bars and ‘Spartys’, or Spa parties. The rage of ruin bars began by converting abandoned buildings, many having been destroyed during WWII, into clubs and from there erupted an amazing underground nightlife scene. The Spartys are another alternative experience, as the thermal baths host lively events in an unbeatable setting.

Buda Hills Chair Lift.
Buda Hills Chair Lift.

Hungary is renowned for its thermal springs, and Budapest offers a number of different baths. The Art Nouveau Gellért Baths and the lavish Széchenyi Baths are the most popular and a day or two can easily be spent lazing by the pools independent of the sunshine. For some outdoor adventure close to the city, hop on a bus to the Buda Hills and join hikers, runners or mountain bikers in taking in the panoramic views. The Chairlift, ‘Libego’, offers easy access to the high points, flying you over the lush scenery for almost 1km. Another idyllic break from the city scene is Margaret Island, a large green area of flowery gardens in the middle of the Danube. There’s medieval ruins, a rose garden, fountains, swimming pools, a water park and an open air theatre. For some hilarious calamity hire an electric car at the entrance to the park and zoom, or rather dawdle (they aren’t the fastest of cars), around the island on wheels. An unmissable site of Budapest is Andrássy Avenue, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the most elegant street in Budapest. A long avenue lined with flowering lined with spectacular architecture, funky cafes and restaurants and The Budapest Opera house. The Opera House is highly esteemed as one of the finest in the world for its acoustics ande offers a number of short performances daily for a quick way of experiencing its splendour.

Vintage Pilot Sunglasses in Havana Polarised by Gucci.
Vintage Pilot Sunglasses in Havana Polarised by Gucci.

Relax by the thermal pools in style in the new season Gucci vintage pilot sunglasses in Havana.

A popular day trip from Budapest, Szentendre sits on the west bank of the Danube Bend and emits a rich artistic heritage. Although many complain of the town being too overrun with tourists, its picturesque location and historic atmosphere remains strong. Originally populated by Serbs seeking refuge from the Ottomans in the later seventeenth century, the Serbian imprint is interlaced through the city, particularly in the beautiful Blagovestenska Church. The exhibitions spaces, art galleries and spring and summer festivals and events are a lovely way of enjoying Hungary’s traditions only a short way from the city.

szentendre photo
Photo by andryn2006 Szentendre.

To the far east of Budapest lies Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city and the capital of the Northern Great Plain region. Debrecen is elegant, wealthy and steeped in a strong history of Calvinism. The Great Reformed Church on the main Kossuth tér square is a proud display of Calvinism and inside you can see the Hungarian Delcaration of Independence which Lajos Kossuth proclaimed in 1849. To see the city from sky high, take the lift up to the Eastern tower, offering sweeping and stunning views on a sunny day. The city hosts a number of good museums including the Reformed College of Debrecen and the Déri Museum showcasing crafts and archaeological gems. Debrecen also hosts a number of thermal baths and Botanical gardens and a large amusement park. Part of the city’s allure is its seat immersed in nature. Nearby the Hortobagy National Park, the largest continuous grassland in Europe, offers serene nature walks and outdoor adventure. The park is the county’s largest protected area and is home to wild animals and sparkling lakes.

Deutsch Palace Szeged.
Photo by mi) Deutsch Palace Szeged.

In Hungary’s south, near the Serbian border lies the stylish city of Szeged. The energy created by the large student popular is an irresistible feature of Szeged and its culture is growing more enthralling by the day. Cultural performances take place throughout the whole year and the café culture is perfectly laid-back. Szeged’s setting on the Tisza River and its elegant art nouveau architecture create a striking settings city-wide. The Reök Palace is a remarkable green and lilac structure, built in 1907 by Ede Magyar, and influence by water. The water motif shines through in the whirling water-plants and animated wall surfaces resembling waves. The palace is striking in itself, but it is also a popular host of cultural event and music concerts so look out for tickets for a unique experience.

 

Often mistakably missed by visitors to Hungary, the city of

Pécs National Theatre.
Photo by blanka.toth Pécs National Theatre.

is an irresistible city lying at the foot of the Mecsek Mountains. Pécs has long thrived as a multicultural epicentre, being home to Hungarians, Croatians, Serbians, Germans and many other ethnic groups, gainig the nickname “the Borderless City.” The city’s polished and elegant streets are full of Baroque structures and artistic treasures. As the winter season comes, Pécs offers itself as a surprising but arguably matchless frosty getaway. The illuminated city is warmed with mulled wine and filled with festival stalls. One of Pécs finest sights is the Mosque of Pasha Qasim, paying tribute to the ruling of the Turks’. It was constructed in the 16th Century and its brilliant green copper-dome is a striking photo opportunity. Király Street is the city’s charming pedestrian precinct, line with baroque-style buildings and the awe-inspiring National Theatre. Any restaurant in Pécs dishes out Hungary’s finest delicacies and most delicious comfort food. Stews, bread dumplings and pork cutlets are all served in cosy venues throughout the city.

Iridia Cateye Sunglasses in Opal Burgundy by Fendi.
Iridia Cateye Sunglasses in Opal Burgundy by Fendi.

Elegance is key in Pécs, and these Iridia cateye sunglasses are the perfect eyewear for wandering the ancient city.

For a scenic holiday in the countryside of Hungary, Lake Balaton is stunning. Lake Balaton is often referred to as the “nation’s playground” as it hosts summer party resorts like Siófok and Keszthely. The lush wine-growing region Badacsony is decidedly more laid-back and time can be whiled away sipping fine wine and dipping your feet into the lake. Tihany is one of the lake’s most popular resorts and its beautiful south area is designated as a nature reserve. As it can only be explored on food its area feels detached and completely calm. In the summer, the surrounding fields appear a deep-blue sea of lavender.

Hungary has many unexplored corners. Which one is your favourite hidden gem? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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