Silver Travel Explorers Club : Budapest with Avalon Waterways

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Win a copy of the Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Budapest and Hungary

Our Explorers Club spotlights a port of call from favourite cruising areas each month. The world was first explored by water and in many cases, it remains the best way to discover a new destination. Just add a comment at the end of the feature and to be in with a chance of winning the Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Budapest and Hungary.

Why go to Budapest?

BudapestBestriding the Danube, Budapest is one of the most instantly recognisable cities in Europe and combines architectural beauty, rich culture and a tumultuous history.

The central area of Budapest along the River is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has several notable monuments, including the Hungarian Parliament and the Buda Castle.

Budapest’s blend of old and modern makes the city an architectural delight and a true ‘Pearl of the Danube’.

What’s good to see and do in Budapest?

The Parliament Building

The iconic waterfront Parliament Building is the third largest in the world and looks a strong contender for being the cleanest too. 

Budapest Parliament BuildingAn army of 150 people work tirelessly to keep it in tip-top condition, cleaning every roof tile twice a year and inspecting each flag to keep the building looking flawless, year-round.

The Chain Bridge

Budapest became a city on 17 November 1873 when the three neighbouring cities of Pest, Buda and Óbuda united. Today, Buda is the more upscale area with stately quarters while Pest is where the largest part of the population are based. Connecting the two is the magnificent bridge of Széchenyi, known as the ‘Chain Bridge’.

Europe’s biggest synagogue

It is one of the most beautiful synagogues in all of Europe, the Dohány Street Synagogue was built 1854-1859 and is the largest in Europe, seating 3,000 people. Constructed 1854-1859, its impressive interior combines Moorish, Byzantine, Romantic and even Gothic design features.

The Metro

The city’s metro system is the only one in the world to be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Budapest Millennium Underground line opened in 1896 on the city’s 1,000th anniversary, making it the second-oldest metro line in Europe, after the London Underground.

Budapest’s secret subterranean world

BudapestA hidden subterranean world lies beneath the city – a maze of over 200 caverns created by  the high number of geothermal springs in the area.

The most interesting cavern is the 6 mile-long underground labyrinth located right beneath Castle Hill, in Budapest Old Town.

The Budavari Labirintus has had a tumultuous history, serving as a shelter for prehistoric people, a cellar and a prison in medieval times, a military hospital during World War II, and a command post during the Cold War before becoming a present day museum.

Shoes memorial

A moving memorial to Hungarian Jews and other victims in World War II lies on the banks of the Danube, next to the Parliament Building. 60 pairs of period-specific men’s, women’s and children’s shoes have been cast in iron and attached to the stone embankment where hundreds were ordered to remove their shoes before being shot into the river by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944-5. 

Become a celebrated writer

Legend has it that touching the pen of the Anonymus statue of  a 13th century chronicler in Budapest’s City Park will confer great writing abilities upon you. And the pen’s shiny patina suggests there are many budding writers keen to test the theory out there!

Little known facts about Budapest

Budapest residents are inventive

Houdini, the world-famous escapologist was born in Budapest, as were both the inventor of the Biro pen, László Bíró and Erno Rubik of Rubik’s cube fame. 

BudapestNo Budapest building may exceed 96 meters in height

In Budapest’s main city area, no building is allowed to be taller than 96 meters:  all the buildings stand at about the same height, with the exception of the Szent Istvan Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament, which both measure exactly 96 meters. The number 96 represents the year when the Magyars first settled in the area (896). The fact that Szent Istvan Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament are the same height is not coincidental, but symbolic of the importance of both religion and government in Hungary.

Over 65s enjoy free public transport in Budapest

Senior citizens of Hungary and the European Union over the age of 65 can travel free of charge on Budapest public transport. The service includes buses, trolleybuses, trams, Metro and above-ground suburban trains.

The thermal bath capital of the world?

Budapest thermal bathsBudapest has more thermal water springs than any other capital city. There are dozens of spas and baths, some of housed in magnificent buildings such as the Szechenyi, Gellert, or Kiraly Baths.

The chemical composition of the waters differs from bath to bath and is unique to each location.

The water in the hippos’ pool in the Budapest Zoo comes from the spring of Széchenyi Thermal Bath. The artesian water is said to have a beneficial effect on these hippos, as its composition is quite similar to that of the river Nile.

Budapest’s Railway Children

The Children’s Railway was started after World War II as a training ground for communism after a model introduced in the former Soviet Union in the 1940s. 

DanubeChildren between the ages of 10 and 14 can complete a four-month introductory course to become train conductors, workers and inspectors. Other than the station master and the train drivers who are adults, all the other jobs are performed by children.

A ride on this 11 km railway will take you though alpine-style scenery to the top of the Buda Hills.

The Hungarian language is a curiosity

The Hungarian language is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. It’s also totally different to the languages spoken by its neighbouring countries.  Hungarian belongs to the Finno-Ugric language group, making it similar to Finnish:  there are about 600 words shared by Hungarian and Finnish.  This dates back to 4000BC when Siberian hunters moved westwards towards Europe.

How to get there  

Avalon WaterwaysAvalon Waterways offers a wealth of ways to enjoy Budapest, with cruises along the Danube from, to or through the city.  Prices start from just £429 pp in 2021 for a 3-night break over the festive period, when the river twinkles with Christmas markets, or £681 pp in 2022 for a 4-day west-bound cruise from Budapest to Bratislava, Vienna and beyond. Current offers include savings of up to £750 per couple and no single supplements for solo travellers on selected sailings. Fares include drinks at lunch and dinner, Wi-Fi, an excursion at each port of call and on-board gratuities. 

Call 0330 808 4745 or visit website for full details.

Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Budapest and Hundgary

Win a copy of the Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Budapest and Hungary

Simply add a comment below as to why you would love to visit Budapest. The best entry made in the month of August will win a copy of the Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Budapest & Hungary which will be sent to the winner in October 2021. 

 

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Other Members' Thoughts - 16 Comment(s)

  • DRSask
    about 1 month ago
    This brings back wonderful memories of a few days spent in Budapest 17 years ago - the beautiful metro stations, the stunning opera house (go on a tour if you can), the interesting architecture in the zoo, a cruise on the river, the churches, the Fisherman's Bastion, to name a few. There is still so much to see!
  • you
    about 1 month ago
    We still have a lot to explore in these wonderful countries.
    So, until it is safe to travel again we can read about where we would like to visit.
  • Bigfella
    about 2 months ago
    My better half and I are looking at weekend breaks as things open up so this would be a great source of info
  • GypsyWanderer
    about 2 months ago
    When visiting Prague some years ago I was told I should visit Budapest and decide which I like best. Loved Prague so am sure I will love Budapest. Would love the chance to find out.
  • JUDE-MD
    about 2 months ago
    I have seen and devoured so many photos of those wonderful buildings and the riverside views that I am desperate to visit. I want to capture it all on my own camera and write up my journal at the end of every day to remind me of the visit.
  • Janette01
    about 2 months ago
    Always wanted to visit and appreciate this lovely city. Had the chance to go years ago while at college. Our names were into a hat, and my friend's name was drawn but mine wasn't.
  • EmmaJayne
    about 2 months ago
    Desperate to visit the famous thermal baths , particularly when it's so chilly in London , and the old body is aching !!!!
  • Petesam
    about 2 months ago
    Well worth exploring
  • Stoughtontraveller
    about 2 months ago
    Our nephew has been and raved about it. Would love to see ourseves.
  • JulieAAA
    about 2 months ago
    I won (in a Silver Travel Advisor competition) an Avalon taster cruise from Budapest to Vienna, which had to be deferred until next July, due to COVID. I can’t wait to see all the historic sites in Budapest on our two day pre-cruise stay, so winning this book would be perfect for finalising our plans.
  • Ayesha
    about 2 months ago
    Budapest is high on my bucket list, what a wonderful way to wet my appetite!
  • you
    about 2 months ago
    We have in the past visited this area, so , a book to remind us of happy events would be 'just the ticket'.
  • Move
    about 2 months ago
    Wonderful city would love to revisit
  • susan_13
    about 2 months ago
    We should have visited this beautiful city last year but with travel plans on hold in 2020 hopefully next year we will get there!
  • Ivorh
    about 2 months ago
    My friend is from Hungary and he has desribed to me what a lovely city Buda and Pest are, with all the colour, sites, smells, culture and food. This book would just enhance and more what I have been told about this wonderful place.
  • Ken-Baines
    about 2 months ago
    I would love to explore the back streets of both Buda & Pest; Pest, particularly, having such wonders around almost every corner.