The Hungarian city of Budapest is a sensory experience wrapped in layer upon layer of culture and, for those who travel with an open heart, there truly is something to be discovered at every turn. There’s no doubt, however, that the most popular area of the city is the Castle District. While you may come because it’s a ‘must-see’, you’ll stay for the unapologetic charm of this deeply historic quarter.
Buda Castle Hill
The medieval cobblestoned streets of Castle Hill serve to tell their own story, and part of the experience is simply wandering around and soaking up the ambience of this World Heritage Listed Site. The Gothic and Baroque architecture of the cafes, churches, shops and private residences forms part of a rich mosaic of history that dates back to the thirteenth century.
The Baroque elegance of Buda Palace defines one of the most important extant examples of Habsburg architecture. Dominating the area around Dísz Square, today it is home to several of the city’s best cultural attractions, including the History Museum, the National Archives, the National Gallery and the outstanding Széchényi Library. The palace suffered extensive damage during WWII but has been magnificently restored to its former grandeur. One of its most recognisable landmarks is the beautiful Matthias Well sculpture fountain.
Holy Trinity Square
At the highest point of Castle Hill is the famous Holy Trinity Square, with the striking Matthias Church presiding at its centre. While the building has undergone various incarnations and remodelling over the centuries, it stands on what was originally the site of a tenth-century church built by King Stephen.
Behind it, Fisherman’s Bastion is renowned as one of the most romantic places in the city. Built in the style of a medieval castle (although it only dates back to the twentieth century), it overlooks the Danube and offers spectacular views of the city. For a truly memorable experience, take your time over a leisurely lunch at the beautiful old world Fisherman’s Bastion Restaurant. After you’ve eaten, drink in the views from the Margaréta Terrace.
The Former Jewish Quarter
The city’s Jewish population settled on this part of the hill following an invitation from King Béla IV, in order to compensate them for their heavy losses to the Mongols. In 1686, during the Battle of Buda, the Jewish Quarter was decimated by the Habsburgs – once again almost wiping out their entire population. Today there are few signs of that former conflict, and it’s a wonderful place to stroll around while taking in the gorgeous Baroque buildings, quaint streets and Lutheran church. Two of the main attractions can be found on Táncsics Mihály Street: Beethoven’s former house and a medieval house of worship.
Tower of Kapistrán Square
The solitary Gothic spire of the Church of Mary Magdalene stands as a reminder of the power of prayer during the Ottoman occupation. It was the only church where Christian services (both Catholic and Protestant) were allowed at the time, only to be irreparably damaged during WWII. Today just the tower remains as a stalwart survivor of time and war, but it’s a powerful symbol nonetheless for the people of the city – and an impressive landmark for visitors.
Although the original medieval gate was devastated during the Battle of Buda, the 1930s reconstruction provides a picturesque monument and frames the city through its elegant arch. Situated at the northern end of Castle Hill, Vienna Gate is the main attraction. However, it’s also worth taking a leisurely wander around the surrounding area to discover a host of relics from Ottoman occupation, the most notable of which is the Anjou Bastion.
While Budapest is a history lover’s dream destination (as you can see!), for those travelling with extended family, or those who are simply young at heart, it’s also jam-packed with alternative attractions.
How to Get to Budapest
Planning a short and sweet escape to Budapest is easy, and the city is just a two hour and 15 minute flight from the UK. With the major carriers offering more than 100 direct flights a week from London to Budapest Airport (BUD) it’s not hard to find one to suit your needs.
When you land, the easiest way of getting straight from the airport to the door of your accommodation without delay is on a pre-booked airport transfer with Shuttle Direct. Within 20 minutes your driver will have you and your luggage wherever you need to be in the city.
Where to Stay
Hotel Clark Budapest: Set in an unbeatable location close to a host of major attractions (including the Castle District), Hotel Clark Budapest is a stunning, contemporary and wraps you up in a welcoming embrace. With superb onsite facilities including a sauna, restaurant and rooftop bar, the beautiful rooms provide an ambience of relaxed luxury. Soak up the city views from the balcony, stroll to Buda Castle or simply take advantage of the elegance that surrounds Hotel Clark Budapest.
About Shuttle Direct
If you need a ride from the airport at Budapest to your accommodation, look no further than Shuttle Direct. As one of the most trusted providers of transfers throughout Europe and North Africa, we have a convenient and affordable range of services. Make a quick and easy online booking, and one of our friendly drivers will be waiting to take you wherever you need to go.