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Just as Buda and Pest, the two sides of Hungary's vibrant capital, are split by the Danube, the seasons split Budapest into two very different cities. It's the city's baths (a legacy of the Romans and the Turks) that best demonstrate the difference. When the weather's good, the outdoor baths like the ones at City Park are full of groups of locals of all ages, tanned and apparently cured of all ills by the medicinal water that bubbles from underground springs. The bars and cafés are just as busy, with outdoor seating at a premium and copious local beers being downed. In winter, the thermal bath activity goes indoors and while the ...

Just as Buda and Pest, the two sides of Hungary's vibrant capital, are split by the Danube, the seasons split Budapest into two very different cities. It's the city's baths (a legacy of the Romans and the Turks) that best demonstrate the difference. When the weather's good, the outdoor baths like the ones at City Park are full of groups of locals of all ages, tanned and apparently cured of all ills by the medicinal water that bubbles from underground springs. The bars and cafés are just as busy, with outdoor seating at a premium and copious local beers being downed. In winter, the thermal bath activity goes indoors and while the frigid streets seem deserted, behind closed doors the bars and bistros are filled with talk of politics and art, and hands clasping warming wines.

Buda remains somewhat posh, while Pest (beyond the sober Parliament) is the funkier side of the city. Together they boast world-class museums and art galleries, great shopping and markets, charming old quarters, and forested parks. And they are both drop-dead gorgeous with their elegant architecture, beautiful bridges, pretty spires, and grand boulevards, and of course, the great Danube separating the two. It's their stunning looks and the duality of the city that easily makes Budapest one of Europe's most engaging capitals.

Lara Dunston
About the Expert

Lara Dunston and Terry Carter have traveled to over 60 countries and written more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Rough Guides, Footprint, and others on destinations in the Middle East, Europe, and South America.

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Lara Dunston for Triporati

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Now Happening in Budapest

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Budapest is the capital of Hungary. Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with a unification in 1873 of west-bank Buda and Óbuda with east-bank Pest.
  • Language: Hungarian
  • Currency: Forint
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer, fall