Country name: Hungary or Republic of Hungary. Local form:
Magyarorszag or Magyar Koztarsasag
Location: Central Europe, northwest of Romania
Ethnic groups: Hungarian, Roma
Religions: Roman Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran, Greek Catholic
About Budapest: Budapest is the capital city of Hungary. The city is located in the central northern part of the country and it is home to a population of 1.7 million. The city is crossed by the River Danube, with
Buda on the right bank and Pest on the left. Budapest boasts a rich history and the area was first settled by the Celts.
However the first recorded history occurred later in 84AD when Romans settled in the area. Around 900BC, the settlement was occupied by the Central Asian Magyars - linguistic and cultural ancestors of today’s Hungarians. Pest was invaded by the Mongols in 1241, while the Austrian Habsburg rulers were declared Kings of Hungary in 1526. The Ottoman Empire conquered the city in 1541, but Budapest was recaptured by the Habsburg rulers in 1686. During World War II, between 20% and 40% of the city’s Jewish population were killed under Nazi occupation.
Despite Budapest’s turbulent history, the city is a bustling and welcoming place with plenty to offer visitors. Some attractions within Buda, include Margaret Island – which is a large, beautiful park. The area of Castle Hill offers numerous fascinating museums and galleries, as well as delightful walks around the winding, picturesque streets. The caves found within the hills of Buda are another popular attraction. The two major caves, Pálvölgy and Szemlõ Hill are particular favourites of intrepid travellers. Pest features the impressive Andrássy út Boulevard, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some attractions along the boulevard include the stunning State Opera House and the beautiful City Park. The city is also
famed for its numerous spas, and popular bathing spots include the Széchényi and the Gellért Baths. Budapest is a vibrant, modern city with a lively café culture. There are a huge number of cafes where visitors can relax, people-watch and soak up
the unique and charming athmosphere of the city.
Images: Left to right. Veszprem, by the Lake Balaton, Budapest
Hungary - Lake Balaton, Visegrad, and Szentendre
Lake Balaton is located in the wine-growing region of Hungary. It just so happens the Lake is also populated with a number of thermal mineral springs. Hmm…wine and hot tubs! On top of this, the lake is relatively shallow resulting in water tempera - tures
in the seventies in the summer. All and all, it is nearly impossible to get stressed out at Lake Balaton.
Lake Balaton is located about an hour an half to the west of Budapest by minivan. While minivan travel can be aggravating, this
trip is definitely worth it. There are plenty of hotels and resorts in the area, although summer weekends can get packed.
Visegrad is a tower castle that has seen better days. In its heyday, Visegrad was a major outpost for the Roman Empire. The history of Visegrad is interesting, but you will want to visit for a different reason. Visegrad is a great place to parasail. Located approximately 1,000 feet above a river, the terrain and air currents are ideal if you’re interested in flying like a bird. In fact, you
can literally float for hours.
Szentendre is a little town located about 20 minutes north of Budapest. The town has an old feel with cobblestone streets and outdoor cafes. Perhaps the biggest reason to go, however, is the vibe of the town. Szentendre is the artist center of Hungary.
Walk down the streets and you will start seeing art you recognize from shops in Budapest. There are literally hundreds of
galleries and artist sketching in the sun. If art is your thing, Szentendre is worth a visit.
Budapest is definitely the must see location of Hungary, but Lake Balaton, Visegrad and Szentendre are definitely worth a look.
Margaret Island - Paradise in Budapest
The Danube River runs through the center of Budapest in Hungary. In the middle of the city chaos lays an oasis of tranquility, Margaret Island.
Margaret Island is one of the unique elements of Budapest. The island is located in the middle of the Danube River in central Budapest and is a little more than 1 mile long and 500 yards wide. With the exception of a hotel at the south end, the island
is free of cars and buildings.
Historically, Margaret Island served as a private park for Hungarian royalty and you can see why. The island consists mostly
of paths flanked by old growth trees, rose gardens and tailored lawn areas. Peacocks walk freely around the island and wild
ducks nest throughout the island. At the south end of the island, you can visit hot thermal springs, walk on paths through peace-ful ponds or relax in front of tiered water cascades. During part of the year, plays are undertaken at an outdoor theatre.
The island is named after Princess Margaret, the daughter of King Bela IV. If the beauty of the island is a reflection of the
Princess, she must have been one impressive woman.
These days, the island is open to the public and serves as a recreation area. During the weekdays, workers in Budapest pour
out of the city and onto the island for lunch breaks. Only in Budapest can you be in the middle of an active city, walk 200 feet across a bridge and be in a peaceful, forested area.
Traveling can be hectic and stressful. If you’re feeling this way in Budapest, a visit to Margaret Island should provide a cure.