Since the collapse of communism in 1989, the Hungarian capital has become a popular European destination among all age groups, from young backpackers looking for an architecturally eclectic city with a vibrant nightlife to pensioners who enjoy Budapest's natural thermal baths, dating back to the Turkish occupation of the 16th century. But more than anything Budapest is a great destination for a romantic holiday, as a growing number of honeymooners from all over the world are finding out.
Budapest, the capital city of the East European country of Hungary is a vibrant metropolis with innumerable historical and cultural attractions. The most-visited historic site here is the Castle District which includes popular attractions such as the Royal Palace and the Matthias Church. The Castle District abounds in historical monuments, lovely old houses but you and your partner can explore romantic walkways, intimate cafes and some great restaurants. Although most of the buildings here are from seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, the earliest history of the Castle district dates back to medieval times. A far more authentic medieval attraction is the Jewish synagogue of Kozépkori Zsidó Imaház a two-room Sephardic synagogue from 1364 that was discovered in the 1960s during general excavation work in the Castle District. The synagogue probably goes back to the time when the first Jewish families in Budapest arrived in the mid-13th century and lived in the precincts of Buda Castle.
Composed of two banks on either side of the River Danube, Budapest is also rich in scenic beauty. One of the most romantic ways to view the city is through a boat ride on the River Danube that will infuse your surrounding with the ambience of love. If you have time on your cruise, alight on Margaret Island, located between Buda and Pest. It has a jogging track, petting zoo, parkland, gardens, and hotels where you can take the waters or drink the coffee. Or pack a picnic lunch, dine among the greenery, then sit on the steps to the Danube and watch the water flowfor day excursions you can head for the Citadella Park which has exquisite views in every season or stroll hand in hand through the garden of Szent Park which boasts of huge fountains and a variety of rose bushes. Other outdoor locations which are sure to animate the romantic in you are Karolyi kert where a small trek leads to pristine views as well as Fuveszkert is sure to impress you and your partner with amazing flora possibilities.
Nightlife in Budapest is great fun and best of all exceedingly varied to suit pockets of all sizes and tastes in all kinds of music and spirits. Most of the happening nightspots are located on the Pest side of the capital city. The Piaf Pub is where you and your partner can groove till the wee hours of the morning. The Moulin Rouge with its exotic interiors and a whole range of dance and musical performances is another place where the hip and trendy hang out. The Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace is the place to go to enjoy its rich blue interiors as well as a large selection of the finest spirits. For an even posher address, you can head to the White Heaven for its elegant and cool all-white décor as well as for its excellent stock of the finest wines. On the other hand, Club Dokk located near the erstwhile shipyard on the Buda side of the city, is the destination for all those who like to party hard and party late. On the other hand if your tastes run towards the classical, head for Budapest’s well-preserved State Opera House - the second oldest in Europe, after Milan’s La Scala – which is a lifesize gilded jewel box that romantics will appreciate. If theatre is more to your taste, there are some three dozen venues that offer live dramatic attractions. However for a leisurely romantic walk with your beloved, there is nothing to beat Andrassy Street, which has been called the Champs Elysees of Budapest. This is a long, wide boulevard filled with coffee shops, theaters, bars and restaurants, hotels and the pedestrian Franz Liszt Square.
One of the best known romantic attractions in Hungary are its spas. Its capital Budapest has a series of thermal baths and spas that are fed by the natural hot springs right in the heart of the city. No wonder then that spa treatments of Budapest figure high on the list of honeymooners in Hungary. There are more than a hundred springs and boreholes which supply the city’s spas and baths ever day with millions of gallons of water in temperatures ranging between 70 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The oldest of the thermal spas in Budapest go back to the Roman times when they colonized the area just west of River Danube and built enormous spas there. The newer baths belong to the Turkish period when the spas served both recreational and medicinal purposes. Two of the best preserved baths from the Turkish period are the Kiraly thermal baths and the Rudas Medicinal baths where you can soak in the splendors of history; otherwise you can head for the public spas like Gellért on the Buda side, which is affiliated with an Old World hotel and has a wave pool or the vast Széchenyi complex, which maintains 9 pools of different temperatures and is located in the City Park on the Pest side. If however you are game to moving out of Budapest, book yourselves on a tour to Balatonfured or Heviz, the oldest spa resort in the country. This is located by the Lake Balaton, one of the largest lakes in Europe, and features as a must-see in Hungary, as it is known as the "Hungarian Sea." Nearby is also the Tihany Peninsula, the first nature reserve of Hungary. When visiting this part of the country, don’t forget to drop in at the world-famous porcelain factory in Herend. Alternately you can head for Hajdúszoboszló which is home to one of the largest spa-complexes in Europe including a medical-spa, an outdoor strand, a huge aqua park and the Aqua-Palace with experience pools.
Raise a Toast
When exploring the romantic attractions of this country, don’t forget to raise a toast to your love with the best of Hungarian wine. Hungary has now more than twenty wine districts and vintages range from dry to late-harvest sweet. The village of Tokaj in northwestern Hungary, a major attraction for oenophiles, is world-renowned for its wines. Louis XIV dubbed it, “the wine of kings, the king of wines.” You won’t be disappointed with either the dry Tokaji Furmint Mandola’s 2006 Oremus or the after-dinner Tokaji Late Harvest 2007 Demeter Zoltán. If you and your spouse are true wine lovers, plan your visit for September, to coincide with the annual Wine Festival held in the Castle District high above the city.
Where to stay and how to get around
With the increase in tourism after the fall of the Iron Curtain, a whole range of lodging options have come up in Hungary. As the capital city of the country Budapest offer the best in luxurious honeymoon getaways like the aptly -named Hotel Romantik, Gresham Palace Hotel operated by the Four Seasons chain, the Villa Korda, named after one of the most famous celebrity couples in Hungary or the Danubius Grand Hotel Margitsziget which is located on Budapest's historic Margaret Island. Other than these there is a whole range of budget hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts and even apartments for hire. When in the capital city, be sure to get the Budapest card that allows you free use of public transport like buses, subways, trams for 72 hours as well as use of the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus to take in multiple city attractions at your own pace. It also provides discounts on Segway tours, Danube cruises, and admissions to more than hundred places and other travel goodies.