Since 1873, when the cities of Buda and Pest were combined, this amazing metropolis has been the beating heart of central Europe and a destination that Royal Holiday travelers shouldn’t miss. Featuring a history that stretches back to the ancient Celts and Romans, Budapest has long served as a meeting ground of the East and the West, resulting in a unique culture as well as artifacts and treasures ranging from lavish Turkish baths to haunting Roman ruins. Royal Holiday members will find a vibrant city that has earned praise and adoration over the years; while many vacationers dream of Paris and Rome, savvy travelers know that Budapest rivals these better-known destinations.
Royal Holiday members vacationing in the city stay at the Best Western Hotel Hungaria, a handsomely appointed hotel located right in the center of Budapest, ideal for business travelers and vacationers alike. Featuring luxurious studio-style rooms complete with mini-bars and views of the city, the hotel also includes a laundry room, 24-hour room service and à la carte restaurant offerings, and in-house medical services. Just a few blocks away from the City Park and the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, it’s the perfect hotel for the Royal Holiday member interested in experiencing everything Budapest has to offer.
Found just past an idyllic bend in the Danube, the region around Budapest has been continuously settled for centuries. The oldest parts of the city, the Óbuda district, have their roots in the Roman city of Aquincum, but its name comes from two fortresses built while the region was part of Bulgaria: Buda and Pest. Occupied by Hungarians, Ottomans, Turks, and the Hapsburg Empire, Budapest was part of Austria-Hungary before World War II roiled Europe in turmoil and ended with Hungary as part of the Eastern bloc. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, however, Hungary emerged as a democracy and Budapest continued to flourish, becoming the fabulous city Royal Holiday members know and love today.
Those coming to the city for the first time would do well to enjoy a cruise along the Danube River; many recommend taking a cruise twice, once during the day and again at night, when the city’s lights glitter on the water. The Chain Bridge, an iconic monument built in the 1840s, was the first link between Buda and Pest and remains the most important. Of course, the thermal baths remain a key draw, and the enormous Széchenyi Baths and the various other, smaller baths left behind during the Turkish occupation are all interesting sightseeing diversions; more adventurous Royal Holiday members will enjoy taking a trip below the city itself to explore the Pálvölgyi cave system carved out by the thermal waters.
Naturally, while famous locations like Central Market Hall and the Fisherman’s Bastion deserve a visit, Royal Holiday travelers interested in getting off the beaten track will find endless hidden gems. Getting away from the crowds is as easy as taking the Chairlift to János Hill, a lookout point high enough to see the entire region. The Aquincum ruins includes a fascinating museum covering Budapest’s Roman history, while the Communist Statue Park does the same for the city’s years under Soviet control. Of course, the best way to escape the city’s hustle and bustle involves a trip to Margaret Island, a relaxing parkland paradise with features like the Centennial Memorial, the Music Well concert hall, and the impressive, Art Nouveau-style Water Tower.