From Hungary's capital city of Budapest-appropriately called "the city of lights"-to its many quaint villages and fantastic scenery, this East European country evokes a strong sense of history and tradition at every turn. While Budapest is justifiably compared to cities such as Prague and even Paris, and is by far the country's biggest tourist draw, not all the best places to visit and things to do in Hungary are in the capital.
Cities and towns of all sizes in Hungary have preserved their classic old historical attractions, many of which exhibit influences from various cultures, including Turkish invaders and Italian Renaissance designers. And Hungary's countryside includes some of the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere in europe. In fact, wherever you are in Hungary, you're never far from spectacular mountains and lakes, beautiful river scenes (the Danube runs right through the country), and lush valleys, all providing great opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities.
To help you make the most of your explorations in this remarkable country, be sure to refer often to our list of the top-rated attractions and things to do in Hungary.
When you first set eyes on spectacular Buda Castle (Budavári Palota) in Budapest, you'll appreciate why so many people consider the city the "Paris of the East." This spectacular historic landmark-now a UNESCO World Heritage Site-ranks right up there with Versailles in terms of its majestic proportions and wonderful design.
Built on the site of a palace destroyed during the Siege of 1686, this newer structure was rebuilt in the 18th century for the Habsburg monarchy and includes more than 200 rooms. Its symmetrical layout focuses on the lovely 61-meter-high central dome facing the Danube, where you can get stunning views of the castle and the other buildings on castle hill
Parts of the original medieval building have been reconstructed, including theBuzogány Tower and the impressive 15th-century South Tower.
The beautiful Danube River flows through Hungary from north to south, and as it passes through Budapest, it splits the city in two. One of the best sunset views of the river and of both Buda and Pest is from the Freedom Bridge, a favorite spot for locals.
Other great places from which to view this majestic river are at the Danube Bend, one of the country's most popular recreational and excursion spots. This is where the river winds its way through the heavily wooded Visegrád Mountainsbefore turning sharply south (the river's "knee") towards Budapest. The area is popular with hikers and nature lovers and is included in the many excellent river cruises that travel the Danube from as far as neighboring Austria.
The Danube Cycle Path is a popular way for active travelers to see the river as it winds through the hills between Budapest and Vienna. Along with constantly-changing river scenery, you'll pass elegant Esztergom, the Roman fort of Kelemantia, and traditional Hungarian villages like Szigetmonostor. If you prefer a more relaxing way to experience the river