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The Hungarian capital Budapest is spread over both banks of the Danube. The Romans had an army camp there - Aquincum - with next to it a settlement for the citizens, later known as Óbuda. Remains of the Roman settlement are still visible, including an amphitheater. The Hungarians came to the area much later. In the fourteenth century they made Buda their capital. In 1873 a bridge was built over the Danube and Buda was merged with Óbuda and with Pest on the left bank. Since then the city is called Budapest.
Budapest has been rightfully named 'Queen of the Danube'. It's a beautiful, historic town with medieval streets, squares, historic buildings and beautiful parks. The history is palpable in the many museums. But Budapest has a lot more to offer than just history and architecture. The Hungarian capital has flourished, especially since the fall of communism. Chic shops and warehouses have been established, excellent restaurants opened their doors and it's nightlife counts numerous bars, pubs and nightclubs.
You can't get around Castle Hill, on which a castle was built in the thirteenth century to defer invasions from the Mongols. The fortress was heavily damaged several times, the last time during World War II. After that the complex was beautifully restored, but sadly not much remains of the interior. It now houses some of the most important Hungarian museums: the Historical Museum (fine collection of archaeological finds), the National Gallery (old Hungarian art) and the Ludwig Museum (modern art).
The city Buda was created around Castle Hill. This neighborhood of narrow streets and medieval houses really is an area to wander in for hours. Don't miss out on enjoying a coffee and a cake in one of the traditional coffee houses or trying a real Hungarian goulash in one of the restaurants.
As early as in Roman times the baths of Óbuda were famous. Budapest has no less than fifty pools of naturally warm spring water. There are chic, expensive bathhouses, but facilities for the "common people" too. One of the most beautiful but also most expensive bathhouses is located at the foot of the Gellért Hill. This bathhouse was built in art nouveau style and the architecture alone is worth a visit. Popular are the big Széchenyibaths in the park Városliget. Here you'll see retired men who spend the day playing a game of chess, whilst sitting in the warm water.
In the evening you should definitely take a walk along the Danube and enjoy the beautiful reflection of the city in the water. For those seeking livelier entertainment, there are plenty of clubs and discos in the city. One of those clubs - A38 - is moored near the Petõfi Bridge. This is also where the enormous and trendy outdoor cafe Zöld Pardon is. On an island in the Danube is another nightspot where young Budapest likes to go for entertainment: Dokk.
If this is all a little bit too noisy for you, then the Margaret Island is for you. On this three kilometer long island no motorized traffic is allowed, except for buses and taxis. It's a green oasis where you can have a lovely stroll around. There's often classical concerts in the summer in the outdoor theater.
Budapest has a wide range of accommodations. Around the city there's camp sites, and in the city itself you have loads of choice: from cheap inns and budget hotels (especially in Pest) to luxurious five star hotels. The most expensive hotels are concentrated around the Castle Hill. If you are staying in Budapest longer than a few days, renting an apartment can be an option.
Located ten kilometers southwest of Budapest is a beautiful sculpture park. In the Szoborpark you can find a collection of forty sculptures of communist leaders like Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin. After the fall of communism many of these sculptures have been removed from the streets, but preserved here. The souvenir shop naturally specializes in communist memorabilia.
If you are traveling with children and want a break from wandering in towns or castles, go to the Aquarena water park in Mogyoród. The waterslides combined have a length of no less than one and a half kilometers! Incidentally, it is not just a park for water fun: you can also play volleyball, football or badminton there.
There are many other interesting sites around the Hungarian capital:
Budapest can get pretty busy and in the center of Buda and Pest it's difficult finding a parking space for your rental car. A sign saying fizetö indicates that you can - for a fee - park there. A ticket is bought at a vending machine or from a parking attendant. Furthermore there are - especially in Pest - several abandoned terrains that serve as parking facilities. It is safer to park your rental car in one of the parking garages, including the Aránykéz utca, the Szervita tér and the Nyár utca. Near important subway stations and bus end terminals you can find P+R areas.
The city's airport is located sixteen kilometers southeast of Budapest. Budapest Ferihegy Airport is easily accesible by rental car. From the center of the city all you have to do is follow the Üllői út (Üllői street), one of the main arteries of the Hungarian capital. There's a separate lane for traffic to and from the airport. You can also get to the airport using the M0 ring road. The exit is clearly indicated.