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With its picturesque landmarks - a legacy of the grand Austro-Hungarian Empire - and lively rooftop bars, Hungary's handsome capital is a great experience for any visitors but is ideal for newlyweds, a diverse blend of attractions, landmarks, and restaurants/cafés from casual to top-notch fine dining and historic to cutting edge. Even more historic are its thermal baths, some dating back to the Middle Ages - which provide soothing soaks and luxurious couples' treatments. Various stylish Budapest hotels offer deluxe packages to provide cozy luxury in the heart of town during your stay, and for a lovely out-of-town getaway, take a Champagne cruise on the Danube River to the charming, cobblestone artists' town Szentendre. And during your stay here, make sure not to miss the following:
Built up in Buda Castle in the 19th century and open daily year round, this neo-Romanesque landmark is a must-visit just because of its views and architecture over the city. It's especially beloved by couples as a romantic spot to get married or renew their vows (in its Mathias Church, once reserved for royalty and aristocracy) or just take spectacular photos à deux.
The Danube Promenade
The reknowned river flows through Budapest from north to south, splitting the city into Buda and Pest, and though there are numerous spots you can enjoy views of the city, this decade-old promenade which runs along the Pest river bank between the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and Elisabeth Bridge is one of the best vantage points to take in the city's eye-catching architecture. Plus along here you'll find a grouping of 60 pairs of shoes sculpted in steel to honour Jews shot here by the Nazis, a moving and touching reminder of the Nazi violence suffered by Hungary in World War II. And all along here there are plenty of types of cruises to choose from – day or night; individual or group; ordinary sightseeing or romantic; offering lunch or dinner. There are also a number of restaurants and bars lining the river bank for a drink or bite.
Geothermal-spring-fed baths are found all over Europe, but the maze that is the Széchenyi Gyógyfürdő is the continent's largest, built in Belle Époque style in 1913. Two hot springs provide water 18° to 38° Celsius (64-100° Fahrenheit), piped into 21 indoor and outdoor pools, as well saunas, steam cabins, and massage therapies aside from its 18 outdoor and indoor geothermal pools (including massaging water jets and whirlpools), and saunaus, steamrooms, and massage therapies are also on offer (though slippers and bathrobes aren't provided, and guests are charged for towels. Admission prices (starting at 5,900 forints - nearly 17 euros or just over 18 USD) are well worth it for the atmosphere, facilities, and services. Other famous Budapest baths include the also Belle-Époque Gellért and 16th-century Ottoman-Turkish-era Rudás.
Another thermal spa complex (and now also including a wave pool and waterslides), the 17-acre Palatinus Open-Air Bath is the centrepiece for one of Budapest's main recreation centres, an island in the Danube 2.5 kilometres long and 500 metres wide. Palatinus includes various swimming, medicinal, and children's pools able to accommodate up to 20,000 bathers at a time. In addition, Margaret Island is covered with carefully tended parks and gardens; a variety of recreational facilities; a pair of hotels (one Belle Époque and the other a modern spa hotel), and historic structures including the ruins of a medieval convent once home to St. Margaret for whom the island is named. It all looks especially beautiful in April and May, but early autumn is also a treat, when its foliage turns tp a blend of colours from orange and yellow to brownish-red.
Officially known as the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, this Baroque beauty is a bit off the beaten path, lying as it does in the south of Pest away from the main shopping streets. Built from 1725 to 1742, the façade includes a triangular tympanum with symbols of St. Anthony and St. Paul in addition that of the monastic Pauline Order, Hungary's only native Roman Catholic order. In the marble-covered interior, a single nave is lined with side chapels, and highlights include Baroque frescoes on the barrel-vaulted ceilings portraying scenes from the life of Mary; the choir-stalls; and the sculptures of St. Anthony and St. Paul on the high altar.
Circling back to Fisherman's Bastion on Castle Hill, the fine-dining restaurant up here - a culinary landmark since opening in 2010 - will guarantee a romantic time with your partner with a panoramic view of the Danube and the Hungarian parliament from its outdoor terrace (indoor dining is an option for cold or inclement weather). White tablecloths and live violin music are part of the ambiance, while the elegant cuisine is updated Hungarian, including a number of vegetarian option. It's always better to get a table booked by the window at one of the towers or a view; you can make reservations online as well.
Hungary’s National Day
If you can possibly be here on August 20, the nation commemorates its existence as a nation state, on the date when its first Christian ruler, St. István (Stephen) I, died in 1038. The occasion is marked with various public celebrations including parades; concerts; performances of folk music and dancing; street markets (great for sampling Madyar cuisine); and a huge and magnificent fireworks display over the Danube (consider booking a river cruise in order to get the most spectacular view in town).
More info: BudapestInfo.hu.