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Budapest, Hungary

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One day here is a crime. Two a shame, three a pity and four a minimum. Budapest is quite possibly my favorite city that I’ve ever visited. It has been billed as one of the greatest places in the world and certainly lives up to the hype. This is a treasure on the Danube.

Buda and Pest were actually two separate cities until the 1800s when the first permanent bridge was erected, connecting them. Buda, which lies to the west, is hilly and feels ancient. Pest, on the east bank, is flat, more modern and busier. The two souls inhabiting the same body make the place feel at the same time young and old, sleepy and vibrant.

If you have a couple of hours to spend on a stopover or something, I’d highly recommend you cross over to Buda, climb up to the statue of Szent Gellért then keep going to the Citadella and take in the view. Don’t worry about making it back for your train because you’ll decide not to go wherever you were headed.

The baths are incredible, nightlife is fantastic, the cafes are wonderful, architecture is breathtaking, history is expansive, public transit is  efficient. The city has a lot of everything.

Take, for example, the Vörösmarty tér. On the north is St. Stephen’s church, built over approximately sixty years during the 1800s. Construction was delayed because it collapsed and was rebuilt. The church houses the mummified hand of the sainted namesake and first king of Hungary who lived around 1000AD. Walk a bit south and you can have a delicious coffee and torte at the famous Gerbaud cafe. With over 150 years of serving such delights, they’ve had ample time to get it right. Then continue down the Vici utca for the city’s main shopping district, ending at the Central Market where you can get fresh and dried food as well as some souvenirs of your stay.

And that says nothing about the open air parks, the thermal baths and saunas, the ruins, the spectacular city views, etc. Budapest is one of the fantastic places in the world.