What do you get when you add Buda + Pest?

Bridge Between Buda and Pest

You get one of the coolest cities in the world, that’s what.  One of my greatest regrets in my history as a traveler is that I passed it right by back in 2004, as it was just starting to hop.  But I didn’t know that at the time, and it didn’t look so ‘hopping’ out by the bus station.  If I’d had my hostel guide, I would’ve known.  That’s okay.  I’ll be back.

BUDAPEST is the capital and largest city of Hungary and is the union of Buda and Pest on opposite sides of the Danube.  Always something of an ethnic, uh… goulash, Hungary suffered heavily during WWII with its large Jewish population.  Communism wasn’t much better, but at least Budapest was on the front lines of resistance.  The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 even brought the big bear in growling.  And when the writing was on the wall, even before the Berlin Wall came down, Hungary was right there, opening the border to Austria to let East Germans push their Ladas toward West Germany.

These are happier days and Budapest just may have the most hostels of any city in the world.   That’s good for you, of course, since quantity usually implies quality in a free competitive market.  Tourist destinations include the Chain Bridge that connects Buda with Pest across the Danube River; Buda Castle that overlooks the city from atop Buda Hill; the Parliament   Building; St. Stephen’s Basilica; Heroes’ Square; and Central Market Hall.  Then there’s Pest, with its Belváros (InnerTown), containing the Town Hall (Fővárosi Tanács), the Inner Town Parish Church (Belvárosi plébániatemplom) and the Hungarian National Museum, located just outside the Belváros, the Neo-Renaissance State Opera House, the National Theatre, and the Museum of fine Arts.

Hostel Relax  is one of our partner hostels there, only a half hour from downtown and ten minutes from the airport by public transportation.  Rates are only ten bucks a bed, and they’ll hold your bags for you if you’ve got a late flight.  Full details, specs, and contact info are available in our book “Backpackers & Flashpackers in Eastern Europe.” They will also be featured in our upcoming book on South Europe.  Check it out.

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