By Noura Khan
Special to The Times Kuwait

For two weeks in spring of this year, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, will be celebrating a birthday bash like no other. The annual ‘Budapesti Tavaszi Fesztivál’ or the Budapest Spring Festival, will this year celebrate the storied city’s 150th anniversary, with multiple cultural events and experiences across genres and arts, held at various venues across the city from 20 April to 2 May.

To be a part of this colorful celebration in a colorful city, visit the Hungarian capital this spring. With Kuwait Airways now flying direct to Budapest, traveling from Kuwait to Hungary has become that much easier. Often called ‘Little Paris in the middle of Europe’ and the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, this beautiful city with its old heritage buildings and charming streets is still very much young at heart, and offers visitors the vitality of modern cities while retaining the allure of an old town.

The best time to travel to Hungary is during the months in spring from April to May, or in the autumn from September to October, when the country enjoys a mild climate with much less tourist arrivals than during the summer or winter months, allowing you to explore the country and its myriad attractions at a leisurely pace

My first visit to Hungary was in winter, when the beauty of wintry Budapest heightened the Christmas atmosphere and made it very special for me. The cold winter weather did not pose a problem for me, and on the contrary, I found that the capital city is wonderful even in winter.

There are many beautiful places to visit in Budapest, just make sure that your stay is in a strategic location that makes it easy for you to move around to all the tourist places. I chose to stay in the Kempinski Hotel Budapest and my room had a direct view of the famous Budapest Wheel

As I love photography, one of the most beautiful places I loved was ‘Fisherman’s Bastion’. Visiting this place is a must on a trip to the city. The construction of this neo-Roman monument ended in 1902 and the fishermen who protected the neighborhood were honored. The seven turrets of the bastion represent the seven Hungarian tribes who founded present day Hungary in 895.

To take some of the most beautiful pictures in Budapest, you need to visit the bastion which provides the best panoramic views of the city from its turrets and balconies.

The Budapest Parliament is also another iconic building to visit. Located on the eastern bank of the Danube River, the Parliament is amazingly large and is among the largest buildings in Europe. Designed in neo-Gothic style and opened in 1902 the largely symmetrical building is truly imposing, with large ornamental stairs leading up from an enormous sixteen-sided central hall and beautiful frescoes adorning the ceiling of its vast dome.

Adjoining the central hall are two huge chambers, the Lower House and the Upper House, with the Lower House currently serving as the country’s National Assembly, while the Upper House is used for ceremonies and conferences. The Holy Crown of Hungary, which is displayed in the central hall, is also known as the Crown of Saint-Etienne in French (Crown of Saint Stephen in English), was the coronation crown used by Hungarian kings since the 12th century. The Parliament is most picturesque at night as the building lights up in a beautiful golden color that is reflected on the Danube River flowing by.

Other amazing places in Budapest include the Buda Castle that includes many important medieval monuments and museums. The Buda Castle was built to protect the city from attacks by the Tatars and Mongols. Although most of the castle has been restored today, it was severely damaged during World War II.
The castle is beautifully lit at night, and the patios are kept open all day. The castle has emerged as one of the best tourist places in Budapest

There are other unusual places to visit if you love photography, such as the Museum of Sweets and Selfies, which is the first museum of sweets and selfies in Europe. Spread across two levels and 11 differently themed rooms, the 400 square meter venue provides you with an opportunity to click unique photos of yourself or each other, against a backdrop or installation that is only limited by your imagination. Due to its great success, they have already opened a second place, where people again never run out of ideas.

Other experiences that you must seek out on your visit to Hungary include the thermal baths experience. Hungary has over 300 thermal springs, some of which can reach temperatures of nearly 80 degrees Celsius and many tourists visit Hungary for the purpose of medical tourism to take advantage of the mineral baths fed by the hot springs. Every day tourists and locals take advantage of visiting these thermal springs to relax, with some of the larger and more popular ones being at Rudas, Gellért and Széchenyi, so do not forget to pack your bathing suit and towel.

There are many Hungarian dishes that must also be tried on a visit, the most famous of which is the langouste, a delicious flatbread, which is undoubtedly the favorite food of most if not all Hungarians. Its origins are believed to be from the Turkish influence, while others believe that it comes from the ancient Romans. It is usually eaten with garlic sauce, cheese, truffle (sour cream), or even sausage.

Hungary is also famous for its health resorts of different styles, as it includes, for example, 1,500 health resorts designed with Turkish, Greek and Roman architecture. So you must allocate part of your daily program to visit these resorts
In addition, Hungary is distinguished by the variety of cultural events it hosts, with the annual ‘Spring Festival’ being the main one, with artists and musicians from around the world participating in this festival.

Shopping in Hungary is especially amazing. I noticed that prices in Hungary are cheaper than in many other countries, and even the average daily spending was lower than in neighboring countries. Vàci Street, one of the main streets in Budapest, is a wonderful market that extends over a vast area. The street encompasses several markets, shops, and restaurants that serve delicious local cuisine, as well as many popular markets from where you can buy what you need at the best possible price.

However, Hungary is not just Budapest, there are many other beautiful cities in Hungary, but since time did not permit, my visit was limited to the capital. I intend to repeat the visit again some day to enjoy the rest of the cities of Hungary, and with Kuwait Airways now operating direct flights, the prospect of visiting Hungary again has been made all the more easier.

Noura Khan, a travel influencer and content creator, is a Kuwaiti national, holds a degree in law from Kuwait University and has worked as a journalist prior to taking up a position in the government. In 2018 she started blogging on travel and has visited more than 57 countries since. She has more than 54K followers and her blog post @nourajtraveller is well appreciated for content and travel information. Noura writes exclusively for The Times Kuwait on her travel visits.


Read Today's News TODAY... on our Telegram Channel click here to join and receive all the latest updates