Pack your camera and head to beautiful Budapest. This Hungarian capital city is divided by the glistening Danube River, into the districts of Buda, and Pest, to the east. The eclectic architecture proudly displays the rich and complicated history of this cultural crossroad, with strong Roman, Turkish and Viennese influences. Budapest is simultaneously antique and modern, classic and exotic. Because of the city’s incredible beauty, it has been referred to as the “Paris of the East” but we believe it stands on its own as a laudable vacation destination. A rental car in Budapest is a great way to tour the sites within the city and the charming surrounding countryside. Here are our five favorite activities to include in your trip to the “Pearl of the Danube.”
It was the allure of the geothermal hot springs that first inspired the Romans to place a regional capital at this specific spot along the river banks. Later, the Turkish influenced baths built in the 16th and 17th centuries were utilized for both recreation and medicinal purposes. Today, Hungarian baths may also accompany a steam and a vigorous therapeutic massage. There are an array of beautiful hot spring spas, each with unique architectural features and available services, so you may want to budget the time to visit more than one!
The 1909 Széchenyi Spa is the largest in Europe, and includes both indoor and outdoor pools of varying temperatures. The Rudas Bath of the 16th century lends an authentic Turkish bath experience beneath the dome of colored glass. Or you can pamper yourself in one of the more state of the art, modern spas, such as the Royal Spa in the Corinthia Grand Hotel. Sometimes, baths will host late night discos, drawing, quite literally, a “steamy nightlife.” Unlike the hot spring spas found in many locales in Western Europe, the modest culture of Budapest insists that their baths are swimsuit mandatory!
Hungary is famous for lush vineyards and distilleries that produce unique fruit spirits. In a mellow neighborhood wine bar off the beaten path, you can indulge in vintages straight from the tap for a mere pittance. Budapest offers a wide range of nightlife options, from cozy piano bars to hip underground dance clubs. Dream Island has nearly a dozen bars, so it’s a hub for local revelers looking to make a night out of roaming from one establishment to the next. If you plan to hit the nightlife scene in celebration, be aware that clinking glasses to say “cheers” is a Hungarian faux pas.
Budapest is blessed to also be the site of a large thermal cavern system. The most accessible is the Szemlőhegyi cave, which is well lit and handicap accessible. Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system provides a more challenging spelunking experience, as long as you’re not very claustrophobic. The Labyrinth of Buda Castle is a complex and puzzling system of caves and cellars near the stately Buda castle. In the daytime it is well-lit. In the night time, you can explore it with eerie torchlight. Touring the cavernous geographical features of Budapest in a rental car is easy once you’ve familiarized yourself with helpful tips for driving in Hungary.
Opera and Theater
The Theater and Arts scene is abundant and vibrant in Budapest. World class opera and ballet performances are regularly held in the elegant Hungarian State Opera House. The Palace of Arts houses gorgeous examples of modern art and provides a venue for classical, jazz and world music. The Hungarian versions of popular Broadway musicals such as The Producers or Phantom of the Opera can be viewed at Theatre Madach. With a rental car in Budapest, you’ll be able to view masterful examples of Hungarian and international performance art.
Catch the views of Budapest when you tour the city’s rolling hills and diverse architecture. From the ornate Fisherman’s Bastion, near the gothic Matthias Church, you can see a sweeping river vista. Climbing the spiral water tower staircase on Margaret Island provides you with panoramic city views. When you roam out of the city in your rental car, you are rewarded with meandering roads through sunflower fields and quaint villages. Take the chance to dip into the cool Lake Balaton or the hot mineral waters of Lake Hévíz. Back in the city, you can end your day of sightseeing by sipping wine with a loved one on a romantic Danube River sunset cruise while you gaze at the glittering city lights on the riverbanks.
Hungary is a bountiful destination with a vibrant culture and enough intriguing sites to fill several trips. You can maximize your visit to the capital city of Budapest and the sweet nearby villages with a rental car through Auto Europe. We provide vehicle rentals and at the guaranteed lowest rates in over 8,000 locations around the world. Take the guesswork our of your international car rental in Budapest by reading our car rental FAQ page and booking online, or call our travel experts at 1-888-223-5555.