Munich is the capital city of Bavaria in Germany. The city oozes Bavarian charm mixed with a cosmopolitan feel. Munich is famous internationally for its Oktoberfest festival celebrating beer. The festival lasts from late September to early October and is a rollicking good time for beer lovers. Visitors should check out the world’s most celebrated beer hall the Hofbräuhaus, where you can get beer and pretzels year round. To get a real feel for the city, you can take a bike tour of Munich that will take you to all the top spots with scenic rides through the city’s parks in between. One of Munich’s parks is the enormous Englischer Garten, where you will find many locals bathing in the sun and can see a tea ceremony at the Japanisches Teehaus. More modern attractions in Munich are the BMW-Welt Museum, which has an indoor tornado in the lobby, and Olympiapark next door that was built for the 1972 Olympic Summer Games. No tour of Munich would be complete without a visit to the Neues Rathaus on the Marienplatz. The most famous part of the Gothic building is the Glockenspiel, an elaborate clock that performs two stories from Munich folklore. Munich boasts three different palaces in and around it, including the Nymphenburg Palace with its Baroque architecture, the three part Schleissheim Palace with its magnificent gardens, and the largest one, the Munich Residenz with 130 rooms.
Although there are a host of attractions in Munich, there are even more sights to see around Munich that you can reach by car. Dachau is just north-west of Munich and is a popular destination for daytrips from the city. Visitors can see the somber memorial site to the Dachau Concentration Camp from World War II as well as the historic town center, which has an 18th century castle. The oldest national park in German is the Bavarian Forest with its unspoiled natural beauty. An absolute must see for any trip to Bavaria is Neuschwanstein Castle. Built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, it is the quintessential fairy tale castle. The castle is surrounded by the stunning views of the foothills of the Alps and the interiors are filled with fantastical decorations. Across the valley is the Hohenschwangau Castle, which was Ludwig II’s childhood home. Visitors can also swim in the Alpsee near the two castles, surrounded by the reflection of the Alps.
Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, holds just as much history and culture as Munich. The entire city has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Budapest Royal Palace, also known as the Buda Castle, is a Gothic castle on the banks of the Danube River. It was first built in 1265 and has been destroyed and rebuilt at least six times since. Today, the castle holds the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Art Gallery, and the national library of Hungary. Budapest has plentiful hot springs. The Széchenyi Baths, built in 1913, are the largest medicinal baths in Europe with both outdoor and indoor pools and gets its water from thermal springs. The baths are in the City Park near the center of Budapest. The City Park has many other sites that should be visited on a tour of Budapest. The main entrance to the park called Heroes’ Square has several of Hungary’s iconic monuments, such as the Millennium Monument and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There are also two art museums on either side. The City Park has one of the largest and oldest ice rinks in Europe in the winter months. The park also contains the Vajdahunyad castle, which has a unique mix of architectural styles. Visitors can sample some of Hungary’s wonderful cuisine at the famous Gundel Restaurant in the park. A fun way to take a tour of Budapest is by boat, since many companies offer cruise tours along the Danube River by day or night.
Outside of Budapest, the country of Hungary has many attractions to see. Just north of Budapest, there is the Danube River Bend, which is a horseshoe curve in the river with several charming towns along its banks. The town of Vác has a large collection of mummies found in a crypt below the town. The town of Esztergom has Hungary’s first cathedral the Saint Adalbert Church. The nearby city Aquincum has excellent Roman ruins from the 2nd century.
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