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Budapest, the City where heroes always reign - 48 hours is simply not enough and you have to know “Sissy”

Szechenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest at night

Summer is here and I have arrived in Budapest. It is probably safe to describe Budapest as the city where heroes reign. There is so much to see and learn in this city that I am planning to return even before the end of my short stay. I have not come across a country where the natives appreciate their heroes as much as they do in Hungary.

It would be fair judgement to say that everyone should try to visit Budapest but before you do, you will need to brush up on your Hungarian history. Especially, you will need to know something about “Sissy”, Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie, Duchess in Bavaria, Princess of Bavaria born on December 24, 1837 and lived until September 10, 1898 but still reigns in the hearts of the Hungarians.
Sissy as she sits on the tram railings on the Danube banks

She was the Empress consort of Austria and Queen consort of Hungary due to her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph. Above all, Elisabeth herself loved Hungary far more than Austria and surrounded herself with Hungarian ladies-in-waiting. She insisted that her attendants spoke Hungarian, which she herself spoke fluently. Elisabeth's attachment to Hungary benefitted the Empire because the Hungarians returned the attachment and still do. She is the only Habsburg they trusted. The House of Habsburg, also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and Spanish Empire and several other countries.

The House takes its name from Habsburg Castle, a fortress built around 1020–1030 in present day Switzerland by Count Radbot of Klettgau, who chose to name his fortress Habsburg. His grandson, Otto II, was the first to take the fortress name as his own, adding "von Habsburg" to his title. The House of Habsburg gathered dynastic momentum through the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.Her flagrant and well-known preference for Hungary mollified the Hungarians while antagonizing the Viennese, who were seething with resentment over Habsburg arrogance, and solidified the Empire. There are several sites in Hungary named after her, most famously the Erzsébet híd, Elisabeth Bridge in Budapest which also widely known as the “Sissy Bridge”.

Budapest is blessed with the banks of the Danube River, providing a remarkable contrast between the right and left banks. Something a lot of foreigners do not know is that the city is divided into two by the two banks, there is Buda majestically sitting in the hills, home to Castle Hill and Gellért Hill – empowering you on one end, and then you have Pest, which is flat and bustling with activities and home to Europe’s largest synagogue on the other. In the middle of all this is Margaret Island peacefully sitting in the Danube as if she seeks isolation but would welcome the attention.

The transition from Pest to Buda across the Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet hid) either by day or night is absolutely mesmerising because as you walk or drive across the bridge you are welcomed by the magnificent statue of Saint Gellért carrying a cross in one hand as he stands on the artificial waterfalls in Gellért Hill.

You can enjoy Budapest by night by joining one of the riverboat cruises. These cruises are well organised and really make all the heroes do their own talking.Efficiency is the first word I will use when you travel to a destination where there is a representative from the tourist office ready and willing to give you advice on how to enjoy your stay in the city from the baggage hall.

English is not the first language for most staff, so having a tourist rep at the baggage hall is useful especially as hailing a cab is also not a straightforward matter. One is advised to use the Zona Taxis but there are airport shuttles offering excellent door to door hotel services as well. The airport shuttles cost HUF2990 about £11. They are clean, air-conditioned and have smart drivers to see you all the way to your hotel. Above all, their reservations desk is also very helpful. Zona Taxis have a fixed rate of 21 euros.

The Airport Shuttle Desk at Budapest Airport
The Zona Taxi Stand at Budapest Airport

How to discover and enjoy Budapest

The key solution to exploring Budapest is to pre-buy a Budapest Card which is available for sale at the tourist desk at the airport or online. The card provides you with free services or discounts in more than 100 places including public transport, museums, thermal baths and restaurants...read more

Getting there
Several airlines offers business and economy flights to Budapest. Oneworld Members, such as British Airways offer code shares flights to Budapest. Meals are served on all flights to London and flight attendants will greet you with a smile.
Business class passengers may choose from a wide selection of magazines on-board, while the flight attendants serve refreshments.
Flights to Budapest are available from nine UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Bristol, Luton, Liverpool, Manchester, East Midlands, Glasgow and Dublin.
Passengers are served snacks, a variety of cold dishes or cooked meals, depending on the length of flight. The following special menus may be ordered when booking your ticket:
• vegetarian
• kosher
• oriental
• diet
• kid's menu
• lactose-free
• special
If you would like one of these menus, please make sure you place an order when booking your air ticket!
You can also travel to Budapest by train, boat or road/coach. Budapest has direct rail links to 25 capitals
Time zone:
GMT+1 and Summer = GMT +2


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