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Inspire Magazine - Discover Budapest's Eastern promise

Inspire Grand Designs Cover

Inspire Magazine - Discover Budapest's Eastern promise

story by: Inspire Magazine

The Austro-Hungarian Empire only existed for 51 years, but its influence remains extraordinarily vivid. Not least in the architecture and grand avenues of Budapest, the Empire’s joint capital with Vienna. There are many similarities between the two cities, right down to each having their own famous ‘Café Central’. Both cities also sit on the magnificent Danube River, but visit Budapest today and you’ll discover that this is very much a unique experience. The entire area comprising the city’s Danube embankments and Buda castle district has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, such is its historical significance. From the castle, it’s only a short walk to the iconic 19th Century Chain Bridge linking Buda in the west to Pest in the east. This bridge holds a special significance for Hungarians and was a focus of demonstrations during the fall of the Iron Curtain.

In almost every direction the architecture has a fairy-tale quality; this is a city to enjoy exploring, as long as you leave plenty of time for relaxing. Over a hundred thermal springs gush warm water into Budapest and the city has long been one of Europe’s grandest spa destinations. This love of spas dates back to 15th century Ottoman rule and still flows strong, whether in a magnificent old spa building or an open-air park.

Visually, Budapest might not have changed much in hundreds of years, but since the end of Soviet domination there has been a cultural renaissance ensuring this enchanting city offers all the cosmopolitan pleasures of a great European capital.

An unparaleled location for visitors in the heart of Budapest is the Corinthia Grand Hotel and Royal Spa. Built in 1896 in the French Renaissance style and now meticulously restored, the hotel houses the original Royal Spa. By combining five-star luxury, a central location and one of Budapest's finest thermal experiences, this hotel takes a lot of beating.

Budapest can certainly pamper its visitors, but if you're the kind of person that likes to feel they've earned their luxury, there's a scenic tour that you ought to consider. It's a cycle tour following the Danube from Vienna to Budapest that will completely immerse you in the history and culture of Austro-Hungary. You'll cover just over 340 km in around a week, or you can push further and include Prague to visit all three Imperial capitals.

Of course the other way to see the Danube is by boat, and Budapest is one of the most popular centres for riverboat cruising on the Danube. Gliding along its dark waters beneath the romantic bridges of Budapest it's easy to imagine the imperial grandeur of the past is just around around the next bend.

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