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All about Budapest

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Vajdahunyadvár Summer Festival

Visitors who come to Budapest for the first time are often amazed by the lush city park known as Városliget at the city’s vibrant centre. The green space that was once known as Ökör-dűlő, which means “Oxmeadow,” was one of the world’s first public parks. Since its coming into being back in the mid-1200s, the park has been referred to as Budapest’s green lungs. This amazing green space is not only a leisurely space in bustling Budapest but a cultural journey every visitor is sure to enjoy. Below you will find a starter guide to exploring the 302 acres (1.2 km2) that is the pride of Budapest.

Heroes Square

Heroes Square Budapest

Entering the main entrance at Heroes’ Square, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find yourself in the middle of one of the park’s most amazing attractions. Stretched out beneath the Millenium Monument, the square was laid out in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of Hungary. The largest square in the city, it is also one of Hungary’s most visited landmarks. Two important buildings flank the square, they are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Kunsthalle (Hall of Art). Beneath this amazing square, the Millennium Underground Railway was once considered a masterwork of city planning.

Kunsthalle

This attraction is an exhibition hall for contemporary arts, featuring the works of local and international artists. The institution, which follows the concept of the German Kunsthalles in not offering permanent exhibitions, shows off the latest trends in visual arts by exposing young talents, as well-established artists. The Ernst Museum and Dorottya Gallery, both acquisitions of Kunsthalle, focus on the emerging visual arts. Run by the Hungarian Academy of Arts, the gallery houses a bookshop, library, and the Műcsarnok Café as well.

Museum of Fine Arts

Situated across from Kunsthalle, this museum was built on the eclectic-neoclassical style, between 1900 and 1906. The museum’s collection is made up of international art comprised of over 100,000 pieces. The collections are organized into six departments: Egyptian, Antique, Old sculpture gallery, Old master paintings gallery, Modern collection, and the Graphics collection. Visitors will be treated to many extraordinary works including those of the Spanish masters including El Greco, Velázquez and Goya, and the small equestrian by Leonardo da Vinci, to name a few.

Városliget Cafe

After spending some time admiring the wonders of Heroes Square and people watching Hungary’s busiest attraction entrance, a respite at this world famous cafe on the lake is a must. The eatery is actually one of the finest restaurants in the city. Situated inside a historic building a few steps from the Millenium Monument, the Városliget Café & Bar features Hungarian classic cuisine including the house speciality, tányérhús, which is a meat broth, bone marrow on garlic toast and beef brisket with potato medallions. The atmosphere here is idyllic sitting right on the lake and in the shadow of Vajdahunyad Castle. The cafe is right next to the ice-skating rink and the boating adjunct.

The Jaki Chapel

A chapel located within the grounds of the Vajdahunyad Castle, the Catholic sanctuary is a popular small wedding venue with locals. Built in the Romanesque style building is a small masterpiece decorated with sphinxes and religious statues. It’s well worth a short visit on your way to the other Városliget venues.

Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle chapel.

Built back in 1896 out of cardboard and wood, this amazing castle was part of the Millennial Exhibition celebrating the 1,000 years of Hungary since the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895. Designed by Ignác Alpár to feature copies of several landmark buildings from different parts of the Kingdom of Hungary, the castle is one of Hungary’s most visited touristic attractions. Today, you will find the more stable concrete version of the original exhibit with wonderful displays of the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural styles. The castle also houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, the biggest agricultural museum in Europe.

Szechenyi Baths and Pool

Széchenyi Thermal Bath

The largest medicinal bath facility in Europe, the Széchenyi Medicinal Baths are fed by two thermal springs which are legendary for their healing powers. The springs, which in between 74 °C and 77 °C year round, are naturally infused with sulfate, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, metaboric acid and fluoride. There are 21 pools in all, not to mention myriad health and wellness offerings and state-of-the-art massage, sauna, and aquafit facilities. You really do owe it to yourself to experience a water beam back massage here.

Capital Circus of Budapest

Originally opened in 1889, this is the only stone circus in operation in Europe. The show features traditional animal, clown, and artistic performing acts, and it is the home of the International Circus Festival of Budapest. Fashion shows and an occasional rock or other music concert are also held at this venue. Be sure and check the schedule to see what’s on during your stay with Mamaison.

Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

Elephant House, Budapest Zoo

The Budapest Zoo is the oldest zoo park in Hungary and one of the oldest in the world. Visitors here get to see over 1,000 animal species. The zoo first opened way back in 1866 as a private institution and welcomes over 1 million visitors each year these days. The attraction is home to a number of noteworthy Art Nouveau buildings, the famous Elephant House being the most famous. Your little ones will enjoy the ‘Kindergarten’, where various baby animals can be seen together in one area.

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coffee at Mamaison Residence Izabella.

It’s always fun to have a cuppa in the garden at Mamaison Residence Izabella Budapest but exploring the city is also a wonderful opportunity to discover not only monuments and attractions but also trendy cafes, eateries, ruin pubs, and much more. Today, we’ll look at the best places for coffee lovers who want to discover our neighbourhood on foot.

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Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts

The Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts is about two minutes walk from Mamaison Hotel Andrássy. It is a thought-provoking destination, founded in 1919 by Ferenc Hopp (1833-1919), whose passion for the Orient and Oriental art led to an impressive collection, boasting more than 4000 objects. The current exhibition celebrates the woman goddess and is titled “Devi Cults and Traditional Female Roles in India.”

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Christmas with Mamaison

Winter can be a magical time in Budapest. From mid-November until early January, the city is dressed in Christmas lights and the locals embrace the spirit of the season with joy and enthusiasm. The Hungarian capital stays lively and active, with youth going clubbing, foodies discovering new gourmet hangouts, and spa-goers fighting the cold in one of the numerous spa baths that made Budapest legendary.

Beyond visiting the Christmas markets, and riding the Christmas Tram decorated with Christmas lights rides on two lines: 2A along the Danube promenade and 19 from Batthyány tér to Kelenföldi Pályaudvar, here are some of the most interesting to see and do in Budapest this winter.

Irgalmasok Veli Bej

Irgalmasok Veli Bej is one of the lesser advertised baths of Budapest, and, although they have been featured by several prestigious travel guides, they are still considered the “secret” baths of the city. Indeed, considering that most tourists choose between the famous Rudas Baths, Széchenyi Baths, and Gellért Baths, visiting Irgalmasok Veli Bej may not be as “trendy.” But it’s worth it. A historic landmark, Veli Bej is also the largest Turkish bath in Budapest.

Irgalmasok Veli Bej

One of the most beautiful Turkish baths of the city, Veli Bej boasts five thermal pools, which can benefit people with a variety of disorders, including chronic arthritis and neuralgia. Guests may also enjoy two steam baths with various essential oils, massage showers, Finnish sauna, infrared sauna, jacuzzi, and a swimming pool. The spa is also used for a variety of cultural events, conferences, dance, and entertainment.

Join the annual New Wine and Cheese Festival

The beloved tourist landmark known as Vajdahunyad Castle remains open in winter, offering visitors plenty to see and do. The permanent exhibition in the castle features the thematic collections of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum, but there are also visiting exhibitions with other interesting topics that crown the seasonal offer. Plus, you shouldn’t miss the annual New Wine and Cheese Festival, which takes place at the end of November. Visitors will enjoy a variety of wines produced by professional winemakers, indoor and outdoor activities, homemade cheeses from the countryside, a wine fair, a New Wine contest that will choose the best Hungarian wines of the year, and the procession of the Hungarian Wine Order members, among other events.

cheese

At the New Wine & Cheese Festival in Vajdahunyad Castle don’t forget to taste the famous Furmint wines.

Welcome 2018 from a cruise on the Danube

New Year is the season’s liveliest celebration, with many parties all over the city. For a spectacular, fun-filled step into 2018, book a cruise on the Danube. There are several choices, ranging from classy gourmet dining to booze parties, boogie and swing, and much more. This website lists cruises, boat parties, and other events that guarantee a New Year party to remember.

new year champagne

Go ice skating at Városliget

The City Park Ice Rink in Budapest is the main meeting point for locals and tourists alike in winter. The venue is open from November 20, 2017, until February 26, 2018. This year’s ice skating program includes ice skating lessons for children and adults, skating lessons for school and kindergarten groups, and skate sharpening workshops. They will also offer skate rentals in the future.

Ice skating at Városliget

You can book tickets online for ice skating at the City Park, on the venue’s official website.

Eat delicious kürtőskalács

Kürtőskalács, the famous Hungarian chimney cakes, are a favorite treat on cold winter days. You will find many stalls selling the delicious dessert in the streets so you can still enjoy them even if you missed the festival in October. Cakes are cooked to order and you can choose your favorite toppings.

Kürtőskalács

You can still enjoy warm chimney cakes in Budapest even if you missed the Kürtőskalács Fesztivál in October.

Where to eat the best chimney cakes in Budapest?

The following venues are quite popular with the locals.

  • Molnár’s Kürtőskalács (Váci u. 31) is the definitive crowd pleaser. The cafe serves traditional Kürtőskalács, Molinari coffee, and Italian ice cream. They are open daily from 9:00 to 22:00.
  • Körösfői Kürtőskalács is just a kiosk on Szent György tér 2 but it is popular and you will often see the locals queuing up to get their fix of chimney cakes. Their selection of toppings is, however, poor: chocolate, nuts, coconuts, cinnamon, and vanilla. Still, worth the wait. All Kürtőskalács are made to order here too.
  • Vitéz Kürtős have two permanent bakehouses at the Budapest Zoological and Botanical Garden and at the Budapest – Csillagvár Shopping Center ( Rákóczi street 36). They offer classical chimney cakes, but also flavors like vanilla, nuts, cinnamon, cocoa, coconut, and almond. They also sell homemade chocolate, baking kits, and baking accessories. You will also find their stalls at the Christmass Fair at Vörösmarty square, and at the Autumn Fair at Erzsébet square at Budapest Eye.
  • Töltött Kürtős (Erzsebet ter 13) is a kiosk too and they are known for their non-traditional approach: they fill their Kürtőskalács with Nutella, topped with ice cream and syrup. A decadent dessert, by all means.

Sure, Budapest is far more complex in the white season. You will have to explore it at your own pace to discover more than what travel guides reveal. Or ask your hotel concierge for recommendations. There are two delightful Mamaison Hotels in Budapest waiting to pamper you this winter season: Mamaison Hotel Andrassy and Mamaison Residence Izabella. So keep an eye on our blog, Facebook page, and Instagram updates, for other travel tips, places to see, special offers, and more.