Top 10 Reasons to Take a River Cruise
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The best of the best on the Danube River.


Budapest is regarded by many experienced travelers as one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
Visiting Budapest on an Eastern European river cruise is like winning the lottery — twice! This exciting 1,000 year old city straddles the beautiful Danube River for several miles. Budapest (pronounced “BOO-dah-pesht”) was originally two separate cities: Buda, with its historic Castle Hill district, medieval streets and Roman ruins, and Pest with its riverside promenades, antique shops and bookstores. If you’re current on your 18th-century history, you’ll also be aware that Budapest was formally part of the Habsburg (sometimes called Hapsburg) region, and the local museums still display many of their flamboyant treasures.

Today, many visitors come to Budapest for its incredible array of more than 100 classic thermal baths (your river cruise tour director can arrange a visit). Reputed to be better than those of the Black Forest region of Germany, people flock to Budapest to enjoy their spiritual and physical benefits. Even if you don’t want to enjoy one of the baths, you’ve just got to take the time to visit one of the outdoor public baths to observe one — it’s like Rome’s Julius Caesar was in town.

An extended stay in this city is the best way to truly,
fully see this marvelous, safe walking city.

Most cruise ships do overnight here, so you'll have a day of the ship’s tours, but that’s truly just not enough as you could spend 4 hours alone in the incredible Budapest Market (More on that later).

Assuming you are on a river cruise, your first night in Budapest will catapult you into the history and beauty of this city with an after dinner night time cruise along the river where all of the government buildings and bridges are lit up. It’s like a light extravaganza where you have the best seat in the house… you will love it! If you’re there on a weekend, be sure to walk the Chain Bridge as it has a marvelous local artisan street fare that’s hard to beat.

There is no end of activities and sights to see in Budapest. This vibrant city is a perfect mix of East and West, old and new. In the Spring, Summer and Fall months she explodes not only with the color of the floral gardens and parks, but with outdoor bar and dining options to be enjoyed by all. Two of our particular favorites: the park on Margaret Island and the City Park, are both within easy walking distance from your docking spot.

Lest we forget, don’t forget about Budapest on a Danube Holiday Markets cruise. Several incredible Holiday Markets are all within easy walks of the ship or your hotel. Some of the best foods with an irrepressible Hungarian flare can be enjoyed. And, don’t worry about the late Fall weather in Budapest. It is milder than you think! Generally, it is much warmer than the east coast of the U.S. or Canada in November or December.

A plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
You won't have time to visit all of the fascinating UNESCO sites during the cruise stop, that's why an extended stay is so desirable. You'll want to explore all of them: specific areas on the banks of the Danube; the Castle Hill district; Andrassy Avenue (the main shopping street lined with cafes, restaurants, theaters, and luxury boutiques); Heroes’ Square with its Millennium Monument; and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest underground railway system in the world.

But, wait... don’t go back to the ship just yet!
Almost all tours of Budapest include the Fisherman’s Bastion, built in the 19th-century to commemorate the defense of Buda against the Turks in the Middle Ages. From its fairytale turrets and towers, you’ll get a wonderful view of the city below. Then, there’s the famous Chain Bridge (the first bridge to link the Buda and Pest sides) which is a wonderful photo opportunity and a very romantic place to be, especially at night when it and the entire Pest side of the river is ablaze with lights and activity. Budapest is also the home of the largest and most impressive parliament building in Europe; it’s also the most photographed (remember to bring along your camera tripod!). Speaking of large, Budapest is also home to the largest Jewish Synagogue in Europe.

Both day and night, Budapest delights everyone in so many exciting ways.
One of the most delightful aspects is that the food and wines are excellent. Unfortunately we can’t say the same for the beer. It’s okay, but not up to German or Czech standards. You’ve also come to the right place if you’re looking for “paprika.” Budapest is the home of authentic Goulash and, of course, chicken paprika. Paprika is ubiquitous in the shops and markets, and makes a great gift to take back home to friends and family.

Your visit should allow ample time to experience the local culinary delights. The Budapest food scene compares favorably with Venice, Florence and even London. One of the most popular areas to begin your culinary experience is at Liszt Ferenc Square. This trendy square is packed with indoor and outdoor cafés and restaurants, creating the perfect atmosphere for lunch, cocktails or dinner. You'll be amongst fellow tourists and locals. Other areas filled with cafés and restaurants are the pedestrian precincts around St. Stephen's Basilica and Ráday Street (starting at Kálvin Square). Some of the best restaurants can be found there. We would suggest you not be tempted to sample the food establishments along Váci Street and its Promenade area for anything more than a drink and to people watch. We found this area constructed for tourists only; the food at best is very average and always overpriced.

What about shopping? Oh, boy... Ladies, one thing I can attest to (by way of my wife's enthusiasm on the subject) is that Budapest is a shopper’s paradise. First thing you need to know is that Hungary is not on the Euro (local currency is the Forint). Because of that, prices have not been artificially raised. What that means to you is extraordinary value at almost every turn, especially in the Vaci Utca, a pedestrian-only shopping street located on the Pest side of the river. You can bargain in many places except for the finer brand stores. We came home with some delightfully inexpensive Hungarian crystal; it’s all over the place and at great prices by our standards.

If you enjoy the art of “tootling” around, there is no more exciting and fun place to visit in Budapest than the "Great Market". The market is situated in a a 19th century, sculpted facade 4-story building where you can buy just about anything you want (PS: It's even OK to bargain a bit with the shopkeepers). It’s also the best and only place in the city where you should buy Paprika. The vibe in the market and the incredible pleasure it will bring you make this one of the top things to do while in Budapest. Give yourself about 2-3 hours to explore all the stalls; it’s also a fun place to grab a snack. The market is easy to get to from your rivership or hotel. Just remember: Sunday market hours are shorter, so plan your visit accordingly.

If you’re thinking of a Danube River cruise, do make sure it includes Budapest.
We believe it’s one of the most enjoyable cities on an Eastern European river cruise, and one worth a bit of extra time. All the major lines including AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Emerald Waterways, Scenic, Tauck, Uniworld, and Viking offer exceptional early booking values on many Eastern European river cruises. If this is your first river cruise, our very experienced river cruise team at Premier can assist you in choosing the best river cruise line for you, your lifestyle and your budget. Give us a call at 1-855-255-1200 to discuss your river and small ship cruise plans. No time to call right now? Use the cruisGENIE™ Cruise Search Tool to begin searching for your perfect cruise vacation.

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Selected Budapest Destination Photo Images from Wikimedia Commons, the Free Media Repository.
Photo Credits (from top to bottom of article): Author – H.P.Gruesen, "Buda Castle with Matthias Church (Aerial, Night)"; Author – Marc Ryckaert (MJJR), "Budapest Széchenyi Baths"; Author – Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia, "Girl in the Margit-sziget Garden (5978988972)"; Author – Károly György Tamás, "Budapest Castle Hill Funicular"; Author – OsvátA (Original Uploader at Hungarian Wikipedia), "Great Synagogue-Budapest"; Author – Thaler Tamas, "Vasarcsarnok" (Great Market Hall Exterior); Author – Dd-ang2s, "Budapest Great Market Hall"; Author – Takkk, "Hungarian Paprika Vendor Budapest Big Hall"; Author – Yelkrokoyade, "Café Gerbeaud Budapest"; Author – Csörföly D, "Budapest Vaci Utca".

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