In June of 2012 we flew to Budapest Hungary to join the Viking River Cruise “Romantic Danube”, a cruise that would take us from Budapest to Nuremberg. Our itinerary included several days in Budapest where we stayed at the 5-star Corinthia Hotel, before joining the Viking Longship “Viking Odin” to start the Danube cruise.
While in Budapest, Viking organized sightseeing tours as well as a night of Hungarian cuisine accompanied by traditional music and folk dancing entertainment. We did have plenty of free time to explore Budapest as well.
Budapest, the capitol of Hungary, is on the Danube River which flows north to south splitting the city into two sections; Buda on the west which is hilly, and Pest on the east which is the main “downtown” part of the city. Budapest is known for its beautiful architecture and broad avenues and because of this it is referred to as “Paris of the East.
On one of our driving tours, we stopped at the hilltop Fisherman’s Bastion for sweeping panoramic views of the city. From that spot you have views of the Danube and Hungary’s majestic Parliament Building. The beautiful 14th Century gothic Matthias Church is also located here, and we had time to walk around Fisherman’s Bastion and the nearby Szentháromság park and gardens.
During our free day, we walked from our hotel to the riverfront, about one mile. Along the way, admiring the architecture, stopped at the Opera House (we couldn’t enter), and spent time in St. Stephen's Basilica, climbing to the observation walk on the Basilica’s dome where we had breathtaking views of the city.
Walking along the river, we made our way to Budapest’s Central Market Hall, where we had lunch, wandered around and bought several small satchels of fresh ground paprika, a Hungarian specialty.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park. The centerpiece of this memorial park is a weeping willow sculpture commemorating the Hungarian Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. The park is named after Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who rescued 10’s of thousands of Hungarian Jews in the later years of WW2. On the grounds of the nearby Dohány Street Synagogue, a small cemetery, the site of a mass grave of murdered Budapest Jews, is a reminder of the horrors of The Holocaust.
Our final full day in Budapest, we checked out of the hotel and moved onto our ship, the “Viking Odin”, which was docked adjacent to the iconic Chain Bridge. We took a walk across the bridge to get photos of the bridge and views from the bridge. After evening dinner onboard, we relaxed on the sundeck, checking out the night lights of the Chain Bridge. We were treated to a firework display along the Danube which was a fitting way to end our last night in Budapest. In the morning we would sail up the Danube to begin an enjoyable river cruise.
Longship Viking Odin
Budapest is a beautiful city, one of our favorites and we hope to return later this year, fingers crossed, if travel restrictions are relaxed.