Historically, Budapest began life as a Celtic settlement called Aquincum, later appropriated by the Romans. For centuries, it developed as two separate towns on opposite banks of the Danube River: Buda and Pest. In the 15th century, Hungary enjoyed a Renaissance era ushered in by the reign of the humanist king, Matthias Corvinus. The city acquired a university, library and royal printing office. Italian architects, sculptors and painters arrived and contributed a slew of aesthetically sublime architecture.
In 1873, Buda and Pest were united as one settlement and Budapest, the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, became a global city. Its prodigious economic boom was accommodated by the creation of Andrássy Avenue, a long, leafy boulevard flanked by an eclectic blend of mansions. Today, the avenue concludes at a Heroes Square, where you’ll find a monumental marble column.
Since Roman times, visitors to Budapest have enjoyed its plentiful hot springs. Some 70 million litres of curative water emerge in the city every day, the site of the world’s largest thermal water cave system. No visit to Budapest is complete with a curative soak in its piping hot, mineral-rich waters and spas run the gamut from Turkish-style bath houses to ornate art nouveau palaces. Equally, there are plenty of green spaces to suit weary travellers. Try Maragaret Island, a 2.8 km long atoll situated in the Danube. It is filled with green meadows, the ruins of medieval sites and bustling restaurants, bars, and hotels.