Concert Tours Manager, Jo Porter, reveals why Budapest ranks top on her travel list…
Awe-inspiring, magical and fascinating – just a few words to describe the beautiful city of Budapest. Having recently returned from a familiarisation trip to this amazing city – a fantastic opportunity for us and our local agents to show 13 music professionals all that Budapest can offer on a concert tour – I can safely say it’s now number 1 on my list of European cities to visit! In all of my 15 years of working in travel, Budapest is one of the most special destinations I’ve ever been to. Here are my top 10 reasons to visit Budapest…
Top 10 Reasons to Visit Budapest
The Concert Venues
With an abundance of venues to suit every sound and style, all types of music repertoires and ensembles are welcome in Budapest! The city’s cathedrals and churches are beautifully restored to display all of their opulence and ensembles will always receive a warm welcome from appreciative audiences.
Did you know St Stephen’s Basilica was built in tribute to the first Hungarian King?
The Timeless Architecture…
With a plentiful supply of Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Nouveau performance venues, Budapest is an architectural treasure trove. As well as these historical gems, you will discover the city’s royal palaces and quaint spas which I’ve no doubt will leave any music ensemble in awe. Owing to its beautiful landscape and landmarks, Budapest is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities (with photo opportunity galore)!
“Hungarian people are often considered to be a bit gloomy and miserable” – or so our tour guide, Andreas, joked. However, I soon discovered this couldn’t be further from the truth! We were made to feel so welcome by the locals – a rarity for a bustling capital city!
Beyond the City
We had the delight of visiting Szentendre, a quaint and pretty town located outside of the city, next to the Danube River. Famous for its sculptures made purely from marzipan, Szentendre is a haven of art and craft shops with a charming character.
The Marzipan Museum features a marzipan model of The Hungarian Houses of Parliament – a whole 78 kilos of the stuff!
Did you know Lady Diana holds her own position in the Marzipan Factory as a life size model made from the edible local delicacy?!
Budapest is brimming with musical inspiration, making it the perfect place for a concert tour. Both Bartok, Liszt and Kodaly hail from Hungary and Budapest has welcomed several famous composers to the now named Museum of Musicology.
25 degrees Celsius and sunny in mid-April! Need I say more…?
Yes, this really is a thing! For more than 80 years, Budapest has proudly claimed its status as the spa capital of the world. Renowned for its thermal, healing springs, the city’s magnificent spa baths are an absolute must-do on the tourist tick-list! The most famous of the Budapest Spa baths is Gellert Baths and with warm pools, saunas, steam room and an outdoor pool complete with wave machine, what more could you want for a relaxing afternoon?
Not only does Szechenyi Baths boast hot tubs and steam rooms, but it also plays host to outdoor pools in a neo-Baroque courtyard. A SPArty is a magical event that happens every Saturday evening, transforming the Szechenyi Baths with music and atmospheric lighting, allowing guests to enjoy the hot spring waters with an added ambience!
Considering the fact I can barely move due to a hearty consumption of Hungarian specialities, we have certainly not been allowed to go hungry on this trip! From delicious traditional dishes such as goulash, hearty ox bourguignon and poppy seed meringue cake to mouth-watering haute cuisine, we really have eaten like Hungarian kings. And don’t get me started on the local schnapps, Palinka, although it’s probably best to stop there…
Buda Castle, Heroes Square, The Houses of Parliament, the synagogue and opera house all make Budapest well worth a visit.
I particularly enjoyed visiting Dohány Street Synagogue, Europe’s largest and most beautiful synagogue. Boasting a variety of architectural styles, from Byzantine to Romantic to Gothic, there’s a lot to admire!
Did you know the synagogue was bombed in 1939 by Hungarian pro-Nazi and used as a base for German Radio?
Cruising on the Danube River
A real highlight of the trip and a must do for any visitor is the evening dinner cruise on the Danube. This is an evening full of indulgence; not only including all you can eat hearty cuisine, but some great entertainment in the form of thigh slapping, energetic, traditional Hungarian dancing too! This is a great way to admire the city’s twinkling lights whilst listening to local music performed by a live trio.
Written by Jo Porter, Rayburn Concert Tours Manager
‘We had an absolutely first class time and Budapest, as a city, exceeded all expectations. The Rayburn tour staff were first class throughout. I cannot praise the organisation of the trip highly enough. Everyone was generous and we felt utterly spoilt. I cannot wait to take my ladies choir to Budapest in May 2017 and show them the delights the city has to offer. A huge thank you to all involved in the organisation of such a memorable trip.’ – Felictiy Courage, Courage Choir, Budapest Trip 2016