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Top 10 Activities for a Fun Budapest Vacation

Budapest vacation

Whether you’re looking for history, culture, nature, or plain fun, Budapest is a European gem that will provide everything you need for a fantastic holiday.

As one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest is a real tourist magnet. The capital of Hungary boasts stunning architecture, picturesque historical sites, and plenty of activities that make every vacation in the city memorable and filled with fun.

From enjoying unique attractions to immersing yourself in mesmerizing sights, here are the 10 most interesting things to see and do on your next vacation in Budapest.

1. Take a Swim at the Gellert Baths

There are many amazing spas in Hungary, but the one in the country’s capital is certainly among the most impressive. 

The Gellert Baths and Spa is an Art Nouveau complex containing several pools and saunas within its gorgeous interior. 

While the spa, which is over a century old, suffered severe damage in World War II, the 2008 renovation efforts brought it back to its original look. Now, its swimming, wave, and plunge pools sit among the same stylistic delights as they were in 1918 at the end of the spa’s construction.

2. Explore Margaret Island

The lush Margaret Island is located in the Danube. It’s the ideal refuge from the hustle of the city, filled with parkland and natural and historical beauty. If you’re up for some jogging or just want to enjoy the peace and serenity of the landscape, there are few sites in Budapest that can compare.

You can visit the medieval ruins on the island, listen to the birds gathering at the aviary, or simply take a run along the circular track that spans a bit over 3.5 miles.

3. Give Yourself the Creeps at The House of Terror

For a more intense dive into the darker side of Budapest’s history, make sure to visit the exhibitions at the House of Terror. The very building that houses this macabre museum has about as sinister a background as one could imagine. 

First, the Arrow Cross, the Hungarian fascist party, made the site its headquarters. Then, when the communist regime replaced the fascists, it became a state security prison. 

If seeing authentic basement prison areas and victim testimonials isn’t your cup of tea, know that the House of Terror holds other exhibitions. 

4. Spend an Evening at the Opera

Opening in 1884, the Hungarian State Opera House counts among the world’s best in terms of the performances it houses. However, don’t let the exclusive aura of this institution drive you away – you can often find tickets starting from less than $2!

Even those who don’t enjoy opera can still find it worth their while to visit the site. The building is done in a Neo-Renaissance style and you can take a guided tour through one of the most recognizable Budapest attractions.

5. Make Your Way Around the Invisible Exhibition

The best exhibitions find a way to give you a memorable, meaningful experience, and this one does that to a great extent. The Invisible Exhibition allows you to spend some time as a completely blind person, learning to appreciate the challenges of everyday life without eyesight.

You’ll go through several rooms with no light sources and visit different environments on the tour before finishing the experience with a dinner in complete darkness.

6. Lose Yourself in a Fantasy Castle

The Fisherman’s Bastion might seem medieval to the untrained eye. However, some of its Disney-esque features reveal the monument’s relatively younger age. 

But don’t be fooled – this Neo-Gothic castle doesn’t have a defensive purpose. Instead, it’s a viewing platform that offers breathtaking sights of Budapest, the Danube, and the gorgeous Margaret Island.

7. Visit a Real Fortress

Head to the top of Gellert Hill if you want to see a real historic defensive structure. There you’ll find the Citadel, a strategic stronghold overlooking the city. 

The Hapsburg dynasty built the Citadel to strengthen their presence in Hungary after a war for independence sparked in the country.

Now that armies of tourists have replaced armed troops, you’ll find that the Citadel is home to a historical museum, hotel, and restaurant. 

8. Go Back to Ancient Times

The urban history of Budapest reaches back to the period of the ancient Roman Empire when the city of Aquincum covered the area. Aquincum was one of the crucial Roman settlements and military bases. 

Today, only the ruins, relics, and replicas are left to tell the historic tale of the sprawling city. While the original structures are mostly long gone, the ruins can allow those with a vivid imagination to visit the ancient bathhouse, amphitheater, and several other Roman buildings.

9. Enjoy the Gorgeous City Park

If you want to enjoy various sports, visit the zoo, and catch a circus show all in the same location, then the City Park in Budapest is the perfect place for you. This idyllic location houses, among others, the Botanical Gardens, a beautiful boating lake, and the Vajdahunyad Castle, which is now a museum.

There are enough activities in the City Park to last you an entire day, and the appealing environment will certainly be worth repeated visits.

  1. Walk Down Andrassy Avenue

10. Walk Down Andrassy Avenue

This downtown boulevard is more than an extensive walkway. Andrassy Avenue is, in fact, a World Heritage Site. And if you follow it from the City Park to Erzsebet Square, you’ll quickly understand why.

The boulevard showcases some of the best examples of Budapest architecture and you’ll also find many of the city’s attractions on the Avenue.

Have an Amazing Vacation in Budapest

Once you discover everything that the city has to offer, it will become one of your favorite vacation destinations. 

The city’s lively, beautiful, and full of exciting activities and sights. Even better, Budapest has plenty of natural beauties that blend with the architecture perfectly instead of an urban landscape taking over the surroundings.

Budapest is a memorable vacation location that will leave you wanting more.

Portugal

The Madeira you don’t know, but should

Madeira

When you think of Madeira, your mind might drift to the picturesque island known for its breathtaking landscapes, delectable wines, and year-round mild climate. Yet, another side of Madeira exists, waiting to be discovered by the more adventurous traveler. Here’s a glimpse into the Madeira you don’t know but absolutely should.

Hidden Trails and Natural Wonders

Madeira is renowned for its levadas — irrigation channels that double as hiking trails. But beyond the popular routes, there are lesser-known paths that offer equally stunning views without the crowds. One such trail is the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova walk. This tranquil hike takes you through lush forests, past waterfalls, and offers panoramic views of the island’s dramatic terrain.

Read More: A Dreamy Getaway – How to Get the Most Out of Punta Cana

For those who crave a more challenging adventure, the Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço at the island’s easternmost point provides a rugged coastal hike with striking volcanic rock formations and sweeping ocean vistas. It’s a stark contrast to the lush greenery that characterizes much of Madeira, showcasing the island’s diverse landscapes.

Laurisilva Forest

Mystical Laurisilva Forest

Madeira’s Laurisilva Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its unique subtropical rainforest. Though many tourists visit the more accessible parts, the heart of the forest remains a mystery to many. Embark on a guided tour into the depths of this ancient woodland, where you can witness rare flora and fauna in their natural habitat. The forest is often shrouded in mist, adding a mystical ambiance to your exploration.

Read More: The 5 Things You Must See Before You Leave Marseille

Secret Beaches

Madeira’s coastline is dotted with hidden beaches and secluded coves that are often overlooked. Escape to Prainha de Caniçal, a small black sand beach cradled by cliffs, for a tranquil seaside experience. It’s a perfect spot for a peaceful day by the sea, far from the bustling tourist hubs.

Another hidden treasure is the beach at Seixal, known for its natural swimming pools formed by volcanic rocks. The pristine waters and dramatic landscape make it a serene escape for those willing to venture off the main tourist trail.

Offbeat Villages

While Funchal, Madeira’s capital, is a must-see, the island’s small villages offer a glimpse into the local way of life. Visit Ponta do Sol, a charming village with a picturesque bay, narrow cobbled streets, and traditional whitewashed houses. It’s an ideal spot to experience authentic Madeiran culture and hospitality.

In the northern part of the island, Santana is famous for its traditional A-frame houses with thatched roofs. However, exploring beyond the village center will lead you to quieter, less touristy areas where you can enjoy the stunning countryside and interact with locals.

Wine Beyond the Vineyards

Madeira is celebrated for its fortified wine, but there’s more to discover in its wine culture. Visit smaller, family-run wineries that produce unique blends using traditional methods. These lesser-known establishments offer a more personal tasting experience, allowing you to learn about the history and production process directly from the winemakers themselves.

Underwater Wonders

The crystal-clear waters around Madeira are a paradise for divers and snorkelers. While many head to the Garajau Marine Reserve, lesser-known spots like the underwater nature reserve at Baixa da Cruz offer equally impressive marine life and underwater landscapes. Here, you can encounter a variety of fish, octopuses, and even the occasional manta ray.

Cultural Festivals

Madeira’s vibrant festivals are a testament to its rich cultural heritage. Beyond the famous Flower Festival and Carnival, there are numerous local festivities that offer a deeper insight into Madeiran traditions. The Festa da Castanha (Chestnut Festival) in Curral das Freiras is a celebration of the autumn harvest with chestnut-themed dishes, music, and folklore.

Culinary Delights

Madeiran cuisine is more than just espetada (skewered beef) and bolo do caco (flatbread). Explore local markets like the Mercado dos Lavradores in Funchal for a taste of exotic fruits, fresh seafood, and regional delicacies. For a unique culinary experience, dine at a family-run tasca (tavern) in a less touristy area, where you can savor traditional dishes made with love and local ingredients.

Read More: The 9 Reasons You Should Visit Daytona Beach

Night Skies

Away from the bright lights of Funchal, Madeira offers some of the clearest night skies in the Atlantic. Head to Pico do Arieiro, one of the island’s highest peaks, for stargazing. The high altitude and low light pollution create perfect conditions for observing constellations, planets, and even the Milky Way.

Read More: Glasgow-Bound – The 11 Places You Need to Visit in Scotland’s Second City

Conclusion

Madeira is more than its popular tourist spots. It’s an island brimming with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered by those willing to venture off the beaten path. From secret beaches and mystical forests to offbeat villages and underwater wonders, the Madeira you don’t know offers a rich tapestry of experiences that will leave you enchanted. So next time you plan a trip to this Atlantic, make sure to explore the lesser-known, but equally captivating, side of Madeira.

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Trip Ideas

The 9 Essential Madrid Sights for Art and History Lovers

Madrid Sights Art and History

The 9 Essential Madrid Sights for Art and History Lovers

Go beyond sports and Mediterranean cuisine. Madrid is a top destination for art and history enthusiasts, too.

Spain’s capital city is elegant, expansive, and very busy 24/7. It also holds some of the largest collections of European art and weaponry. And there are many museums, historic landmarks, and other repositories that you can visit. When you’re tired of taking in Spanish history, the scenic parks await.

Check out some of the most popular tourist attractions in Madrid.

1.   Tour the Prado Museum

What is Madrid known for? It’s many museums, one of the most famous being the Prado Museum. It opened in 1819 and now features over 2,000 paintings and hundreds of sculptures. And the exhibits have Spanish, Italian, and Flemish artist signatures.

It’s also one of the busiest museums in all of Spain. So, make sure you get your ticket early in the day. But if you’re on a tight budget, you can try to get in for free during the last two hours of the schedule.

It’s truly one of the essential Madrid sights for art and history lovers.

2.   Visit the Royal Palace and Gardens

Sometimes referred to as the Spanish Versailles, it’s a royal court with impressive statues and lavish gardens. You can even take your own photos of the statues of Spanish kings and visit the apartments of King Charles the Third.

It has breathtaking interiors and features just about everything you could think of – from marble flooring and silk wall hangings to chandeliers and famous paintings. The palace walls feature works made by the likes of Goya, Rubens, Caravaggio, and other masterful artists.

The Royal Armory is also a nice stop for history buffs. The 3,000 exhibits tell the story of the Spanish military. And some of these pieces date back to the 16th century.

3.   Stand in the Puerta del Sol

You can’t go to Madrid without standing in the heart of the city. It’s a big town square that acts as a central hub of transportation and occupies a unique position. That’s in reference to the sun.

But this is not just a place with gorgeous architecture and geography.

It’s also the site of many historic events. The most important being the site of where Spain made a stand against Napoleon in 1808. And it’s also the site of the Second Republic proclamation of 1931.

Aside from being rich in history, it’s known to be lively both day and night. It’s also a great place to grab something to eat or drink. And if you’re interested in the local nightlife, in and around the square are some of the hottest locales in the city.

4.   Grab Your Dose of Contemporary Art

The Contemporary Art Museum is a must-see if you’re looking for something more modern. It opened in 1986, making it one of the newer, and yet highly popular, museums in the world.

It’s where you can also see the works of Picasso and Salvador Dali, among many other famous artists. The building itself has three glass towers around the elevators and a beautiful garden in its courtyard that has a variety of quirky sculptures.

The exhibit occupies over nine acres. It will take you a while to take it all in, but there are also a cafeteria and a restaurant for when you need a break.

5.   Visit Spain’s Egyptian Monument

The Temple of Debod is a gift from Egypt to Spain back in 1968. It’s an ancient temple located in La Montana Park and is one of the city’s most intriguing spots.

The temple has original decorations, peaceful gardens surrounding it, and impressive shrines. A visit here’s considered as one of the most unique things to do in Madrid.

6.   Tour the Archaeological Museum

Visiting the Archaeological Museum is a must if you want to learn more about Spain’s history. In fact, it has an impressive collection of artifacts that predate the Romans.

Here you’ll find pieces over 2,500 years old that still look amazing and even almost new. The restoration and preservation work on this collection is most impressive and, as an art lover or history enthusiast, you won’t want to miss it.

7.   Step Into the Oasis of Buen Retiro Park

This park offers 296 acres of lush scenery away from the busy streets. While the park is still part of the town, it acts as an oasis for those seeking peace and quiet and clean air.

It’s also one of the most elegant public parks you’ll see, as the park has many fountains and reflecting pools. From time to time, you can even catch an art exhibit right here. Like any other park, you can also relax in shade here or drink a cup of coffee at an open-air café.

And for nighttime travelers, the park’s historic observatory is the place to be on a clear night.

8.   Experience Street Performances at the Plaza Mayor

Madrid is a hotspot for art lovers from around the world, but it doesn’t just offer museum exhibits. There are also some lively spots that are a must-visit.

The Plaza Mayor is a large open square that’s thriving with life. It’s also convenient, as there are many cafes where you can sit down and watch street performers. It’s also a great place to visit when on holiday if you want to sample holiday markets.

The place definitely has a touristy vibe to it. Yet it has an authentic ambiance that offers a unique experience. It even comes with a guided walking tour where you can learn about the history of the square from 1617 to the present.

9.   Visit the Old Royal Hunting Grounds

What was once the Spanish hunting grounds for the royal family is now a great park to spend time with the kids. When you’re done taking in the scenery, architecture, and works of art, you’ll want to stop here for a while.

For starters, you can go on a walk and have a picnic. But you can also go kayaking on the lake or hop on one of the dozens of theme park rides. Casa de Campo is also home to the Zoo Aquarium where you’ll find a dolphin show, giant pandas, and many other unique displays.

Visit One of the Best Places to Live in the World

Madrid has a lot to offer for tourists of all ages. While many may see it as a destination for sports fans, perhaps even more people visit for its many art, history, and architectural gems.

This city is teeming with life and gorgeous exhibits and it’s worth a longer stay.

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Brussels

Brussels Isn’t Just About Sprouts – 12 Gorgeous Sights in Belgium’s Capital

Brussels Sights

Brussels Isn’t Just About Sprouts – 12 Gorgeous Sights in Belgium’s Capital

Brussels is the seat of today’s European politics. And it’s also a city with gorgeous and unique landmarks.

Brussels has two parts – the old part of town and the new part of town. As such, it is a very diverse tourist destination that makes it Belgium’s most visited city. What’s even better? The city is small enough for you to easily visit all the important landmarks and monuments.

When you’re done munching on Belgian fries and sampling the local beers, here are some places you might want to visit.

1.   Take a Grand Tour of the Grote Markt

The Grote Markt, or Grand Place, is the center of Brussels Old Town. This main plaza is well-preserved and features unique architecture. Don’t forget to check out the stonework – it’s amazing and everything is highly detailed.

Most of the buildings and sculptures here date back to before 1700. While there is some Flemish influence in the style, everything is predominantly Baroque.

The town hall building still looks great for a building commissioned in 1402. But then again, so does everything else in the Grand Place.

2.   Tour the Saint-Michel Cathedral

Construction on the Gothic Saint-Michel Cathedral started in 1225 but was only finished in the 15th century. And over time, numerous artists contributed to the cathedral’s artwork and stained-glass windows.

A majestic building with twin high towers and a lavish interior, it’s a top Brussels attraction for anyone, especially architecture students and history buffs.

3.   Photo Shoot at the Royal Palace

The Royal Palace is still the official residence of the Belgian royal family. That’s why the iconic Changing of the Guard event still happens here at 2:30 pm every day.

You can also take photos of various Neoclassical buildings surrounding the palace. Don’t forget to walk around the garden. It looks perfect all the time and makes for a great photoshoot location on a sunny day.

Here’s an interesting fact: if you see the flag flown up on the roof, it means that the sovereign is home.

4.   Enjoy Some Pop Culture Exhibits

Brussels isn’t just about the old part of town and historic buildings.

The Comic Strip Center, commissioned in 1906, is a different kind of attraction. This spot hosts some of the largest cartoon and comics exhibits around. In fact, many Belgian and French artists have rotating exhibits here.

Don’t forget to check out original artwork, drafts, and manuscripts of various artists. It will leave you in awe at their talent.

5.   Tour the Royal Museum of Fine Arts

The first collection in this museum dates back to 1797. And today, it hosts not just one of Belgium’s greatest art galleries but also the world’s.

Most of the paintings on display here are by Flemish and Dutch painters. There’s a good selection of classic pieces here, as well as artwork mainly from the 19th century and 20th century.

6.   Take in a Surreal Landmark Attraction

One of the most popular things to do in Belgium is to check out the Atomium. This unique building, designed after a molecule of iron, is made of steel and aluminum. It stands 334.6ft tall and is very unusual from an architectural standpoint.

What surprises people the most is that the building is fully functional. You can go inside in four of the nine existing spheres. That’s where you can catch the show known as Biogenium. And it’s an interesting presentation, particularly if you’re interested in biology, chemistry, and human life.

7.   Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Belgium is famous for its chocolate and beer. And for chocolate lovers, a tour of the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate is a must.

It’s also one of the most intriguing museums in Brussels, featuring sculptures, exhibits, and demonstrations. The small entry fee and free samples make it worth your while. But if you’re not interested in history, go here at least for the spinning wheel that pours melted chocolate.

8.   Look at More Weird Attractions

Interested in more unique attractions in Brussels? Belgium has no shortage of weird landmarks. A case in point is Manneken Pis. This little bronze statue of a boy “filling up” the fountain underneath gathers huge crowds.

What makes it most interesting, and hilarious, is that the statue gets dressed for various occasions, depending on what events are taking place. While it is a bit weird that it gets so much attention, it’s also a free tourist spot.

9   Relax and Take in the Scenery

While many know Brussels for its majestic historic buildings, it’s also home to a huge park. The Bois de la Cambre spans 247 acres and is an ideal place for anyone to relax.

You can go on a bike ride through the park, have a picnic or enjoy a boat ride while enjoying the view and fresh air. You don’t even have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy the park.

There aren’t any cars allowed on the weekends, which makes it even better.

10.   Tour the Cinquantenaire Park

Dating back to the 1800s, its construction marked Belgium’s 50th year of independence. And this park is host to amazing gardens and fountains. But, it’s not the only attraction here.

The park houses several museums, too. These include the Royal Military Museum and the Autoworld museum, which are among the most popular. Various events also happen here throughout the year, so it’s best to plan ahead.

11.   Enjoy the Winter Festivities in Brussels

Summer is not the only time to visit Brussels. Because if you go during the winter you can experience the Christmas markets, which are famously known as Winter Wonders.

During this time, the Grand Place turns into a Christmas-themed location where you can get your trinkets, drinks, light shows, and more. There are even live performances and traditional carnival rides, not to mention parades, that you don’t want to miss out on.

12. Check Out the European Union’s Headquarters

Believe it or not, the European District is one of the most unique places to visit in Belgium.

While it’s undeniably an important district for European politics, economics, and social rights, it’s also a very lively spot in the evening. There are many parks and bars around where you can spend some time while feeling the culture and history of the EU around you.

Brussels – Go for the Food and Drinks, Stay for the Scenery

Many visit Brussels to sample some of the best beers, fries, and chocolates in the world. But the city is more than that – it’s also rich in history and art. And given the size of Brussels, you can easily see a lot of everything even with limited time here.

There is plenty to do in the summer and winter. Whether you want to see a car museum, military exhibits, or take a boat ride, nothing is off-limits.

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