Castle Hill - home to what you might call Buda's 'old town' - has been a cultural and strategic focal point of the city for centuries and was also the site of over 30 sieges. The inevitable damage resulted in several episodes of rebuilding, often re-using stones from the rubble and lending to the district a fascinating mix of architectural styles. The showpieces are the spectacular Mátyás Church and the Buda Royal Palace to the south. In addition, the views over Pest from the Fishermen's Bastion will take your breath away.
Buda Royal Palace
The enormous building at the southern end of Castle Hill has been the royal palace, in various styles and guises, since the 14th century. It was rebuilt 400 years later and required major reconstruction work after World War II. It now houses the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery and the National Széchenyi Library.
The Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya) is often the first stop for tourists visiting Budapest, the fairytale turrets offering an elevated vantage point from which to view the city. The minarets and walls look medieval, but they were actually built in 1902 by Frigyes Schulek to complement Mátyás Church.
Visible from almost everywhere in Budapest, Gellért Hill (Gellért hegy), with the impressive Freedom Monument on its peak, is one of the city's memorable landmarks.
The 14-metre monument was originally commissioned by Miklós Horthy as a memorial to his son, who died in a wartime air accident. When the Russians arrived, they replaced the propeller that the figure was originally meant to hold aloft with a palm frond to symbolize the country's liberation from the Nazis. Just beyond the monument is the Citadella, a fortress constructed by the Habsburgs following the 1848-1849 war of independence. It now houses an open-air museum chronicling the history of the hill.
The Chain Bridge
St Stephen's Basilica
The Great Synagogue
It was named after the former prime minister who had done much to make Budapest a true metropolis. He was determined that Budapest should have an elegant thoroughfare to emulate Paris's Champs Elysees. The cream of Eclectic architecture is to be seen along the Avenue including the outstanding Opera House and many beautiful tenement blocks with intimate inner courtyards, statues and fountains. One of the special features of Andrassy Avenue is barely visible on the surface. The only give-away is the occasional wrought iron balustrade leading underground. Europe's first sub-surface railway was built under the road, and the more than 125 year old underground is still carrying passengers today along a line only slightly longer than the original.
The Hungarian State Opera House is not only the sanctum of music and dance, but also a historical monument. The construction started in 1875 with the permission and financial support of Franz Joseph, emperor of Austria and king of Hungary. The plans and personal instructions were conducted by Nicholas Ybl. The Opera House opened its gate to the public on the 27th September, 1884. The Opera House can be visited with a local guide every day at 3&4 pm in 6 different languages. More information: www.operavisit.hu or+36 30 2795677.
Budapest's second favourite park after Margitsziget, the City Park (Városliget) is situated behind and to the right of Heros' Square as you approach from the centre of town. City Park offers a host of attractions of its own, including the Budapest Zoo, the Petőfi Csarnok concert venue and the obligatory Széchenyi Baths.
This fairytale castle was originally constructed from timber and cardboard for the exhibition held in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of the arrival of the Magyars to the Carpathian Basin. Its aim was to give the visitor an insight into Hungary's rich architectural past and it features small-scale reproductions of various buildings around Hungary and, in particular, Transylvania (now Romania). This architectural cocktail was such a success that it was rebuilt from more permanent materials in 1904. In winter, it provides a spectacular backdrop to an ice rink, while in summer, it is surrounded by a lake where pedalos and rowboats can be hired.