Most people head out on vacation to visit well-known spots. If you go to London, you obviously want to see Big Ben. In Paris you’ll want to check out the Eiffel Tower. While visiting the go-to tourist spots is important, you can make even more of your upcoming trip by checking out the hidden gems.
Over the last few years, Budapest has become a major European attraction. The city has a rich background and there are all sorts of things to see and do. Be sure to check out the Fisherman’s Bastion and Parliament, but you’ll also want to take time to veer off-the-beaten path.
After you’ve searched on Expedia to find the best Budapest hotels, the next step is to build your Budapest itinerary. No matter if you’re on your own or working with a travel agent, here are 5 unexpected gems in Budapest that you need to see.
1. Budapest Cave Church
Tucked away into Gellert Hill, you’ll find a small cave that was once home to a hermit monk. Today, the cave has been transformed into a small church that is run by the Pauline Monks. But this cave church isn’t just a church.
Not only was it sealed off for more than 30 years when communism swept through the Hungary, the church us also said to have an intricate system of underground tunnels.
The church is also home to the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. These items are statues and paintings of the Virgin Mary that have turned black. It’s thought that Black Madonnas are miraculous and are widely worshiped by Pauline Monks.
2. Dohány Street Synagogue
The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as The Great Synagogue, is a must see location in the Jewish district in Budapest. It’s the world’s second-largest synagogue and can hold three thousand people in one room! While here, be sure to learn everything there is to know about the synagogue’s tragic history by taking part in the 30 minute tour which takes you through the museum and other areas.
Aside from its history, the synagogue is truly a wonder to look at. The interior and exterior of the building are awe inspiring.
3. Vajdahunyad Castle
When most people think of castles, they think of brilliant stone and brick. But, a trip to Vajdahunyad Castle will tell a different tale. Amazingly, this castle was originally made out of wood and cardboard as a temporary celebration back in 1896. But, the exhibition gained so much interest and popularity that a permanent castle was constructed in 1904.
The Vajdahunyad Castle is split into four sections and in each section you’ll find dozens of smaller buildings. Each section is a nod to significant structures that can be found in Romania and Hungary.
The castle isn’t far from the heart of Budapest and you definitely won’t miss it. The building sticks out like a sore thumb and truly clashes with the surrounding patterns, colors, and materials.
4. Kerepesi Cemetery
Most people don’t think of cemeteries are being a tourist destination, but Kerepesi Cemetery breaks all of those rules. The cemetery is one of the oldest Christian cemeteries in the country and is the final resting places of well-known politicians, artists, scientists, and other dignitaries.
The cemetery covers around 56 acres of land and offers walking and guided tours for visitors. The area feels more like an open-air museum with beautiful gardens, sculptures, statues, and monuments rather than a cemetery.
If you’re worried about this being a morbid area of the city, expect anything but!
5. Buda Castle Caves
We’ve all heard of Count Dracula, but did you know you can be where he once was during your trip to Budapest? While in the city, be sure to spend a few hours at Buda Castle. Explore the castle but make your time even more worthwhile by traversing the labyrinth of caves that are located under Castle Hill.
As history has it, the caves were once home to prisoner Count Dracula. He was kept in the caves and tortured for more than 14 years. After his release he went on to become Vlad the Impaler.
This isn’t an excursion for the weary. There’s no tour guide or map to follow. Instead, you’re left following signs and holding onto a garden hose to navigate your way through the darkness.
At the end of the caves you’ll see Dracula’s chamber which is lit with a blue light. If you so dare, try out the torture cage or rusty shackles.
Traveling to Budapest guarantees that you’ll be taking time to visit the go-to spots, like the thermal baths, but there are all sorts of unexpected gems that you’ll also want to build into your schedule. Before jetting back home, be sure to cross all five of these gems off of your list.
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