Avalon Waterways – Christmas Markets River Cruise, The Markets

A Christmas Markets River Cruise is a bucket-list item for many travel aficionados. We had the good fortune to enjoy a Christmas Markets River Cruise through France and Germany in 2019, and it was nothing short of spectacular, and even more than we imagined and expected it would be!

Strasbourg Christmas Market at dusk. Wonderful!

 

This particular Christmas Markets cruise commenced in Frankfurt, where the one of the city’s largest Christmas markets is located just a short walk away from the starting location/Westin hotel, at Römerberg and St Paul’s Square. There is a huge Christmas tree that is brought to the square annually, and its truly one of the most magnificent squares that we witnessed in Germany. Who knew Frankfurt held so much magic!!??

Our group decided to take a few days before the cruise started, to sightsee in Frankfurt and drive to a few nearby Castles, since we were “in the neighborhood!” We always find this is a great way to see some of the local treasures, and enjoy the region, before commencing your actual travel itinerary.

 

 

Once we embarked on the river cruise, the celebratory ambiance and magic continued day after day, as we made our way towards Switzerland and our end port of Basel.

 

Each day we had a choice of activities and included sightseeing tours off-boat to take part in. Each passenger can choose from several different options as to which excursion they wish to take part in, or they can just walk off the ship into town to stroll leisurely on their own. The pace of these river cruises is marvelous and unhurried.

Ridiculously long sausages

One of the stops along this Christmas Markets cruise is Breisach, which some call the ‘gateway’ to Germany’s Black Forest. The markets here did not disappoint, with offerings of Black Forest ham, links and ridiculously long sausages of more meats than you can imagine, cherry cake (and EVERY every kind of cake and treat you can imagine), and cuckoo clocks galore.

 

If you’ve ever dreamed of old fashioned Christmastime scenes, Germany and France immerse you in this dreamland, with sights of sugarplum fairies dancing in the streets (no lie!), and the sweet scents of swirling smoke from the chimneys of stalls offering up both mulled wines (Glühwein) and ciders, and smoked meats from the Black Forest. It is everything you can imagine!

 

In Strasbourg, France, the ambiance is truly magic! That’s the only way to describe it. Strasbourg is home to one of the oldest and finest Christmas markets in Europe—dating back to the 16th century. Take in the aromas of mulled wine, spice cakes, and biscuits.


In Strasbourg you can partake in a tour to the ruins of Heidelberg Castle, which overlooks the city in all its magnificence. At Christmastime, the markets are spread over five town squares and include an ice skating rink at one end, for those who wish to partake. Each day in port winds down to the quiet beauty of the markets in all their twinkling glory at night. Bask in the holiday cheer with Glühwein (hot mulled wine), bratwursts, and other regional delicacies.

Colmar is yet another stop during this XMas markets cruise that is truly fabulous; Colmar’s timber frame houses will fill most passengers with delight, both at the architecture that makes this city so special and the magic of Christmas adoring every doorway!

 

Almost every building in Colmar was designed to enchant with its medieval, time-style, designed-with-love-and-christmas-magic styling!

We had plenty of opportunities for Christmas trinkets and presents, as well as talking with local tradespeople and craftspeople who design the beautiful Christmas decorations in each stop.

The Christmas Markets of Europe, is surely to be a trip you’ll not soon forget!

Let us help you decide which river cruise company is right for you!

 

Images of Greece

Images of Greece

We are Greece Specialists and have travelled to the Greek Islands many times. Here are just a few of our lovely images of Greece and Santorini Island. Please feel free to contact us to plan your trip to Greece!

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Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia Escorted Tour by Cosmos Vacations

 

Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia Escorted Tour by Cosmos Vacations

April 2017

Just fresh off an amazing tour to #Croatia, #Slovenia and #Bosnia, I want to share some thoughts. I will include the daily itinerary, as well as my own notes, so you can compare, review and decide if this tour is for you!

DAY 1: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Check into your hotel (M Hotel/Ljubljana).
The rest of the day is free for you to see some of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, with a strong alpine architectural flavor. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.
Dinner

The Three Bridges of Ljubljana Three Bridges of Ljubljana

MY NOTES:
Slovenia was by far the biggest surprise, and highlight! Fresh alpine meadows, set against a backdrop of Austrian Alps makes for an incredible intro to a country. That crisp, clean air, and sights of children out playing, families out riding bikes in the newness of Spring, all served to create an instant love of this wonderful country. We spent some time today walking to the downtown (old town) area, took a canal ride for an hour or more, walked the Three Bridges of Ljubljana, and ate lunch near the main centre of this lovely downtown core.

Travellers can get to the Castle by funicular, or on foot via the ancient or more recent paths that lead from Vodnik Square (Old Square) or the Town Hall Square. One can also take a bicycle if they felt so inclined. To reach the Castle Hill, you can also use LPP – Ljubljana public transport

Canals of Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

DAY 2: Ljubljana–Postojna Caves–Zadar, Croatia
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights on this tour is a visit to the POSTOJNA CAVES. Your included visit is comprised of a TRAIN ride and a walking tour, which will allow you to see what are possibly Europe’s most extensive and best-known caves. Then, into Croatia, traveling along the coast to Zadar. Over the centuries, Zadar was ruled by Venetians, Austro/Hungarians, by Italy after WWI, and today belongs to Croatia. Find out more during the included guided tour
Breakfast, Dinner

(Regrettably it was quite difficult to get decent pictures inside Postojna Caves, so these pics are from the park site (https://www.postojnska-jama.eu/)

MY NOTES: The Postojna Caves were nothing short of spectacular, and amazing. It was like a combination of fantasy mixed with nature that is sure to astound even the most road-weary traveler who has been to ‘just about everywhere.’

Zadar was incredible at Sunset, and we had an opportunity to sit on the Sea Organ steps! Take a listen to the Zadar Sea Organ in this video (opens in new page)

 

DAY 3: Zadar–Split–Dubrovnik
Drive south to Split to visit the former hometown of Roman Emperor Diocletian, his PALACE, and JUPITER TEMPLE, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See more of the lovely Dalmatian Coast before reaching Dubrovnik.
Breakfast

MY NOTES: My favorite spot this day is a toss-up: Split, with its Mediterranean seaside views, and the magnificent Diocletian’s Palace, were both spectacular and left me longing to see more of this area, but Dubrovnik is definitely a highlight in the Mediterranean, and a destination that everyone should experience, if given the opportunity.

 

DAY 4: Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is the best-preserved Croatian medieval city and the liveliest in Dalmatia. Visit the FRANCISCAN MONASTERY and the RECTOR PALACES, where the Local Guide will give you a full commentary, including the history of this beautifully preserved medieval architectural wonder. Afternoon and evening optional excursions are available. Breakfast

 

DAY 5: Dubrovnik–Neretva Gorges–Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina–Sarajevo
Enjoy a scenic drive into the rugged beauty of the Neretva Valley. Stop in Mostar, where a Local Guide shows you the Turkish Quarter with the TURKISH HOUSE, the MOSQUE, and the reconstructed 16th-century bridge. On to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina and certainly the most Turkish-looking city in the Balkans—famous for its mosques, markets, and bazaars. Discover the city with a Local Guide and get acquainted with its architectural highlights, including the GAZI HUSREV-BEG MOSQUE.
Breakfast, Dinner

MY NOTES: In Mostar, we had an opportunity to visit Mostar Bridge (Stari Mostar), an originally Ottoman built bridge. This fantastic structure was blown up in 1993 during the Bosnian War and was finally rebuilt in 2004.

 

 

Images of Sarajevo

 

DAY 6: Sarajevo–Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Travel north today back into Croatia to visit the country’s famous PLITVICE NATIONAL PARK. Enjoy a walk with a Local Guide through the breathtaking scenery of this natural wonder. Its 16 lakes, wooded hills, waterfalls, and cascades make it one of Europe’s most loved national parks.
Breakfast, Dinner

MY NOTES: Sarajevo City Tour was a short stop, where a local guide gave us a one-hour walking tour through the city’s downtown core, pointing out some of the most important points of reference from the 1992 Siege of Sarajevo. The fact that it was raining this day, only added to the dreary and sad history that has befallen this lovely city. Sarajevo and Bosnia are working hard to increase tourism to this country, and if given the opportunity, one should definitely include a stop to learn of the history that this region has fought its way through.

Sarajevo Cathedral – downtown Sarajevo

 

Sarajevo Roses – red stain marks bullet holes and shrapnel spots where 1 or more lives were lost.

The spot where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.

Stark realties of Sarajevo and Bosnia’s history

 

 

MY NOTES: Plitvice National Park is truly incredible, with crisp clean air, easy (and difficult) walking trails to choose from, one should definitely include a stop of 1-2 days in this area if possible (customized itineraries). There are 8 different trails to choose from, ranging in duration 3 hours and 8 hours. You definitely want to see Plitvice Falls as a stop on any of these walks!

Walkways and the Falls of Plitvice National Park


 

DAY 7: Plitvice–Zagreb–Ljubljana, Slovenia
Get to know Croatia’s capital on the included city tour. The city is packed with historic buildings, such as the gothic St. Marcus Church. Continue to Ljubljana, where a Local Guide will help you appreciate its imperial beauty.
Breakfast

DAY 8: Ljubljana
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.
Breakfast

What a beautiful vista as we leave Slovenia, the foothills of the Austrian Alps and its many memories of our travels here. Until next time Eastern Europe!

TOUR DIRECTOR
With #CosmosVacations, there’s no better way to get to know your destination than through the eyes of your Tour Director. Averaging over a decade… we’d like you to meet a Tour Director, who is representative of the type of expert that will be with you on your vacation.

VJENCESLAV ZATKOVIC
Years of Experience: 27

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“I decided to become a Tour Director in order to see the world-and lose weight. Unfortunately, the latter is impossible in Slovenia and Croatia, because the food is incredible. Still, it was worth a try! Since those early years I’ve discovered that the reality of travel is better than I ever imagined. Every day is different, and there is always something new to see and learn.”

MY NOTES:
Wentz (Vince), or many other derivatives/pronunciations of his name 🙂 was one of the best guides we have taken a tour with, and believe me, owning a travel agency, we have had opportunity to experience many, many guides over the past 13 years. Wentz kept our group punctual, engaged, excited, and well fed (maybe too well fed), as this is the first tour with walking that caused weight gain! We enthusiastically encourage anyone to take part in this tour under Wentz’s excellent guidance. His sense of humour is dry and he knows well when to laugh at himself, and also to get a good laugh out of his travel party!

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Greek Island Hopping

Greek Island Hopping

 

As Greece Vacation specialists, we’ve done Greek Island hopping itineraries in many different ways, from all-inclusive cruises between the islands, to ferries and multi-day island stays in numerous islands.

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Each of the different Greek Island Hopping types of itineraries offers a different pace, and a different value for each traveler. We work with you to determine which type of pace works best for you, and then we work out a price point that works for your budget.

Santorini is definitely a high point in every travel itinerary we’ve ever worked on for Greece, and it’s aesthetically one of the most scenic Greek Islands in our opinion. There is something lovely to capture your heart and eye around every single turn, and lots of amazing tavernas, bars, and restaurants for every budget. Definitely our love affair with Greece has never waned, and it’s never lost on us how very fortunate we have been to visit Greece and Santorini so many times.

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Whitewashed Rooftops of Santorini

 

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Unique Boutiques of Oia, Santorini

 

Mykonos is so quaint, and staying over on lovely Platos Gialos, is definitely worth your time.

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Beaches of Platys Gialos, Mykonos Greece

 

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Windmills of Old Town, Mykonos, Greece

 

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your travel plans for Greece. We are specialists in Greece Destination Weddings, Family Travel to Greece, Greece Island Hopping, and any specialty travel to Greece that you may require assistance with, we can help you map out the steps.

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Gezi Bosphorus, Istanbul Turkey (Hotel Review)

Hotel Review: Gezi Bosphorus Hotel – Istanbul, Turkey (Taksim)

Bosphorus Bridge from Gezi Bosphorus Hotel

Bosphorus View Deluxe room



I’ve now stayed in about 20 different hotels in Istanbul. 

While I don’t proclaim myself to be an expert (yet) – I’m working on that, and maybe I’ll attain Expert Status before I die. I do, however, think I’m getting a good feel for good and bad hotels in the city, and other locations around Turkey.

So this most recent visit to Istanbul, and I’ve stayed in a lovely new hotel located just off Taksim Square called Gezi Bosphorus Hotel.

I cannot say enough good things about this new boutique hotel. From the moment I arrived at 3am in the morning, to the day I departed and they helped me get my bags in the car, I’ve been astounded by the stellar service and comfort levels I experienced at this property.The view from my Deluxe Bosphorus room – Gezi Bosphorus

My bed was as comfy, no I take that back – it was even MORE comfy than my own bed at home. I could LIVE at Gezi forever I think, and I’ve become painfully particular about hotels over the years, so to say I want to “stay” in ANY hotel, is a BIG statement for me to make.

Bed that feels like heaven

  
Breakfast buffet daily was incredible with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, pure honeycombs (nice touch!) and the finest Turkish coffee.
 

Have more questions about Gezi Bosphorus Hotel or Istanbul Hotels? Feel Free to Contact Us. We specialize in Istanbul and Turkey Travel

Budapest Essentials …

It’s been called the “Pearl of the Danube” — and no wonder. For elegance and feel, Budapest easily rivals any other major capital city in Europe. The artery that defines it is the Danube, one of the world’s most celebrated waterways and also one of the most popular for European river cruising. Spend any time at all in this grand city, and it’s easy to understand why the riverbanks of Budapest — that’s right, the riverbanks — have been assigned UNESCO World Heritage status.

The first thing you need to know about Budapest: It, in effect, operates as two cities with distinctly different personalities. Buda, on the west bank of the Duna (as the Danube is called), is hilly and houses the restored Castle District, a cultural and arts center known for its famed Matthias Church, Royal Palace and Fishermen’s Bastion, a rampart that offers the best views in town. The entire district is a real scene-stealer.

Pest, on the east bank, is the hub for dining, shopping, banking and nightlife. There you’ll find the pedestrian shopping zone, Vaci Utca; Heroes’ Square; the old Jewish quarter; the not-to-miss Andrassy, Budapest’s grandest avenue; and the imposing neo-Gothic Parliament, modeled after the British version in London.

Budapest’s history dates back to the third century, when Celtic warriors occupied the area. Study the place a bit, and you’ll find yourself wondering: Who didn’t invade the city? The Romans, Magyars, Mongols, Ottoman Turks, Austrians, Germans and Soviets have all played starring roles in Budapest’s longstanding municipal drama. Hungarians are said to be famously pessimistic and cynical — maybe that history explains why. As one guide told us, “We lost all our battles, but we celebrated all our defeats.”

Budapest is a town that’s been destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries — part of the reason for its eclectic architecture. Its current skyline reflects the building programs and styles of the turn of the 20th century. For my part, I agree with Claudio Magris, who writes in his travel memoir, “Danube,” that “Budapest is the loveliest city on the Danube. It has a crafty way of being its own stage-set.”

What to See

A maze of cobbled streets and medieval courtyards, the Castle District is Budapest’s crowning achievement — literally. It hangs grandly above the city, and the lovely Matthias Church that is its centerpiece is known locally as “the coronation church.” Austria’s Franz Josef was crowned king of Hungary there in 1867 to the strains of Franz Liszt’s coronation mass, composed especially for the occasion. Today, as it has for centuries, the rampart next to the 700-year-old church offers incomparable views of the Danube and Pest. (There’s also a tourism office next to the church.) The scene of battles and wars since the 13th century, the Castle District is home to the former Royal Palace, one of Hungary’s most important national symbols.

There are shops and restaurants in the complex in addition to a number of other attractions, including the Budapest History Museum and the House of Hungarian Wines. The wine shop houses more than 700 wines from the country’s 22 growing regions. For a small fee, samples are available.
Andrassy Ut, the city’s grandest boulevard, is a 2.5-kilometer expanse, considered so special that the street was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2002.

There you’ll find the stunning State Opera House, opened in 1884; chic boutiques and grand villas with gardens; Franz Liszt Square with its open-air cafes; and, at the very end, Heroes’ Square. No visit to Budapest would be complete without a walk around the magnificent square, dominated by the Millenary Monument. The monument is topped by the Archangel Gabriel, credited with converting the pagan Magyars to Christianity. At the base of the column are seven figures on horseback, representing the Magyar tribes.

Across from the square is the Museum of Fine Arts and its showcase of Old Masters from outside Hungary. The Spanish, Italian and Dutch collections are particularly worth a look.

The architecturally eclectic St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest Roman Catholic church in the country, and took more than five decades to build. The main attraction here is the mummified hand of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary and founder of the nation; his hand is housed in the reliquary.
In the late 1930’s, the Old Jewish Quarter was a thriving community with about 200,000 Jews. Most perished in the Holocaust.

Today, the Great Synagogue, the world’s second-largest after Temple Emanu-El in New York City, stands tall in the now-shabby neighborhood. Seating 3,000 people and built between 1854 and 1859 by a Viennese architect, the synagogue, with its onion-shaped domes, looks Moorish. The complex also includes a Hall of Heroes, where a Monument of Hungarian-Jewish Martyrs was erected in 1991; a Jewish Museum; and a Holocaust memorial room.

It’s not in the Jewish Quarter, but the Holocaust Shoe Memorial — on the riverbank, just south of Parliament — is especially moving. The simple memorial, erected in 2005, features 60 pairs of cast-iron shoes, representing thousands of Jews who were shot on that spot by soldiers in World War II. Many fell or were pushed into the icy Danube and died.

Said to be one of the most beautiful McDonald’s restaurants on the planet, the fast-food outlet at Nyugati Railway Terminal is the largest in Hungary with its two-story Baroque interior crafted in the style of early 20th-century Budapest. Next door is the WestEnd City Center, the best shopping mall in Budapest.

The crowded Turkish baths are to Budapest what coffeehouses are to Vienna. This is where friends come to meet, gossip and relax in healing waters that are fed by the 120 thermal springs that feed the Danube. Among the most popular is Szechenyi Bath and Spa, located in a sumptuous yellow building at City Park, just above Heroes’ Square. There are indoor and outdoor pools, and it’s not unusual to see bathers playing chess on floating game boards. It’s a neat way to mingle with the locals.

Take a 20-minute detour out of the city to Godollo Royal Palace, the second-largest Baroque palace after Versailles. A favorite resort of Emperor Franz Josef and his Austrian Queen Elisabeth, the palace has a Grand Hall with marble-covered walls and gilded stucco ceilings; a Riding Hall; and the recently restored Baroque Theatre, now the venue for performances of chamber music and opera. If you’re lucky, you might catch a concert.

For a day trip into medieval Hungary, head to Esztergom, which delivers on two fronts: historical tradition and location. Situated on the scenic Danube Bend on the border between Hungary and Slovakia, this was the birthplace of St. Stephen — crowned there on Christmas Day in 1000 AD. Be sure to stop at Basilica, which was completed in the 1860’s, and the Bakocz chapel, built in 1510 by Florentine craftsmen, dismantled in the Turkish occupation and reassembled in 1823. You may also want to continue to Visegrad, whose heritage dates to the New Stone Age.

Where to Eat

Hungary has tasty national cuisine, much of it seasoned with paprika, which appears on restaurant tables beside the salt and pepper. Among the country’s signature dishes: goulash, a thick beef soup cooked with onions and potatoes; fisherman’s soup, a mixture of boiled fish, tomatoes, green peppers and paprika; chicken paprika; grilled fresh-water fish; and fried or grilled goose liver. Credit cards are widely accepted in restaurants. As for tipping, it’s customary to tip your waiter 10 percent, but be sure to check the bill first. Increasingly, the tip is included. It’s okay to tip in U.S. dollars or euros.

Long the centerpiece of Budapest’s cafe society, Gerbeaud is more than a sweet shop — it’s a Hungarian cultural institution. Known for its coffee and torte cakes, the cafe has classic high ceilings with crystal chandeliers, polished wood and marble, and thick curtains. Little has changed since it opened 150 years ago. The patisserie is sweetly situated on Pest’s Vorosmarty Square. The neo-Classical building also houses a pub with beer that’s brewed on-site, as well as a new gourmet restaurant, the Onyx.

For elegant dining, Gundel lives up to its legend. The award-winning restaurant, open under its current name since 1910, is located in a late 19th-century palace at Allatkerti Korut 2 in City Park, just a two-minute walk from Heroes’ Square. Gundel, with its innovative menu, is known — and deservedly so — for creating new spins on traditional classics. It can be a little stiff, though the formality eases up a bit during the Sunday lunch buffet. In the evening, men must wear jackets.

A local favorite for special outings, Karpatia Etterem, with its medieval interiors, will remind guests of Matthias Church. Situated in the courtyard of a former monastery, the restaurant specializes in traditional Hungarian cuisine, accompanied by traditional gypsy music, but also offers Mediterranean, Asian and Latin American fare. In addition to the restaurant, which is only open for dinner, there’s a less formal brasserie where you can grab lunch or snacks.

Budapest has a surprising number of Italian restaurants, and Fausto’s is one of the best established and most beloved. This elegant restaurant is the perfect place for a splurge, featuring dishes like lamb chops with goat cheese-flavored gnocchi and Mediterranean fish soup. For a less formal atmosphere but equally delightful Italian fare, try its sister restaurant, Osteria.

Hearty Jewish and Hungarian dishes — like matzo ball soup and roast goose leg with mashed potatoes and steamed cabbage — are on the menu at cozy Koleves (Stone Soup). The menu, which emphasizes seasonal and fresh ingredients, changes on a regular basis, and the wine list offers a selection of Hungarian options. Due to its popularity with visitors and locals alike, reservations are recommended.

Where to Stay

As Budapest’s popularity grows among visitors to Europe, its hotels have filled and rates have risen accordingly — but it’s still a bargain when compared to other major European capitals. Rates are often discounted during the winter months, when tourist numbers are down. Expect rate hikes over the summer and during holiday periods, especially the Formula One Grand Prix event held each August.

The cheapest places to stay are rooms in private homes, which the local tourist office can often help you find. There are also many inexpensive pensions and budget hotels, though these may be located farther outside the city center and lack amenities such as air-conditioning; ask before booking.

For a lavish and luxurious stay, head to the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, with its elegant historic facade and truly opulent spa (indulgences include a swimming pool, Niagara bathtubs and tropical rain showers, among others).

The property first opened as a luxury hotel back in 1896 (Josephine Baker stayed here in the 1920’s), and has since been fully restored. If your budget permits, opt for an executive room or suite; you’ll get free entrance to the business lounge where you can relax and enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks. All rooms, executive or not, offer marble bathrooms and free wireless Internet access. The hotel is comfortably located with easy access to public transportation.

Tucked away in an elegant 19th-century building is the Kapital Inn. Its four guestrooms are colorfully and stylishly decorated, and offer flat-screen TV’s, DVD players with a library of movies, free wireless Internet access and a complimentary minibar. To guarantee a private bathroom, book one of the “Deluxe” rooms. (A single bathroom is shared by guests staying in the two “Standard” rooms.) Weather permitting, breakfast is served outdoors on the lovely rooftop terrace. Note: This historic property is not wheelchair-accessible, and there is no elevator to the guestrooms.

For location and comfort, it’s hard to beat the Hilton Budapest next to Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion in the Castle District. The hotel has everything you’d expect of a Hilton: spacious rooms with flat-screen TV’s; stylish toiletries; and wireless high-speed Internet access throughout the hotel. There’s a restaurant that’s open all day and a lobby bar with views of Parliament across the Danube. Be sure to ask for a room with a view of the river.

A favorite of cruise lines, Best Western Hotel Hungaria is located near the Elizabeth Bridge in downtown Pest, so it’s close to many of the highlights. Best yet, it’s right next to Karpatia, the popular Hungarian restaurant. On-site, the hotel has two restaurants, a cocktail lounge and a fitness center. Computers are available, and there’s high-speed Internet access. The hotel also has excellent public transportation options with the Metro nearby.

The prime attractions at the Carlton Hotel are its affordable rates and its ultra-convenient location for sightseeing — it’s on the Buda side of the city at the foot of Castle Hill, just a short walk away from the Chain Bridge to Pest. Most of the city’s top attractions are within walking distance; for those that aren’t, you can easily catch the bus or Metro nearby. Rooms at the Carlton are basic but clean and comfortable enough, and the nightly rates include buffet breakfast and free Internet access.

Where to Shop

There’s terrific shopping in Budapest — at all manner of venues. Among the most popular souvenirs: hot or sweet paprika, the national spice; dried salami; Tokaji wine; Herend porcelain; cut glass; Helia, a facial cream made from the extract of sunflower seeds; embroidery; and Unicum, an herbal digestive sold in a distinctive round, black bottle with a red cross on it. As they say in Hungary, “It is good before, after and the day after.”

Vaci Utca is a wonderful pedestrian shopping street filled with gift shops, galleries, jewelers and boutiques. Also not to miss: a covered farmer’s market at the foot of Liberty Bridge on Vamhaz Korut at Vaci Utca’s southern terminus. It’s in an unmistakable building that looks like a railroad station with a yellow, green and red roof. Locals go there to buy groceries, but it’s also loaded with inexpensive souvenirs. Many of the market vendors accept U.S. dollars and euros (the local currency is the Hungarian forint), but ask first to be sure.

During the holiday season, you’ll find an outdoor Christmas market in Vorosmarty Square, just off of Vaci Utca.

Typically, shops open around 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Many businesses close at 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

Need help planning your Europe or Budapest Itinerary?
We’ve been there and can help!
Contact Us to start the process.

–written by Ellen Uzelac
for the Independent Traveler.comLink to Article: 
http://bit.ly/aZA0Vn