Budapest is the capital and largest city of Hungary in Central Europe. It is famous for being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and one of the most visited cities on the continent. But what not everyone knows is that Budapest is made up of two (actually three) historically separate cities - Buda and Pest. These two cities are located on opposite sides of the river banks.

In 1873 the cities of Buda, Obuda, and Pest were unified into a single city called "Budapest" (supposedly the name "Pestbuda" was considered but was rejected). Budapest became the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and one can see the architecture that speaks to the city's imperial past. Today visitors can't help but feel the different vibe and architecture on the two sides of the city.


What To Know About Budapest

Today Budapest is one of the largest cities on the Danube River with a population of around 1.7 million and a metro population of around 3.3 million (a third of Hungary's population).

The history of Budapest goes way back to when the Romans transformed a Celtic settlement into the town of Aquincum - the capital of their province of Lower Pannonia. Long after the Romans had been pushed out of the region, the Hungarians arrived in the territory in the late 9th century.

  • 1873: Cities Of Buda, Obuda, and Pest Combined Into Budapest

By the 15th century, the re-established Buda was one of Europe's centers of Renaissance humanist culture.

Today the center of the city is defined by the Danube River and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Hungarian Parliament on the Danube is perhaps the most recognizable structure and commonly features on postcards of the city.

  • Visitors: Around 12 Million Visitors Annually
  • Geothermal Springs: Around 80 Geothermal Springs

The city is also home to around 80 geothermal springs - the largest thermal water cave system in Europe. It is sometimes known as the spa capital of Europe.

Related: 20 Photos Highlighting Why Budapest Is Europe's Hidden Gem

Buda - The Ancient Royal Capital

Buda is the historic capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and forms the western part of the city of Budapest. It has around a third of the city's territory (most of which is wooded) and was historically the upper, ruling class part of the city.

Notable landmarks include Buda Castle (that is actually worth visiting), the Citadella, and Sandor Palace (now the president of Hungary's residence). Buda includes the hillocks that the citadel was built on.

  • Buda Castle: Built During The 13th Century
  • Notable Landmarks: Buda Castle, Citadella, Sandor Palace
  • Capital: Buda Is the Ancient Capital

It is difficult to say which city is older as both sides have been inhabited since prehistoric times - although it seems that Buda may be older than Pest. Still, neighboring Óbuda (the Roman town of Aquincum) seems to be the oldest. Óbuda just means "Old Buda" in Hungarian and Óbuda was the ancient residence of the kings.

According to, Buda was home to the tradesmen, craftsmen, and artisans who make their wares for the royals and nobles. In history, Buda was the more prestigious of the two cities.

Related: Travel From Prague To Budapest: 10 Stunning Tourist Pics That Prove "It Is All About The Journey"

Pest - The Party Side Of Budapest

Pest is the eastern half of the city just crossed from Buda and is mostly flat. The most interesting monuments in the city include the Hungarian Parliament Building, Heroes' Square, and Andrássy Avenue. Besides those, Pest is home to the Inner City - this is where the party scene is and most of the hostels and other accommodations.

Note that in Hungarian "S" is pronounced something like the English sound "Sh", so "Pest" is pronounced "Pesht".

  • Pronunciation: "Pesht"
  • Home: Of The Night Life And Bars
  • Notable Buildings: Hungarian Parliament Building, Heroes' Square, and Andrássy Avenue
  • Inner City: In Pest

By the 12th century, Pest had become a prosperous, German merchant city surrounded by walls. But still took a long time for the city to recover from the devastating Tatar invasion. Pest was also the city known for more the vices - a tradition that arguably continues today being home to most of the nightlife.

Pest is also home to a number of other attractions like the most iconic thermal public baths and Budapest's Great Market Hall which is a haven for foodies and everyone should visit.