After spending a delightful week in Budapest this Spring, I’ve become an ardent proselytizer for the charms of Hungary’s capital. All of the travel guidebooks and websites promote the city’s fantastic natural setting straddling the River Danube, its fabulous architecture, magnificent bridges and remnants of Hapsburg grandeur, but they go astray with unnecessary comparisons to other great capitals like Prague and Vienna. Yes, Budapest has grand, imperial buildings and historic coffeehouses, but it also has artfully decaying neighborhoods and a gritty charisma that has not been found in Vienna for a generation, and has been Disney-fied away in Prague in the last decade. And, thankfully, it’s not yet overrun by hipsters, artistic poseurs and techie wannabees like Berlin.
The only way to judge for yourself is to go there.