Built by the Celts, occupied by the Romans, invaded by the Tatars and pillaged by the Ottomans, both Buda and Pest towns were almost totally destroyed in battles. The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and the amazing civic development that followed resulted in the present day Budapest - the grand Hungarian capital and one of Europe's most beautiful cities.
Known as "Little Paris of Central Europe"or "Pearl of Danube," Budapest boasts green parks, quaint streets, Renaissance culture and a pulsating nightlife that is on par with its European counterparts.
The great Danube splits the ancient city. Most of Budapest's famous sights are concentrated on the romantic Castle Hill on the Buda side, in downtown Pest and along the riverside walkways. You can get a great view via the funicular railway that takes you to the top.
The 14th Century Buda Castle or Royal Palace is a popular stop housing three large museums, the Vienna Gate, Matthias Church, Fishermen's Bastion and an underground Labyrinth that's a delight for children.
Don't expect cheap accommodation in the Castle Hill area where the views are spectacular and the buys expensive. Consider staying in Buda instead.
There are eight famous bridges across the river in Budapest that tourists will love to photograph, if not cross. You can have a superb glimpse over the bridges from the Citadella on the top of Buda's Gellert Hill or ride a boat to enjoy both riverbanks at the same time. For romantic views of the city, go at night.
Margaret Island with its large parks, gardens of flowers and old trees is a great place to spend a sunny day. Or you can head to Hajógyári-sziget Island where Budapest hosts the Sziget Fesztivál every August - Central Europe's most popular outdoor music festival attracting more than 300,000 visitors.
Downtown (Belváros) of Pest is the administrative and business centre of Budapest and the whole of Hungary. The main sights here include the majestic Hungarian Parliament Building (Országház) beautifullyoverlooking the Danube; the city's main church St. Stephen's Basilica (Szent István Bazilika) with a 96-meter dome and an inside decorated with mosaics; and the Great Synagogue - the biggest in Europe and one of the most impressive ones in the world including a Jewish Museum.
Try to experience an opera at the spectacular State Opera House or a try some forklore or classical music at any of Budapest's many concert halls.
Budapest is a famous spa city, so go "bathing". The last vestige of Turkish culture in Budapest, the baths are built around hot springs and usually complemented with steam baths, saunas, massage services and drinking cures. The largest of the traditional public baths is the Gellért Baths decorated beautifully with mosaic tiles.
It's a great walking city but visitors can also take taxis, minibuses, metro, railway or the newer tram and bus services to get around. Great spots include Andrássy Avenue, the Pest Broadway and the House of Terror.
Try some tasty Hungarian food from goulash to pancakes at the well-known Szent Jupát Söröző & Étterem restaurant, the Kisrablo, or the budget Granny's Pancake. Or you could venture out for pizzas like "Usonka" or "Lenin's favourite" at Marxim; an all-you-can eat feast with unlimited wine and beer at the Mongolian Barbecue or the most authentic Korean food in the area at Seoul House.