Belvaros (Inner City)

Budapest’s urban heart is full of bona fide sights plus innumerable tiny streets and grand avenues where you can wander for hours admiring the city’s stately old buildings—some freshly sparkling after their first painting in decades, others silently but still gracefully crumbling. Downriver, the romantic Danube promenade, the Duna korzó, extends along the stretch of riverfront across from Castle Hill. With Vörösmarty tér and pedestrian shopping street Váci utca just inland, this area forms Pest’s tourist core. A stretch of Váci utca, pedestrianized in the 1990s and rivaling the older, more famous section with a rich array of antiques stores, bookshops, cafés, and restaurants, continues on the other side of busy Kossuth Lajos utca all the way to the next bridge, Szabadság híd, and the indoor food market, the Vásárcsarnok. From here it’s just a few blocks to yet another vibrant, Pest-side street revitalized in the 1990s, Ráday utca.

Pest is laid out in broad circular körúts (“ring roads” or boulevards). Vámház körút is the first sector of the 2½-km (1½-mile) Kiskörút (Small Ring Road), which traces the route of the Old Town wall from Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) to Deák tér. Construction of the inner körút began in 1872 and was completed in 1880. Changing names as it curves, after Kálvin tér it becomes Múzeum körút (passing by the National Museum) and then Károly körút for its final stretch ending at Deák tér, where three of the four subway lines emerge. East of Károly körút are the weathered streets of Budapest’s former ghetto.

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Fodor's Budapest: with the Danube Bend & Other Highlights of Hungary

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