Originally two cities, hilly Buda and flat Pest, Hungary’s capital straddles the Danube River. Sunday morning was recommended to me as a quiet and romantic time to stroll the Buda Castle District without the usual tourist crowds. This UNESCO Heritage neighborhood is rich in history: Palaces, churches, medieval houses, Gothic arches, and museums are packed together on crooked streets. Worth exploring are the restored Matthias Church — more than 700 years old — whose roof is covered in colorful ceramic tiles, and the adjacent Fishermen’s Bastion. With seven turrets, the bastion is perhaps the best place to view the city and the river. There is a fee to enter the top-level turrets (adults $3.20, children ages 2-12 $1.60). However, the free lower- level lookout provides an equally stunning view.
Many of the area’s historic buildings are residences (no cars are allowed except by those who live or work here) and there are many good cafes and restaurants. Finish the walking tour with an early lunch at Speiz, twice awarded the Bib Gourmand qualification by Michelin Guide (2012-2013), an informal eatery devoted to classic Hungarian dishes such as duck confit, chicken paprika, and goulash. Entrees $14-$22. Hess András tér 6 H, 011-36-1-488-7416, www.varaspeiz.hu/?lang=EN