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5 of the best art stops in Budapest, Hungary

In recent years, Budapest has become a firm favourite for travels of all generations. For young backpackers exploring Europe, the Hungarian capital offers quirky ruin bars and late-night parties in the famous thermal baths; for mature travellers, highlights include the rich political history embodied by Buda Castle and Parliament, as well as hearty Hungarian cuisine and fine-dining. One aspect which unites all visitors to the Pearl of the Danube is the citys artistic heritage, with traditional, modern and contemporary art on display in various museums and galleries throughout Budapest. Heres our list of top Budapest art spots:

Magyar Nemzeti Galria (Hungarian National Gallery)

At the top of Castle Hill looking out over the Danube river and the city is Buda Castle, which was home to the Hungarian monarchy for some 600 years; today, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been home to the Hungarian National Gallery since 1957. The journey to the top of Castle Hill alone is an activity not-to-be-missed, which can be reached either by a pleasant uphill walk or a ride on the funicular. The views from Castle Hill are breathtaking, and can be enjoyed alongside a spot of lunch or an afternoon drink from one of the cafes and restaurants in the area. The Hungarian National Gallery houses both Hungarian and international works of arts, from the Medieval period up to the modern day; this collection boasts 6,000 paintings, 2,100 sculptures, 11,000 drawings and 5,000 prints. One of the striking architectural features of the gallery is the Dome, which offers unparalleled views of the city from its terrace, whilst the interior of the Dome is highlighted with hanging sculptures. Until July, the gallery will host an exhibition on German artist Georg Baselitz, with paintings and sculptures from public and private collections.

Magyar Szecesszi Hza (House of Hungarian Art Nouveau)

During the early 20th century, Budapest was enamoured with the Art Nouveau style, which emerged from Britain and spread across Europe and the rest of the world. As a result, the citys landscape is scattered with stunning Art Nouveau buildings, with some examples combining unique Hungarian architectural elements. Budapests love affair with this art movement is celebrated by the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau, situated in the former home of the wealthy Bedő family. The house was built in 1903 by architect Vidor Emil, who was responsible for the first Art Nouveau style house in the city. Today, the house is owned by Tivadar Vad, who renovated the building to its former glory and opened his Art Nouveau collection to the public; the collection exhibits furniture, interiors, porcelain art and paintings from this period. After admiring the delights of Vads collection, have a bite to eat or a coffee break in the museums cafe, Secessio Cafe & Delikat, which offers sandwiches, cakes and drinks in a charming Art Nouveau setting.

Mai Man Hz (Mai Man House of Photography)

In 1893, Imperial and Royal Court photographer, Mai Man, embarked on the project of an eight-storey home and studio in the heart of Budapest. The buildings architecture and decor reflected Mans aesthetic interests, featuring an impressive neoclassical faade; meanwhile, the interior aided his photography, with a Daylight Studio (Napfnyműterem) included on one floor, used to take photos with natural light. Since the late 1990s, the house has been used as centre for Hungarian photography, encouraging new photographers whilst preserving the photographic works of Hungarian artists from the 20th century. Past exhibitions have included emerging native photographers, such as Andi Schmied, alongside renowned war photographer, Robert Capa. The house is also home to the Jzsef Pcsi Library of Photography, which provides photographic resources for public use.

Szpművszeti Mzeum (Museum of Fine Arts)

On the edge of Heroes square - one of the most recognisable locations in Budapest - is the grand neoclassical building of the Museum of Fine Arts. The museums collection consists of an astounding 100,000 pieces, ranging from Classical Antiquities to Old Master paintings which have been gathered from the collections of Buda Castle, the noble Esterhzy and Vichy families, and other collectors. Amongst these pieces is the collection of Egyptian art, which is the second largest collection of its kind in Central Europe. The permanent exhibition of Old Masters includes important works from across Europe, such as Raphaels Esterhazy Madonna and Titians Portrait of Doge Marcantonio Trevisani. Moving into the 19th century, the Department of Art after 1800 is as rich in artistic masterpieces as the museums other collections. This section presents the work of Romanticist, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, such as Delacroix, Manet and Monet. The museum is currently undergoing extensive renovation, and will be reopened in 2018.

Iparművszeti Mzeum (Museum of Applied Arts)

Another example of Budapests Art Nouveau architecture, the Museum of Applied Arts is located in the striking design of dn Lechner - also known as the Hungarian Gaud. Built between 1893 and 1896, the building also integrates elements of Islamic and Hindu architecture and features a vibrantly-coloured roof decorated with Zsolnay tiles. Within the opulent exterior is a collection of metalwork, furniture, textiles and glass, celebrating the craftsmanship of Hungary. Until June of this year, the museum is presenting an exhibition on the Modernist design of Hungarian-born architect and furniture designer, Marcel Breuer. Other permanent exhibitions from the Museum of Applied Arts are also situated in the baroque Nagyttny Castle and the Gyrgy Rth Museum, featuring further examples of Hungarian craft and skill.

Pontus Silfverstolpe is Co-Founder ofBarnebys.

If you would like to be a guest blogger onA Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, pleasecontact us.

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My Namibian top 5

Im really lucky to have visited Namibia many times over while guiding for an overland company. Although I eventually settled down in East Africa, Namibia is where I fell in love with the continent and is still one of my favourite countries in the world. So when I had the opportunity to go there on holiday, I jumped at it!

The country doesnt initially appeal to many first-time safari goers, and in a way I get that although Namibia is home to Etosha National Park, it doesnt offer you the same kind of game experience you will find in the likes of Tanzania, Kenya or Botswana. What it does provide, however, is a sense of adventure, insanely beautiful landscapes and niche wildlife experiences that are not available in any other country!

The Namib Desert & Sossusvlei

Ive honestly lost count of the amount of times I have driven through the Namib-Naukluft National Park, headed for sand dunes at sunrise and cooked breakfast at Sossusvlei. This area never fails to take my breath away! The landscape here is like no other place in the world. Burnt-red sand dunes pitted with bright white vleis stretch over nearly 50,000 square kilometres, creating Africas largest game park. The sheer vastness is something every visitor to Namibia has to experience!

You can explore this region on horseback, in a plane or even on a quad bike, but nothing beats going out here on foot.

Look up!

The landscape in Namibia is often referred to as a moon-scape, as it apparently bears a remarkable resemblance to our lunar neighbour. Of course, having never actually set foot on the moon myself I cant say with 100 per cent certainty whether this is true or not, but if pictures are anything to go by then I can definitely see the likeness. It comes as no surprise, then, that here is the closest Ive felt to the stars!

With many remote pockets of this country being so far from any human centre, the light pollution is non-existent and the night skies are among the darkest on Earth. Whats most amazing about a sky so dark is how much light it emits! To say the stars are mind blowing would be an understatement. The international Dark-Sky Association, the go-to authority on light pollution, has certified the Namib Desert as one of its Dark Sky Reserves because of the spectacularly starry night.

Desert elephants

The nomads of the desert, these elephants have adapted to survive in the harsh climate of Damaraland and Kaokoland with very little water and a far more limited diet than their distant relatives found in other regions and parks across Africa.

My group set off with our vehicle and guide after an early breakfast. Even in winter this is an area that gets super-hot during the day, so the earlier you get out the better chance you have of seeing the elephants in action. We followed tracks and poo for about 45 minutes before we found a herd of around 10 eles! A big perk of leaving so early was that we were the first group at the sighting, so we were able to enjoy an uninterrupted hour with the herd before leaving them to the rest of their day. I think what surprised me the most was just how difficult these enormous creatures were to spot they seemed to blend in perfectly with the mountainous backdrop!

Hot air ballooning over the Namib Desert

This activity had been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and finally I have been able to tick it off. Driving through the dunes is incredible, but floating above them is even better! I arrived at the launch point just before sunset in time to see the process of actually setting up the balloon. With a basket that weighs 750 kilograms, this is no mean feat I avoided continually asking myself how on earth something so heavy stays aloft with just a canvas and a flame!

The experience lasts for about an hour. We went with the wind, gliding silently over enormous herds of oryx, springbok, and even a couple of ostrich with 10 chicks. The game here isnt the main focus, though; its all about trying to grasp the immensity of the area and enjoying the unique blend of colours only this desert provides. The burnt-red dunes and their black shadows, rolling plains and rocky outcrops meet here in the Namib and create an optical wonderland!

Rhino trekking

Namibia has the highest population of black rhino anywhere in Africa, and with the numbers dwindling at such an alarming rate seeing these beasts at such close quarters really is a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I was staying at the newly opened Huab Under Canvas in Damaraland, a brilliantly rustic, authentic and above anything else adventurous tented camp on the banks of the Huab River in the Huab Conservancy, a core black rhino area. After breakfast we set off accompanied by two Save the Rhino trackers and a member of the Namibian police force who is stationed in the conservancy as part of the countrys anti-poaching efforts. Watching the rangers pick up on the slightest dent in the bushes or a faded incomplete footprint was remarkable and almost as impressive as finding the creature in question.

Coming across any animal on foot is exhilarating, but one whose very real demise is at the forefront of every safari-goers mind really is rather awe inspiring.

Julian Carter-Manning is a Co-founder and MD at Yellow Zebra Safaris.

If you would like to be a guest blogger onA Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, pleasecontact us.

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