Hungary: Budapest

Budapest, Budapest – what can I say? I think I am in love. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit this country twice in 2018 and both times were very different experiences. Hungary’s capital with the River Danube in between the separation of hilly Buda and flat Pest. There’s just so much to do and see during both day and night. They also have some pretty good cafes to go to eat and chill in.

Places to Go:

Decided to write this up the way I would travel over the weekend for Hungary. So if you have two somewhat almost full days for Saturday and Sunday. I would start with an early day on Saturday and early Sunday leaving your bags in a locker. I have a recommended place to leave your bags in the quick tips section.

But here we go, two somewhat full days in Budapest:

Saturday:

  • Go take the bus, crossing the Chain Bridge to the first funicular railway (Return Tickets for Adults: HUF 1,700 (approx. 6 Euros / Person)) up to the top of the Castle Hill, right next the Royal Palace and the Hungarian Presidential Palace in the Buda Castle District. Here you can walk around the area and see the best views to take with the Parliament in the back drop and walk by the Buda Castle.
  • Fisherman’s Bastion would then be your next stop which would have some pretty cool arches and amazing views of the Parliament in the background for those people who love a good insta photo.
  • Matthias Church – this is literally next to the Fisherman’s Bastion. This church is so beautiful inside and it has a mini museum above it. Went both times of the day to see it.
  • Chain Bridge – come back down the Funicular and walk back to the Pest side through the Chain Bridge. In the evenings cross the road and take a great photo with the view of the Chain Bridge and its traffic.
  • After a few hours, it seems like it time for lunch, take a bus towards the Great Market Hall and enjoy langos for lunch. When we arrived there, there was a sign saying it would be close by 14:30. There was a massive queue – so patience is key. There is also not a lot of seats anywhere, so either be prepared to stand with your food waiting for a space or eat it standing up. The market in general has everything you could imagine, from clothes to food to toys. It also has a big variety of paprika.

 

  • We then took a bus to Gellert Hill and crossed the Liberty Bridge on the way. Gellert Hill gives you another panoramic view of Budapest. Gellért Hill was named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill. Next to it is the Citadella – a Hungarian word for fortress. The place is of strategic importance to Budapest’s military history.
  • After this, we went down to the Hungarian Parliament Building, while passing the memorial for the fallen Jews shot by Arrow Cross militiamen, Shoes on the Danube Bank. Passing this place, you can feel the change of atmosphere, filled with sadness, people would be leaving flowers behind and lighting candles.
  • In the evening, after dinner we head out to one of the famous Ruin Bars in Budapest: Szim-pla Kert. We walked around and had shisha. It was a like an abandoned factory with multiple floors and just covered with a bunch of knickknacks, fairy lights, junk and just basically a lot of random things. There is a room filled with scientific instruments, then a room filled with grafitti, then a room filled with old school TVs. Vibe is pretty cool and I can imagine visiting the place with friends for a great night out.

Sunday:

This is basically our, we did so much on Saturday, its time to take it down a notch with Sunday and chill.

  • We woke up early for the Szechenyi Thermal Baths spent a few hours there enjoying the thermal baths. Budapest is known to be the capital of thermal baths – so worth experiencing this in the country. This is by far the most famous and touristy spa in Budapest – but the trick is getting there early beating all the crowds who cannot wake up early enough.
  • We had brunch and afterwards headed down to St Stephen’s Basilica. The church is named Stephen in honour of Hungary’s first king. The interior is very beautiful, however I still think I like Matthias Church better. Hehe…this is also near the rose gelato place.
  • During my first visit to Budapest we also went to the House of Terror – that would require at least a good 3 hours of your time. Very very comprehensive museum of the role Hungary played in the war.
  • Hosok Tere (Heroes’ Square) – this is near the Szechenyi Thermal Baths, but also a good walk near Vajdahunyad Castle

 

Places to Eat In:

  • Hungarikum Bisztro – you really need to reserve a place here at least 1 or 2 weeks in advance. Reservations are all via email. Most evenings they are fully booked weeks in advance. But it’s all worth it – the food is the best I’ve had so far in Budapest. Try the Beef Goulash and the Chicken Paprikash.
  • Eat langos in the Great Market Hall (http://budapestmarkethall.com/great-market-hall-budapest) – this is near the Liberty Bridge too; which you can take a bus directly up to Gellert Hill. The market is closed on a Sunday so if you’re here on a weekend trip, better go on the Saturday. We had the traditional langos served with garlic oil, sour cream, ham and grated cheese on top. The best thing ever! We also had a sweet langos that had Nutella and banana.

  • Have a coffee and desert in the most beautiful café in the world – New York Café – again, highly recommended that you book a few days in advance as they only have a few slots in the afternoon. Most of the tourists would just line up and wait for up to 30 minutes, however, if you do not like your time waiting about – booking is the way to go. This is a quick online booking.

  • Café Zsivago – this is near our Airbnb and the Opera station – perfect place for a quick breakfast. Food and OJ is good, and great value for money. Atmosphere is quite homey and if I lived in the country, I’d probably work in the café a lot.
  • The bigfish seafood bistro – great seafood for dinner. You get to pick from the fish counter the seafood you’d like to eat and you can tell them how you’d like it cooked. Quite pricey but seafood is fresh.
  • Gelarto Rosa, Szent István tér, Hungary – this is near St. Stephen’s Basilica – they are famous for their gelatos in the shape of roses. Not only is the gelato good but its also very beautiful.

 

Quick Tips:

  • Hungarian Forint to GBP (1 HF = 0.0027 GBP)
  • Lion’s Locker – Budapest, Vasvári Pál u. 11, 1061 Hungary – max 5 Euros per day
  • Taxi to and from the City Centre would be around 26 Euros (8,500 Forint)
  • Everything in Budapest seems to need organisation and the need to get everything booked in advance. So I suggest you get yourself a pen and paper and get booking a few weeks in advance to make sure you are confirmed for the best restaurants and spa/massages in town.
  • Our AirBnB was probably the most convenient AirBnB space we stayed in. Everything was self-service, meaning if we arrived at the airport at midnight – we wouldn’t have to hassle the host to wait up for us. Check out was pretty straight forward too. We had independence and easy access in and out of the building. Highly recommended – https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/22302458
  • Buy a 48-hour travelcard. If you are travelling as a couple, duo or group – buy the group travelcard that should cover all of you. This is the cheaper way to travel around Budapest. Plus Budapest have really good transportation links.
  • Having a 48-hour travelcard allows you to travel any time of day. I recommend you visit the Fisherman’s Bastion both times of the day. The evening vibes of the place is pretty chilled out and has an amazing vibes of the parliament lit up with lights.
  • If you’re going to the spa, in Szenchenyi Spa – make sure that you check in 40 mins before the massage is booked to not lose your place. Also book in advance so secure a space, we booked ours in this website: http://szechenyispabaths.com/royal-thermal-massage-in-szechenyi-bath/

 

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