I will admit that Budapest wasn’t at the top of my travel list, probably because I had no idea what to expect from the city. After visiting during my interrailing trip, I can’t wait to return. The capital has so much to offer, understandably making it one of the biggest and most exciting cities in Central and Eastern Europe. To do lists include the famous thermal springs and admiring the beautiful architecture, to a thriving social life in the evening.
Country: Budapest, Hungary
Nights stayed: 3
Method of transportation: Train
Travel Breakdown: Prague Main Railway (Czech Republic) → Budapest (Hungary) (8 hours)
Mode of transport to accommodation: Taxify (No Uber available – but Taxify is basically identical to it)
Accommodation: Studio through AirBnb
Trip Highlights: New York Café. Parliament Building, Fishermans Bastion
Overall experience: 8/10
Our AirBnb was only a 10 minute walk from this castle so it was the first thing we visited. The way up to the castle was hectic because of the Budapest World Games and what appeared to be a movie set. But the view was worth it, as the castle was absolutely beautiful. After admiring the beautiful scenery, we made our way round to the front of the castle which is also the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture.
At the same time, there was a dog competition going on. Having never seen a competition like this, it was so interesting and cute to watch, especially because there was a HUSKY. Anyone who knows me is aware of my love for huskies, and because of that I’m pretty sure I made Ryan sit with me for around thirty minutes just so I could pet it.
In my opinion, this was by far the most picturesque site in Budapest. The Hungarian Parliament is one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings and the world’s third largest Parliament building. The Parliaments captivating architecture will have you amazed both during the day and at night. I can assure you that once see this landmark, you will want to see it again and again. The Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion offered a perfect view of the magnificent building, especially during sun set.
I would recommend visiting the Batthyány Square. This town square is located on the Buda side of the Danube river, and is directly opposite the Hungarian Parliament Building.
♥St Stephen’s Basilica
This Basilica took over 50 years to complete and was finally finished in 1905. Unfortunately, there was a wedding going on at the time so we did not want to get too close! However, had we had the opportunity we would have gone up the cupola, which would have offered the whole view of Budapest.
Moving away from the historical side, when the sun goes down the Basilica area can be seen as a social hub. There are various places for entrainment such as bars, resultants and clubs.
♥Budapest Eye region
Having stumbled upon the Budapest Eye region on our way to the Chain Bridge, I was instantly drawn in by the market stalls offering a whole range of souvenirs. Being the souvenir lover that I am, this was a perfect place to explore.
There were also little food, fruit, sweet and chip stalls which were reasonably cheap. In this region, there are also lots of pubs which offer a really nice place to just chill and appreciate everything going on around you.
To reach the Buda side of the city, you must cross the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge. The bridge was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark and first opened in 1849 – it spans across the Danube dividing the cities Buda and Pest.
♥Buda Castle / Funicular
Personally, this was a complete waste of money. Having been in various funicular rides before, this was extremely short and not worth the money. Costing HF1200 one way, or HF1800 for a return ticket, we would have been better off just walking up and experiencing the views.
♥ Budavári Sokadalom Craft Market
On the way to the Fisherman’s Bastion from the Buda Castle, I found a small compound of souvenir shops. In terms of prices, we walked around and compared all the prices (including the stalls at the Budapest Eye) and found that postcards and magnets were cheaper, shot glasses were the same price, and Christmas ornaments were way over priced.
Completed in 1902, this historic landmark is an essential visit for all tourists. Alongside the Houses of Parliament, this was also one of my highlights during my time in Budapest. This Neo – gothic terrace overlooks the Danube river and is situated near Castle hill, providing the perfect skyline views of the city.
We were there around 5PM and the ticket office had closed, so we just made our way up the towers. Whilst the view of Budapest, especially the Houses of Parliament was beautiful, the Bastion itself was full of culture.
Vaci Street was one of the busiest places in the downtown section of the city centre. It features a large number of restaurants, shops and pubs. However, these are all catering primarily to the tourist market – so whilst pretty to explore, the food prices are not so pretty!
♥Central Market Hall
The Central Market Hall is the perfect place to combine shopping with sightseeing. With stalls over three floors, the market offers a huge variety of goods, including foods such as meats, pasties and sweets, to souvenirs.
Being allergic to chlorine and only ever being able to go into salt water swimming pools (which are rare), the availability of thermal springs in Budapest’s was exciting. Not only that, but Budapest is famous for its natural thermal spas – so I knew I definitely wanted to visit one.
Why did we pick Rudas? Having already been to the Szechenyi Bath during the Sparty – we wanted to visit a new bath. At first, Gellert spa looked the best (purely out of photos) however with a price tag of €20 each we automatically ruled it out. Rudas baths only cost €11 per person for 5 thermal water pools (temperatures ranging from 28° – 42° and 1 immersion pool (16°). The unisex hot spring of the thermal bath is radio-active, rich in calcium, magnesium, fluoride ions, hydrogen-carbonate, sulphate and sodium.
Don’t forget to take note of the opening hours which can vary during the year. More importantly, remember that there are both male, female and mixed days at the bath. Luckily we visited on a weekend where it was a mixed day.
Having no expectation of what to find at the baths, we went. Don’t forget to bring swimming costumes, flip flops and a towel – otherwise you will have to rent some (gross).
On arrival at Rudas we had to wait 10 – 15 minutes to actually enter the baths, as they had reached full capacity. Upon entering, the one thing that stood out instantly was the awful smell of rotting egg and the what seemed to be thousands of people in the water.
Having gotten over the rotting egg smell, the experience was amazing. There were water temperatures to accommodate everyone – from the coldest at 16° (which Ryan loved – I didn’t even dare put anything but my feet in) – to 42° (which I loved, but Ryan absolutely hated).
Advice: either go really early or really late to avoid the rush of people. It will make the experience more enjoyable and you will be able to relax without loads of people constantly entering and leaving the water.
♥Looked at Gellert Hill
Having just come out of the Rudas baths and feeling relaxed, the thought of climbing loads of stairs just didn’t cut it – so off home we went.
If I was to visit Budapest again, I would visit the hill after seeing Buda Castle as it is not that far, and from the hill you get a wonderful view of Buda Castle itself.
♥New York Cafe
Definitely one of the highlights of my whole interrial trip so far. The outside of the Café does not give away how beautiful it is inside, leaving you star stuck when you walk through the doors.
Dress code varies – from formal to jeans and a top, however the majority of the people were nicely dressed.
The service was really good, with live music and really nice staff.
The food? Absolutely horrid. Both pastas didn’t have much flavour and drowned in oil. Not to mention that a bottle of water is £6.50. The price of the food itself is not too bad considering the extraordinary interior and service – around €15 – 25 for a main course.
If anyone is thinking of visiting, don’t let the food put you off. There were loads of people just buying a few cocktails or a dessert, took some fancy photos then left. In reality you are paying for the photos and live music, as the food we had was not worth it.
♥Budapest at night
After getting glammed up for the New York Café, we decided to walk along the Danube river at night after the sunset took place at around 8 pm (August). Although we were tired after a long day of exploring and knowing we had an 8 hour train journey the next day, we still decided to go for a few hours.
As many of the city’s main attractions are found along the riverbank, we found it the best way to truly experience Budapest at night. For anyone travelling to Budapest, regardless how tired you may be, I would recommend visiting the city at night at least once. During the day you can see the iconic landmarks in their detailed glory, at night these buildings are beautifully lit up and shining.
Places I’d visit if I had more time:
- Margaret Island
- Go up Gellert Hill
- River Cruise
- Luxury Diner: Halaszbastya Restaurant
Overall, Budapest was incredible. 2 days and a half was enough to have an overview of the beautiful city, however on return I would spend a minimum of 3 days to make the most out of all the opportunities in Budapest.