Because it’s never too late to share good experiences, one year after visiting Budapest, I think it’s time to tell you about my 4-day trip there! Especially now that we are all stuck at home, let’s read about travels and plan our next adventures. So I chose Budapest as it’s a nice city not far from Prague (where I live) – there is now a direct flight (way shorter than the bus). For that, I picked the best guide to accompany me: my boyfriend who had lived in the Hungarian capital for some time. May was a perfect season to visit Budapest, I can only recommend. Here are my favourites from the city nicknamed the « Pearl of the Danube »:
The Parliament | The most impressive
The Parliament is THE building symbolizing Budapest, so obviously you can’t miss it. The outside is just stunning and it’s better to visit the inside as well: you’ll have to pay for the tour but you’ll get a guide, which makes it more interesting. What will you see: The Holy Crown of Hungary, luxuriously decorated rooms and the hall of the National Assembly (which is still in use today for the sessions).
Fisherman’s Bastion | The most Instagramable
Another must-see in Budapest is the Fisherman’s Bastion, built in a Neo-Romanesque style and located on the Buda hill. It’s a great spot for a photo shoot with the Parliament Building in the background. Go there by day, come back by night for less tourists and to experience a different atmosphere. Next to the Fisherman’s Bastion is Matthias Church, that you can also visit (described hereafter).
Citadella | The best view
Up for a little climb? From the Citadella, you’ll have a great view on all buildings that make up the city. It’s worth going all the way to the top! The Citadella itself is part of Budapest’s military history: it went from Austrians to Nazis to Soviets and remains nowadays a symbol of oppression as well as freedom. Ideally, you should get there before the sunset and stay at night, why not with a bottle of wine?
(#BotellónStyle, only a few know!)
Széchenyi Thermal Bath | The most relaxing
You’ve probably heard about Budapest’s thermal baths. Definitely spend some time there, it’s amazing! We chose to explore Széchenyi, the largest medicinal baths in Europe, for its outdoor swimming pool and its variety of baths. But others exist like Gellért Baths, which I haven’t personally tried. On the way, we took the oldest metro in town, then walked through Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) and the beautiful City Park (Városliget) whose castle is worthy of a fairy tale. The whole Széchenyi Thermal Bath experience was a romantic and playful moment.
Ruin bars | The most typical
Budapest is known for its ruin bars, places where decoration is literally made of eve-ry-thing you can find! The atmosphere is easy-going and you definitely have to experience ruin bars for a cool evening. The most iconic one is probably Szimpla Kert where we went to have a few (local) drinks.
Street Food Karaván | The coolest spot where to eat
What could be better than a place full of food trucks? From the revisited lángos to burgers to vegetarian meals, there are options for all tastes. The cool thing is that you can eat directly in the garden. Bonus point: Karaván is next door to Szimpla Kert ruin bar, so it’s a good combination to start with a snack and then continue with a drink.
Free walking tour | The least expensive
As usual, we went for a free walking tour – in my opinion the best way to visit and learn a lot about a city within a few hours – starting from Elizabeth (Erzsébet) Square. Our guide was cheerful, funny and he shared with us his knowledge about History and local traditions. If you are not familiar yet with the concept of free walking tours, you basically pay what you think it’s worth at the end of the tour. In other words, it works just like a tip. I don’t remember which company we chose, but no worries, there are plenty of them and you can easily pre-book your tour online. Those are also available in Spanish.
Dohány Street Synagogue | The most educational
For the first time in my life, I walked into a synagogue and not just any synagogue: the largest one in Europe (also known as the Great Synagogue)! Regardless of your religion, I really recommend visiting it: guides are available in many languages and they’ll tell you about the architectural design of the building, but more importantly about the Holocaust in Hungary, which was one of the hardest hit countries. We completed our visit with the adjacent Hungarian Jewish Museum.
Matthias Church | The most surprising
From the outside, you will appreciate the colourful roofs, characteristic of the Secession style. Don’t hesitate to walk in and discover the nice atmosphere of this church, large and intimate at the same time. I liked that the decoration wasn’t made of gold and flashy things. It was one of the most unexpected surprise of this trip!
The Great Market Hall | The most local
We’ve completed our journey there. Visit the Great Market Hall, existing since 1897 and taste local specialties. Not only is it the most local but it’s also very touristic, judging by the souvenirs stands upstairs where you can do some shopping. However, you can easily find cheap typical fast food restaurants. It’s open every day except Sunday.
Margaret Island | The greenest
Margaret Island (Margit-sziget), mainly covered by landscape park, is considered as Budapest’s lung. It’s THE place for runners but is also perfect for families or lovers who want to chill a bit. Margaret Island is also known for its « Music Fountain » which you’ll spot on your way in. Located in the middle of the Danube, we access it from Margaret Bridge (halfway).
Also read: What to do in Prague?