Budapest, Hungary felt like a wave of Eastern Europe crashed into Western Europe. It was such an interesting mix of the two. The city has beautiful architecture dating from Roman ruins to Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, and much more.
This trip was 11 days through Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. Articles detailing my experiences in Vienna and Prague will be posted in the near future. This article is probably a bit longer than previous ones, but I did so much and really wanted to share my experiences.
Travel tip: When planning your trip to Budapest, note that many places are closed on Mondays. Plan accordingly.
Budapest is split into two parts; Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River. For our first day, we ventured to the Hungarian Parliament Building on the way to Buda.
The Hungarian Parliament Building is spectacular. Rivaled maybe only by Westminster.
In Buda we walked up the hill to the Citadella which has the Liberty statue and great views over the city. Buda Castle is occupied by museums, which I didn’t find interesting, so I just explored the grounds.
Afterward, we walked north towards Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. The Fisherman’s Bastion stands where castle walls once were but is a relatively newer structure built simply for panoramic views of Budapest. Matthias Church has really amazing tile work on the roof. Sadly, it was difficult to get better pictures of it due to the sun casting large shadows.
For almost every meal in Budapest, we ate at the Christmas Market. It had a huge section devoted to traditional Hungarian foods. I love street food, markets, and saving money so this was great. I tried so many dishes and different hot alcoholic seasonal beverages such as Grog which was so delicious.
I also want to note that this was my favorite Christmas Market that I have been to. It felt authentic and the stands were selling unique items actually hand crafted by locals, whereas other markets I’ve been have a lot of the same stuff as each other.
From the markets, you can take a walk down Vaci Utca. Which is the main shopping street of Budapest, full of familiar and not so familiar storefronts. The part closest to the center is full of typical shopping stores with some souvenir shops in between. Further down it begins to appear more “authentic”, but if you have a trained eye you will see it is full of mainly tourist traps.
In the evenings, we could not pass up the opportunity to explore the ruin pubs. Ruin bars are notorious in Budapest as they were abandoned buildings taken over by the locals as low-key clubs, but now seem to be primarily occupied by tourist (Sadly my pictures are low quality due to it being dark inside so that means you just have to visit to see!)
If you travel to Kazinczy utca you can find Szimpla and Ellato Kert, two famous ruin pubs. They are both a must see in my opinion and a really fun experience. Don’t forget to try Pálinka, a very high alcohol content fruit brandy, which can only be authentically produced in Hungary and some parts of Austria. On the same street, you can find Karavan, which is a tented area with street food stands.
*Note* Their website says that they are open until midnight but we went on a Wednesday or Thursday and it was closing at 9 pm so do not count on it being open late for food. However, you can get some alright food at Ellato Kert.
Off of Kazinczy there is a “hidden” passageway called Gozsdu Udvar which is full of bars and restaurants it is definitely a cool place to check out for some nightlife.
The second full day was another packed day. We decided to explore more of the Pest side of Budapest. First stop was Hero’s Square (Hősök tere), built during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is an important political monument in Hungary.
Next stop was Vajdahunyad Castle, built in 1896, and currently houses a museum. We passed on the museum and instead purchased tickets to go up both available towers (Gatehouse Tower for €2 and the Apostles’ Tower for €4). The Gatehouse tower is a bit of a waste, you don’t see anything that you can’t already see better from the Apostles’ Tower.
Szecheny Thermal Baths is one of the most famous of thermal baths in Budapest, but certainly not the only one. It is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. I am not sure what I expected, I wanted to try a new experience, but to be honest, in the end, I felt underwhelmed, and a bit bored.
The inside baths which close at 7 pm are much warmer than the outside ones. With your entrance fee, you are allowed to access both inside and outside baths as well as to a Turkish bath and sauna. There is the possibility to schedule massages and other treatments for an additional fee.
On this trip I attempted to make a better effort at photographing everything I eat. I was especially excited since I would be trying a lot of new dishes. Below are some of the foods I ate. The top left is goulash, a typical Hungarian soup, the top right is langos with garlic, sour cream, and cheese, another traditional dish and definitely perfect for a late night snack after the bar.
The bottom left is stuffed cabbage, a Hungarian dish made with pickled cabbage and stuffed with beef and ground pork and is topped with sour cream. The bottom right is gelato from Gelarto Rosa, every blogger wrote about this place, and I mean come on, it is the perfect Instagram-worthy treat, the bonus was that it also tasted amazing, do not pass this place up.
The final day in Budapest before jumping on a train to Vienna we stopped by the Central Market. The market is huge and the ground floor is full of produce and meat stands. The second floor is where you can find some small food stand and souvenirs.
I feel like I wrote so much, but I am also afraid I left things out, which is possible! But these are my highlights from my trip, and I hope it was interesting and now you have an interest to visit this beautiful city.
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