Recently, I spent 2 and a half days in Budapest. Definitely not enough time to explore this amazing place to its full potential. However, I tried to squeeze in as must as possible, focusing on the main tourist attractions. Communism might have left a bad taste in many people’s opinion about Budapest, however, it is nothing like that at all! Here is a recap of my journey through Budapest, a jewel in terms of 18th century architecture. Leaving you with a feeling of being in the middle of the Habsburger Dynasty.
Day 1: Castle Hill, Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, Váci utca, Danube river cruise
I arrived the night before, which allowed me to get ready for an early start. This was amazing since I got up to Buda Hill before all the other tourist.
Leaving the hotel, I was set on taking one of these hop-on hop-off busses. But as soon as I was on the street, I realized how central my hotel was located and that it was just across the Chain Bridge, the first bridge to connect Buda and Pest. So, I decided to just walk over the bridge to the Buda side of town. Right on this side of the bridge is the famous Funicular that takes you up to the Buda Castle and the Castle District (#3 on the map).
A staff member of one of the sightseeing busses (there are so many companies who offer it, I took the Big Bus one) approached me at the funicular station and I ended up buying a 2 day pass from him that also included the funicular ticket.
Once I was up on the hill, I took a short stroll over to the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church. The view from the Fisherman’s Bastion over to Pest and the Parliament building is probably one of the most photographed ones on social media.
Back down on Pest side, I decided to hop on the Big Bus. I got off at the Buddha Bar Hotel which is right there at one of the big shopping streets: Váci utca and did what a girl does (second) best.. window shopping and a little bit of what we definitely do best.. shopping. On a side note: for South Africans Hungary is really affordable simply because their currency is just as weak as ours (status Jan2016). I opted for a lunch break at a small but delicious bistro/ restaurant in the same road as my hotel.
To finish off my sightseeing day, I went on a Danube River Cruise – the ticket to it was by the way also included in the Big Bus 48 hours ticket I bought.. I guess the 25€ were spent wisely. I had to get to Dock 11 which was a nice walk along the Danube bank (#16 on the map). Since it was winter when I visited Budapest, the sun sets quite early at around 17h00, so my River Cruise turned into a sunset cruise with a spectacular red sky.
Walking back along the Danube Promenade after the cruise, provided me with a lovely view of Buda. It is amazing how lively and busy the promenade was in the evening and despite the cold. I guess, I am also just not used to lively streets after sunset here in Johannesburg.. one forgets that Europe functions differently…
Day 2: Hop-on Hop-off Bus sightseeing tour, New York Café, Central Market Hall, Parliament District
Day 2 got me on a really slow start.. After all I was on holidays. Rainy morning on top of it, so I decided to take the full tour of the sightseeing tour with the bus. 1 and a half hours later, I got out at the famous New York Café just in time for lunch. It’s one of these famous landmarks that one just has too see: an old-style coffee house inside the Boscolo Hotel, one of the Grand Hotels. Grand design in the café.. but also grand in terms of the prices.. Well, I can now say that I was there (#19 on the map).
After lunch the rain had stopped.. Btw. I think I did everything right when listening to my gut and not taking the bus tour the day before.. as if I have a weatherman in my gut. So, no more rain and I was able to take a walk to the Central Market Hall. An impressive building in which you can buy anything from fresh products to typical Hungarian gifts, or you can stop for traditional lunch in little stalls (#9 on the map).
As I mentioned before, I chose a perfectly located hotel, directly in District V, just a short walk away from the impressive Parliament building, the 3rd largest Europe and built after the English Parliament. Although I didn’t make it inside the building, just walking around Parliament square but impressive enough. Although the best views of the building and its size is without a doubt from a Danube River cruise.
Things I missed and why I need to go back:
- A dip into one of the thermal baths.
- A visit to the Jewish Quarter
- Bar hopping in the ruin bars
- Margaret Island
- Climb Gellért Hill
- Statue Park (an open air museum of all communist statues outside of town)
- Going to an opera performance at the Hungarian State Opera
- Coming back in summer time