This Christmas, Henner and I travelled to Budapest, Hungary, as a surprise birthday present from my parents. We spent 4 days exploring and eating and Budapest has become one of my favourite European cities I´ve visited so far! From start to finish, our trip to Budapest didn´t fail to amaze me. The city is incredibly beautiful and there is sooo much to do and learn! It’s actually incredibly affordable too which is always a plus. Here are a few of my favourite places we visited during our stay and a few tips:
- Be prepared for the cold. We learnt that people weren´t exaggerating when they told us it was extremely cold during the Winter. Whilst we were there, the temperatures varied between -6 and 0 degrees and it really was freezing, especially whilst crossing the Danube River, so be prepared and don´t let the cold hit you off guard!
- Walk everywhere. Almost all attractions in Budapest are within walking distance from each other, so I would encourage you to walk everywhere (especially to burn off all the tasty food you will be eating!!).
- Try the local cuisine. Hungarian food is delicious, cheap and definitely worth a try. During our stay, as it was around Christmas, there were tonnes of street food spots doted all over the city so we ate there once or twice and the food was amazing! This is also a good tip if you are on a budget. Some of my favourites were Langos (a deep-fried bread), Nokedli dumplings, Goulash, Paprikash and Kürtőskalács (chimney cake made from sweet yeast then spun and wrapped around a truncated cone-shaped baking material).
- If you are on a budget, Budapest has a wide variety of free things to do! Most museums also have discounts for european residents under 26 so be sure to take ID with you everywhere!
Top 10 places to visit:
- Walk across Chain Bridge, the first bridge to connect Buda and Pest, then take a walk along the Danube and make a special stop at the Shoes on the Danube Bank , to honor the people who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank after they were shot.
- Head for the hills. Visit cobblestone streets, narrow alleys and lovely squares surrounded by beautiful buildings in Castle Hill. I would advise you to visit this spot both in the day, to visit all the beautiful buildings (Fisherman´s Bastion, Matthias Church and Buda Castle in which the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum are located) and at night to witness the amazing city´s panoramic view lit up.
- Make a stop at one of Budapest´s most beautiful monuments: The Parliament Building. You can also take a tour to learn some super interesting history.
- Stop off at St. Stephen´s Basilica, the largest church in Budapest with a very serene atmosphere complete with lit candles and beautiful authentic decor. (It´s also free!). Head up to the Basilica´s dome for some seriously camera worthy panoramic views of the whole city.
- Take a break at one of the amazing thermal baths. There is honestly nothing more enjoyable to do after spending all day on your feet sightseeing. We visited the Szechenyi Bath and even went in the outside pools whilst it was – 6ºC.
- The House of Terror Museum provides an insight into how Fascism and Communism affected life in Hungary. I would advise to pay for the audio guide, even though there are information sheets in each room, as the information they provide is a lot to take in whilst viewing the museum. You can take the information sheets home with you and read them calmly.
- Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum (this really is a must see!). The very well run tour permits to understand an important and tough period of Budapest history and how people there had to face the Siege. Being under ground and hearing the history of the place was very powerful and touching.
- Gozsdu Udvar is a lively spot filled with restaurants and trendy bars illuminated by colorful strings of lights. Locals set up tables on the weekend to sell jewelry and trinkets. There’s even an arcade! Dont’s sit into the first place you find, go and discover first. You can still go back.
- Shop and eat like a local at the Central Market Hall.
- Have a drink at one of Budapest´s ruin bars. We only got the chance to visit Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden) which is the best known ruinpub among the the tourists and also the locals. It´s an extremely fascinating place with an amazing atmosphere.