Budapest

Made it to Budapest! The final destination of my little Eastern Europe tour. After a couple of days exploring Vienna and Bratislava, I was excited for the real goulash. Having heard so many positive things about Budapest I've longed to tick this one off my bucket list.

We spent three nights in Budapest, which I think was a decent amount of time to cover some of the main attractions - but of course, it’s never enough to experience a whole city thoroughly. Anyway, here’s what I managed to get up to this time:

Day 1: Breakfast at Fakanál Étterem in the Great Market Hall. We stayed at a very cool AirBnb a few hundred meters away from the market so it was quite convenient to get our fresh breakfast here in the morning and simultaneously explore the hundreds of stalls selling food, fresh produce, souvenirs and what not. After breakfast we walked to the Danube river, crossed the Liberty Bridge and headed towards Buda Castle. So for those who don’t know, Budapest is a combination of two former cities, Buda and Pest, which are separated by the Danube river. It wasn’t until recently (well, a couple of hundred years ago) that the cities were unified into Budapest. So, Buda Castle is obviously located on the Buda side, along with Fisherman’s Bastion and Gellért Hill. According to my opinion, you’ll find the best views from this side of the city - naturally - because that’s where the mountains are at.

These views were captured on our hike from Buda Castle to Fisherman’s Bastion. It is a very short hike, so unless you are incapable of walking, I don’t see the point in taking the funicular. Once on top of Fisherman’s Bastion, you can’t miss to check out Matthias Church, Halaszbastya and enjoy the panoramic view from Panoramia Cafe and Bar. Watch out though, the food and drinks here are expensive. If you’re on a budget, avoid this place like the plague.

Afterwards we headed down and towards the Pest side again into the city centre and St. Stephen's Basilica. I craved falafel for lunch and found the best place called Hummus Bar. This place was a dream. I ended up going back three more times. For dessert we went for rose ice cream at Gelarto Bistro.

Towards the evening it started pouring down and Chloe was so ready to go home. Being the person that I am though, I still had so many more places to check out and eventually managed to drag her along with me to see some more sights, including the Shoes on the Danube Bank, a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust. The shoes represented the jews that were lined up and shot into the river. As if that wasn’t dark enough, a couple of hours later there was a deadly tourist boat accident just a few hundred meters away. Safe to say it made the rest of our experience in Budapest feel rather surreal.

Day 2: Starting off the morning at Széchenyi Thermal Bath, another “must-do” in Budapest. How often do you get to enjoy a spa day at a palace? We booked discounted tickets online and skipped the queues when we got there, which was a nice way to save some time and make the most out of the day. The weather was rather grey, but the pools are really hot so there’s no need to worry about freezing! I definitely would recommend this experience to anyone visiting Budapest. My personal recommendation is to bring your own towels and flip flops to avoid extra charges.

After Széchenyi, we walked towards the city centre, stopping by the City Park and the Millennium Monument, down through Andrássy Avenue. Along this road you’ll find the House of Terror museum, the Hungarian State Opera and many other unique Neo-Renaissance architectural buildings of Budapest. Not far away is the famous Dohány Street Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, which is also worth checking out.

When it was time for dinner, we wanted to try a local and traditional restaurant and ended up at the nearest restaurant, Drum Cafe. More goulash, lángos, spätzle and you name it. The food was so so, but overall good value for money. For dessert we went to The Sweet by Vintage Garden, where we had delicious cakes and espresso.

Since I have a need to “walk off my dinner”, I suggested we go for a hike up Gellért Hill to the Citadella, crossing the Elizabeth bridge. The trek is not too hard, but a little longer and steeper than the ones up to Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. This place was one of my personal favourites of the whole trip, so I’m quite gutted I didn’t have my DSLR camera with me to capture better shots. The sunset view from here is supposedly amazing! I guess I just need to come back another time then? On our way back, we walked down the opposite direction, crossing the Liberty bridge, which took us straight back to our Airbnb.

Day 3: Breakfast at New York Palace Café. Let me get straight to the point on this one - the majority of people come here for the beautiful interior and pictures for the gram (guilty) and not for the food. After all, it is one of the most beautiful cafés in the world! However, if you do come for the food be prepared to pay a lot for very average quality. For example, the high tea platter costs €60, coffee and cake starts at €20 and the goulash soup is €10 plus service charge, i.e., triple the price of other places. Chloe’s pasta was €16 and it looked like the microwave meals I used to get on my student budget. Really, if anything I’d describe the food here as resembling the on-the-go meals you’ll find in the British grocery stores. But I don’t regret going, I just don’t think I’ll ever go back.

As this was our last day in Budapest and the sun was finally shining, we went on a Danube boat tour to wrap up the adventures. It felt a bit weird going after the recent incident, but it was also a unique opportunity to see more of the city and the Hungarian Parliament Building from the river. For 5000 HUF (Hungerian Forint) we got a 1,5 hours tour with two complimentary drinks each, which I think was a good deal.

Overall, I had a really good time in Budapest and since there are so many things I didn’t get to see or do this time, I’m sure to come back again in the future. I hope this post inspired you with some sights to see next time you’re in the city!