My travel to Budapest was an adventurous tale. I almost missed my flight from Athens to Budapest in spite of being at the airport 2 hours before my flight departs …….phew. Travel gets exciting when you encounter such unexpected incidents. Though it did not dampen my excitement to see the lovely city but my advice to you; if you are traveling by a budget airline in Europe (I flew Ryanair), do checkin online and print your boarding passes before hand to save 50€ to be paid at the airlines counter. I had not factored this time at the airport which lead to late checkin and then a good athletic run to reach the boarding gate. I was forced to muster up the energy to reach my next destination. Which I did. Albeit in a zombie-like trance. Well the story gets spicy if experiences are terrific and that is how travel makes us explore more.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, lies on the Danube River, with the hilly, castle-filled Buda on one side, and the flat, lively Pest on the other. Budapest’s history hasn’t always been a happy one, with multiple world wars, communism, and a failed revolution taking its toll on the city and its people. Despite these hardships, the city’s stunning architecture, re-burgeoning food scene, and longstanding traditions like “taking to the baths,” make Budapest a singular destination worthy of exploration. Buda is the hilly side, it has lots of little winding streets, an amazing old castle and the prettiest views of the city… Pest is where you’ll find all of the wonderful markets, eclectic shops and bars and the buzz of everyday city life. Indeed a lovely city and probably a bit underrated though I think I prefer it that way so that it can keep its charms without the hordes of tourists found in other popular cities.
The Chain Bridge was the first permanent, stone bridge to connect Buda & Pest and the second bridge to span the Danube in Europe. The bridge remains a notable feature of Budapest today, and affords lovely views of the city at Golden Hour. Take a stroll from Pest to Buda, enjoying the views as you go. I really love that while in Budapest you don’t have to check any guidebooks for the prettiest areas or main sites (well, of course you can if you’re on top of things like that) but you can simply wander around and everything you see will be stunning. That’s a promise
Something that Budapest is famous for, and one of my absolute favourite bits, are their ‘Ruin Pubs’ or ‘Ruin Bars’ and if you take a trip to Budapest you have got to check these places out, they’re amazing. The Ruin Bars are hidden in derelict, old and abandoned buildings and factories all over the city. They’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen before or anywhere I’ve ever been, it’s like being in a big old house filled with mismatched furniture, fairy lights and neon signs and a refreshing and cool mix of people. From the outside they do look a little bit scary, but once you step inside, trust me, you’ll be amazed.
The impressive St Stephens Basilica took half a century to build and is home to the mummified right hand of the first King of Hungary. Although the interior architecture isn’t really my style, the dramatic exterior deserves recognition. Spend some time exploring the surrounding square and pedestrian areas before heading to dinner
The massive and beautiful, Gothic-styled Parliament building has a prominent position along the Danube, and can be easily seen from many vantages in the city. Stroll by to take a closer look at the building and even take a tour if you fancy.
The Fisherman’s Bastion is, in all likelihood, one of the most visited attractions in Budapest. This is the place where locals and tourists come to enjoy the city views. From here you can enjoy the splendid panoramic views of Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage, the river Danube along with its historical sights, from the Fisherman’s Bastion. You can sit on the benches, hide in the arcades when it rains, snows or when the midday heat in summer time gets hard to bear. You can stand on the balconies free of charge, or you can enter the top turrets to get a bit higher
Tram 2 is one of the most scenic public transport routes in the world (don’t take just my word for it – National Geographic named it one of the top 10 trolley rides in the world). It hugs the Danube River and provides gorgeous cityscapes that encompass Buda Castle, the House of Parliament, Gellert Hill, the city’s architecturally beautiful bridges and so much more
A few tips
While Hungary is a member state of the European Union, it hasn’t adopted the Euro as currency. While you can try your luck at the tourist traps, you’ll probably receive your (scant) change in the national currency, Forints. Not all restaurants take card, so make sure to hit up the many ATMs spotted around the city.
Budapest’s transport network is convenient, efficient, and simple to use – there’s no excuse not to hop on board.
It has a very tourist friendly airport services so spend a few minutes looking around for information rather than rushing straight out after landing.
Hungarian wines are easily available in most restaurants and wine stores. Tokaj is perhaps the most reputable wine region in Hungary so you know you can’t go wrong when ordering the Tokaj label. I loved it.
Here’s no shortage of street food in Budapest and langos is one of the city’s most popular snacks. You’ll be hard-pressed to walk down the street and NOT see a vendor selling this yummy fried piece of dough covered in sour cream and grated cheese.