If you’re ever undecided where to visit in Europe, I highly recommend Budapest. It’s not a popular city like Paris or Rome, but it certainly is up there at the top, with being one of my favourite cities that I’ve visited in Europe. It has something for everyone. In recent years it has got a lot more popular, but it was definitely a hidden gem when I visited at the start of last year. When I first said I was going to Budapest, everyone reacted ‘why are you going there?’ No one knew much about it, unfortunately. I’m glad it’s getting more recognition, as it’s a beautiful city. Here are some reasons to add the city onto your bucket list.
- The Princess Castles
The Fisherman’s Bastion is a must when you visit Budapest. I actually felt like I was in a Disney movie, and I was in Rapunzel’s castle. Not only do you feel like a Princess, you also get a great view of the city. The best part about it, is that it’s free to roam the grounds. So even if you’re on a budget, this is definitely a place to put on your list. The Vajdahunyad Castle is also worth a visit, just a short walk from Heroes Square.
- Ruin Bars
The Ruin Bars are well known in Budapest and whether you’re wanting a quiet drink during the day, or wanting somewhere lively for a night out, the ruin bars are definitely the place to go. Szimpla Kert is probably the most well known Ruin Bar in Budapest, and was also my favourite. Some nights they have acts on, or in the open beer garden, they sometimes have movies playing on a big outdoor projector. If not, the different rooms are certainly a few hours entertainment. You’ll see all sorts in this place, from a bath that’s been made into a sofa, to a Jeep that’s been made into a table. The drink prices aren’t too bad either. I ordered a Malibu and Coke, which came to around £3-£4, which is a similar price to back home in the UK. If you drink the local stuff, it’ll be cheaper.
- A Bath?
Yes a bath! Budapest is known for its thermal baths, and the Szechenyi Bath is definitely the postcard picture of Budapest. It is also the largest medicinal bath in Europe. No matter what the weather, this place is a great place to visit while in Budapest. I went in February, when it was freezing and snowing outside. The water is so warm, you won’t even realise. I highly recommend visiting this place just before sunset. You’ll get a great sunset, while relaxing outside in the main thermal bath, as well as getting to see the baths in the dark, all lit up. It was relatively quiet when I went, but I have read it gets quite busy in the summer months. So be warned!
- The Markets
If you want to see what the locals do, then you definitely need to head to one of Budapest’s markets. The Nagycsarnok is the most well known and is open Monday – Saturday. It’s free to go in, where you’ll be able to buy food and clothing, or if you’re looking for a souvenir for those back home, just head upstairs. This has become quite popular with tourists in recent years, although you’ll still see locals there doing their weekly shopping. If you want more of a local experience, then try the Esceri Piac, one of Central Europe’s largest flea markets. Again, admission is free.
- The History
If you want to visit a city that has plenty of history, then Budapest is definitely a city for you. The Shoes on the Danube is a beautifully moving memorial dedicated to the Hungarian Jews who were ordered to remove their footwear, before being shot and thrown into the Danube. If you head to the Parliament building, then go out onto the walk by the Danube, you won’t be able to miss the shoes.
- The Walks
If you fancy a bit of a trek while in the city, then Gellert Hill is certainly for you. The rewards at the top are priceless…literally! A stunning view across the city of Budapest, where you can see for miles. Head up there at sunrise or sunset, if you want a great photo opportunity. You can also see the Liberty Monument when you get to the top, a tribute to the Soviet Soldiers. Just be warned that in the snowy months the path can get quite icy. It was certainly a challenge battling a snowstorm, icy paths and freezing cold weather. Luckily when we arrived to the top, the sun came out, the sky became clear, and the view was definitely worth it!
- The Views
See point 6. Gellert Hill gives you a fab view across the city. If you don’t fancy that much of a workout, then St Stephens Basilica would be better for you. Climb the steps to give yourself a panoramic view of the city. Be warned, there’s quite a few steps!
If you love architecture, then Budapest is full of wonderful buildings. It’s also the home of the Chain Bridge, which connects Buda and Pest, designed by the English engineer, William Clark. Take a walk across the bridge, for stunning views of the Danube.
- The Most Beautiful Cafe in the World
Take a break from the sightseeing in this beautiful cafe, and treat yourself to some coffee and cake. It’s a little on the expensive side, but it’s ok for a quick drink, as the drinks aren’t too expensive. Just a little more than your standard Starbucks! You can eat here, but if you’re on a budget, then you aren’t going to like the prices! It’s the Ritz of Budapest.
- The Price
It’s quite cheap to visit Budapest. Drink and food prices are a little cheaper than those back home in the UK. Most of the main tourist attractions are free, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to see the sights of the city. The metro is easy enough to use to get around the city, which again saves you some money. Our hotel was a 4 star hotel, and we honestly thought we had walked into the wrong place. We paid around £180, which also included our flights, for a 4 night stay. We couldn’t believe our luck when we arrived to the hotel! We stayed in Continental Hotel Budapest. It’s round the corner from the metro, and just a short walk to the Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar, and the New York Cafe. It took us around 20 minutes to walk into the centre of the city, where the rest of the tourist attractions were, if you didn’t want to use the metro. We spent around £150-£200 each in spending money, for a 5 day break. Which included our transfers, food, drink, and the attractions we had to pay for, such as the baths etc. We ate out every night at restaurants, so we weren’t on a tight budget for a short break.