Hello Budapest! I have to tell you this: with stunning architecture, refreshing thermal baths, and a culture that can be unique, Hungary’s capital lives up to its reputation.
Budapest is one of those cities that constantly ranks in various Top 10 lists, however it’s still hardly visited by many travelers. And that’s a bummer…
The Hungarian capital is really two cities – Buda and Pest – separated by the wide tract of the Danube, and only officially became one entity towards the end of the 19th century.
But let’s start with the beginning. We were already short of money as we just came back from London, when I received a 70 Euros Discount from WizzTours. At first, I tried to stay away of the temptation, but then I said to myself… Maybe I should just take a look for a “not-so-expensive” destination, which is close to Romania and has a good overall review. And tringggg… Budapest immediately sounded like a good idea!
These being said, we had our flights + accommodation at the price of only 136 Euros for husband and I. Not per person, for both of us. And it was a 2-nights stay. I think it was more than cheap! So this is how we added one more destination on our list. Yayyyy! PS: Once you start traveling, you really can’t stop anymore!
Another couple joined us in this trip, so it was actually more fun exploring Budapest this way. Oh and the weather was absolutely perfect, 20°C. There was literally nothing else to wish for at that moment.
We landed in Budapest at around 10.30 AM and from Liszt Ferenc International Airport we took the 200E bus which takes you from Terminal 2 to the M3 metro terminal called Kőbánya-Kispest Metro Station. The bus journey is about 30 minutes and from there you can travel to the city centre by metro.
The currency in the country is Hungarian Forints. Currency exchanges are everywhere in the city center, but please be careful with them because the rates varies from place to place.
You can buy your tickets for public transportation directly from vendor machines. As far as I recall, the price for one single ticket is approximately 1 Euro ~ 300 HUF.
We were supposed to stay at Hello Budapest Hostel (4/5 on Tripadvisor). However, they reallocated us to a very close apartment building on Raday Street which is, by the way, a very lively street with many restaurants and shops: Walking Bed Budapest Ráday (rated as Excellent 8.6/10). The room was very clean, neat and simple with new furniture. There was a shared bathroom and also a shared kitchen, well equipped. Very close to Central Market Hall and Liberty Bridge and also close to Kalvin Ter metro station.
So here starts our DAY 1… Oh but first, let’s have something to eat. There is this street, near Liberty Bridge, named Vaci Utca which is one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares and perhaps the most famous street of central Budapest. It features a large number of restaurants and shops catering primarily to the tourist market.
We stopped at a very nice restaurant and for 3000 HUF (~ 10 EUR) per person we had a menu including a Goulash Soup which is a healthy, hearty soup based on the traditional Hungarian stew, with low-fat lean beef, sweet potato and smoked paprika + a Chicken Paprikash which is also a popular dish of Hungarian origin + a drink.
After this, we went directly to Gellert Hill which is a 235 m (771 ft) high. We were really excited to see how Budapest looks from up there. And the view was amazing!
We climbed this hill in approximately 30 minutes and at the top of the hill we found the Citadella from where a view is available down both directions of the Danube.
After getting down the hill we reached the Elisabeth Bridge, then continued our way to the Buda Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
The Buda Castle is the historical castle of the Hungarian kings and was first completed in 1265. It was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, bounded on the north by what is known as the Castle District. The castle is part of the Budapest World Heritage Site and it was declared a Heritage Site in 1987.
We kept walking until we reached the Fisherman’s Bastion, where the view was even more spectacular as it included the Parliament of Budapest on the other side of the Danube.
I have to tell you that I have never ever seen a building more beautiful than this one, really! I love its Gothic style, symmetrical façades and its central dome. With its height of 96 m (315 ft), it is one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest, along with Saint Stephen’s Basilica. The main façade overlooks the River Danube, but the official main entrance is from the square on the east side of the building.
Oh and you can also visit the building if you want! We haven’t done this because we were short of time, but I’ve heard it has amazing interiors as well. Here’s the official site from where you can buy tickets -> http://latogatokozpont.parlament.hu/home.
Before taking these pictures, we relaxed on a bench and had some beers there for almost half an hour because at 6.30 PM we could enter a terrace from Fisherman’s Bastion for free.
So that’s exactly what we did… we took our pictures from that terrace and enjoyed those beautiful views. Nothing weird until now right? But guess what??? When the sun was down and we wanted to continue our walk through Budapest, husband just ran away from us in a blink of an eye and climbed all those stairs up back to Fisherman’s Bastion because he forgot his backpack on the bench where we drank those beers :))
Oh but that’s not all… the thing was that I had all my camera lenses in his backpack so if he would have lost it, I think we would have been divorced by now haha. However, he’s a lucky guy and the backpack was still there with all my lenses in it. PHEW…
Forgot to mention that Budapest was celebrating the Spring Festival 2017 and there were a lot of street-food vendors and live music concerts organized. It was all super cute!
We also ate their traditional Kurtos Kalacs. It wasn’t our first time because we have these in Romania as well. But I have to admit that I liked them better than the ones we have in our country. Yummy!
What we loved the most about Budapest was the lively city that it turns into the night, with lots of tourists enjoying its nice restaurants, beautiful parks and last but not least its gorgeous views over the Danube. And trust me, Budapest is more beautiful by night than it is by day and that’s because the lights emphasize all those great buildings and the surroundings.
Ok, and now? What to do next? Oh well I am sure you’ve all heard about their famous ruin pubs so it was a “must” to reach that area as well. We were at SZIMPLA Kert Pub which is a hugely atmospheric place to drink, evocative and full of character, based as it is in a vast, sprawling old building stuffed with cool little corners. According to Lonely Planet, Szimpla Kert was ranked as the 3rd best club in the world!
We spent a couple of hours there, enjoyed the music, had some shots, wrote on the walls because yes, you are allowed to do this, had some carrots… yes, carrots… a woman was selling huge carrots inside of the pub :)) nothing unusual right?
Then we walked back to the accommodation and had a decent sleep after exploring the city all day. zzzZZZzzzZZzzz…
DAY 2 – Woke up in the morning, had something to eat on our way and off we went to explore more of amazing Budapest.
We’ve seen the Vajdahunyad Castle and also the Heroes’ Square, then waaaalked all the way until we reached Margaret Island which is a 2.5 km long island in the middle of the Danube in central Budapest. The island is mostly covered by landscape parks, and is a popular recreational area. Its medieval ruins are reminders of its importance in the Middle Ages as a religious centre. We spent a couple of hours there, just relaxing by the river… + some beers of course :)))
Oh and on our way to Margaret Island, Hungarians were celebrating the Spring Festival.
We were kind of hungry because it was past noon already so we found an “all you can eat” restaurant for only 4 Euros each. It was a great deal and the food was good and fresh.
After this we took the tram no.2 back to Liberty Bridge. The famous American magazine, National Geographic, has collected the world’s Top 10 trolley rides. Budapest’s tram no.2 has been awarded with the 7th place, being the best European line on the list, besting Lisbon and Amsterdam tram lines.
This line connects Jászai Mari Square and Közvágóhíd Square, and rides parallel with the Danube, on the embankment of the Pest side. Tram no. 2 was established shortly after WWII had ended.
You definitely shouldn’t miss it! For a ride with this tram you’ll just need to buy a regular ticket from vendor machines. Nothing extra.
We then walked until the accommodation to bring some extra clothes with us because at 6 PM we had tickets booked for a Boat Cruise on the Danube and we didn’t want to risk being cold. However, they had blankets on board so all good ^^
We booked our tickets in advance here and especially chose the 6 PM ride because we wanted to see the sunset from the boat and then to photograph the city all lightened up. Which was a great choice! But let me show you more! PS: we also had a glass of wine/champagne/beer on board + a glass of lemonade each included in the 13 Euros ticket. The ride lasted 70 minutes.
It was super nice and we really enjoyed the ride with the Legenda Sightseeing Cruise. Totally recommend them!
Ok soooo what next? Hmmm, we just wandered around and reached Elizabeth Park where the Budapest Eye (or Sziget Eye) is placed. It is a giant Ferris wheel and it offers fantastic views over Budapest day and night. Standing 65 meters tall, the wheel with its 42 cars is Europe’s largest mobile Ferris wheel (because London Eye is not considered a Ferris wheel, but an observation wheel). It has a capacity of 332 people and at night it will light up the evening sky with over 10,000 colored lights.
What I liked the most about this area was that a lot of youngsters were hanging around, drinking and playing on their guitars, making jokes and having a good time… I really really really liked the vibe.
After spending some time in Elizabeth Park, we decided to eat something and then walk back to our accommodation.
When we reached the hostel, our friends wanted to go back in the room and rest but husband and I went for our last stroll in beautiful Budapest.
I had a tripod with me and wanted to take a super nice picture of the Liberty Bridge. So we had 2 beers with us, found a perfect spot by the river, prepared the camera, made all the settings and just before I hit the button to literally take this awesome shot… Guess what??? Oh well, my camera didn’t have any battery left. Yeah… Life sucks sometimes indeed :))
So we just drank those beers and went back to the accommodation – a little bit disappointed I have to admit – and slept a few hours just before the alarm started at 4 AM. It was time to leave to the airport. Sadly…
Overall, Budapest really surprised us! The city itself is very beautiful, people are nice and friendly, the food is awesome, the night life is animated and the Danube is huge!
Things we did NOT do:
- We didn’t use the Castle Hill Funicular. It just didn’t seem interesting to us… sorry
- We didn’t visit the Gellert Baths or the Szechenyi Baths and this is something I do regret but we surely should have needed an extra day for this ;(
Hope to see you soon Budapest!
Until next time,
- Our stay in Budapest: 31.03.2017 – 02.04.2017
- Bucharest – Budapest and return flight: Wizzair
- Accommodation: Walking Bed Budapest Ráday
- Total: 136 Euros as a couple by using WizzTours