Budapest exceeded my expectations.
First, decide which side of the river you would like to stay on – Buda or Pest. Buda offers beautiful views from Castle Hill as well as classical beauty and traditional turkish baths. Pest is more bustling, with ruin pubs, lots of cafes, historical sites and the shopping streets.
Day 1: Morning time
Fisherman’s Bastion [1 hour]
Walking around the Castle District [2 hours]
Charming colourful buildings line the cobbled paths, leading to artsy and historical museums as well as tours around the nuclear bunker known as ‘hospital in the rock’.
Rejuvenate in some traditional Turkish Baths [1-2 hours]
We loved the Turkish Baths in Hungary – it is a very traditional and social aspect of Hungarian life.
Where men exchange their daily mundanes over an entire carton of orange juice.
Or where you are unexpectedly greeted by a person of the opposite sex whilst getting changed because there are herds of tourists getting lost because of the ridiculously confusing layout and signage.
We visited the Gellert Baths – be warned that the Rudas Baths also very traditional will not permit women to enter any of the thermal baths.
Dusk till dawn:
A ruin pub crawl [all night long]
Old unused buildings that have been brilliantly recreated into a drinking hole, better known as a ‘ruin pub’. Much more quirky and artsy than your average pub.
My favourite has to be Szimpla Kert, with two floors of small and interestingly decorated rooms.
No where else will you witness bar staff selling you raw peeled carrots.
Another favourite is Koleves Kert, very relaxed, mainly outdoors but offers you the opportunity to watch inebriated beings swing viciously on hammocks and falling to their deaths. No I’m just kidding, but this could happen. Hammocks tied everywhere, with colourful beachy tables and chairs and colourful fairly lights. Oh, and they have their own mint garden that they use for their mojitos!
Day 2: In the Morning
Visit Vajdahunyad Castle and the Anonymous Statue
Over a hundred years old, this gothic like castle is surrounded by parks and a lake [or an ice rink in the winter] and is in my opinion a must visit in Budapest. It is pretty spectacular and pretty different to everything else you see across the city.
The statue of a Hungarian medieval writer, although creepy brings good luck to your writing abilities if you touch his pen!! So any budding writers, this is your chance.
The Shoes of the Danube [20 minutes]
An artistic memorial commemorating those shot into the river by the cross arrow firing squad during world war II. It’s nice to take some time out and reflect.
Spend some time exploring the Parliament Building, the State Opera House & St. Stephens Basilica [1-2 hours]
Don’t miss the parliament building in the evening, it is huge and dominates a large part of the river.
Oh, and most importantly don’t miss the 1000 year old hand in St. Stephens Basilica.
Daily tours will take you inside the grand interior of the State Opera House at 3 & 4pm.
Try an escape game [1-2 hours]
A new phenomenon in Budapest, one that vividly reminds me of the SAW movies. You take a group of people with you and are challenged escape out of three rooms within a set amount of time, normally an hour. It is pretty eery and suspenseful, try not to panic and think outside of the box.
A wine tasting at the underground Faust Wine Cellar [2 hours]
The Pinball Museum [2 hours+]
Okay, so this is where you have some real fun. Several rooms filled with every pinball machine you can possibly think of, vintage and modern as well as a variety of other classic arcade games. You pay a VERY cheap entrance free [500HUF] and then you are charged each hour you stay there – all games are completely free once you enter which is incredible value.
Just one more thing:
When budgeting, know that most restaurants and cafes will add on a 13% service charge.
Oh, and be VERY careful with taxi drivers. Make sure they have their meter on and it starts at 450 not 4500 like one man tried to do with us. We were given Romanian money in-between Forint notes as well so check your change. Try the Budapest Tuk Tuk rides, 4 euros to take you 15 minutes anywhere.
Happy Travelling People! What were/will be your highlights/must sees?