When people think of traveling to Europe the first cities that comes to mind is either London or Paris. I’d admit these cities do live up to their respective reputations but let’s forget about Paris and London for a sec. Have you ever been to Budapest?
Budapest, or the Queen of the Danube as it is popularly called, is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This small capital city in Hungary has gradually come to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central Europe. It is situated on both banks of the Danube River. The grand hills of the Buda and the organized layout of the Pest, give this city a very diverse and unique charm.
First of all accommodation. Of course, accommodation is the first thing you think of before you travel, Right? Fret not one of the main attractions of Budapest is how cheap it is to live in it.
I stayed at the Grand Hostel, Hüvösvölgyi út 69 for a couple of days. Its located steps from a tram stop and on the lushly green side of the city, this hostel is one of the few in Budapest to offer single-gender dorms. It’s great for people who travel in pairs or groups and travelers can choose from two, three, four, five, and six bed dorms or double/triple private rooms.
There’s Free Wi-Fi, and the hostel boasts a beautiful bar area, an outdoor terrace and, parking is also available.
I also like Red Bus Hostel. They have four to six bed dorms too, as well as reasonably priced singles and doubles. Free breakfast and kitchen facilities are available.
Now here comes the fun part.
When site-seeing in Budapest, there are a few things you must see. Budapest is full of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Buda Castle, the embankments of the Danube River, the Andrassy Avenue and the Millennium Underground Railway are all UNESCO protected sites in Hungary.
Revel in the cultural, artistic, structural and architectural beauty of various sites of the city to grab true essence of what Budapest truly stands for.
The first place on your list should be the Budapest Cultural Avenue. This is the cultural hub of Budapest and all its cultural attractions lie along this road in a vertical line.
Begin your tour with the Buda Castle and District and then move on to Andrassy Avenue, and the City Park.
Andrassy Ut and Opera House are one of the most opulent in Europe, this grand building is a must-see during your stay in Budapest.
Even if you just step inside the lobby, the Opera House is truly an amazing sight. In the foyer alone there are marble pillars, a black-and-white inlaid tile floor, and a gorgeous gold and fresco ceiling. Ballet, symphony, and concert programs run all year long and depending on the time of the year, great seats can be had for $5.
The city Park has something for the young as well as the old. City Park is home to the zoo, Szechnyi Baths, a castle, Heroes Square (including two museums) and several miles of walking paths. The zoo and baths charge admission fees, but it is free to walk through the park and castle grounds.
I will say this, if you find yourself in Budapest, Take a Bath. Budapest is famous for its Turkish style baths and there are several of them throughout the city. My favorite is the Széchenyi (Chain) bathhouse both for its decor and location.
This gorgeous bath sits among City Park, one of several attractions there. Inside, the building is breathtakingly decorated and houses over 25 pools. Some are warm, cold, indoor, outdoor, or scented with eucalyptus or other scents. Massages and other services are also available for an additional fee. Entrance fees range from $5 – 10 USD.
I kid you not being in those baths gives you the feeling of ecstasy, you have to see and experience it for yourself to really understand what I mean.
As for the park, the best way to explore it is to just walk in from one end and exit through the other. The park has several walkways which ensure that you can walk easily and enjoy all the attractions that it has to offer.
Your next destination should be the Chain Bridge and Danube promenade which lies at the bottom of the Castle Hill. This bridge was, in fact, the first link between the cities of Buda and Pest which have now come together to become Budapest. If you are visiting during July or August, make sure you attend the colorful summer festival called the summer of the Chain Bridge.
The promenade is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a walk along it can be extremely relaxing.
It provides a wonderful view of the Castle Hill and the Buda Side. This is one destination you should not miss. Also, keep an eye out for the Gresham Palace while you are walking along the banks. This beautiful building will leave you mesmerized like nothing else. This palace also houses the famous Four Seasons Hotel.
If you are into hiking then the dolomite cliff in Buda is one of the world’s best trekking spots. Gellert Hill is every Budapest resident’s favorite weekend outing. Beautiful winding pathways surrounded by lush trees lead you to the top of the hill where lies the Citadella and the Liberty Stand. The little groves and flower bushes make this hill the perfect rendezvous spot.
Next, visit the St. Stephen’s Basilica and St. Stephen’s Square. This is the most famous site in the Pest side of Budapest after the Hungarian Parliament.
The plaza in front of the Basilica is dotted with little cafes and restaurants that ensure that you have a fun time experiencing Hungarian cuisine while visiting this monument.
Now you are probably wondering is that it?
There’s a lot to do in Budapest. If you want to live life to its fullest, take a ride on the fun-fair, and find out how adrenaline-pumping the different roller coasters can be.
Despite its lustrous architecture reminiscent of the 1900s, Budapest is a modern city, an interesting mix of old and new.
There are great restaurants in the area famous for their paprika and the paprika-flavored goulash dishes, big shopping malls, and of course, exciting night clubs. Put simply, a great time can be had on a minimal budget.
Travel to Budapest and see it for yourself for it is truly a city that should not be missed. After all, it is “Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.” Right?