Why Visit Budapest?

DSC07227DSC07188DSC072541. Hungarian Parliament building, 2. Fisherman’s Bastion, 3. Szechenyi baths

Budapest has become famous over the years for their ‘ruin bars’, which are cool pubs and bars built in the ruins of abandoned buildings in Budapest’s old Jewish quarter (the hippest area in Budapest). After World War II, this war torn neighbourhood was left to decay, as Hungary did not have enough money to renovate the area. So, this became the perfect place to develop an underground bar scene, and over the past 15 or so years the trend caught on, intriguing masses of travellers from all over the world to come and see what all the hype is about.

By the time we had reached Budapest summer was in full swing, and I was ready to experience Budapest for all it had to offer. Which is a lot. Travelling from Vienna to Budapest via train takes just under 3 hours.

Budapest reminded me a lot of Berlin, but cheaper. It has the trendy nightlife and underground clubs and bars like Berlin. A few beautiful buildings juxtaposed with lots of bombed out buildings that the government couldn’t afford to mend for a long time but now leaves as a reminder for what horrors and atrocities happened there. Both have great, long histories with painful stories! I loved both, but the weather was nicer in Budapest so that made it more enjoyable to visit and it was a lot cheaper. I just thought I’d mention this if you were trying to decide what cities to visit for your own European adventure and money is a worry for you.

My brother and I also made a lot of friends, old and young, whilst in Budapest. One night after the Jewish Walking tour, we enjoyed local Hungarian cuisine over dinner with three fellow (retired) Australians we had met on the tour!

DSC07040DSC07031DSC07175DSC070334. Szimpla Kert, 5. St. Stephen’s Basilica, 6. View overlooking Budapest on walk to Fisherman’s Bastion, 7. Flower ice-cream!

What to do-

  • Free walking tours- Budapest has a vast history, and has a few different walking tours on offer. They offer the Jewish Legacy Walk Tour, Budapest Free Tour, and Red Budapest Free Tour (Communist). They run multiple times each day, so just check online the day before at freetour.com.
  • Hungarian Parliament- This is the most beautiful parliament building I have ever seen! It is the second largest in Europe, and the third largest in the world. Make sure you see it lit up at night on the Danube, along with the other surrounding buildings. You can go on a night cruise, or a day cruise to get the best pictures of it!
  • Fisherman’s Bastion- Is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style situated on the Buda bank of the Danube, on the Castle hill in Budapest, around Matthias Church. This was one of the most beautiful places to visit in Budapest.
  • Buda Castle- Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace for the Hungarian kings in Budapest. It was originally built in 1265, but was rebuilt between 1749 and 1769. The top of Buda Castle offers great views over the city.
  • Chain Bridge- The Chain Bridge connect Buda to Pest. Make sure you see it lit up at night!
  • Cruise- As I mentioned, a night or day cruise is a must along the Danube at some point during your trip to Budapest. You can get super cheap cruises, I got one for 10€ (3056.00 Hungarian Forint) and it went for an hour and a half all the way up and down the Danube.
  • Szechenyi Baths- If you get a nice day, this is a great way to spend half a day. The entry is quite pricey at 17€ (5194.29 Hungarian Forint) so it’s good to get your moneys worth. We had a group and spent about 5 hours there. There are many other baths to visit in Budapest, but this is the most famous one!
  • House of Terror- This is a museum about the Nazi regime and then the Communist era in Hungary. There was lots of reading, but very informative! It was only 6€ (1833.60 Hungarian Forint).
  • Jewish Quarter- This is located in the City Centre of Budapest,  roughly between Király utca – Károly körút – Dohány utca – and Erzsébet körút. It is known as the Jewish Quarter because of it’s Jewish past, now, it is the trendiest area in Budapest with small remnants of Jewish life- spot the mikvah right next to the Szimpla Kert!
  • Dohány Street Synagogue- This is Budapest and Europe’s largest synagogue and is  also located within the Jewish Quarter.
  • Ruin Bars- Budapest is famous for its ruin bars so make sure you get lost in the Jewish Quarter and end up at a ruin bar for the night. The Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar is the original ruin bar and obviously, the most famous.
DSC07203DSC07106DSC07148DSC07035DSC07196DSC07159DSC070458. Fisherman’s Bastion, 9. Parliament lit up at night, 10. View from Chain Bridge, 11. Dohány Street Synagogue, 12. View from Fisherman’s Bastion, 13. Chain Bridge, 14. Traditional Hungarian food

Travel tips-

  • Dohány Street Synagogue- If you want to go inside the synagogue but do not want to pay the 4000 Forints fee, you could visit the Friday night (Shabbat) service at 6pm. They may not let you in if you are not Jewish, but you can always try, and our guide said they were welcoming to those who wanted to join the service.
  • Cruise- If you want to go on a cruise, they sell the tickets along the Danube river for cheap. We purchased our ticket 30 minutes before the boat departed!
  • Cost- As I mentioned, Budapest was a pretty cheap city to visit with good value for money. When you enter Eastern Europe, all the countries are a lot cheaper regarding food/hostels/clothes!
  • Time- I think 3-4 days is enough to see all the main highlights in the city, go on a few walking tours and even (especially) party!
DSC07169DSC07206DSC07170DSC07183DSC07177DSC0717615. Around Buda Castle, 16. Fisherman’s Bastion, 17. View from Fisherman’s Bastion, 18. Fisherman’s Bastion, 19. Matthias Church, 20. Colourful buildings leaving Buda Castle

Accommodation-

Again I stayed at a Wombats, but the hostels are just in great locations! They also have a bar, which is a great way to meet people. They have pub crawls every night if you want to take that option as well- I didn’t but a lot of people did and said it was fun.

DSC07255DSC07067DSC07180DSC0720721. Szechenyi Baths, 22. Chain Bridge at night, 23. Matthias Church/Fisherman’s Bastion, 24. Fisherman’s Bastion from below

Food-

I love Hungarian cuisine- it is possibly my favourite cuisine I have had in Europe thus far. Foods you must try when you come to Hungary include:

  • Beef goulash
  • Stuffed cabbage
  • Chimney cake
DSC07220DSC07245DSC07246DSC07248DSC07249DSC07250DSC0725125. Hungarian Parliament, 26. Bálna, 27. Ruin bar, 28. Hősök tere, 29. On the walk to Szechenyi Baths, 30. Inside the Szechenyi Baths, 31. Friends at the Szechenyi Baths
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