Budapest won us over, big time. It was city that we had no idea about when we actually booked to go, we got recommendations from friends, picked a few things to do, but for the main part we just enjoyed wandering the streets (sometimes the same ones over and over) and taking in the great views.
We decided that we weren’t going to plan every minute of our day, instead just picking a few things that we wanted to do. We hit most of them, but missed out on a river cruise because we found Draculas caves and Houdini’s house, which were both pretty interesting! All the more reason to go back, to do some of the stuff we missed. The typical “touristy” things we managed to pack in were a trip to the Széchenyi thermal bath, a (fairly long) visit to the most famous ruin bar Szimpla Kert, going through the House of Terror and learning more about the history of Budapest in the wars, and taking the funicular up to Buda and getting sweeping views over the Danube from the Fisherman’s Bastian which was possibly our most favourite spot in the whole city. I’ll be writing about all of these in the next couple of weeks, because its just waaaaay too much for one post. So for now, here’s a mix of photos that won’t fit anywhere else. Our first night, after visiting the thermal baths, having an amazing dinner and spending more hours than intended in Szimpla Kert ruin bar, we ended our night/early morning with expensive mini-fridge drinks in bed. It was my birthday celebration weekend after all. If you’re not familiar with Budapests history, the House of Terror has exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary and includes memorials to the victims. You can hear accounts from people who lived through these times, and see cells where prisoners were detained, interrogated, tortured or killed. It’s incredibly sobering.If you want to take a trip on the funicular to get up to Buda castle, old town and Fisherman’s Bastian, it’s HUF 1,800 round trip (about £5 each) although you can also purchase singles. When we got there, there was quite a large line which we weren’t happy about as we were losing daylight. A tour provider was selling queue jump tickets for HUF 2,100 each return, so we jumped all over that to get up to the top quicker as it would be our only time to get up there for daylight. For an extra £1 each it was completely worth it, so if you’re short on time, keep an eye out for people with tour clothing on! From the top of the hill, you can get different views depending on where you go. From Fisherman’s Bastian you can get frontal views of the Hungarian Parliament building (I’ll post these in another post!) and from Buda castle you can get unobstructed side views. Along the banks of the Danube near parliament you’ll see dozens of shoes. The sculptures were created by film director Can Togay and sculptor Gyula Pauer to represent the shoes left behind by victims of the fascists. They were forced to take off their shoes and were shot along the waters edge so their bodies would be carried away by the current. Many people had left notes, trinkets, flowers and lit candles in remembrance of the victims. If you look across the river you an see Fisherman’s Bastian and Mathius church lit up and looking quite pretty. Keep strolling around and you can see every side or Parliament, which is HUGE. We kept discussing if they actually used all the rooms. We didn’t get to go in, as again, we ran out of time, but during certain times of the day you can take tours inside Parliament except for days there are sessions going on. If you really want to visit, head to the official website as it will tell you if there are restricted visits on each day. The price for non-EU citizens is HUF 5,800 (around £17) and a discounted admission for EU citizens is HUF 2,200 (around £6). This is another one that’s on our list for next time!
We flew out on a Friday morning, arriving in Budapest for 2, which meant it was 3 before getting to the centre, and we left Sunday at 2, meaning we left the centre at 11. So we had a half day Friday, full day Saturday and basically just lounged about and caught up on sleep before we left Sunday. While we had a really nice chilled out time, if you want to visit everything, you’ll need probably at least 3 full days to fit things in, and that’s with a schedule. If you do want a really great city to go to for a weekend break though I’d really recommend it. The restaurants and bars were great and there were lots of them, and the city is really pretty.
It’s also fairly cheap to visit. We did quite a few paid attractions, went to two “more expensive” restaurants (with two-three courses and drinks costing between £45-60 total each time) spent a night drinking, and ate snacks and other things and struggled to spend the £250 we took with us. You could easily spend under £100, and with cheap flights and places to stay, you can have a great weekend away! I’ll be posting about where we stayed, what we ate, and what we did as I said in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for lots more of Budapest.