I had heard all the hype, listened to all the stories and every time it was the same spiel “Budapest is amazing”, my hopes were raised to almost unreachable proportions. Thinking about it, I was almost stressed about finally arriving at this supposed European oasis with the belief that it simply won’t be able to meet my expectations. How wrong I was.
So at the risk of sounding like one of the crowd, Budapest actually is amazing. First up, it’s cheap as chips. Hostels can be as low as 10 Euro ($12) per night, but you can sit down in a restaurant for $5, beers run around $1 in a bar and public transport is something similar.
Quite simply put the costs don’t match the infrastructure, beauty, charm and atmosphere of Budapest. It’s developed, but it hasn’t reached that sterile level of ‘development’ that western cities seem to adopt. It’s still a little manic and I love it for that. Budapest is probably the first city I’ve visit on my trip through Europe that I’d actually consider living in, and given my love for Asia, that’s really saying something.
But enough of the virtues of Budapest, as backpackers, photographers, travelers, holidaymakers, you wanna know what to see in Budapest. The answer is quite a lot, I’d recommend 3 days in the city at least. Here are the top things to see in Budapest when you’re here:
The Great Synagogue:
Right by Astoria metro stop, where my hostel in Budapest was, Astoria city hostel, is the country’s most impressive synagogue. The twin domed building is more than 100 years old and houses a harrowing museum dedicated to holocaust victims and survivors, pretty grim stuff, but very impressively done.
More impressive as a view point than as a fortress to be honest, the citadella offers unbridled views of the city being dissected by the River Danube. It costs 5 Euro ($6) to enter the actual Citadela (don’t bother), but the views from outside it are equally as impressive.
The Royal Palace:
A hugely impressive building perched on top of Castle Hill, the Royal Palace looks down on the whole city. You can take an old-school tram ($4) to access the palace and the grounds are just beautiful. The building are huge, and house a couple of museums, just walking around the place leaves you in awe. Really cool.
Also on Castle Hill, and only a 10 minute walk from the Royal Palace is Matthias Church, which features consistently on ‘most beautiful churches’ lists around the world, and when you get here, you’ll see why. It’s unreal, so ornate in renovated gothic style, and it’s main spire stretches up to the sky you’ll be rolling around on the concrete trying to fit it in your shot!
Budapest just keeps getting better and better. The riverside Parliament is massive, and again the architecture is magnificent. Tours are run every day but you gotta get there early, there’s only a limited amount of spots available per day, I missed mine!
This’ll be your pathway between Parliament and Castle Hill, the Chain Bridge looks like it’s been stolen straight from London, with huge lions standing guard on each side. And with castle hill at one end, and Parliament on the other side, the views are just unreal.
The Basilica gets a hard rap from Budapest tourism, rarely featuring because it’s wedged between so many other awesome sites. But squeeze it in, it’s vaguely between Terror House and Pariliament (only a 10 or 15 minute walk from either) so check it out, the building is beautiful.
Here’s some carcrash tourism again folks. The terror house is a museum and a tribute to all the victims from the Facist and then Stalinist regimes. It’s been done so well, almost too well because you’ll live pretty shaken up. Don’t miss it, it’s a real education.
Home to a quaint castle, a lake to go fishing or boating in, picnic spots, shaded areas under trees to read your kindle and kick back, the park in the city centre is a great place to chill. Also, it’s home to the Szechenyi baths (spa) which I’ll talk about more tomorrow, an absolute must in your time in Budapest.
That’s enough to keep someone occupied for one manic day, or preferably two more chilled days. I loved Budapest and can’t wait to come back, hoe you guys love it too. Happy travels!