Experience Budapest - Hungary


Experience Budapest - Hungary

Every European city has its own essence that gives it a distinct character. For Budapest, it is the contrast and striking irony that acts as a symbiosis and makes the Hungarian capital ravishing. The iconic River Danube splits the city into two, which make Buda and Pest.

While the former is a hilly and silent region that houses the famous Buda capital and encapsulates the historical side of the city, the latter is relatively modern with its boulevards and concrete buildings.  

The currency used in Budapest is Hungarian Forints (HUF). 1 euro is equivalent to around 358 Hungarian Forint (and 1 USD = around 295 HUF) as of today.

Places to Visit

The list of places to visit in Budapest is endless. Here are a few to get you started:

1.     Buda Castle

Standing atop the Castle Hill, this castle is a mix of various architectural styles that surprisingly blend well. From the neoclassical façade design of the Habsburg era to the Renaissance foundations (which are now majorly ruined), different architectural styles give a grand character to the Buda Castle.

Even though the interior style, which follows a communist approach, does not align with the exterior, the overall assembly is still acceptable. The castle now houses three museums, which are the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the National Széchényi Library.

To save time and energy, you can ride the funicular atop the hill. The carriages run up and down the hill with the help of an old mechanism that still works efficiently. Upon reaching the top of Buda Hill, you can also view the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is a neo-Gothic monument built in the 20th century. It was built as a viewing platform overlooking the Danube River to defend the city.

2.     Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Popularly referred to as the Chain Bridge Budapest, this bridge spans across River Danube and connects the two regions of Buda and Pest. The bridge gives character to the city and is well known for its classicist style river piers. You can access the Buda Hills and Buda Castle after crossing the Chain Bridge.

3.     Thermal Baths

Located in City Park, the Széchenyi Baths are the largest thermal baths in the city. Among the 120 geothermal springs, this bath was built more than a century ago. With 18 pools of natural hot spring water, 10 saunas, facial and massage treatments, and several steam cabins, this is the perfect place to relax after a tiring day of exploration. If you have less time, you should take a thermal steam bath. 

4.     Hungarian Parliament

Even though the structure is tied with political concerns, the Hungarian Parliament is eye candy in terms of its architectural style and grand presentation. It stands across the River Danube, on the Pest side of the division. It is clearly visible from the viewing platform of Castle Hill.

You can also take a boat to view the façade of the magnificent structure, which is constructed and decorated using a 97-meter tall dome, neo-gothic spires, and numerous gargoyles. The best way to ogle at this structure is to take a guided tour that also shows the interior of this structure.

5.     St. Stephen’s Basilica

Standing at 97 meters tall, this monument is a major tourist attraction and also the most photographed structure of all. This architectural marvel is adorned with multiple frescoes and aesthetic elements. Upon reaching the top of the structure, you can access a viewing platform that enables a 360-degree view of Budapest.

If you have some more time on your hands, visit the Heroes’ Square, Memento Park, and the Hospital in the Rock.

Getting Around Budapest - Transportation

The best way to explore Budapest is by using the public transport services of the city, which are quite clean and organized. In case you book your accommodation in one of the outer districts, you must use public transport to get around.

The metro is often used by locals and tourists, which comprises four main lines. A single ticket costs 350 HUF and is valid for one trip. You can use it on buses, trolleys, metro, and trams. You can also choose between a single transfer ticket, a set of 10 single tickets, or a 24-hour travel pass.

Food and Popular Places to Eat 

Among the myriad of traditional Hungarian dishes, you must try Goulash, which is a stew with meat and a Hungarian spice blend. The best place to try Goulash is Gettó Gulyás and Menza Restaurant. Do not miss out on their spicy chicken dish called Chicken Paprikash, which uses a sour cream sauce to cover pieces of chicken.

Other Hungarian delicacies include Lángos (fried dough topped with sour cream), Nokedli (egg noodles), Töltött Káposzta (stuffed cabbage rolls), and Jókai Bean Soup. Check out restaurants such as Rosenstein Restaurant, Kispiac Bistro, and Café Kör to try these Hungarian dishes.

When in the city, you must visit the New York Café Budapest, which is deemed as the most beautiful café in the world due to its palace-like design and the presence of a live orchestra on the upper floor. The place brews a wide range of Hungarian coffee and presents an extensive menu. This café should be a must-visit on your list.

Entertainment and Activities

If you are fascinated by the Buda Hills and want to explore it in-depth, take a ride in the Children’s Railway, which runs through the hills and offers an unforgettable experience. The name ‘Children’s Railway’ comes from the ‘Pioneers’, which is a communist youth programme that aims to teach responsibility and ethics in the younger generation. Both children and adults can access the 14-min train ride.

Have a drink in one of the famous ‘ruin bars’ in the city. These bars are revamped from old and damaged structures that retain their character to be classified as ‘shabby-chic’. These pubs are usually located in deserted buildings but offer an unforgettable vibe once you enter. While all ruin pubs retain their ‘deserted’ look, certain elements set them apart.

You can also take a wine tour in one of the ancient wine cellars of Hungary. Since the Faust wine cellars are located in the basement of the Buda Castle, you will need a guided tour to find your way.

The cellar collects wine from 22 regions of Hungary, which are well-known for their vineyards. You get to try palinka, which is a traditional Hungarian drink. Since this tour is usually packed, book ahead of time.

If you are an architecture buff, visit the Central Market Hall that is adorned with peculiar architectural elements such as the walls with red bricks, roof with yellow and green-hued tiles, and accented steel beams that form a part of the spectacular interior design.

You can buy a variety of food items such as cheeses, sausages, fruits, and veggies that are arranged on the ground with scrutiny. The building also has a food court, a labyrinthine basement with fish counters and games, and a first floor where you can see the intricate use of embroidery and folk art.

If you like gaming, you may be interested to view the old pinball machines used by royals. Visit the Budapest Pinball Museum to learn about traditional pinball gaming. Lastly, if you just want to spend some time in peace, take a walk in one of Budapest’s luscious parks, which are notably one of the best green spaces in Europe.

Budapest, as a city, is a heterogeneous mix of traditional values, historical implications, and urban-chic vibes. The people are generous, and the city offers something for everyone.

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Updated 3 years ago