Welcome to Budapest! This was my second time in Eastern Europe and to say I was blown away by the architecture in this city would be an understatement.
My best friend and I had about 24 hours to see the city. We quickly discovered how walkable Budapest is, as we were able to get to everything we wanted to see by foot. Let’s start from the beginning.
TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT
We took the 100E bus to and from the airport. At the airport, you can buy a ticket from the machine with card or cash. From the city you can buy the ticket from the driver in cash only. The tickets are cheap, less than $10. If you’re using a card, make sure you have a pin associated with it as many ticket machines will require one. This goes for many places in Europe.
Once you’ve made it into the city, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the layout. Budapest is split in half by the Danube River. The western side of the city is known as Buda and the eastern side as Pest, hence “Budapest”.
WHERE TO STAY
It was highly recommended by a friend studying abroad in Budapest to stay on the Pest side. So I only researched hotels on that side of the city, however, there is a nice Hyatt on the Buda side that’s right next to many of the major attractions, so check that out if you’re willing to splurge on a room. My friend and I knew we wouldn’t be in the room more than a few hours so we were looking for something decent but on the cheaper side. The Millenium Court by Marriott ended up working out great. The room was HUGE (included a full kitchen, living room, bedroom and bath). The hotel is only 3 minutes away from the river and markets.
View from our room:
There is a Marriott right on the river which is more expensive, so MAJOR TIP HERE: if you stay at the Millenium Court, you will also have access to the upscale Marriott, and it’s only a 3-minute walk. This means you have access to the 9th floor lounge for free. We took advantage of this because there was free breakfast, cocktails, appetizers, and an incredible view of the city. Check out the scenery!
WHAT TO SEE
Before going to Budapest, my friend and I made a list of all the major sights we wanted to see. This allowed us to plan out a path around the city to ensure we could allocate enough time to see it all! The first place we wanted to visit was St. Stephen’s Basilica. As we were walking there we stumbled upon a wonderful street market that had a variety of traditional Hungarian food.
After exploring the market, we walked to the Basilica. This attraction is a Roman Catholic basilica in honor of the first King of Hungary. (Built in 1905) We just saw the building from the outside but you can pay cash to go to top for a view of the city. A ticket is about $3 but you’ll need Hungarian Forints (roughly 861 HUF).
The streets leading up the Basilica are fun to explore too!
Next, we headed to the Parliament Building which is probably something you’ve seen before, as it is a major symbol of the city. On our way there we saw some other monuments.
A few more minutes of walking and we arrived at the glorious Hungarian Parliament Building. Wow, this place is impressive. Located on the Danube, this is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary.
There is a small exhibition beneath the square called IN MEMORIAM 25 OKTOBER 1956. This exhibit is a memorial site for the victims of the massacre, which took place at this site. Here is a link to the exhibit’s website if you’d like to read more.
While the city is beautiful, there were many tragedies that took place here. Another site of remembrance is the Shoes on the Danube. This art installation is in honor of the Jewish victims who were shot by the fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during WW2. The memorial was created by Can Togay, a film director.
Even if you aren’t interested in the memorials around Budapest, this area of the city has some great scenery.
Next, we walked to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Built in the 19th century, this suspension bridge is also an iconic landmark in Budapest. It was designed by William Tierney Clark.
View of Parliament from the Chain Bridge
Once crossing over the bridge, we were now in the Buda side of the city. We headed up to Buda Castle for some great views of the city. The Hungarian National Gallery is also up at the top of the hill.
Continuing on our route through the city, we walked another 10-15 minutes to Matthias Church. Named after King Matthias who was married here, this church was also once used as a mosque for Ottoman Turks (originally constructed in 1015). This is right next to another popular destination, Fisherman’s Bastion.
Designed and built in 1895 by Frigyes Schulek in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style.
This landmark was mainly used as a lookout after the Buda Castle Seige (1686). After the Castle was no longer considered a military palace, Fisherman’s Bastion became a place for commoners to gather and enjoy the views.
After hitting the Bastion, we had visited all of the major places we planned. We decided to explore a bit more of Buda before heading back to Pest for some food:)
Now would it be an Eager Exploration post without some food?
We headed back to the markets and tried the Hungarian Flatbread known as Lángos. It’s topped with sour cream and cheese.
Then, naturally, it was time for dessert! We had to try a chimney
cake. Ours was filled with caramel ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. YES PLEASE.
This was a long one so if you made it through, thank you! I hope I was able to give you a taste of Budapest. Where should I explore next?