In 2012 I arranged a trip to Budapest, Hungary for a long weekend and my first venture to Eastern Europe.
We spent three days and two nights in the city, walking, exploring and almost encountering a fine on the metro. Travel tip: Throw away your old tickets rather than (like me), storing them before presenting the wrong one to the conductor! Read on for my highlights of Budapest.
Cheap travel and straightforward Metro network
After leaving Terminal 2 of the airport, we headed for the bus stop (directly outside of the terminal) for the final leg of our trip. Bus 200E travels directly from the airport to the Kobanya-Kipest (blue line) metro station where we transferred to the metro for the remainder of the trip. The cost of just 1600 HUF for two people (equivalent to £3.50) for one way ticket does includes bus and metro which is pretty impressive, particularly within Europe! The remainder of our days were covered with a 72-hour travel card which calculated at 3850 HUF which is approximately £11… for three days. Amazing! This is the most straight-forward way of getting into the city without paying for more costly transfers.
Thermal spring baths
Prior to departure and upon arrival I had tossed around the idea of which thermal bath we would try out – Rudas, Gellert or Szenchenyi – we opted for the latter.
With just three days to play with, we took the word of mouth recommendations and were happy with the choice. With 15 baths of varying size and temperature from 20 – 38°C, we were pleased to spend around three hours moving from bath to sauna (they have one up to a whopping 80°C). We followed this up with a trip to the onsite Thai spa, which was the perfect finale to a day spent at the thermal baths.
I’m a big foodie and it makes up a large part of my travel experience to learn about the traditional dishes and ingredients within a particular country. Whilst we (shockingly) didn’t get around to trying out goulash, we did sample a selection of restaurants and cafes. Favourites were Hummus Bar, Nobu and surprisingly KFC (yes, I really did say Kentucky Fried Chicken). We visited the branch at Budapest airport and were presented with chicken, crunchy and perfectly seasoned. I have no idea what they do differently but the quality was much higher and not at all greasy.
Budapest is home to stunning architecture which is genuinely second to none. I enjoyed the beauty of the city, specifically the Houses of Parliament (3rd largest in the world) as well as the Chain Bridge and the lesser mentioned Liberty bridge.
The Houses of Parliament have so much detail, it really was a fantastic sight to see.
The bridges are stunning at night, brilliantly lit and each offering walkways for passengers on foot. We covered each of these in a stroll on our first evening from east-bank Pest to west-bank Buda and back again across the River Danube.
Sightseeing via river cruise
A fantastic way to maximise seeing the sights of Budapest is by taking a river cruise, especially if you happen to be limited for time.
Key attractions that we visited were:
- Holocaust Memoral Museum & Synagogue
- The ‘Exotic Teahouse’
- The Gold Museum
- Széchenyi thermal bath & spa
- City Park
As we spent a day at the baths, we decided to maximise the sight seeing with a trip on board a boat for along the River Danube. Rather than booking in advance, we made the spontaneous decision and walked along the dock before settling upon a company – we chose Duna Yacht. There are so many to choose from so take the time to find one to suit your budget and requirements, e.g. inc. lunch, dinner etc.
Budapest is a city that has plenty to see and do. I did find that at times the general public were not very friendly and we were made to feel uncomfortable on occasions. It didn’t spoil our time in the country, however for certain travellers I know that this would be off-putting.
Have you visited Budapest? Share your comments below.