After a comfortable train from Prague, my friend and I arrived in Budapest early in the morning and headed straight to our central accommodation to drop our bags and set out exploring the beautiful Hungarian Capital.
Luckily, the friends we were meeting there had arrived the day prior and already mastered the city’s tram system, but we quickly caught up as they are incredibly easy to navigate. Our first stop was the magnificent Hungarian Parliament on the East banks of Danube River; the Pest side of the city. We spent the first part of the morning wandering around the grounds marvelling at the neo-gothic and renaissance revival architecture.
After a couple of hours here, we took the twenty-minute walk south along the riverside and across the famous Szechenyi Chain Bridge to the foot of Buda Castle Hill. From there the funicular railway carried us up to the top. Running every ten minutes, the traditional railway is a cost-effective and fun way to take in the stunning sights of Budapest.
Once at the top we were in awe of the grandeur of the entire Buda Castle complex. With multiple different buildings and galleries, a whole day could easily be spent exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site. A personal highlight was the Fisherman’s Bastion: Seven Romanesque Towers that offer panoramic views of the entire city. Akin to Disney Princess Castles, this is without a doubt one of Budapest’s most photo perfect spots, no matter what direction you point the camera!
That evening we grabbed a bite to eat at funky street food bar, Spiler, in the Jewish Quarter and set out in search for some of Budapest’s best kept secrets: the ruins bars. Found in the Old Jewish Quarter, the trendy ruins bars are hidden within what look like normal houses from outside but in inside are elaborate and eclectic bars built from abandoned and ruined buildings. (Picture bicycles hanging from partially open ceilings and old-fashioned upcycled furniture!). The most famous of these is the original: Szimpla Kert – not quite a relaxed and quiet evening drink, but a must-see for nightlife lovers.
The next day we took the tram out to the quaint Margit-Sziget (or Margaret Island). Once called Rabbit Island, the 2.6km in length island sits in the middle of the Danube River, between Buda and Pest, and is reachable easily from either side of the city. On the island you can wander around on foot, by local bus, or hire a number of vehicles such as bicycles, scooters, golf buggies and so on.
My friend and I opted for an adorable 2-seater ‘quadricycle’ that looked like an old-fashioned ice cream cart. We had so much fun (attempting) to coordinate around the island’s paths and parks, spotting squirrels as we went. With tired legs, we soon returned our wheels and went to check out the Palatinus Pool – made up of both the famous Budapest thermal baths and a full outdoor adventure pool. Once we had cooled off and gotten in some valuable sunbathing time, we found our way to the famous musical fountain. Playing different styles of music throughout the day, this fountain is most magical at night when it is also lit up and attracts quite a crowd.
Dinner that evening was at the swanky Borsso Bistro in the inner district, East side of the River. Excellent, elegant food which was the perfect end to a jam-packed day. To balance out the fancy food, we topped off the evening with a couple of fun novelty cocktails in the lively Rumpus Tiki Bar.
The following day was our last in Budapest and we spent the morning at an essential Budapest hangout: a traditional thermal bath. While there are a few to choose from, we opted for the Gellert Baths. Inside there are several rooms with different pools of various sizes and temperatures, and even a massage room. Feeling refreshed and relaxed after a couple of hours of pampering, we made our way to the train station to board our train onwards to Ljubljana, Slovenia, for the next chapter of our Europe Adventure.
To find out more about Hannah’s Budapest trip or if you are interested in a similar trip give the team a call on 0131 243 8098 or send an email.