Budapest

Written about Travel
9th November 2015


Eastern Europe - despite being on the doorstep, it's a place I've never ventured. A trip to Budapest was booked and I got to tick off another city and country off my 'to travel to' list.

Let's keep this brief, as I could forever talk about places I've travelled to, thinking it means more to me than to you.

Highlights?

Architecture - it would be difficult to avoid, but look up and around at every opportunity. The Budapest architecture is amazing, with such a minimal juxtaposition with modern buildings it makes it even more memorable. There's a lot of history to be taken in - try and find your trivia points or guided tours where you can - but a lot is a lot more modern than you'd think, it just all slots together instead of competing for space.

The baths - Oh, the baths. One thing you must tick off your list whilst in the city. There are loads to choose from, but we hit up the more 'famed' options; Gellert Baths and Szechenyi Baths. The former is a little more central, but with super cheap public transport, visit both. Essentially, to put them both together would form the ultimate. The indoor and ornate baths of Gellert mixed with the vast, multi outdoor pools (including miniature wave circle and jacuzzi pumps) of Szechenyi. The latter is in City Park, so if you visit in the day, you'll have a little extra to fill your time with. I could have sat for hours in those outdoor pools, they're thermal so it's essentially having a bath.. with hundreds of other people. Not weird I promise.

Ruin bars - unique to Budapest, the city is filled with hidden ruin bars. Pretty unassuming from the outside, but for those of you not in the know, they entered the city around 2000s. They're all empty shells of buildings that were left abandoned, filled with a plethora of random finds (fairy lights, ornaments, road signs, taxidermy...) to create a unique boozer. The Szimpla bar is one of the more famed options, but I loved Instant bar too.
You'll be spoilt for choice with night life, but as it's so confusingly budget, your wallet will stay fuller than you think.

We were there for just under a week and fit in a hell of a lot. The city centre is small enough to navigate by foot, but don't neglect the Metro, it's a couple of pounds for shorter trips.

I loved the funicular, a really quick journey up on the Buda side, for a much longer queue time, but the view from the top (on a clear day) is beautiful. There's a small little village at the top too, if you walk around there's also the Fishermen's Bastion which has another opportunity to look out over Pest as well as take in more amazing architecture.

The Book Cafe was a must for me (it's a Pinterest favourite), we just walked in but may be better to book a table if you're not there for opening time, Nutella on a croissant seems ever so slightly better when you're in such a grand setting.

We took the time to walk the majority of places, is it just me or do you forget distance when on holiday? I barely walk to the other side of the city centre at home. Adding to a week's worth of walking were the 320 steps to the to of St Stephen's Basilica, completely worth it of course.

 

We had more than enough recommendations to fit into a short week, every day was full - with enough evening time to get our fill of ruin bars and gyros. The latter a Budapest speciality, essentially a kebab, but not so greasy.

Stock yourself with your Budapest map and learn the language basics. You'll have the best time and on a serious budget. Don't neglect the Danube (with a silent b, just so you know), a nice day makes for a great slow walk down there. We met an adorable puppy along the river too, so you never know what's along the straight.

Explore both sides of the river and don't be afraid to go a little further out of the centre too, there's a ton to stumble upon.

 

Oh, and one last word. Don't forget to try the local goulash - all the Hungarian food is delish (and seriously hearty), but we had the goulash from the centre market, unreal.

 

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Goulash. Traditional Hungarian yum.

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Photos by Matthew Shields