During my student exchange in France, I hung out with quite a few Hungarians and one thing was for sure – Hungarians knew how to have fun! And why wouldn’t they ? With a country that offered cheap food and drinks (I paid lesser for a fancy brunch in Budapest than in India!), had a unique nightlife and known for its spa culture, it would be really hard not to be fun-loving.And this fun and beautiful place set the tone for our 18 day Central Europe trip. Here is my 2.5 day Budapest Itinerary followed by some travel and stay tips. Happy reading ????
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit Budapest is from March to May and from September to November
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
It’s the most famous landmark of the city and you inevitably spend more than half a day walking around the castle area. More than the castle which was truly magnificent I was fascinated by the neighboring cottages and old houses that lined the castle on the outskirts. I’d recommend walking up to the castle from the Pest side of the city, crossing the famous Chain bridge and then exploring the area for the entire day. At times I did feel that I’d bump into some Herge character or find Snowy sniffing something around the corner. It’s well worth all the effort and the views are to die for.
This was one of the main streets in downtown Budapest and I must have walked through this street almost twice everyday. The street is lined with colorful shops, restaurants, boutiques, pubs and bars and it’s really a small cobblestoned pathway but every time I went back I’d spot a new shop, bar and sit at one of the many cafes and watch people pass by. The best part was sitting in one of the pubs and watching one of the world cup matches alongside locals and travelers. Being In Europe at this time made the trip even more exciting and exhilarating. Oh! And don’t forget to try the slurpy Hungarian Gulash!
St. Stephen's Basilica
This huge church is not really that old. It was only completed in 1905, after 54 years of construction, which included demolition of the nearly completed building when the central dome collapsed in 1868 due to poor workmanship. It is free to enter the church, but they are very aggressive with trying to get you to make a 250 forint ($1.12) "donation". It's not a donation if you have to pay it! I know it's only $1.12, but it's the point. Figure that probably more than 1,000 people per day are going through this church.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
I’d heard about Roman and Turkish Baths but was not familiar with Hungarian Spas; so I went along with a friend to one of the popular thermal spas and it was an experience to remember. The spa itself had fifteen different pools with varying temperatures and attached sauna rooms alongside. We jumped from one pool to another and even after five hours of splashing and swimming we didn’t feel like going back. The entire experience was therapeutic and I felt all the jetlag and travel anxieties fade into oblivion. Summertime is exceptional as these spas have special themed parties and much merriment late into the night.
I wasn’t aware of the concept of ruin pubs prior to this visit but since I love ruins and old cities I decided to venture out to the best one. It was called Szimpla Kert or Simple Garden and was typically atmospheric and quaint and later I found out that it had been voted as one of the best ruin pubs in the world. There was also a place for open air cinema and a place for gatherings and exhibitions. I met plenty of travelers here who just couldn’t stop raving about the place. It was unique and I’m glad that I visited this place on my first visit itself.
Hungarian Parliament Building
Guided tours of the Parliament are available when the National Assembly is not in session. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and is well worth the price, as it covers the main entrance stairs and hall, one of the lobbies, the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels.
BEST NIGHT EVER! before going there we drank some alcohol at city center that we had bought from the market near. It was very crowded. Many young people sitting,chatting and drinking. We were 4 girls, with 2 we had met in the hostel, real nice ones. Anyway after there we have gone to the night club called ötkert. First there was only old men trying to hit young girls with their bad dances but later the club got crowded. We had danced till morning,met many handsome guys and had so much fun.
From there, we hiked up to Matthias Church which is part of the Buda Castle District. When we got up closer to the church and the surrounding area, it is simply amazing. We were allowed to wander all around the exterior, and there were a lot of people sitting out on this beautiful evening enjoying the weather. Even a couple of guys playing guitars and singing. We sat and enjoyed it for a half hour or so. It’s a little pricey, at 1,800 forints ($8.10) for the two of us, but we had been told that it was fantastic. We ended up with mixed feeling. On the down side, there was still a lot of interior renovation going on, and the ticket sellers should have told us that it wasn’t up to standards. So we were a little disappointed with that. On the other hand, it was interesting seeing the renovation work being done.
On a full stomach, we walked the 2 kms or so over to the Great Market Hall. We love visiting the markets of the world, and the Great Market Hall of Budapest is a good one. Unfortunately, on this particular day we weren't hungry enough to try and eat anything. Oh wait, yes we did...we saw one fruit stand that had these huge ripe looking peaches and we bought two of them. Meant to get a picture, but they looked perfect. Now, sometimes with fruit you never know how good it's going to be until you sink your teeth into it. Well these two peaches were perfect. Sweet, and dripping with juice! They were 114 forints ($0.49) each.
We headed over to the Buda side of the city on the other side of the Danube River. This is where Buda Castle is, and we thought that since we had seen the view from one side of the river the night before, we should go check out the other side of the river last night. On the other side of the "chain bridge" is a structure that serves as the entrance to a vehicle tunnel.
when we said we will go to buda, our 2 day long couch surfer said; "boring" . True, there are only old people and tourists but also history lies there with its arm open. We ran to those arms. We walked through the whole Buda ( since i am a pain in .ss when it comes to find the true route ) then found the Royal Palace. It was a great view. Contras were that, some parts were under construction and the restaurants had tourist based prices but we still had enjoyed very much visiting the Budapest History Museum and Hungarian National Gallery.
Casati Budapest Hotel
Well, we don't know if it's the best, but we can't figure why anyone would want anything better. The Casati Budapest Hotel has everything you would need, as well as a helpful staff that are proud to show off the newly renovated boutique hotel. The hotel is located in an 18th century building that used to be a series of apartment flats. It was turned into a hotel in 2001 and was formerly called the Hotel Pest. But a new owner has renovated the hotel and it's 25 rooms are now ultra modern, but still maintain the contemporary elegance of the building's original heritage.I have to say one thing. This bathroom has the best shower ever! Loads of hot water, easy to adjust the temperature, and one of those shower heads that makes you feel like you're standing under a waterfall! Absolutely heaven taking a shower here! There is an exercise room and wellness center in the basement. This is a great idea, because the workout room is naturally cooler and that makes for a better environment for your workout. But then, there's also a massage room where they will arrange a masseuse to come in and relax your muscles if you wish, and a sauna room as well. The hotel has an excellent location, within walking distance to everything in the central area and only minutes from the nearest Metro station as well. The hotel is quickly becoming a popular destination and it might be worthwhile to book in advance.
Home Plus Hostel
Homeplus hostel is bread and breakfast hostel, we could hear lot of traffic noise...but we were fine with that...first it was at good location, near parliament building, second it is bnb, third hostel keepers were extremely nice polite helping and helped us in trip planning. Loved the hostel..even on Saturday night they give free dinner, pasta, it was nice.
Senator Apartments Budapest
Budapest introduces you to a very different part of Europe. Eastern Europe has caught up with its western counterparts only very recently. It is industrial in parts but it has the same sense of grandeur I witnessed else where. A lot of architects that designed buildings in Vienna designed structures in Budapest.<br /><br />It has a younger population, faster pace of life and a more diverse selection of activities to choose from. It is distinctly Eastern European in terms of language, food, the local stores and markets. The culture is different (a lot like Prague!) and fascinating. <br /><br />My friends and I made an impulsive visit to the Ecseri Market located on the outskirts of Budapest. The market was devoid of any other visitors but us (being a Tuesday) and the lonely rows of antique crockery, silverware, jewellery, medallions, books, show pieces and other local crafts have blown my mind! The trip to the market wasn't what we expected, it was better. <br /><br />A sense of history and a troubled relationship with the past is felt when exploring Budapest, so always keep your eyes peeled and your mind open to seeing something different!
Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden
From there it was only a short walk to the Budapest Zoo. We've already been to the Mexico City Zoo and the Bristol Zoo this year, so we wouldn't have normally gone to another zoo but admission was included with the Budapest Card so we figured we'd go in for a quick wander around since we were in the area. We stayed longer than expected though. It's certainly not one of the best zoos we've ever been to, but it did have some highlights. They have probably the best display of snakes we've ever seen. Plus we did have a couple of memorable moments with some of the animals that we saw so that made it more enjoyable. And for a small zoo, it seemed to go on forever! But some of the displays are dated. Kind of felt sorry for a few of the animals who's enclosures seemed a bit small.