The catchy song Budapest sang by an young British artist George Ezra awoke my desire to visit Budapest. After hearing it, I felt this urge to hop on a train and travel to this city. And soon I did. After all, it’s only 3 hours away by train from Bratislava. What I didn’t expect was that I fell in love with Budapest almost immediately because .. well.. keep on reading and you’ll find out why…
The capital of Hungary, also known as a city of thermal springs, surprised me in a very positive way. Budapest, as we know it today, was formed when the former three city parts Buda, OBuda and Pest got united and the capital’s name was established. The city is still unspoiled by western Europe and the atmosphere breaths with history. It is one of the cities that deserves a spot in your ‘places to go’ list and if you actually visit it, you won’t be disappointed.
There are plenty of things you can do here, many museums to visit, parks to walk around, restaurants and bars to eat, thermal baths to relax in but there are also few of my favourite must do’s while staying in Budapest. So here it comes!
St. Gellert was supposingly the first Hungarian martyr who tried to convert Hungarians into Christians around 1000 AD. The story says that he died by hands of the pagans who forced him to wooden barrel filled with nails and then rolled it down this steep hill where he found his death.
There are many sights to be found on this hill and if you make it to the top, you will be rewarded by an amazing view of the city. Start with the Cave Church on Gellert Hill and make your way up passing the statue of the St. Gellert, The Citadel (Citadella), the Statue of Liberty (Szabadsag szobor) and other statues that are part of the complex.
My tip: Try to go there earlier in the morning and you might see the morning fog above the city slowly disappearing, It’s an amazing sight!
It’s one of the most visited places in Budapest and when you get there, you’ll find out why. Heroes’ Square was built up to honor the great leaders in Hungarian history and one of the first words that came to my mind after seeing it was ‘majestic’. One of the landmarks of Budapest is the Millennial Monument standing right in the middle of the square. There are two other important buildings to be found around, Museum of Fine Arts and Hall of Art so if you’re looking for a cultural experience, this is a place to go.
My tip: If you head there when the sun goes down, you might get an a great snap of the monument with pink sky on the background.
Chain Bridge (Széchenyi lánchíd)
First permanent bridge and one of the city’s landmarks in Budapest was built to connect Pest with Buda, still separate cities at that time. Today, it is one of the major attractions in the city so take a stroll on this bridge, enjoy the views and take few snaps. There is also a story tied to the lion statues guarding the bridgeheads. It says that the sculptor who made the lion statues forgot to carve out the lions’ tongues and when it was pointed out to him in public, he jumped off the bridge. However, the truth is that the lions have tongues but they’re just not visible from the street. So good luck trying to spot them!
Parliament House in the Night
Parliament House is one of the most interesting sights on the Pest side of the city. If you’re on the Buda side you will get an amazing view of the whole building. I decided to walk there after it got dark and it was a good decision. I saw the moon shining above the Parliament House and I could admire its reflection in the Danube river. It was quite an experience and I could stay there for hours and enjoying the view. If you actually plan on doing so, wrap up well as it can get cold out there!
Shoes on Danube Memorial
One of the most moving memorials to Holocaust on the bank of the Danube. There are no words to be said. The shoes will tell the story.
This is one of the most eminent romantic castles in Hungary and a home to the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture. What makes it special is the combination of architectural styles, each representing a different era in the history of Hungary. At the moment when I spotted it surrounded by the lake, I fell in love with this fairy tale castle. As my imagination is quite vivid, I couldn’t stop the feeling that there were fairies flying around just behind the next corner. Definitely a must do if you’re visiting Budapest!
My tip: If you are there in winter, put ice skating on this lake on the list of your activities and you’ll have something to remember Budapest by.
I still haven’t convinced you? So have some fun looking for Wooden Dogs or an interesting statue in Budapest and take a picture with it. Eat halaszle (fisherman’s stew) in a local restaurant, visit the synagogue, take a break in one of the thermal baths, watch the local street artists (they’re behind every corner), take a walk in one of the parks and most of all, don’t forget to watch the dusk in Budapest. It’s amazing from anywhere in city. Enjoy yourself!
My tip: If you’re a coffee person, look up a cozy small cafe called My Little Melbourne that I discovered on my walks around Budapest.