6 Experiences You Should Have in Budapest!
Budapest was the last major stop on our road trip before we returned to Poland. The city is divided into two parts Buda and Pest. They are separated by the Danube river. Our accommodations were on the Pest side. We stayed in this beautiful Air BnB apartment in the Belváros neighborhood, which I highly recommend.
Here's a look into 6 experiences you should have while in Budapest:
1. Free Walking Tour
You can never go wrong starting your trip with a walking tour. It's a great way to see and learn a lot in a short period of time, and it can help you plan out the rest of your trip. We went on the Free Walking Tour's Original Walk that lasted about 2.5 hours and covered most of the major Budapest landmarks. Here are some of my favorites:
Iconic bridge that connects Buda to Pest and crosses the Danube.
We walked the Király lépcső aka the Royal Steps to get to the top of Castle Hill. Alternatively, you can take the Funicular or bus 16. We took the bus on the way down to Pest.
I've seen a lot of beautiful religious buildings during my travels, but Mathias Church quickly became one of my favorites.
You will catch some of the best views of Budapest from this neo-gothic/neo-Romanesque style terrace.
2. Great Market Hall
I definitely had to practice some of my shopping control techniques at Great Market Hall. This is the place you want to go to buy authentic Hungarian souvenirs and if you want great local produce and food. I bought a few embroidery items and paprika because it is a staple of Hungarian cuisine.
3. Ruin Bars!
Ruin Bars are a must when in Budapest! They are located mainly in the Old Jewish quarter in abandoned buildings. After WWII, the neighborhood was left to rot, so young people created an underground bar scene. Years later, ruin pubs are a major part of the social life in Budapest. Each bar has it's own funky personality. There are so many to choose from. After a failed attempt at joining a pubcrawl, we decided to do our own thing and started at Instant. Then we asked the bartender, which ruin bars were his favorite and he circled it on a map for us. Voila! Semi-organized tour lol!
4. House of Terror
The House of Terror is a touching tribute to the victims of Communist & Nazi regimes in Hungary. This building was the former Nazi headquarters in 1940 and had a torture prison in the basement. If you have even a remote interest in history, I strongly encourage you check out this thought provoking museum.
5. Hungarian Parliament During the Day & Night
The Hungarian Parliament building is the largest building in Hungary. While it is stunning during the day, you definitely should go visit the building at night. When I got off the metro, I was mesmerized by the building's beauty. It was so massive and intricately detailed that from a distance it looked fake! The lighting and the bats hovering in the skyline gave the appearance of low hanging stars. It was lovely!
Pro tip: Dinner/ Booze cruises are a popular tourist thing to do because you get a fantastic view of Budapest, but they can be pricey. If you buy a 24-hour travel card you can use it for all public transportation, including boat services, which will cost you a quarter of a price of a dinner cruise. Since I was traveling in a group of 3, we got the group 24-hour travel card which was 3300 Hungarian Forint (11.95 USD).
6. Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Hungary has one of the world's largest thermal water reserves, and Budapest is home to some of the best healing baths. There are a number of baths in Budapest. We chose to go to Széchenyi because it was recommended to me by several of my friends. This was the perfect way to end our time in the city before we drove to Kraków.
If you are driving from Budapest to Kraków take a pit stop in Slovakia and soak up the beautiful view of the Tatra mountains!