A change in my normal roundup’s of trips. I will come back to our time in Budapest but after 2 trips here is my list of 9 things to do in this wonderful city!!! (in no particular order!!)
1. St Stephens Basilica
St Stephen’s catholic church is in the middle of Budapest that you kind of stumble across when walking around the city. The church is named in honour of the first king of Budapest, Stephen, who Hungarians do have an odd obsession with him. They adore him so much his mummified hand is kept in one of the crypts…you can put a forint in the box to make it light up!
It’s worth paying (and the 300 steps) to go up to the roof of the dome, the views are great!
2. Buda and Fisherman’s Bastion
Budapest is a city of two sides, the Buda side of the river and the Pest side. I’d say most of the tourist attractions are on the Pest side but it’s worth a trip over to the other side for the funicular and Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s a lovely walk from the castle to Fisherman’s Bastion with some great views.
It was built between 1895 and 1902 and has 7 towers to represent the 7 tribes of Hungary. You have to pay to actually walk along the top, which to be honest I wouldn’t really recommend as it is only about 100m and you can get just as good views from the ‘free’ parts.
3. Danube River Cruise
Budapest is split in two by the Danube which means you get to take advantage of the wonderful cruises which go along the river and around Margaret Island. We opted for an early evening cruise which was with Legenda on the Duna Bella.
I would recommend these tours as they were good value for money – a cruise, audio guide, champagne and lemonade. Some of the daytime cruises allow you to stop off on the island and pick up the second half later.
4. Gellert Hill
Gellert Hill is on the Buda side of the river and is a short (but steep) walk up the hill to the Liberty Monument. The monument to the freedom of Hungary. She is 14m high and was erected in 1947 and built to commemorate the Soviet soldiers killed who liberated Hungary. There used to be some statutes of Soviet soldiers but these were removed in 1992.
Also on top of the hill is the Citadella which was built in 1848-49 to defend Budapest. We didn’t go inside but this is an option if you want to spend more time at the top.
5. Thermal Baths
Budapest is full of thermal baths – you have to check out at least one to experience and understand part of the culture.
Szechenyi Baths are located in City park and consist of 3 outdoor pools and several inside ones. There is plenty of areas to chill beside the outside pools but the fun is soaking in the hot water. I can’t wait to come back in the winter to experience it in the snow!! Szechenyi is home to the infamous men playing chess – which does actually happen!!!
If you’re looking for a more traditional inside experience with interesting interiors then Gellert Baths are for you. It’s less central but has a cold pool and sundeck outside with a series of inside pools. Traditionally split one side for men and one side for women, today you can roam wherever…as long as you wear a swimming hat in the correct areas!!!
6. Hero Square
One of the main attractions in Budapest Hero Square features a series of statues of the seven Chieftains of the Magyars, other national leaders and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s a huge square at the end of one of the main roads and near City Park, surrounded by museums and beer bikes!!!
7. Central Market
Markets around the world are always interesting, it’s a fine balance in Europe between locals and super touristy. I think the Central Market has managed to find a balance with many many stalls of vegetables, meat and cheeses which are frequented by the locals and tacky touristy shops. It doesn’t take long to walk round and nosey at the things on offer, obviously if you like shopping you could spend hours there!!
8. Dohány Street Synagogue
If you’re interested in Jewish history, the holocaust or religion in general this Synagogue is great to visit. It is a humbling place given the history that surrounds the area and the mass grave which now forms the central garden. The inside is beautiful and seats 3000 people!! It’s the largest Synagogue in Europe and second largest in the world!!
There is an exhibition space upstairs but it’s not really worth the journey up the stairs in my opinion. Remember to dress appropriately, men get given a Kippah to wear inside.
One of my favourite things in Budapest was visiting the Parliament building. You are given a time for your tour when you buy your ticket (online or when you’re there but they do get booked up quick), you get scanned and given an audio guide to listen to the tour guide through.
You’re taken on a tour of the different areas of the building, the grand staircase being a highlight, and into one of the two chambers. Unlike the British Parliament, Hungary now only uses ones of its chambers which means guests can always visit one. Both chambers are decorated in the same way and are very ornate!
As you can see there is a lack of nightlife and museums from this post. Both of which I hope to rectify in the future. There is so much to do in Budapest I fear I will never manage to tackle it all! In my opinion if you do one thing with your time there head to a thermal bath. You will understand some of what it is to live there and it’s such a relaxing experience!!
What did you do with your time there!?