A city that lived up to expectations

When I wrote this post originally back in July 2015 Budapest was hailed as the undiscovered city in Europe, somewhere which isn’t as popular as say Prague but still has the same history and quirks and interesting people. It is true to say it is an pearl of a place, its interesting streets and squares with architecture which could transport you anywhere round the world whilst having so much of its own charm. Since 2015 it has become a lot more popular, a quick search on Instagram or a conversation in my office kitchen shows that. I don’t think it changes things, it still has the same allure for me as it did 4 years ago.

Venturing a little east

Stuart’s family lived in the outskirts of Budapest for 3 years while he was growing up and for the last 9 years I have heard stories of this place. They were mixed with the mystery of an unknown place and the nostalgia of how it was.

After a few years of procrastinating we finally made the decision to visit. One of the things I love most about European city breaks is that our base in the UK means we can grab a quick evening flight on a Friday night allowing us to wake up exactly where we want to be.

View over Budapest

The flight was one of the best I have had (coming from someone who hates flying) watching Europe fall into darkness and the lights turn on. The main roads looked like lit up branches of a tree it was pretty awesome. I just wished I had taken a picture – lesson learned!

We landed around midnight, whizzed through security and headed to the taxi rank. Budapest is serviced by one main taxi company FoTaxi – bright yellow taxi’s. They are also regulated so the price is the same whoever you go with. The system is pretty easy to work as well, head to the taxi booth, tell them where you want to go and pay – they print your a ticket with a taxi number, the taxi usually appears moments later ready to go.

Despite being 1am hour Airbnb host’s daughter met us, gave us a quick tour before we headed to bed excited to see what the city held for us in the morning.

We awoke to blissful sunshine which made me very happy. Plus we were staying right in the centre of town near the Parliament so it was idea. We headed out to find some breakfast but it seemed we rose a little early for Budapest as not much was open. Not one to sit in a main square (at this point in time anyway) we opted for a quick coffee in St Stephen’s Square with a great view of the church.

St Stephen's Church

Breakfast at St Stephens

The sightseeing begins!

Our first stop was of course St Stephen’s, we walked up the steps and entered the massive church. The decoration was beautiful and covered with marble. We walked around taking in the chapels and the amazing ceiling. St Stephen is a saint in Hungary and he is very loved…to the point where his mummified right hand is kept inside a side chapel. We decided to go and have a peek and were a little disappointed. Without paying to light up the case you couldn’t really see much. Yup, I’ll repeat that – YOU CAN PAY TO LIGHT UP THE HAND!

Inside the church

Statue in the church

St Stephen's Hand


In order to fuel our love for panorama’s we decided to pay and walk up to the roof of the basilica. It was a tough walk up the 300 odd stairs to the roof but the view was worth it! I think the pictures do it the most justice!

Stairs in the church

View from the top

View from the top

View of the church

Next up was a stroll mini hike across to the Szechenyi Chain Bridge and across to the Buda side of the Danube. The Szechenyi Chain Bridge was the first bridge to connect Buda and Pest opened in 1849. It was thought up by Istvan Szechenyi, designed by Scot William Clark and built by Englishman Adam Clark.

Lion on the bridge

The Chain Bridge

We did opt for the funicular on the Buda side to save us from walking up the hill to the castle. We queued for 20 minutes (rather a long time for such a short trip) but the ride was fun and gave you a good view over the river.


Once you make it to the stop you’ll get almost uninterrupted views over the city from the base of Buda Castle. I haven’t mentioned yet but Budapest was HOT and I was hungry. Not a good combination.

Always unlucky with top rated restaurants

We don’t have much luck using either guidebooks or TripAdvisor but we thought we would give it another go. We headed towards Fisherman’s Bastion, passing some lovely looking restaurants in search of one we found on TripAdvisor. When we eventually got there it was shut. Not impressed.

By now the situation was serious…food was needed so we opted for the nearest food place. We totally got sucked into a tourist trap called Panoramia pretty much in Fisherman’s Bastion. The only saving grace for this place was the view.

Lunch, apparently

After lunch food in a plastic tub we decided to pay to go onto the Fisherman’s Bastion, which again was a total let down. Everywhere I read made it out to be amazing with the best views in Budapest so we decided to pay the 1000 Fortinet. It turned out to be less than 100m from start to finish whereas if you walked round the corner you got the same views!

The views were incredible.

Fisherman's Bastion

View from the top

Fisherman's Bastion

St Matthias Church

There is more to Budapest then meets the eye

After an ice cream and a walk along the river we made our way to the Shoes on the Danube. A memorial to Hungarian Jews who were shot into the river by the Nazi’s. It was a lovely memorial, many of the shoes were filled with candles in remembrance. Hungary and Budapest have a history filled with ups and downs, this memorial somehow manages to capture it all in the most beautiful way.

Shoes on the Danube

2 things I love about cities – Transport systems and rivers!

After a quick change we headed to our evening river cruise with Legenda upon the Duna Bella. The cruise was just over an hour and worked its way down the Danube and around Margaret Island. An audio tour filled us in on what we were looking at and we were treated to a glass of Champagne each and a glass of Lemonade! Well worth the 26 euro’s we paid for it! I love a river cruise and this one doesn’t disappoint.

On the boat

View from the river

Bridge from the river

Slightly blurry parliament building

Dinner was next on the cards, again we had a fail with a TripAdvisor recommendation and it was fully booked so we headed back to the road we were staying in and dined at the Hummus Bar. This place was amazing! The hummus was amazing! The Laffa (flatbreads) was amazing! I just wished I hadn’t felt so ill so that I could have eaten more than a tiny corner of the plate. 🙁

Bed was all that was on my mind to try and recover from the sickness so an early night was in store! Despite feeling so sick I was excited to see what tomorrow would hold!


Have you ever been to Budapest? What was your favourite part? 

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  • Original post: 25.07.2015
  • Updated: 17.06.2019