Europe: Budapest

Blurb

It’s been a while. Since the last blog I’ve had to make some life choices and my computer $£&!ed up. So you might be seeing some India and Tibet blogs coming up as I’ve planned something special. You might be waiting a while as I am yet to finish the Europe and Thailand blogs. I’m sure you have been eager to see what pops up next…Here it is! Budapest.

It is probably one of the most interesting cities I have ever visited. It has it all, culture, sites, food and views. It was the highlight of the Europe tour and I cannot wait to go back and visit again. There was plenty to do and if I were to describe it; it is like Berlin on steroids. Also the beer was dirt cheap, which is obviously the most important thing.

Rooms

You guessed it. We got an Airbnb which was so cheap, located next to a few strip bars, it literally was a bargain as it was very close to the centre of town but the location wasn’t amazing. If you are travelling in a group, you can’t go wrong with Airbnb or hostels but obviously in some cities, these options may not be the best for safety but I felt Hungary was a fairly safe country.

Sites

  1. Millenium monument
  2. Buda castle
  3. Fishermans bastion
  4. Matthias Church
  5. Chain bridge
  6. Shoes on the Danube river
  7. House of Terror Museum
  8. Budapest Pinball Machines
  9. Hospital in the Rock
  10. Thermal baths (Szechenyi, Gellert, Rudas)

Millenium Monument – Thermal Baths

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Heroes Square, pretty bad-ass. Then there’s that dude just chilling

Budapest is a very popular destination for stag parties and rightly so, it is a city bathed in culture, amazing sites and cheap beer. If you have never been to Hungary, I would highly recommend Budapest as one of my favourite cities I have ever visited. The first site I am writing about is the millennium monument or heroes square. It is probably one of the largest and most famous squares in Hungary and features many statues which represent the Magyar chieftains. The square itself is fairly easy to get to via metro and never felt crowded as the square is massive. There is some information about the chieftains but if I am honest, you may only spend 30-40 minutes here before you lose interest and move on.

However if you venture past the monument there is plenty to do in the area.  There are a few museums dotted around the monument, which we didn’t go to but I probably would have liked to. Instead we entered the park and had a wander around, here we found the Szechenyi bath which is nearby and a real treat. It featured maybe 8-10 different thermal baths, some sauna and steam rooms, aromatherapy rooms and a cool pool. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to say that you could spend a day there! We also saw some videos which showed the bath used as a night time rave scene, unfortunately we didn’t stay there long enough to see it being turned into a London night scene.

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Don’t worry, this isn’t the baths

We did plan to visit the many baths that Budapest offered but we decided just to visit Szychenyi which is the largest bath. The queue wasn’t ridiculous and what I would recommend is if you can book a bath beforehand, you can bypass the queue and go straight in. However the prices are quite steep, the entry is worth it but if you want a treatment or deluxe package then get ready to fork out. I would advise researching which bath you want to visit and the price you are willing to pay.

Buda Castle – Fishermans Bastion – Hospital on the Rock

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Matthias Church

These sites are on Buda Hill and so you have to walk uphill for maybe 4 hours. I’m joking. You can walk up the hill to reach the sites but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are two transport methods, you can either take the bus up to the castle or you can cross the chain bridge and get the funicular up to Buda Castle. The bus runs only at certain times, so I would advise getting the funicular up and once you have finished, you could get the bus down and into town to grab food or go to another site.

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The view from the top of the castle is amazing, you can see parliament, the chain bridge and the length of the Danube river. The castle grounds is moderately sized but the museum and castle itself is fairly large. I believe if you are a student, the entry into the museum is heavily discounted or even free.

The castle offers a lot of information on its heritage and history, however it was far too vast and rich for me to take in all the information. If I were to go back, I think I would prefer a tour guide through the castle, especially through the creepy bits!

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Mastershot

The Fishermans bastion is not very far from Buda castle and it is another beautiful site where you can see gothic turrets overlooking Budapest city. Legends tell us that the seven towers represent each of the Magyar chiefs and it got the name Fishermans bastion as the fishermans guild protected this part of the castle.

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The Castle

The hospital on the rock is near Buda Castle but on the other side of the hill, I distinctly remember walking past a Jamie Oliver restaurant on the way there, I was thinking what the! Jamie Oliver managed to get a restaurant on top of Buda Hill, hats off! The museum can be reached by taking an elevator down to ground level and it is literally situated under a rocky portion of the grounds. It is said to be a hospital created in the rocky caverns in preparation for WW2. A lot of people said it is an interesting site but unfortunately we just missed out as it had closed for the day.

Chain Bridge – Shoes on the Danube

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The chain bridge is especially beautiful at night, as it is lit up. There are many ornate statues around it and a few lion statues dotted about. It is probably one of my favourite bridge structures, mind you I haven’t travelled much of America, and so this is likely to change.  Dave and I walked through the bridge to get to the funicular but I can imagine it would be great for couples to walk through after a meal or drink.

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Attempted a pano of the Danube, then Daves face lost control!

I also mentioned the shoes on the Danube river as it is located just down from the bridge and of course next to the Danube river. It features cast iron shoes which are left on the edge of the paving which tells a story. The story goes that during the murdering of Jews, that the arrow crosses faction would force them to take off their shoes before they were killed and they would fall into the Danube river. The art is a painful reminder of what happened in the past and a memorial to those who lost their lives.

House of Terror Museum

I remember we finished at the thermal bath and then walked down the road to grab a beer. Coincidently the House of Terror Museum was located on the corner of where we had that drink. The museum itself is very well laid out and you have to start from the top floor and work your way down, it was a very enjoyable experience as each room was laid out well, had a lot of information and the organisers tried to make each room as if it were in that era. There was a lot of history about the Arrow crosses, Stalin and the Hungarian revolution.

I would highly recommend it, even if you are not a history lover because it is so well thought out and value for money you get when visiting.

Food

We had some decent food in Budapest, so from left to right, we had cured meats followed by chicken in a pink peppercorn and cream sauce then a traditional cock stew. The meal was amazing and the price was exceptional!

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We went to a fancy restaurant in the centre, the food was a little bit more pricey but the food was good. We had a chicken pancake then I had a wild boar stew, Dave had duck and pancakes and we shared a pickled salad.

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This was a beast of a meal, we had goulash with cured meats followed by a mixed grill and pickled salad. Literally a protein overload but so good.

Top tips

  1. I would spend 5-7 days in Budapest, we only spent 2-3 days and I felt like we should have stayed longer but the main reason I wanted to go on the trip was to see which cities I really liked so I could return in the future
  2. You can use Euros in Budapest but I think the locals prefer it, if you use the Hungarian Forint
  3. Definitely visit the thermal baths and Buda Hill, these sites were the highlight of the whole Euro-trip
  4. We didn’t do it but I might suggest taking a cruise down the Danube, as some people have recommended it

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