Budapest – Wow. What a brilliant city!
This was probably the biggest surprise on our 3 part European trip, and the one that left the biggest impression.
Based on the few days we spent there, I would recommend Budapest to anyone. There is so much to do and see, the people are friendly and welcoming, and it’s a very affordable place to stay.
Here’s what we got up to during our 3 days in Budapest!
Day 1 – Delicious Hungarian food, and first impressions
We arrived by train from Vienna in the afternoon, leaving us the evening to go in to Budapest and have an explore.
We stayed at the Atrium Fashion Hotel on the east of the city, which was just a 2 minute walk from the Blaha Lujza tér Metro station.
The street scene on the outskirts of the city are ‘a bit Soviet’ looking, however as you move towards the centre it’s clear there has been a lot of redevelopment recently. More on that in a mo..
Learning from our restaurant mistakes in Vienna, we decided to research some places to eat in advance of the first night, and decided to book a table at a small Hungarian restaurant – the Retek Bistro. I’m glad we did – it was amazing!
It’s a very small family-run restaurant, only around 5 or 6 tables, serving old traditional Hungarian recipes while someone plays show tunes on the piano.
I honestly think the Retek Bistro was the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten in. The Goulash was absolutely delicious, and the Lángos (garlicy fried dough and sour cream) was unusual but incredible.
At the end of the meal they came around with the traditional Hungarian drink, pálinka, one sip of which nearly knocks you out cold it’s so strong!
I’ll definitely return here again if the chance comes up, and would recommend anyone visiting Budapest to visit Retek Bistro for that authentic Hungarian experience.
Day 2 – Exploring the city
The first stop on out full day in Budapest was to go and see the incredible Hungarian Parliament Building. This is Budapest’s Eiffel Tower – THE landmark that everyone associates with the city, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s absolutely huge, but can’t really be seen in all its glory unless you’re out on the river (or on the other side of the river!)
The area surrounding the Parliament Building is just as beautiful, with great views of the castle and the ‘Buda’ side of the city on the other side of the river.
A short walk from the Hungarian Parliament Building is the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial.
The sculpture is a memorial for the 20,000+ (nobody knows the exact number) Jews who were lined up at the river bank, told to take their shoes off and face the river Danube, before they were shot to death in broad daylight by the fascist Arrow Cross party to terrorise the remaining Jews or anyone supporting Jewish people in 1944 and 1945.
It’s such a simple but powerful memorial, especially when you notice that it’s a mixture of men’s, women’s and even children’s shoes, representing just a small group of the thousands of innocent Jews murdered during the war.
This was one of those things that was hard to walk away from, but I’m glad we went and saw it.
We continued walking along the bank of the river, and took a walk up Zrínyi St to St Stephens basilica, and stopped for some lunch in a little cafe half way up.
Continuing the walk through the city, we kept going through the Jewish Quarter and up to the Great Market Hall for a wander around.
Opened in 1897, the Market Hall was built to improve the deteriorating food situation in the city, and is still extremely busy and well-used by locals to this day.
By now we were at the right end of the city to head for our Danube River Cruise that we’d booked in advance through the hotel.
We walked along the river to the dock where we waited for our boat, and nearly froze! It was SO COLD stood next to the river in February!
Eventually the boat arrived and we were allowed to board, and we ‘set sail’ on our cruise along the river and back.
The River Cruise was well worth doing, and I’d do it again given the chance, next time at night to see the incredible Parliament Building lit up!
The cruise came to an end, and we headed back to the city centre for something to eat, and afterwards decided not to take the metro back to the hotel, but to walk and see more of the city.
The outskirts of Budapest haven’t yet seen the same regeneration as the modern centre, so the buildings (much like the metro system) still have a very Soviet feel to them. That said, everything is well kept, and it’s interesting to see how the city is changing following the end of the communist regime in 1989.
Day 3 – Final morning, and heading home
Unfortunately the final day had arrived, it was almost time to fly home back to the UK.
We checked out from the hotel and headed back in to the centre for some breakfast and to do some final shopping.
We ended our trip in the city by getting coffee in Starbucks overlooking the river with Budapest Castle on the other side, which in some ways is an example of how Budapest has become more ‘westernised’ without losing any of its history.
We headed to the Airport using the really easy and direct 100E bus from the city centre. The airport is all completely brand new, with a huge modern terminal. Budapest really seems to be modernising quickly, and seems to be an up and coming city.
We’ll absolutely be returning to Budapest again, hopefully very soon.
When we return I’d like to go to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths as a top priority! I’m disappointed we didn’t have time to do that this time around, but we’ll be back before long to experience that as well as Budapest Castle and the Statue of Liberty.
My advice is to book a trip to Budapest. It’s not an expensive place to visit, and there’s so much to see and do. You won’t be disappointed!
Thank you for reading!
Have you been to Budapest?
What are your thoughts and tips on the city?
Please leave me a comment below!