I’m going to throw it out there and say that Budapest has become one of my favourite cities! We all like cities for different reasons but I’m starting to realise that I like cities that are liveable (my favourite city in South America was Santiago and the reason was because I felt like I could live there, the same with Kuala Lumpur), i like cities where there’s enough tourist infrastructure so it’s easy to get around and see things but not huge groups of tourists everywhere (I’m looking at you Prague) and often where you can walk down the street and not know if someone calls the city home or if like you they are a tourist and to me this is what Budapest felt like.
I arrived at about 6pm from Vienna, used the metro to get to my hostel which was really easy to use and cost 85p, I checked into my hostel and then headed out into the city, I wasn’t too sure where I wanted to go but the iconic chain bridge which is one of the many bridges that go over the Danube river separating the two sides of the city- Buda and Pest (they used to be 2 separate cities but then joined into one hence the current name) seemed like the best place to start, as I headed there I came upon the shopping area which had a little main square and lots of restaurants surrounding it and as I came to the river the sky was turning a beautiful colour of orange and what better welcome and first impression can you have of a city!
The Chain Bridge
I crossed the bridge and then started to walk up the side of the river towards the huge parliament building that was on the other side. I had seen this in photos and it looked incredible especially at night so I waited until it got dark and took some photos myself (although the building is amazing up close you get the best view from the other side of the river or on a river cruise). The guy on my hostel reception said that Budapest is a very safe city even at night so I then took a slow walk back to my hostel.
Parliament at night!
The next morning consisted of switching hostels in the morning, the first was so loud and had extremely uncomfy beds and the hostel I moved to- Home Made Home did feel like home and was such a nice hostel and had a great atmosphere and I paid £7 a night for a 6 bed dorm (with no bunk beds!).
I then took a free walking tour to see and understand more of the city.The guide firstly explained the long history of Hungary and just how hard they have had it as a country along with a long run of communism and being ‘liberated’ several times but still not having complete freedom.
St Stephen’s Basilica
During the tour we visited St Stephen’s Basilica which is a huge church right in the middle of the city, we then went over the chain bridge and up into the castle district, the castle is perched up high on the hill (and wasn’t actually that hard to walk up) and had amazing views over the river. From here we could see the parliament building and the guide asked us if it reminded us of another parliament building and we replied- West minster in London and she told us that the architect who won the bid to build it had lived in London and had loved the building so based it on that but made it a few meters longer so it outdid London! She also commented on how they have one of the nicest parliaments in the world but Hungary doesn’t have much power!
View from Fisherman’s Bastion
Then we headed to Fisherman’s Bastion which is a bit of a fort where the fisherman originally worked and at that point is the Matthias church which may be the most incredible church I’ve seen from the outside and I loved the coloured tiled roof. This is where the tour ended so I took some photos and headed back to my hostel on the other side of the city.
Budapest is a good sized city with the sights spread out so a lot of walking is involved to see everything and therefore I felt constantly on the go! But in a good way!
The next day I met up with a girl who I had met in my hostel in Prague and we headed to one of the famous thermal baths in the city. We chose St Gellerts Baths as it had good reviews, wasn’t too expensive and wasn’t the main tourist one so I hoped it wouldn’t be too busy (and luckily it wasn’t). It was about 30 degrees outside so it maybe wasn’t the best day to go to thermal baths but this was my last full day. We paid £11 for access to the pools and were given a wrist band that locks your locker for you and shows you’ve paid. We went to the big inside pool first and in it were a number of older women doing aerobics! Not what I was expecting and the water was cold!! We then found 3 more smaller pools ranging from 33c-38c which we stayed in for a bit. Outside there was another huge pool (also cold) and at this point we were glad we had visited to see it but didn’t quite get it! The water was obviously no longer natural and at the natural temperature it had once been to make it so famous and two of the pools had just been cold swimming pools! We went for another walk and came across an outside pool which was about 30c and stayed in this for a while which felt like what we should of been doing and I feel like it did my worn out feet and legs a lot of good! Overall we spent about 2 hours there and it was something I had wanted to do so I’m glad I went and also glad I had a friend to go with and work it all out with!
The inside bath
The Hungarians and their local food isn’t quite vegetarian friendly (surprise surprise) so twice while I was in Budapest I ate at a cafe called Hummus Bar which is a chain and has many locations and although it wasn’t all veggie the majority of the menu was and it was very yummy with lots of pitta, hummus (of course), salads and falafels and really reasonably priced- About £2.50-£3.00 for a main meal.
I spent the remainder of the evening and the next morning just walking around the city. The weather had been beautiful on all 4 days that I was there so I was very lucky but I have a feeling I would of still liked it if it had been cloudy!
My next stop was Slovenia so I booked a train ticket from one of the train stations just 5 minutes from my hostel. I was going to the capital which is Ljubljana. Online they had had tickets for £13 which was very cheap for the 7.5hour journey however when I went to book the ticket the day before they had sold out so I ended up getting the £25 ticket but this was for first class so i felt better about the price and as I said for such a long journey it isn’t bad!
First Class Train Seats
I hope to visit Budapest again one day soon because it is a great city and everyone I know that has been there really loved it too. Definitely one of the few underrated cities left in Europe!