Budapest was our first stop of the recent trip that we took. We flew with WizzAir to get to the Hungarian capital as the airline has quite regular flights to Budapest (as the company is based in Hungary). Even though we had some doubts and difficulties in finding the right accommodation for our two day visit, Budapest surprised us with its unique beauty and accessibility.
We used only the public transportation while we were there as it is very accessible even for the people who face difficulties getting around (aka someone like me 😀 ). A little research before the trip was enough to familiarise ourselves with the basics. We took the 100E bus from the airport to the city center – you need to buy a special to let for it worth 900 forints (approximately 3 euro). The whole trip to the city centre does not take more than half an hour but it really depends on the normal traffic in the city. We took off at the last stop of the bus route (in total there are 3 stops) – Deák Ferenc tér, as it was closer to the apartment where we were staying. Generally, you can make easy connections with the metro as it stops to three metro stations along its route and hence you can reach any point in the city.
After we got settled at the apartment and refreshed ourselves a bit, we went out to explore the city. We had very little time in Budapest but we managed to see many things and we visited all the places on our list. And even though Budapest can offer almost endless opportunities to explore the city, we decided to focus on some main attractions. Our main goal was to embrace the atmosphere of the city and visit a few but really impressive places.
In order to achieve that goal, we chose five things have to do and see in Budapest and today I want to share them with you 🙂
1. Visiting the Hungarian parliament
Why you need to visit it?
Without any doubt, one of the symbols of Budapest is the Hungarian parliament – one of the biggest in the world. It is 268 metres long and 123 metres wide. The building consists of 691 rooms, 365 towers and 20 kilometres of staircases! It is an extremely impressive building both outside and inside. During your tour I aide the building you will get very detailed information from the tour guide for every room that you will pass through. You will also see one of the biggest symbols of Hungary – the Holy Crown of Hungary, also known as the Crown of St Stephen. It is on display in the central Domed Hall of the parliament and it is guarded by two armed guards 24/7. Last but not least, you will learn curious facts and some interesting stories – for example, the story about the symbolic meaning behind the ash trays in the corridors around the main Assembly Hall.
How to reach it
The Hungarian parliament can be found very easily – you can take metro line 2 to metro station Kossuth Lajos tér. Right after you get out of the station you will see the huge building situated just at the bank of the Danube river. Spend some time walking around the building so that you can see it from all sides. The small park that is located on the side of the metro station will give you great opportunities to take some nice photos with the lavender and the parliament at the background. If you have some time, make use of the beautiful scenery.
How to visit it
The visit inside the building can only happen with a tour guide. You can buy your tickets on the spot for some of the groups (the available languages are English, Russian, Hungarian, French, Hebrew, German, Italian, and Spanish), but you may need to wait at a long queue, if there are many people willing to take the tour. We bought our tickets in advance via the official web site of the Hungarian parliament, where you can find up-to-date information for the available languages and timings.
2. Take a walk in night-time Budapest
Night-time Budapest is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen in my life. Absolutely every building is delicately light up which gives the city a magical atmosphere – there are really no words that can describe the feeling.
From where to start your walk
Without any doubt, the best starting point is the Hungarian parliament. The building is even more impressive during night time and from the square in front of it, you can clearly see the Danube river. As the river separates the city in two parts – Buda and Pest – on the side of the parliament you can see the opposite part of the city. And exactly on the opposite bank you can see the Fisherman’s Bastion, St Matthias Church, and the Buda Castle – all of them perfectly light up during the night. If you have more time, you can take some of the night cruises on the river. We, however, preferred to enjoy it on the bank. 🙂
3. Fisherman’s Bastion, St Matthias Church and Buda Castle
Why you need to visit the three places
Speaking of the opposite bank, Buda offers one of the best panorama views over the whole of Budapest. Exactly on the river bank opposite of the Hungarian parliament you will find the Fisherman’s Bastion and the St Matthias Church. Both buildings are extremely impressive – as the majority of the building in Budapest – but you can enjoy not only the architecture but also the panorama view over Pest. The columns of the Bastion offer great photo opportunities, so walking over there is totally worth it. Also very close is the Buda Castle which the cultural and administrative center of Hungary, as there you will find the National Gallery, the History Museum, and many administrative buildings.
How to reach them
The only bus that connects the center of Pest and the Castle District is bus 16. We took it at its first stop Deák Ferenc tér and hopped off exactly in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion at Donáti utca stop.
How to visit the three places
The only place that has an entrance fee is the St Matthias Church – the adult ticket is 1500 forints, whereas the student one is 1000 forints. If you wish to get to the highest towers of the Fisherman’s Bastion, you need to pay a very small amount – other than that, the Bastion is generally free to enter. The Buda Castle is also free to enter; however, you will need a ticket for the National Gallery and the History Museum.
4. St Stephen Basilica
Why you need to visit it
A bit off the river in the shopping area of the city, you will find the magnificent St Stephen Basilica. We have visited a lot of basilicas but honestly this one was one of the most beautiful ones. The experience was even more magical because of the impressive performance of the church choir that we came upon absolutely by accident. Unfortunately, I was not able to find enough reliable information about the free performances, but here you can find out the dates and the prices for all the evening concerts schedule until the end of the year.
How to reach it
The basilica is located right in the city center so it won’t be difficult for you to find it. The area around it is pedestrian but the closest metro station is Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út.
How to visit it
The amount for the entrance fee is really small and it is considered more as a donation – only 200 forints to enjoy the magnificent interior.
5. Try the traditional Hungarian cousine
Why you need to do it
The thing that we try to do on each of our trip is to try the local traditional cousine. Budapest was not an exception. Through the national dishes you can really embrace the atmosphere of the country and get as much closer to the local people as possible. Before our trip we made a small research on tripadvisor and we found out two beautiful places which offer traditional Hungarian dishes – Hungarikum Bisztro restaurant (I will soon share more information on it in a separate blog post) and Kék Rózsa restaurant. We visited Кék Rózsa (Blue Rose) on our first evening in Budapest as we learned that they offer typical menu consisting of four courses and on a really good price (2700 forints). The menu is a very good option if you want to try something local but you have no idea where to start from. We decided to try the Hungarian menu which included the traditional goulash soup, traditional Hungarian salad (please note that contrary to the Buglarian/European salads, the Hungarian salad is rather sweet than salty), pork medallions with garlic and potatoes, and for dessert – the so called Somlo Delicacy.
How to reach the Blue Rose restaurant
The restaurant is located right begin the Great Synagogue in the Jewish district of the city. You can reach it either on Deák Ferenc tér metro station or Astoria metro station (it is right in between them).
Have you ever visited Budapest? What was the thing that you liked the most?