We spent a lot of our time in Budapest just wandering around exploring the city, looking at beautiful buildings, statues and views. A few things I would recommend, many are “must dos” and some are little gems we stumbled upon ourselves. As I progressed with this post I’ve realised I have bitten off more than I can chew! So keep in mind, these are just some of the things that we managed to fit in our 4 days in Budapest, and by no means did we manage to do everything we wanted to do either.
1. The Chain Bridge
Connecting Buda and Pest, with beautiful views of Buda Castle and Castle Hill this one definitely counts as a “must do”.
2. Castle Hill
See Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church all within easy walking distance. More information here.
3. Drechsler Palace
Whilst walking down the extremely Parisian, wide boulevard that is Andrassy Avenue we stumbled upon this beautiful grand looking abandoned building. Curiosity sufficiently piqued, I decided a bit of investigation was in order!
Drechsler Palace, as it is commonly known, was once a grand hotel during the golden years of the late 19th Century. With a bustling cafe on the ground floor where well dressed ladies and gentlemen flocked. Abandoned now for close to 15 years, it looks to me like a perfect Vampire hotel, eerily dark and spookily quiet.
4. House of Terror
We serendipitously arrived in Budapest around the anniversary of the 1956 uprising. An important day for the Hungarian people, as whilst the uprising was unsuccessful, it was the beginning of the end for the cruel and oppressive Soviet rule.
I was completely ignorant of the significance of the day, and I busied myself learning all I could about this time in history and Hungarian history in general. This is one of the things I really love about travelling – learning! An excellent place for me to learn and absorb as much information and history as I could was at the House of Terror Museum, which conveniently had free entry to mark the anniversary of the uprising. Housed in an old Nazi building from when Budapest was under Nazi occupation, it is a museum and modern art gallery all in one. Using innovative methods to present rather bleak and depressing subject matter it feels like a gallery of modern art, which I though was an extremely interesting way to do it. Not for the faint hearted, the museum winds around the building and through the past, eventually popping out in the basements to the prisons and torture chambers used by both regimes. Certainly a creepy and disturbing place to see.
5. Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Beautiful setting for a lovely thermal bath. Full writeup here.
6. Liberty Bridge
Another pretty green bridge, with lovely views of the Citadella all covered in Autumn colours. Continue walking across to reach the Gellért Spa , a beautiful art deco pool which was high on my list – sadly Mr. here was “bathed out” so we didn’t go.
Nearby is a The Great Market Hall – which is the reason we were on this side of town, I mention it because it really was not worth visiting.
Filled with junky tourist stuff, groceries and overpriced food it really was a waste of time. A quick 10 minute walk through if you are in the area would be sufficient.
7. Hungarian Parliament Building
Budapest by night is a beautiful sight to behold and in particular the Parliament building. All lit up in warm yellow light almost like a Disney fairytale castle.
It’s well worth walking across the river to get the full panoramic perspective, although it’s seriously hard to get the photo straight, well with an iPhone it is!
8. The Shoes on the Danube
A chilling memorial to the Jewish lives lost during the Second World War. The Jewish people were told to stand on the bank of the river and take of their shoes before being shot one by one and into the river to be carried away. Many people had left flowers, candles and notes inside the shoes. A moving reminder of the bleak history shared by thousands of people across Europe.
9. Explore City Park and Vajdahunyad Castle
10. Hősök Tere
Speaking of Heroes’ Square….
11. Visit a Ruin Bar
Dotted around Budapest, hidden in old dilapidated buildings are Budapest’s ruin bars. In my opinion, one of the coolest things about Budapest, and what I would describe as “very Melbourne”. No need to dress up, jeans and boots will do just fine just make sure you have a good idea of where you are going as they can be tricky to find! We went to Instant, one of the more popular and well known ruin bars to see what it was all about. This one blurry photo is all we managed, we were having too much fun. Another Ruin Pub we visited was Kuplung, inadvertently coming for half price cocktails on a Monday evening, the pub was heaving by the time we called it a night.
12. Get an Australian Coffee
You will get no apologies from this Aussie girl when I say Australian coffee is the best in the world hands down. We found an My Little Melbourne one day wandering around Budapest and it quickly became the morning go-to for a quality caffeine hit. The Aussie themed interior did give a stab of homesickness though!