Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a fascinating place to explore, as I recently found out. There’s a multitude of sights to explore, such as the magnificent Hungarian Parliament Building, St Stephen’s Basilica and Dohány Street Synagogue. There’s also myriad thermal baths, great nightlife and a thriving vintage community.
Here are my top 7 things to do in Budapest:
7. Take the bus
Sightseeing buses, like the hop on-hop off bus, are a brilliant way of seeing the city. You get a great overview and can pick and choose what you want to visit. The route I did visited some stops multiple times, which definitely helped with my orientation. While sitting on the top gives you a great opportunity to take photographs, it can get very windy sitting there, especially when crossing bridges!
6. Visit Vajdahunyad Castle
I stumbled across beautiful Vajdahunyad Castle, built in the late 1890s, by accident; I got off the train at Vecsés and decided to walk the rest of the way into Budapest from Zugló train station.
The castle’s buildings are stunning; ‘a fantasy pastiche showcasing the architectural evolution through centuries and styles in Hungary.’ A castle on an island, during certain times of the year the large lake in front of the castle turns into either a boating lake or an ice rink.
5. Sweet treats
I have Twins That Travel to thank for finding out about Azték Choxolat. During a cold spell it was absolute heaven sipping from my smooth, creamy milk chocolate. The chocolate covered dates I took home went down very well too.
While I didn’t eat one – blame the hot chocolate! – the smell of the chimney cakes being prepared at Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs was amazing. A Hungarian delicacy, chimney cake ia s sweet dough rolled in sugar and baked in an oven. You can then add your choice of toppings.
4. Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion
Matthias Church, on the Buda side of the Danube, took my breath away. In the bright sunshine the white of the stone was in gorgeous contrast to the ornate tiling. Behind the church is Fisherman’s Bastion, which was also built in the late 1890s. There’s something very romantic and fanciful about the fortification, with its flamboyant shape and seven turrets representing the seven Hungarian tribes who founded the present day country.
3. Go vintage
If I walk passed a vintage store chances are I will have turned around and headed inside before you have taken your next step. Budapest did not disappoint, with a Szputnyik just around the corner from where I was staying in the Jewish Quarter.
There’s a brilliant, alternative atmosphere walking around Budapest, particularly in the Jewish Quarter, with plenty of street art, vintage shops, original designers, and independent eateries.
2. Take a bath
A highlight of my visit was visiting the sumptuous Gellert Spa Baths in Hotel Gellert. For 5,500 forint (approximately £15) I spent a heavenly hour and a half bobbing about in the thermal baths (37 degrees and 40 degrees), using the Finnish sauna and plunge tub.
The bath’s beautiful surroundings reminded me of a decadent time, and I could have happily visited every day.
1. Nighttime strolling
There’s something magical being beside water, whether it’s the sea, a lake or a river. Walking alongside the Danube at night was magical; the golden glow of Buda Castle was breathtaking.