Thursday, 4 May 2017

Travel: Top Things To Do, Eat and See in Budapest

 'My house in Budapest, my hidden treasure chest.' - George Ezra

So, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to quote George Ezra when writing a post about the city his song shares a namesake with. Sorry not sorry! 

After Vienna, Tom and I hightailed it to Budapest where we would make both the best, and worst memories on our trip (more on that later). I took a while to warm up to Budapest, but once it won me over, it won me over good and I still don't feel like I've seen enough of the gorgeous city (or partied hard enough there!) 

The 'Sees'
St Stephen's Basilica: I'm not much into churches, but St Stephen's Basilica is Budapest's biggest church and well worth a look around. As with many Catholic Basilica's it's decadent and beautiful on the inside and you can climb to the turrets for fantastic panoramic views of Budapest. If you're into morbid attractions, St Stephen's mummified right hand is also on display to see here!

Buda Castle & the Funicular: There are two castles in Budapest, Buda Castle, (which is incredibly large and grand) on Castle Hill and Vajdahunyad Castle, a much more intimate, romantic castle. We visited both but I'm recommending Buda Castle here as it encompasses not only a funicular ride up to castle hill, but a plethora of museums, restaurants and shops asides from just the palace itself. Dedicate a day to this, as there is tonnes to do on Castle hill and the views are jaw dropping.

The Danube: The banks of danube are home to many famous sculptures such as, 'The Shoes on the Danube' an incredibly important and moving piece (pictured further down) and 'The Little Princess.' We wandered along the Danube a few times which afforded us time to take in the sites of great Parliament Building and The Chain Bridge.

Heroes Square: One of Budapest's most visited landmarks and a World Heritage site! It's steeped in history and symbolism with tributes to war & peace, work & welfare and knowledge & glory. The great monument is also flanked by two Museums- Fine Arts and Art Gallery for those of you who love soaking up culture!
Views from Castle Hill

The 'Dos'
Thermal Baths: Budapest is famous for it's thermal baths, of which it has seven. We visited Szechenyi (the largest baths, famous for hosting their infamous 'Spa Parties' or 'Sparties') and got great priced tickets from our Hostel Rep. But the top three are Szechenyi, Gellert (the grandest and inside based) and Kiraly (the oldest). We chose Szechenyi as it boasts three outdoor pools and indoor facilities and it's incredibly grandiose. We had a blast here, relaxing and taking in the amusing sites- old Hungarian men starting games of chess whilst sat in the outdoor pools is a common site! 

Escape the Room: Budapest has a plethora of themed 'escape the rooms' and I saw on Megs blog that she had visited the Alice in Wonderland one and loved it. Being the Alice in Wonderland fan I am, Tom and I headed off with a B.A. degree and an Undergrad under our belts, certain of our inevitable success, only to be defeated by the escape the room horribly! Despite not escaping and having our egos crushed, we had a fab time in the experience.

Vintage Shopping: The shopping in general is fab in Budapest- from chains to high end but I focused a morning on traipsing the 7th District (the old Jewish Quarter) for the best vintage bargains. I bought some gorgeous pieces and barely spent over £20 on everything! My favourite vintage gems were Ludovika VNTG shop,  SCHATZI Dress and Bar and STIKA Budapest. 

Fisherman's Bastion: A stones throw from Castle Buda, Fisherman's Bastion is a neo-gothic terrace boasting views and incredible architecture to boot. It once served as a fortification for Castle Buda but it now stands next to Matthias' Church and offers tourists the chance to snap some beautiful and romantic photographs. It reminds me of the Disney Logo! 
Fisherman's Bastion

Matthias' Church

The 'Eats'
Langos: Langos is a traditional Hungarian fried bread filled with cream cheese and grated cheese. I can't promise it won't clog your arteries, but I can promise you'll enjoy it! We tried it from a little street stand but for more Hungarian delicacies, including goulash, we visited Frici Papa, which was incredibly cheap and delicious. It was in here we devoured another Hungarian treat- Gundel Palacsinta, or pancakes filled with chocolate rum sauce!

Ruin Bars: Built within old bombed out buildings, Ruin Bars are the coolest place in the 8th district to hang out, eat and drink. They are famously filled with quirky, vintage decor- the one we visited housed an old carousel ride and vintage TV sets hung from the ceilings playing arty (read as: 'creepy as!') short films. We chose Szimpla, one of the original ruin bars, and it was incredibly quirky- a really fun way to finish our visit to Budapest and one of the most unique experiences. 

Cat Cafe: I'd heard whisperings of a cat cafe in Budapest and convinced Tom we had to visit. Bless him, he was very accommodating and trekked there twice after it was shut the first time we visited! For just 1590Ft per person, (£4.50) you receive entry to the cafe, a slice of delicious home made cake and unlimited tea, coffee and soft drinks! When can I move in?
Thermal Baths

Vajdahunyad Castle 

Heroes Square
Our time in Budapest was (as I feel like I'm saying in each of the posts in this series!) short, yet sweet. I definitely need to go back to devour more Goulash and see the sites we missed (oh, and spend ALL my money in the vintage shops...) Sadly it didn't end well, with us missing our train to Ljubljana (who knew there were TWO large train stations in Budapest..? Not Tom, clearly) and having to rent a random hostel room, before deciding to take an overnight bus to Ljubljana so as not to miss out on a night there. Yep, that was an experience. More on that next time!
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