Finally getting round to blogging about my recent trip to Budapest, and what a stunning place it was. Not only is it full of amazing sights but it is steeped in history too. Beautifully set along the Danube River, Budapest is is one of those European cities that is so easily recognised giving it the same iconic appeal such as London or Paris.
The city is actually split into two sides, Buda and Pest, divided either side of the river. Buda is on one side, where the castle district is located. This hilly region is much more expensive but considerably quieter. Pest is flat, busier and where most of the shops and hotels are located. Both sides of the town are connected by bridges so you can walk across easily or hop on the metro or tram.
My mum and I spent a few days getting lost around the city, drinking in all the culture and sights that Budapest had to offer. We managed to cram such a lot into this short break but I’m sure even two weeks there would not be enough to see everything. I have compiled a list of my favourite sights/ attractions.
Here are my top things to see and do:
FUNICULAR – First opening in 1880, this is the second oldest funicular of its kind in the world. A system of weights and counterweights are used to help raise the carriages up and down the hill. This is the fastest way to get from Buda to the top of castle hill where the phenomenal Buda Castle is situated. This is a striking building when visiting day or night.
SZECHENYI THERMAL BATHS – A visit to the thermal baths is a quintessential Budapest experience. These are the largest medicinal baths in Europe which offer pools of varying temperatures. I’m a bit of a wimp in cold water so I stuck to the steaming hot pools. There is also a ginormous open air pool too, which is great whatever the weather. Just before sunset was my favourite time so soak in the thermal healing waters.
ST STEPHEN’S BASILICA – Being one of the most important religious buildings in Hungary you will not be disappointed with the grandeur of this place. If you have a head for heights I would definitely recommend taking the stairs up to the base of the dome to drink in the panoramic views of the city. It is an impressive vantage point from which to survey Budapest from the air.
MARGARET ISLAND – A 2.5km recreational park in the middle of the Danube is the perfect way to spend some downtime. Pedal karts and a mini train are just a couple of alternative ways to explore the island. For me the main attraction was the musical fountain. Sitting watching the water ‘dance’ to classical music was a fantastic experience and provides a more relaxing experience to the hustle and bustle of the city.
CENTRAL MARKET HALL – Officially the largest indoor market in the city and a popular choice for both locals and tourists alike. On the ground floor you’ll find a large selection of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and not forgetting the Hungarian paprika, it would be a crime to go home without some. The second floor there are clothing, embroidery, souvenirs and handmade craft items.
HOUSE OF TERROR – This was a horrific but enthralling experience. The eerie building offered much to see including cells, gallows and gadgets of torture. There was footage replaying the scenes of how Jewish people were starved, beaten and murdered . There were also interviews being played of survivors relaying the haunting circumstances in which they found themselves in.
LABYRINTH – This historical labyrinth set in the underground caves of Budapest where Count Dracula was once imprisoned. Along the tour there is an opportunity to take the pitch black route where there is nothing but a rope to guide you through. Although it made us a little (…okay, very) jumpy it was worth the experience.
DANUBE PROMENADE – Stretching from Elizabeth Bridge to Chain Bridge on the Pest side of the river there are many sights to be seen. Buda Castle, Liberty Statue and Fishermans Bastion to name a few. The ‘Shoes on the Danube bank’ is a must see sight and one of the most moving memorials in Budapest. A trail of iron footwear stands as a tribute to the thousands executed during World War II.
I loved every minute of the trip and will definitely be finding a way to visit again. If you’re a bride or groom thinking of eloping to the capital of Hungary, hit me up. I’M GAME! 😉