4 days in Budapest
My son’s girlfriend has just been with her mother and it’s made me want to go….
Budapest left us with more questions than answers, and eager to book another trip in the summer to delve further into the rich history and culture of this incredible country. After four days we have only just scratched the surface and would love to return to experience it in the changing seasons.
On day one we bought tickets from the Big Bus company from a very friendly man named Marko who gave us 5 days rather than 1. This ticket got us unlimited bus hop on hop off use, a free river night cruise, the hop on hop off river cruise, free walking tours and the night bus sightseeing tour. We also got the baths combo ticket which gave us one-day access (with a cabin) to any of the four main baths in Budapest. This was all for a very reasonable 12500 forints (£31 per person). Our hotel was right by the Great Market, so we went there for a wander and sample of local trader life, before boarding our first bus round the city. The sightseeing bus is a fantastic way to quickly get your bearings in a new and vibrant (despite being drizzly) city. The museums are usually closed on a Monday, so we went to the New York cafe to get a free post card and experience the opulent surroundings! We then explored the Jewish quarter by foot and called in at a very quirky Szimpla bar. On the way back we sampled the local ‘Chimney cake’ (for just €1)! These delights serve two and are freshly made – tasting like crispy cinammony donut with your choice of coating!
There are lots of interesting things to look at in the Great Market Hall.
Delicious local delicacy ‘Chimney Cake’
Tuesday was spent at the elegant Gellert Baths, dating back to the 19th century. The variety of thermal pools go up to temperatures of 40 degrees, and there was even an outdoor pool that we relaxed in with drizzle on our face while looking around at Buda’s hilly surroundings. We also treated ourselves to a full body aroma massage and a foot massage, which came to the equivalent of £25 each – far more affordable than a sister spa in the UK! We went on the night sightseeing cruise this evening and saw the glory of the river banks, including spectacular views of the Hungarian Parliament. This evening we went to a lovely modern Hungarian restaurant called Púder that had an excellent range of local delicacies.
The elegant Gellert Baths
Parliament lit up at night from the river cruise.
On Wednesday we walked to the National Hungarian museum and saw an emotive exhibition by famous Hungarian photographer Hemzo. This catalogued many things from sporting photographs to culinary delights. These photographs depict life’s normalities during the Cold War era. We then headed to the Synagogue which houses the Jewish museum and the Memorial Garden for the Budapest ghetto. We then saw St Stephens basilica which is impressive from the outside (we didn’t manage to get in) and followed this with a traditional Hungarian snack in the market called ‘Langos’. You can choose from many savoury or sweet flavours, we shared the banana and Nutella which is highly recommended.
Banana and Nutella Langos from the Great Market Hall
The soldiers’ parade at the castle.
On our final day we hopped on the bus to visit the castle and we were lucky enough to see the soldiers in their daily parade. We hopped back on and went to Heroes Square to walk around the park and look at Szenchyi baths. This was followed with a coffee and scone at a hidden gem called ‘Maghaz’ full of the Hungarian intelligentsia (so obviously we fitted in perfectly). Our last stop really was the most memorable and is definitely worth a visit. The ‘House of Terror’ offers invaluable insight into the history of Hungary post-1944, where the country was occupied by Nazi and then Communist dictatorships. The museum is housed in the original headquarters of both the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes, so is a chilling but unique experience.
The wall of victims in the House of Terror
All in all, we left with plenty more to come back to. The people we met were (on the whole) incredibly friendly and rightly proud to showcase their country and culture. There were also invaluable opportunities to listen to George Ezra’s ‘Budapest’ on repeat throughout the Big Bus tour. Also, the food and drink was unbelievably reasonable, even in the most touristy places, so what more could you want from a city?!
So ‘köszönöm’ for having us Budapest!