This winter my friend and I took an amazing trip to Krakow, Vienna and Budapest. At the time (coughuntilmid-Julycough) my blog was on the back burner. So while I did eventually get around to writing about Krakow and Vienna in May, I didn’t even touch on Budapest which definitely deserves some time in the spotlight. Lucky for me now I get to revisit the memories and lucky for you, you can enjoy the anecdotes and beautiful sights!
For me, Budapest was a city that didn’t wow me at first sight, but by the end I had really grown to like it a lot. We stayed at Hostel GoodMo which I liked for the most part, though the beds were a bit creaky/old and the heat was turned up wayyyyy to high. Other than that, the hostel was really cute and even had a big Christmas tree! We ended up exploring the city mostly on our own; not until the last day we were there did we take a 6-hour long walking tour that ended up being awesome. We learned a lot about the things we had already seen, and also learned about some things we hadn’t. Here are the highlights!
Great Market Hall
The largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, the Great Market Hall is home to so many delightful goodies! The lower level of the market has got sprawling stalls with meats, produce, cheeses, pickled goods, and Budapest’s famous paprika. The upper level houses some eateries and lots of trinkets and souvenir stalls.
Hungarian Parliament Building
The Parliament building is (obviously) home to the parliament of Hungary. It is tied with the basilica as being the tallest building in Budapest and its also the largest building in Hungary! The gothic style architecture and the buildings symmetry are so pleasing to look at. Unfortunately we never made it over to get this view at night when the building is all lit up, but it’s still stunning in the light of the setting sun!
The Chain bridge crosses the Danube connecting the western Buda side of the city to the eastern Pest. Though Buda and Pest used to be two separate cities, they united in 1873 to create the city of Budapest as we know it today. This was the first permanent bridge built to connect the east and west. Did you know that the Chain Bridge is featured right at the beginning of Katy Perry’s Firework video?
St. Stephan’s Basilica
In this Roman Catholic basilica named after Stephan, the first king of Hungary, you can find the right hand of it’s namesake. It is the same height as the Parliament building, and the current regulations in Budapest state that no building can be constructed to be taller than the basilica. It offers great views of the city, the Danube and the Palace, as (for a fee) you can climb up to the bell towers where the basilica’s six famous bells are housed.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
The Széchenyi bath is the largest medicinal bath in Europe! It’s waters have got healing properties as they contain sulphate, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, fluoride acid and metaboric acid which all help with joint pain and inflammation. The water for the baths comes from two natural springs, the temperatures ranging from 27-38°C (80-100°F). There are three outdoor baths which are mixed gender and fifteen indoor baths split into men and women’s baths. There are also spa services available, but not at night which is when we decided (well, the early sunset decided for us) to go. Don’t forget your bathing suit and shower supplies!
Matias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion
On the Buda side, up up up a hill lay Matias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. If you ask me, the Fisherman’s Bastion is the prettiest of them all (though the church and nearby Castle are also not eye sores). The bastion looks like a big white sandcastle, and across the square Matias Church glows white with lots of spires and a beautifully tiled roof. Inside the church you can see Ecclesiastical art preserved in a mini-museum, but pretty much none of the interior is original as it is a church turned mosque turned church that survived a fire and was then restored multiple times by different architects. Small wonder because the church will turn 1000 years old in 2015! The fisherman’s bastion can be found outside the church overlooking a steep hill/cliff with beautiful views of the Pest side of Budapest. It is much newer than the church, but is named after the fishermen who would guard this stretch of the city during the middle ages.
A quick three minute walk from Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, you’ll stumble across the Buda Castle and Palace, a World Heritage Site. Atop the aptly named Castle Hill, you can find the Castle and Palace complex originally built in 1265 (though it has been destroyed and rebuilt at least three times). The palace is now home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Széchenyi Library and hosts many concerts, festivals and other events throughout the year.
Of course there are so many more things I could go on and on about, including the world’s second largest synagogue, a secret beautiful little castle, the House of Terror museum (you MUST go), and of course the awesome ruin bars. But then I’d probably have the longest blog post ever, and I need to leave something to the imagination! Anyway, Budapest is a city that you really can’t miss, go see for yourself!