This past weekend I spent a few days in Budapest, Hungary and it has become one of my new favourite cities. Before going, my friend and I researched what to do and some of the ins and outs of public transportation. Budapest is known for being a cheap city to travel to, and that is definitely true. There are tons of free things you can go see and do, and there's great food for cheap prices!
We stayed in Hostel One, right across the street from the Budapest Eye. It came recommended from a friend who had stayed there previously and loved the experience! It costs us less than $25 to stay for 2 nights in a mixed dorm and the vibe there could not have been better.
The hostel itself was super clean and all of the people we met were super friendly! They host events for guests to join like a boat party, pub crawls, or walking tours during the day for an additional cost. Something that really stood out to us that we loved was they provided a free home-cooked dinner for all the guests who stayed there.
Start at the Buda Castle District. Here there are tons to walk around and see, and you can easily catch a public bus to the top of the hill instead of paying a fortune for a tourist trap. You can take bus line 16, 16A, or 116. We knew we had a limited amount of time in the city and a lot to cover, so we invested in a 24-hour public transportation pass equivalent to roughly 5 US dollars that cover all trips on the bus, metro, or train.
In the Buda Castle District, you can visit the Buda Castle Palace, Matthias Church which costs 1500 HUF to enter, and the Fisherman's Bastion. If you go off-season as we did, it was free to enter the Fisherman's Bastion. Also, visit the Upper Towers while in the area. When you've seen everything in this district, walk across the river on the Chain Bridge. According to myth, crossing this bridge brings good luck!
Fisherman's BastionCambre Codington
You'll now be entering the Pest District of the city. Here you can stroll down the bank line and you'll come across the Shoes on Dunabe Bank. This memorial is for the victims shot into the Dunabe River by Arrow Cross Militiamen in 1944-45. From here, you should visit Vorosmarty Ter, easily accessed by tram, to grab a pastry from Gerbaud Bakery. Most likely your only pricey purchase, I promise the taste is worth it.
Shoes on Dunabe BankCambre Codington
After the well-deserved break, you can easily walk to some of the major sites of the city. You'll pass the St. Stephens Basilica which is free to enter and the Great Synagogue. You can wander around Andrássy Avenue, a well-known street in Budapest with great shopping until you reach the Hungarian State Opera House. Unfortunately, it was under construction when we visited, but from past pictures, it is well worth the visit! To finish your 'walking tour', one of the best buildings to see (in my opinion anyway) is the Hungarian Parliament. If you have the time, tours of the inside of the building are known to be extremely interesting as Hungary is known for its entrechat government system.
At night you can take a river cruise for as little as 10 US Dollars. Don't pay for a fancy cruise as you'll see the exact same things as you would from a smaller or less fancy boat. If you're into the night scene, Budapest is known for its famous ruin bars. Ruin bars have been around since the founding of Szimpla Kert, the mecca of all ruin bars. These are bars that are built in Budapest's old District VII neighborhood, the Old Jewish Quarter, in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores, or lots. They're super artsy and really cool to check out.
House of Parliament from River Cruise Cambre Codington
You can also easily spend an entire day visiting the famous thermal baths in Budapest. We were short on time and went early in the morning before our bus. We were able to get a cheaper ticket and the baths were practically empty, making for great pictures! Another nice place to visit is Heroes Square.
Thermal Bath in the morning Cambre Codington
While you're there, be sure to try Lángos. They're basically a fried dough with toppings of your choice that's a Hungarian food special. We went to Retro Lángos to try them, but you can also visit the (insert market place we went to) to try them if you have cash on you!
Budapest is easily done in a weekend, and is a great cheap place to visit! I went thinking it would just be another European city but left with adding it to one of my top 5 favorite places in Europe. It's a combination of a bunch of European cities and holds its own special vibe.