Happy New Year! Wow! I can’t believe it’s already 2019. One trip I did not mention in my “best of 2018” post was this one…. because it hadn’t happed yet!!
Budapest is a relatively popular tourist destination with good reason. I first visited the city in 2006 (yep, that’s ~12 years ago) in conjunction with a class I was taking that focused on transitioning economies. At that time, communism had fallen in Hungary approximately only 17 years earlier and the country had just joined the EU in 2004. It was an interesting time to visit as someone who had only been overseas just one time prior. That trip made the impact of a lifetime on me, so it was really fun to be able to revisit and see how things have changed. One thing that I can say about Budapest for anyone interested in visiting, it has become the cutest little boutique city with unique crafts, gifts, and food. You really won’t want to miss it!
Budapest is a unified city that was once three cities: Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. There are LOTS of sights to see in Budapest, so make sure to bring your walking shoes!! Despite everything being in Hungarian, public transportation is incredibly easy to use. Some of the best advice I received from a friend, was to buy the 72 hour Budapest pass, which is valid for bus, metro, and tram for unlimited rides. The pass costs one 4150 forint which is currently equivalent to around $14.
The Hungarian Parliament building (1904) is one of the most beautiful in Budapest (in my opinion, of course). Visiting the inside is possible with advanced tickets and tours are offered in a plethora of languages.
My favorite place to photograph in Budapest! Yes, Fisherman’s Bastion is incredibly popular, but also incredibly beautiful. The seven towers of the monument were intended to represent the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the area – one of which may or may not have inspired the logo of Disney (I think it’s debatable, but I’m going to choose to believe it).
Historical home to Hungarian kings since 1265! Tours are available and a ride on the funicular is a must!!
Heroe’s Square is a major square in Budapest. It is famous for its statue complex which contains the seven chieftains of the Magyars, important Hungarian national leaders, and the Memorial Stone of Heroes (aka Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). While wandering around the area, we walked by a cute little Christmas market outside of Vajdahunyad Castle and even found a couple willing to take our photo!
Budapest is famous for its thermal baths! The Széchenyi Bath is the largest medicinal bath in Europe with its water supplied by thermal springs. Unfortunately, we did not make a reservation in time to be able to swim, but we did stop by to take a look anyway!
A walk along the Danube will allow you to take in all of the beauty of this bridge. You can even cross it on foot.
One of the best parts of this trip for me was getting to visit the many Christmas markets! Even though it was after Christmas, the markets were still alive and so much fun!
My favorite part of any trip is the food part!! Hungarian food is delicious and plentiful! Prices are very affordable and the food is hearty. Some Hungarian specialities include: Goulash soup, stuffed cabbage, strudels, and Dobos cake – all of which we tasted and devoured. My friend, Niki, was also kind enough to provide me with a list of her favorite restaurants (sights, things, etc.) in the city. We tried as many as we could!
A few of Niki’s recommendations included:
We ventured to Szimply Breakfast, but they were already full! The host was so kind to refer us to their sister cafe, Horizont Café, that just opened (and serves the same menu). Funny enough, Horizont Café was RIGHT next to our hotel. It worked out perfectly and the food was AMAZING!
I didn’t take any photos here, but this restaurant is right behind St. Stephen’s Basilica and had delicious Hungarian food that was reasonably priced. I had deer stew and it was SO GOOD!!! The server was kind enough to recommend his favorite dishes as well. We were stuffed when we left.
Niki recommended the New York Café for cakes, coffee or teatime in a gorgeous place. We enjoyed afternoon tea here shortly after we arrived. It was gorgeous! Luckily for us, it was also part of our hotel. The New York Cafe is high end, so expect to spend considerably more than you would most other places in Budapest.
The fabulous Katie from Planes, Trains, and Babies was kind enough to provide us with hotel recommendations. With Katie’s help, we booked the New York Palace Hotel and it was luxurious and so beautiful! We loved our stay there and enjoyed ringing in the New Year with new friends at their hotel bar.
If you are flying from Sicily (or another place in Europe), WizzAir offers incredibly affordable one way flights. Our flight back home was a 6AM (talk about early wake-up!). While I was really dreading the flight, I appreciated it once we were in the air. Hungary at sunrise is BEAUTIFUL!!!
Mount Etna in the morning wasn’t too bad either 😉