Ah Budapest, it's so lovely to be back. This is now my second time in this beautiful city, with the first time only lasting a mere few hours. This time around I had 48 hours to see and do as much as I could.
I arrived into Budapest at 6.30pm in the evening from Maribor, Slovenia. The drive with Flixbus only took four hours. Being Autumn and with the sun setting a lot earlier these days, it was quite dark when I arrived. The bus stopped at Neglipet station and I caught a taxi from there to my apartment, which took about 20 minutes and wasn't that expensive, only costing 2,000HUF/ 8€ . I would recommend Flixbus for all travelers whether you're a solo traveler or part of a family. It's easy and affordable. The only thing that could be improved on is the wi-fi connection.
Where to Stay?
I stayed at a place called Economy Apartments and I would definitely recommend it for solo travelers or a couple. It is a small apartment, with your own kitchen and living area. It was a short walk to most tourist attractions, such as St. Stephen's Basilica (15 minute walk), with cafes around the corner, and I felt relatively safe in the neighborhood.
But first, coffee
My little Melbourne Cafe - Only a 10 minute walk from the apartment I found 'My little Melbourne'. The owners opened the cafe because of their love for the Australian coffee culture (oh how I do miss the coffee from home!). The cafe is quite small, with a window seat on the ground floor and a mezzanine floor above with a few tables. It was also a nice added bonus to escape the cold weather for a moment. How was the coffee? Amazing.
ADDRESS: Budapest, Madách Imre út 3, 1075 Węgry
Massolit books & Cafe - Just around the corner from my apartment I had a relaxing morning at Massolit books & cafe. I had never enjoyed a morning at a book cafe like this before and I would do it again every morning. It was so lovely to pick up a book beside you and immerse yourself in a new world while enjoying great coffee. The cafe was so cozy, it was hard to leave!
ADDRESS: Budapest, Nagy Diófa u. 30, 1072 Węgry
Things to do
I personally think two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Budapest, if you want to slowly enjoy the city and not rush through it. There is quite a bit of ground to cover especially since there are two sides to the city. As you see below, this is how I spent my two days, with day one a lot busier than day two.
Morning walk to Gellert Hill/Citadella
My first morning consisted of a walk to Gellert Hill, I would say Budapest gave me a warm welcome, but it was absolutely freezing! The walk took me about 40 minutes, across Elisabeth Bridge to the other side (Buda Side) of the city. If you're relying on Google maps to get there I would recommend putting in Citadella as your destination, not Gellert Hill, because mine took me to a residential area (not too far away from the view) but in the opposite direction. When I did finally reach the view, I was speechless. The view was spectacular! While you're up there you will also notice a giant statue, 'Liberty Statue', sitting at 14 meters tall which commemorates the Nazi's defeat.
Visit St Stephen's Basilica
The architecture of the building is just incredible, a real beauty. The entrance into the Church is only a small donation of 200HUF/1€. The inside of the Church is beautiful, with stained glass window's that bring light into the Church. The paintings on the walls and ceiling are immaculate. Once you do a tour of the Church I would highly recommend going to the Panorama look out. You have to purchase separate tickets to have access. Ticket sales are found just before the entrance to the Church. To have access the fee is 600HUF/1.90€ . It's definitely worth the uninterpreted views of Budapest. There are 302 stairs to climb to reach the top, or there is an elevator. I opted for the stairs which I regretted half way to the top. It is, however quite magical at the top and you can see the whole city, as you walk around.
See the moving memorial: Shoes on the Danube
As you walk along Danube River (the second-longest river in Europe) you will come across a memorial of shoes along the rivers edge. This was put here to honor the people who were shot into the river by Arrow Cross Militiamen during World War II. Before being shot they were ordered to take their shoes off. You'll notice the shoes are of all different shapes and sizes illustrating that nobody was spared from these acts. As you walk by you'll notice people have placed flowers and candles beside or in the shoes.
Be amazed by the Parliament building
This is easily my favourite building in Budapest. The Hungarian Parliament Building of Neo-Gothic architecture is just over 100 years old. Tours are available, however only when the National Assembly is not in session. The grounds of the Parliament building are immaculate, with the greenest grass surrounding the area. Just be sure not to walk on the grass!
Visit Hero's Square
As I began my walk from the Hungarian Parliament building to Hero's Square, I underestimated the distance from each other. It was quite a walk. When you do reach the square, you'll notice a lot of tourists taking photos with the statue's in the background. There are fourteen statues to be exact, all of men who had a profound impact on the development of Hungary. The main statue front and center has been around since 1896 to commemorate the Magyar tribes. The Magyar Tribes are also known as the Hungarian Tribes and were fundamental political units. You'll also notice two museums to each side of Hero's Square. One on the left, the Museum of Fine Arts and on the right, Hall of Art.
Walk around the beautiful Vajdzhuyad Castle
Regarded as one of the most romantic castles in Budapest, Vajdzhuyad Castle is located in City Park. Just behind Hero's Square. It was built in 1896 and is now the hub of exhibitions of the Hungarian Agricultural museum. You can enter the castle, and for information on tickets, you can find them here. I chose not too and I don't feel like I missed out on much because the outside of the Castle is just magnificent, so I spent my time roaming around the castle. I think Autumn in Europe is beautiful, so to walk around and see the warm colours spread throughout the park, it was just magical.
Stumble across Castle Bazzar & the Neo-Renaissance Gardens
I think this is the most underrated attraction in Budapest. It was by total accident that I found these gardens & Castle that is a registered World Heritage site. I was on my way to Buda Castle when I came across the entrance to the gardens. They were immaculate and because of the way they were situated you had a view across Danube to the other side of the city. The Castle Garden Bazzar, a 131 year old Castle was recently restored, thanks to city planners who realised its value after decades of it falling apart. As well as it's beautiful gardens, and terrace, there are walkways which lead up Castle Hill. If you're going to make time for anything in Budapest I would suggest this! The highlight of finding these gardens was the secret passageway I came across (I'm such a child when it comes to these things, I'm too curious!). I was hoping it would lead me somewhere, but it only lead me to a dead end. Still, I rather enjoyed the experience.
Admire Matthias Church
When you come across Matthias church, located on top of Buda Castle hill, it'll look like most others you've seen, until you turn your attention to the roof. What a masterpiece it is. The patterns, a full of colour and vibrancy. The Church was initially built in 1015, then remodeled and expanded in the 15th century, when the bell tower was constructed. Then lastly in the 19th century it was restored into the Neo-Gothic style as seen today. Close by to the Church you also have views of the city, in particular the Parliament Building.
Walk across Chain Bridge
So you want me to take time out of my day to cross a bridge? Yes! But this isn't just any bridge, this was the first permanent stone-bridge that connected Buda to Pest. The construction started in 1840 and official opened in 1849. Before the bridge was constructed, the only way people were able to cross from one side of the city to the other was by ferry in the summer, or by foot in Winter (if the river had frozen over). The closest bridge to the city was 250 km away..in Vienna. So as you make your way back from visiting the Buda side of the city, cross Chain Bridge.
J E S S I C A x