Why You Should Include Budapest in Your Eurotrip

I just got back from a wonderful trip in the beautiful Eastern European city of Berlin. But while I am still absorbing all the experiences, memories and lessons I learned from my travels in Berlin, I’ll write about the first city that I ever visited in Eastern Europe, Budapest.

Among the countries in Eastern Europe, Hungary was the country that I really wanted to visit. I’ve been getting a lot of recommendations about Budapest from well traveled friends and I saw a pattern that I should visit the city. Turns out, they were right. Not only was this city beautiful, it is also relatively inexpensive and offers lots of activities any time of the day.

For those with a reasonable budget, Budapest offers a rather high quality travel. Any traveler wishing to backpack or travel around Europe should consider visiting Budapest. I cannot believe how interesting this city is and how inexpensive it was here.

In here I’ll list down my top travel experiences with ways that I was able to stretch my money to travel further:

1. Free walking tours

Budapest Old Town

Why buy a hop on hop off bus tours if you can actually join free walking tours? This is my motto for every city I visit. In Europe, there are tons of free walking tours. In Budapest, there’s actually a few free tours that you can choose from. I’ve actually joined three of them: Basic Buda tour, Pest tour and the Jewish district tour. All of these walking tours are tip-based only so you can give whatever amount is in your budget. I have joined tours in Budapest, Bratislava, Barcelona and Berlin and they all have knowledgeable experts who provide excellent walking tours and tips to all kinds of travelers.

My recommendation in Budapest: http://triptobudapest.hu/ 

2. A Visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen's Basilica

I was wowed the first time I saw this very famous landmark in Budapest. I loved how beautiful the Basilica is and among all the architecture in Budapest, this is my favorite. Especially seeing it from this angle. There’s a minimal donation of HUF 200 ($1) to enter the Basilica and I recommend it. It’s as beautiful inside as it is outside.

3. Hike to the Buda’s Old Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion

This area is one of the most beautiful attractions in Buda. There are a few parks, memorials, museums, squares and churches that you can choose to visit. The old castle area has a lot of historical spots to wander around and the view from the Fisherman’s Bastion has the best view of the River Danube and Pest.

4. Watching the sunset from the Citadel and having a panoramic view of Budapest

Sunset from Citadel

Of all the best free things to do in Budapest, this is my favorite. It can be quite a hike to get to the top of the Citadel. The hike though is worth it when you’re rewarded with the most magnificent sunset over Hungary’s mountain and watch for the boats cruising down river Danube. If you’re here during summer, the sun doesn’t set earlier than 9 pm. It’s also a great season to maximize your tours during the day.

5. Wandering the streets at night

Budapest Heroes Square

Budapest has amazing architecture but they are 10x more beautiful at night. Once you know your way around the city after the free walking tours, you can easily navigate the streets at night. It’s very safe to wander around the streets even at night. Budapest is also a big party city so almost everyone stays late. As with everything in Budapest, drinks are relatively inexpensive compared to western European countries.

6. Joining a boat tour at night and marveling on the marvelous architecture

Budapest Cruise

If you do a lot of walking during the day, chances are you will be beat at night time especially during the summer time when it’s very hot and humid. My recommendation is to join a boat cruise along the Danube river. For HUF 2100 ($9) you can skip the expensive tours and just hop on one of the boats to see the two cities at night. Not only is it an excellent value for your money, it’s also a refreshing way to cool down especially during the summer season.

7. Chilling around Margaret Island

Budapest Margaret Island

There’s a small island in between Buda and Pest called Margaret Island. It has a huge park that can be accessed by buses or trams. The best way to explore this island is by bike. Bikes are available for rent on the entrance of the island.

8. Watching an opera play

Budapest Opera

One thing that surprised me about Budapest is how cheap and world class their opera shows are. During the time I was here, the only play showing was Romeo and Juliet. So I chose one day to watch the opera and I bought the cheapest ticket which was $6. I cannot believe how beautiful the play was for such a cheap price. I recommended it for anyone going to Budapest. Another excellent value for money activity.

9. Trying the Turkish baths

Turkish Bath

Budapest is big on the baths. You don’t travel to Budapest and not even trying its Turkish baths. The one I tried is the most popular one: Szechenyi Bath.

Traveler Tip: If you go after 7pm the cost is discounted from HUF 3400 ($15) to HUF 2700 ($12). If you do this during the summer, the sun will still be up. The pass includes access to all of the baths from the hottest ones to the warm ones to the cold ones. Do this. Your skin will thank you for it.

10. Getting an education at the Terror House

Budapest Terror Museum

A traveler I met in Vietnam recommended to see this museum when I visit Budapest. I didn’t really ask why and I just went. I was shocked when I saw the Terror museum and how they were able to preserve a place despite the frightening history of the place. For someone who grew up in Asia, European history was never my forte and as always, things I have little knowledge of fascinate me. The best thing about visiting war museums is not only do I get educated on important events in history but also this serves as a reminder of how lucky we are to be living in the present time.

I went here with another world traveler whom I met at the hostel and both she and I said that this is one of the most beautiful museums we’ve visited. Go visit the museum, don’t ask why, just go.

Anna’s additional recommendations:

Where to eat: Surprisingly, Budapest has amazing vegetarian places to eat. Two of the restaurants I recommend are Hummus Bar and Govinda Buda Vega Sarok. Only hummus bar has meals for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Govinda is a vegan restaurant. They both serve amazing middle eastern food at affordable rates.

Where to stay: I stayed at two hostels while I was here. One in Buda and another in Pest. I stayed at Backpack Budapest and Central Backpack King Hostel. I recommend either of them.

What to drink: Tap water. Tap water is clean in Budapest. You can get them everywhere so just bring your bottle and get water from fountains.

Transportation: Depending where you’re staying, you would want to buy a prepaid bus/tram/subway ticket combination. They are available on a per ride, per day, four day, weekly or monthly visit. If you’re going to use it more than 3x a day, it’s more economical to buy the passes than the per ride ones.

Because of the location of Budapest, it is the most common place to start adventures in Eastern Europe. And if you’re wondering if the city is safe for solo travelers, I’d say it’s very safe and highly recommend it for solo female travelers. Let me know if any of you gets the chance to visit and take any of my tips.

Wanting to explore more of Eastern Europe,

Anna

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Author:Anna

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