Budapest is a wonderful city. It is safe, filled with many things to do, quality food, and to put a ribbon on it, everything is super affordable.
Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest which are divided by the Danube River. The two cities are connected by several bridges the most famous being the Chain Bridge. Depending on the part of the city you visit, you can experience several attractions all very different.
The Ibis Budapest City hotel is in the Pest side of the city in the business district. It is easy to get to, close to public transport, but also within walking distance to the big attractions. We loved that the hotel had a bar that is open 24/7. We had a pizza and drinks for a quiet night in. The nights we went out, we walked to the restaurants close by. There were lots of local bars that were filled with loud ruin pub goers. Budapest seems like it has a vibrant nightlife.
What We Saw:
The Buda Castle is at the top of Castle Hill with a complex that is home to a Castle, Matthias Church, and the Budapest History Museum. Buda Castle was home to the Hungarian kings has been around since 1265. It’s no wonder Buda Castle is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We booked a morning tour that took us to the top of Buda Castle and outside of Matthias Church.
We then climbed to the top of Fishermans’s Bastion for an incredible city view.
Tour Tickets for 2 hours: $10, Total time spent: 3 hours
The viewing terrace has fairy-tale turrets and an incredible view over the Danube. You can see across to the Pest side of the city where you can see the Parliament Building. It’s a popular photography spot so you might have to wait your turn.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
The Chain bridge is Budapest’s most famous bridge that connects Buda and Pest. If you’re sightseeing I recommend you start your morning on one side and walk across to the other side. We started on the Buda side and viewed the Castle Hill Complex, crossed the bridge to view the Pest side.
The Shoes On The Danube Bank
The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a simple memorial to honor those who were killed by the Arrow Cross between 1944 and 1945. During its short rule, ten to fifteen thousand people were murdered outright, and even more were deported to concentration camps. I suggest you visit the site after visiting the Terror Museum to really grasp the meaning of the memorial. There are 60 pairs of shoes; mens, womens, and childrens. The children’s shoes got me. After everything we learned at the Terror Museum seeing children’s shoes made me start tearing up. The iron shoes are placed on the edge of the river in memorandum of those who were forced to take off their shoes then shot and their bodies pushed into the Danube to be washed away.
There is a constant vigil taken place all year long where people leave candles in and around the shoes. It is a simple but moving site.
The Hungarian Parliament is the 3rd largest parliament building in the world and the largest building in Hungary! You can tour the inside but we decided to skip it and stay outside.
If you time your visit right you can watch the changing of the guards.
Our hotel was on the Pest side so I made a special excursion at night to get a great photo of the Parliament lite up at night. The best place to take full building pictures are from the Buda side, on the bank of the river looking back across the Danube.
Central Market Hall
Head to the Central Market Hall the oldest and largest indoor market in Budapest. The market has so much food from cured meats to dried spices, cheeses and fresh produce. We came first thing in the morning to watch the vendors setting up and see the place quiet.
I highly suggest you pick up some Hungarian paprika souvenirs for friends and family here, they are the lowest prices you will find.
Total time spent: 2 hours
The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second-largest synagogue in the world!
The House Of Terror
The House of Terror isn’t a place you enjoy – but it gives an amazing and moving insight into the fascist and communist regimes that overtook Hungary. I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone perhaps 15 and older.
No photos are allowed inside, so I cannot share the experience, but the website does! There are harrowing personal account videos that play throughout the museum paired with printed sheets for visitors. The pages help you guide yourself through the exhibits. The entire museum is very emotional, watching and listening to survivors recounting their horrific experiences.
Tickets: 2000HUF/$8, Total time: 3 hours
What We Ate:
They serve chicken and nothing but! Very good street-food with quality ingredients, nice atmosphere with chicken concept throughout the restaurant. They invest time to come up with unique recipe ideas and were packed so we knew the food was good.
Kürtoskalács are a popular Eastern European pastry found at outdoor vendors. They’re made from a sweet dough which is wrapped around a cylinder. It’s then baked over hot coals so the surface gets golden brown to form a crispy crust. You can get them with different toppings like rolled in sugar and cinnamon, coconut, cocoa, and almonds. I loved the almond one the best.
This amazing shop shapes Italian gelato is the prettiest cones ever. I didn’t think gelato could get any better.
Chicken Paprikash with Hungarian small egg noodles
Roasted duck leg with goose liver slice, steamed apple, and mashed potatoes
My FAVORITE MEAL the entire time I’ve been in Europe. I would gladly come back just to have this meal again. It was perfection.
This dessert is everywhere in Hungary. We ordered a decadent one with walnut sponge cake soaked in rum, topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Yum!