Budapest has easily just risen to one of my top five European cities to visit. It is so vibrant and traveller-friendly, plus there is something for everyone. There are museums galore, beautiful parks and architecture, fun nightlife and tasty traditional food – it’s great!
I stayed in the Maverick Hostel, which is one of my favourite hostels to date. You can read my full review here, but the short version: I highly recommend it.
I was in Budapest for three short nights, and I already know I will return. One of the first things I did was a free city tour. They have these in most European cities, and I cannot recommend them enough. Firstly, they are FREE (a backpacker’s favourite word!), secondly they show you most of the main sights and a good orientation of the city, and finally the tour guide can give you really valuable information. This not only includes the history and culture of the country, but also useful tips about where to eat local food, how to avoid tourist traps, etc. For example, did you know that if you pay for a meal in Budapest and say thank you to your waiter or waitress, they assume you don’t want change and what is left is their tip? Definitely something good to know before you pay for your 2500 forint (roughly 8 euro) meal with a 10,000 forint (roughly 32 euro) note!
The free city tour took us to places such as St Stephen’s basilica, the chain bridge, Buda castle, Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. It took two and a half hours and was excellent. It finished by Matthias Church so I took a peek inside. Fun fact – if you don’t have something to cover the top of your arms they give you a ‘scarf’, aka a nice long bit of kitchen roll to wrap around your shoulders. I’m sure I looked very Vogue, darling.
One of my favourite parts of Budapest was the Széchenyi Thermal Baths (it’s as hard to pronounce as it is to spell, trust me). It’s located on the Pest side, near Vajdahunyad Castle and Heroes Square. I live near a thermal baths in England and this one honestly puts my local one to shame. Its huge, with three big outdoor and 16 indoor pools. There’s a swimming pool (you need a swimming cap for this one), thermal pools, saunas, free deckchairs, a poolside bar and restaurant, and optional treatments and massages (these cost extra). Seriously, after lugging a backpack around and running around exploring the city, spending three hours here was bliss. It costs 4700 forint (about 15 euro) for a daily ticket with cabin usage, though if you have the Budapest card you can get a better price for it.
Speaking of the Budapest Card, they’re quite useful. I’m growing to be quite wary of city cards as they’re not always worth the money, but I think this one was. It was available at my hostel so I thought I would give it a go. I got a 24 hour one for 4900 forint (16 euro). It gave me free public transport, a good discount to the baths (although if I’d gone to the Lukács Thermal Bath it would have been free) and free entry to a museum, as well as discounts to other attractions. If your planning on cramming a lot into your stay, I would give it a go. You can find out more about the Budapest Card here.
Budapest is beautiful, vibrant and absolutely brimming with things to do and see. I can’t wait to go back again!