This post has been a long time coming. I will blame the delay on the fact that I’m totally in love with Budapest, and it just breaks my heart that I’m not there 24/7; therefore, I cannot look at pictures or write about it. 😉 Until now. I visited in late March 2016, specifically Easter Weekend. Here are five of the coolest things I did in the city this spring! Stay tuned for tips and tricks for navigating the city at the end of the post!
Tour the Hungarian Parliament | Bonus 1: Return at night to see it lit up!
Bonus 2: Walk along the Danube at night.
I booked my guided tour of Parliament weeks in advance. It was my first activity scheduled on my first full day, which was a Friday. It was the perfect start to my Budapest adventures. I had a mini Hungarian history lesson, and it really set the tone for the rest of the trip!
Matthias Church | Bonus: Fisherman’s Bastion
Matthias is a must-see. I’ve been in countless cathedrals, and Matthias is by far the most beautiful and most interesting. The history, the colors… just spectacular. You have to go to Fisherman’s Bastion to get to Matthias Church, so you can enjoy that location too. But the church is the must in my opinion. Pro tip: Don’t pay to get into the Bastion area. I don’t think it’s worth it!
New York Cafe
This gem is included in my post about where to eat in Budapest. I will admit that I was going to experience the baroque interior. I love dessert just as much as anyone, but I was really going for the experience. Both delivered. It was the icing on top of the cake, literally and metaphorically. I was traveling solo, and I just wanted to do something glamorous but affordable. This cafe made me feel like I was in a movie (i.e. Lizzie McGuire movie). 😉 Success! I went midday on a Saturday and did not have to wait more than 15 minutes to be seated!
Gellert Hill | Bonus: Gellert Baths
The Gellert Hill area was my favorite. It was quaint, colorful, chill, with lots of cafes, flowers, and bookstores. I bought a Harry Potter book in Hungarian!
I skipped doing any thermal baths because I was actually quite sick! The thought of moving from bath to bath in the open air made me cringe. Better luck next time!
It’s views like this that cause me to have moments of existential clarity.
Climbing the hill was tedious and slow, but Gellert Hill hosts the best views of the city.
Bike, walk, or run like a local in this beautiful park.
I’m convinced that any city is lovely in the spring, and I would highly recommend visiting Budapest then.
Bonus: [Easter] Mass in St. Stephen’s Basilica
I happened to be in this gorgeous city during Easter, and as a Christian, it was reallllllly cool to experience this holiday in another culture. On Easter Sunday, which happened to be my last day in the city, I attended mass at St. Stephen’s. It was crowded. The mass was in Hungarian. And it was breathtaking.
Tips + Tricks
Budapest is a cheap city. There are so many free sights and activities, and most of the things I listed are actually free! Do your research ahead of time and plan one or two activities to “splurge” on! It’s hard to splurge in BP, hence the quotation marks.
Transportation there is virtually free. I bought an unlimited weekend pass for the trams, trains, and buses, and it cost the equivalent of 7 USD.
Make a cheap stay even cheaper with Airbnb. If you’re reading this blog, I assume you know of airbnb, but just in case you haven’t, it’s a rental system that’s like a combination of couch-surfing and a hotel stay. Airbnb hosts rent out either individual rooms or their entire house/apartment for an affordable price, although prices differ for every location.(My 4-nights in Budapest cost only $60!!!) It’s also a way to get the “local” experience, and it completely enhanced my stay in Budapest. If you haven’t booked a stay via Airbnb I highly recommend it, especially in Budapest. If you want to get started today, click here to set up your account and book your stay. This code will get you $35 in travel credits toward your first Airbnb stay!
FYI Budapest has Uber!! Despite the super cheap transportation, I had a tight schedule and didn’t always have the time to use on public transportation. For example, my parliament tour was early in the morning on my first full day in the city. After failing to locate a taxi for a quick ride, I opened my uber app. Lo and behold! There were rides everywhere. My driver was at my apartment in minutes and I got to Parliament in plenty of time. I used uber two more times. Once to get to New York Cafe and on my last leg of my trip when I needed to get to the airport. Public transport would have taken over an hour, but an uber ride was only 30 minutes. So I decided to choose time over money and spend my last precious minutes enjoying the city and not worried about public transportation. (Plz don’t tell my French boyfriend, he would be so disappointed.)
And finally, I had only 4 days in the city, which actually ended up being the perfect amount of time. I stayed from Thursday night-Sunday afternoon, and I felt like I truly saw everything I wanted to see. If I had more time, I would have explored other cities in the area, namely Prague, Vienna, and Bratislava. What can I say? It’s next on the list.
Happy Friday Five, folks. Thanks for reading! xo