If you’re a sucker for a city of arts, culture and history, you’ll fall head over heels for Budapest. Despite its bleak history and politics, the sun is shining brighter than ever on the sparkling waters of the Danube.
I tried to tick off some of the touristy things, although admittedly I spent most of my time hanging out in cafes and restaurants with a good book.
This area is located up the hill on the ‘Buda’ side of the Danube. From ‘Pest’, You can walk across the chain bridge and take the funicular up the hill, or take the stairs if you prefer. You’ll find a historical building every direction you look up here. Highlights include:
- Fisherman’s Bastion for beautiful views of the city
- Hungarian national Gallery (loved it, especially the Picasso exhibition!)
- Royal Palace
- Mathias church
- Sandor Palace
I checked this out one rainy afternoon, not really sure what to expect. It turned out to be quite the eye-opener. Located in the building once used as both Nazi and Communist headquarters, this interactive museum is super interesting for any history nerds.
Although the dramatic music and light effects may feel a little kitschy for such a sombre place, the faces of the victims covering the walls remind you of the brutality they experienced.
Budapest City Park
This gorgeous green space is a perfect hang out on a sunny day. If you visit, not only will you experience the park. You’ll see famous Heroes Square, an ice-skating rink (a lake with paddle boats in the summer months), the Zoo, the gorgeous old Gundel Restaurant, and of course, the Szechenyi baths. Although this bath is probably the most touristy, the yellow Art Nouveau building is gorgeous. If you just want a taste of the bath experience to tick it off your bucket list, this one will work just fine for you.
Hungarian State Opera House
This neo-Renaissance building is what dreams are made of. You’re gauranteed to feel like a queen when you waltz into your comfy booth seat to see a performance here. I saw ‘The Fairy Queen’, which was completely different to what I expected. It was a jazzy, modern opera, set in 1950s United States. The story centred around a (rather troublesome) woman and the men she met in the local bar. And of course the proceeding love affairs.
Sights on my to do list for my next time
- Parliament building,
- Shoes on the Danube,
- Margaret island
My Fave Cafes/Restaurants
Now we get to the good stuff!
It was great fun visiting this cute cafe that gave me a taste of home. You can order that flat white you’ve been dreaming of, while gazing at a print of Brighton Beach’s colourful huts. The only thing I didn’t love so much was the one hour limit on their wifi.
I’m gonna go ahead and say this is one of my favourite cafes ever, and probably number one of my favourite places in Budapest. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that makes it so great. Maybe, it’s that its coffee and nibbles are eco-friendly. Or the good wifi and power point access. I love the bright sunshine that streams through the windows onto floor boards. The atmosphere is great, with (mostly females) people typing away on their Macbooks or cutting up bits of paper for a DIY creative project.
I’m feeling generous today, so I’m gonna go ahead and say this is one of my favourite restaurants ever. What can I say, it’s named after a philosopher, it’s charmingly decorated, its Jewish-Hungarian food makes it particularly interesting. The real icing on the cake was the pianist, who skill fully played happy tunes all night. He played everything from the classics to the Beatles to musical theatre, and I couldn’t help but sing along to his Mary Poppins Medley.
I had a hearty and warm bowl of goulash, that I thoroughly enjoyed. I also had a glass of the (far too strong) local liqueur.
Obviously I’m not vegan (note the aforementioned goulash). However, I’m all for fewer animals suffering and less environmental damage, so I’m trying to eat less meat and more vegan/vegetarian food. And oh my god, if I ever had any doubts that vegan food could be as delicious as non-vegan, this place certainly dispelled those. I went all in and had the bit-of-everything plate and a juice. It wasn’t cheap (my bill was 3470 HUF, so about $17AUD), which is really quite pricy for Hungary. But it was a big and delicious meal, so I wasn’t complaining at all.
Places on my to do list for next time
I didn’t go out to a ruin bar. You all know that I’m not a party girl, but I think drinking in in a war shelter sounds pretty cool. Some of the bars are also artistic and cultural hubs… so not just a place to get sloshed. Maybe I’ll find a ruin bar to add to my favourite places in Budapest next time.
What are your favourite places in Budapest?