Budapest is one of the most attractives cities. You can do so many things there : Partying, relaxing in a spa, going to a museum, discovering amazing architecture sites, walking in the nature or just tasting the authentic gastronomy. And you can do all of that with a small budget !
Getting to Budapest & accommodation
The easiest way to come in Budapest is, of course, by flight. I prefer to book my flight with a low-cost company such as WizzAir. I am not a big fan of hostels. I recommend you to choose an youth hostel in the touristic center. But the cheapest way to stay in Budapest is to book a bedroom with Airbnb or to test couchsurfing (for adventurous and sociable people). About change, I recommend you to avoid WU (to not tell their name). Do not hesitate to check a lot of money changers. We lost 40€ because of a bad choice. And in Budapest, this is a lot of money.
Buda & Pest, two cities influenced by several cultures
Budapest, also called “Perle du Danube” (The Danube’s pearl) in french is, in fact, a mix between two very different cities : the residential Buda and Pest wich is more touristic. To really understand this unique city, you have to know a little bit more about its history. Hungary (and especially Budapest) has always been a land of wars and conflicts and, as a matter of fact, was populate by several people. Therefore, the city was influenced by several cultures. The first known invaders were the Roman. They named the city Aquicum. After them came the Huns, the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian under the dynasty of Hasbourg. The former Austro-Hungarian Empire was disbanded at the end of the First International War.. This same war which began because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir of this same empire, by a Serbian nationalist June 28, 1914. During World War II, Hungary was occupied by Germany and then by the soviets. When Stalin died, a rebellion broke out and was severely repressed. It was a new national trauma. Nowadays, Hungary is a democracy.
Why am I telling you all this? To understand this population torn between several influences, marked by dark hours and yet filled with hope and desire for freedom. The many sights will also help you discover this rich history. Follow me!
The touristic center
Pest is more touristic than Buda. A lot of sights are in this side of the Danube. This district is known for its nightlife.
To do list :
- Visit the Great Synagogue in Dohány street & the jewish museum.
- Take a look at the two others synagogues (the orthodox synagogue and the one in the street Rumbach).
- Shopping in the street Váci and the Vörösmarty square.
- Enjoy the view of Pest from the top of St-Stephen’s basilica.
- Take a look at the Sandor Petöfi statue (He played an important part in the rebellion against the Hasbourg dynasty, I told you so. It’s all about history !)
- Go to a party in ruin bars for a night to remember.
- Taste traditional pastries.
This is a very pleasant green district with a lot of museum. The Buda castle district is part of the Unesco World Heritage sites.
To do list :
- From the city center of Pest, cross the Chain Bridge to reach Buda.
- Take the Castle Hill Funicular (you can go on foot).
- Visit the fishermen’s Bastion (free at night).
- Visit a museum: Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum,
Parliament, Margaret Island, and Andrássy Avenue
Parliament, which draws heavily on the Palace of Westminster in London is a must. Margaret Island is known for its huge music festival: Sziget Festival.
To do list :
- Visit the Parliament.
- Stop and cry at the Shoes on the Danube memorial, reminding the youngest of the massacre perpetrated by the Arrow Cross (Hungarian fascist party of the German occupation) thousands of Jews were shot and thrown into the river. History again!
- Spend a summer day in Sziget Festival or Palatinus Stand on the Margaret Island
- Visit the House of Terror Museum (my favorite), The Opera House, Museum of Fine Art, …
- Spend a winter day at the ice-skating rink near the Széchenyi Baths and Vajdahunyad castle.
- Take a selfie at Heroes Square.
Top of the Gellért Hill is the best place to enjoy the view of Pest AND Buda.
To do list :
- Cross the Liberty Bridge to reach the other side of the Danube.
- Climb up the hill to enjoy the view, the citadel, the Statue of Liberty and the Monument to Saint Gellért.
- Test the thermal baths of Gellert Hotel and Rudas Baths.
- Obviously, there are so much more places to visit but I can not tell you about all and, as indicated in the title, this is an article about visiting Budapest “in a few days”. It would take a lifetime to visit every corner, understand the hungarian culture and the turbulent history of Budapest. Outside the city, the Statue Park is worth seeing. It includes the statues of the Communist period. It was, I promise, my final declaration of love for the history of this country.