Updated: Oct 5, 2018
There is something about overcoming travel challenges (that we all face as travelers) in a city that is absolutely breathtaking that makes the experience that much more memorable and beautiful. From the outstanding architecture that ranges from Roman to Art Nouveau and Renaissance to Baroque and so many more to a unique culture of public bath houses and ruin bars; this is a city that does not disappoint!
The currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint. €1 = 350ft. The price of an inexpensive meal in Budapest is about 1,700ft or €5!!! We definitely went a little overboard with the prices of everything and spent the most here out of our springbreak adventure. In the end we spent a total of €170 not including the hostel or transportation.
We arrived by bus from the capital city of Slovakia through the regiojet student agency service for only €11. We ran into immediate issues with currency and finding an atm or somewhere that would allow us to use a bathroom for free. We met a french man who couldn't figure anything out either and he told us he was going to take the metro without a ticket - I DO NOT recommend doing this. We rode the transportation a few times and they always check for validated tickets. We never saw the man after that, but we hope his trip went as well as ours did. We finally walked into an odd little place for a coffee and asked to use the bathroom there and quickly tried to figure out the tram system. We got a ticket, punched it ourselves on the old-fashioned looking tram, and waited for it to arrive and take us to the city center.
*A single ticket is HUF 350 or 350ft equivalent to €1!*
On our way in by tram we were immediately impressed with the sites all around us and couldn't wait to start exploring. We started the search for our hostel shortly after arriving.
I'm sitting here wracking my brain trying to decide how I can even express all of the beauty of Budapest in a simple blog post! Our first night we explored the area around St. Stephen's Basilica which was right near our hostel and the sun that was starting to set looked beautiful as it hit the tall towers of either side of the basilica. We agreed we had to go inside and have a look around, and were met with gorgeous domes with high windows and artwork. Soon after we started our exploring by wandering through a park and eventually stumbling upon the parliament building which was so incredible we couldn't even believe it existed! We were actually on the Pest side of Budapest but the view from Buda was equally as breathtaking.
We watching a gorgeous early spring sunset fall over the Danube river and saw the shoes on the danube bank which are a memorial dedicated to the jewish people who were shot and killed there. It made us think and reflect for a long time and we stayed to watch the sunset on the horizon line by the water. Following the Danube down we discovered the famous chain bridge which was grand and exciting all lit up at night. Rather that deciding to cross we figured we could explore the Buda side of Budapest the next day and we made our way to some of the ruin bars. The ruin bars are a typical hungarian attraction located in the Jewish Quaarter. The neighborhood was basically left to decay and be forgotten after World War II but these old buildings filled with junk and graffitti were turned into bars for an underground scene instead!
When we wandered back toward our hostel we stumbled upon the synagogue, and if the outside was just as magnificent than the outside then I seriously regret not checking it out. Our night came to a close on a rooftop overlooking the city at Bar360 where there were igloo tents and heated lamps and blankets to keep us warm. As we headed back to the hostel we were feeling hungry again so we stopped in to try and amazing Hungarian street food called lángos. This is a deep fried dough that can be topped with sour cream and cheese. It was to die for, it was so good.
The next morning we were ready for our trip to the thermal baths. We got up early and took the metro to get there. We even scheduled massages! It was the most perfect morning. There were multiple bath rooms and even an aromatherapy sauna. My pores felt cleansed with minty freshness! It was a really exciting yet totally relaxing experience. As it was my first massage, I felt a little uncomfortable at first but they made my back feel so much better! In comparison to the prices in America or anywhere else in Europe this was the best possible price. The price for a day ticket and a cabin to get changed in and leave our things was 5 700 Ft or €17 with the massage we paid an extra 6 500 Ft or €20. I remember doing a package deal and getting a discount, but either way we spent less that €40 on the entire experience and this was really one of the only experiences we paid for.
After the spa experience of a lifetime, we walked around and found a nice market where there was local beer and good street food. We ate and enjoyed the beautiful April weather. We later discovered the Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and the Fisherman's Bastion which we paid to explore the inside of the church for the next day. I recommend coming here around sunset. We had to pay for the funicular up the hill but it was totally worth it, and with all of our walking and exploring both sides of Budapest, I was not looking forward to walking up the giant hill! My words or even my pictures could not do this location justice. We stayed for such a long time just staring at everything.
On our last day we finally explored the inside of Matthias Church and it really made our whole entire beautiful Budapest experience one of a kind and come full circle. I really didn't get a chance to discover enough of the local food here but you can read more below about things to try while you're in Hungary. We then caught a bus to take us directly to the airport and departed from our spring break experience and returned to our homes in Lombary, Italy.
St. Stephen's Basilica
Castle hill and the Buda Castle
Heroes Square (Hősök tere)
Dohány Street Synagogue
The Gozsdu Courtyard Gozsdu Udvar
Hungarian Parliament Building
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
The Halászbástya or Fisherman's Bastion
The Shoes on the Danube Bank
Central Market Hall
Holocaust Memorial Center
Hungarian National Museum
Lángos - You must try this! It's deep fried dough topped that can have many toppings! The classic is with cheese and sour cream but mine also had bacon, onion and parsley. It was really good but definitely too much onion!
Kürtőskalács - Hungarian version of a chimney cake, rolled in cinnamon sugar and cooked over a fire.
Hungarian Paprika - I had paprika chicken one night and it was very good!
Gulyás - Hungarian Goulash
I hope you have a magical and peaceful Budapest experience!