TOP TEN: Budapest | Hungary

Visiting a new city? Don’t know what to do first? This Top Ten will take you through places that might not necessarily be on the average city tour, but are definitely somewhere you should visit. If you’ve only got a few days or a whole week, these suggestions will show you the very best places to visit in the city.

Introducing Budapest

Home to the worlds second-oldest underground and Europe’s largest medicinal spa, the capital of Hungary is one of the must-visit cities in Europe. With numerous historic buildings, churches and even ruins to visit you will not be short of things to see. The city is split into two by the Riber Danube: Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank. With Hungary still using its own currency (Hungarian forint), visiting Budapest is not only highly enjoyable but really, really cheap!!

1. Széchenyi  Thermal Bath Complex

Built in 1913, the Széchenyi Bath Complex is one of the top attractions in Europe, with the water supply coming from hot springs rich in calcium, magnesium and hydro-carbonate. With not only indoor and outdoor pools of varying temperatures (18 °C – 40 °C), you can also enjoy saunas, plunge pools, whirlpools and massages! There is a restaurant there so you can easily spend the full day relaxing without having to leave the complex. 

Top Tip: take a towel with you as they are expensive to hire 

Price: starting from 4500Ft (approx. £10.40 Dec 2015)

Directions: the baths are located a 5 minutes walk from Heroes Square and are opposite the Budapest Zoo, take the yellow metro line (1) or tram 72 to Széchenyi fürdő – both cost approx. 450Ft (£1 Dec 2015)

Find out more here: http://www.szechenyibath.hu/

2.  Explore the Old Town and River

The Old Town of Budapest is found in the 5th District (Pest) and runs along the riverside. here you can find many quaint cafes, shops and old curiosities to see. Don’t forget to visit The Fat Policeman (Zrínyi utca), its said to be good luck to rub his stomach! From here wander down to the river, where you can see views of the Palace and half a dozen different bridges.

3. Liberation Monument  and Citadel, Gellért Hill

Walk over Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth Bridge) and up through the woods to the top of Gellért Hill, the highest point in the city. From here you can visit the Liberation Monument which was built in 1947 to commemorate the liberation of Hungary from Soviet rule in WWII. The citadel, built in 1854, was used by Austrian troops under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it is a tourist centre with some of the most amazing views!

Directions: Bus 27, tram 18 or 59 or even an uphill walk if you’re feeling energetic!

4. Try a free walking tour!

There are numerous companies providing walking tours around the city, mostly ran by locals who know the city like the back of their hands. I really would recommend a free walking tour (tip based) as they are generally targeted towards the younger generations and include more information about nightlife, culture etc.

Find out more here: http://www.freebudapesttours.hu/

5. St Stephens Basilica

One of the most iconic buildings in Hungary, St Stephens Basilica lies in the heart of the Old Town and is a must-see. Together with the Hungarian Parliament, both standing at 315 feet, it is the highest building in Budapest. Built in a neo-classical style and home to 6 different bells, this Roman Catholic basilica is breath-taking.  Walk up 364 steps (or use the lift) to reach the domes observation deck for panoramic views of the city.

Price: free admission to the church, 500Ft (approx. £1.10 Dec 2015) for the observation deck 

6. Budapest Zoo

As one of the oldest zoos in the world, the Budapest Zoo is not only highly enjoyable but a piece of history. Opened in 1866, today it holds over 1,000 species of animal including wombats, komodo dragons, sloths, polar bears and many many more!

Price: 2500Ft (approx. £6 Dec 2015)

Directions: the zoo is located a 5 minutes walk from Heroes Square and is opposite the Széchenyi Baths, take the yellow metro line (1) or tram 72 to Széchenyi fürdő – both cost approx. 450Ft (£1 Dec 2015)

Find out more here: http://www.zoobudapest.com/en

7. Great Market Hall

Budapest’s largest and oldest indoor market! The ground floor boasts stalls selling predominantly fresh produce, including the infamous Hungarian Paprika. The first floor is mainly eateries and stalls selling souvenirs – try lángos, deep-fried flatbread usually served with sour cream and cheese. This market is great if you want to get a feel of the real Budapest, but be careful its very touristy so keep your bags close to hand!

Directions: green metro line (4) to Fővám tér – single ticket 450Ft (£1 Dec 2015)

8. Hungarian Parliament

Completed in 1904, the Hungarian Parliament Building lies on the banks of the river and is the largest building in Hungary. Built in a gothic revival style the building is normally always being renovated somehow due to its intricate detailing. Many have noted similarities between this building and the Houses of Parliament in London.

Price: 2,000Ft (£4.50 Dec 2015)

Directions: yellow metro line to Kossuth Lajos (2) – single ticket 450Ft (£1 Dec 2015)

Find out more here: http://www.parlament.hu/web/house-of-the-national-assembly

9. Ruin Bars

Bars in ruined, derelict downtown buildings? A mish-mash of furniture, people and drinks on offer? These ruin bars are certainly the most unique thing about Budapest (and the most fun!). Whether you just want to relax with friends on a sunny afternoon or spend all night partying away with around 25 different bars dotted all over the city there is a ruin bar for you!

Top Tip: try some pálinka! It’s the national drink of Hungary and comes in many different favours. 

Recommended: Szimpla kert Kazinczy utca 14, 7th district.  With a completely random, crazy mix of décor, graffiti covering the walls and seemingly abandoned, this bar doesn’t look much from the outside, but walk inside and you wont know where to look first!!

Directions: red metro line to Astoria (2) – single ticket 450Ft (£1 Dec 2015)

Find out more here: http://www.szimpla.hu/

10. The best way to see the city…

Without a doubt the best way to see the city is from Gellért Hill. What you wont find in tourist guides is a tip from the locals: climb the hill, watch the sun set over the beautiful city and see the city come alive once it gets dark! Its one of the best experiences I’ve had travelling Europe – just remember not to get too drunk at the top as there isn’t any lighting on the paths through the wood on the way down (whoops!).

Directions: Bus 27, tram 18 or 59 or even an uphill walk if you’re feeling energetic!

EXTRA:

The best way to get from the airport to the city centre is to use the airport shuttle. When you book online or at the counter you give the address of your hotel and the shuttle drops you right outside! It is cheaper the more people in your group, but generally costs around £9 per person (one way). You will see lots of taxi drivers offering to take you into the city but it can be really expensive and they often up the prices for tourists- AVOID THEM!

More info on the shuttle here: http://www.airportshuttle.hu/en/

Check out my other Top Tens: 

BERLIN🇩🇪

SANTANDER 🇪🇸

LISBON 🇵🇹

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