A weekend getaway to Budapest.

“Paris of the East”, as many may call it, in the heart of Europe and one of the most popular weekend getaway destinations; Budapest is a city which you’ll fall in love with, for all the right reasons. In fact, Budapest is made up of two distinct sides, Buda and Pest on either sides of the Danube River, which became one entity towards the end of the 19th century. A thrilling mixture of Vienna’s elegance, Prague’s medieval beauty and Berlin’s rough edginess, Budapest is a city where being bored is not an option. After seeing so many pictures and hearing so many good reviews by friends who have been there, we decided that we have to visit Budapest immediately. With its stunning architecture, natural thermal baths, romantic views, majestic river and lively center, Budapest lives up to its reputation.
Even though it felt like we saw a lot in just a weekend, I know that we basically scratched the surface of what the beautiful capital of Hungary has to offer! We ended up seeing a mix of historic sites, beautiful cafés and buildings, and thankfully had enough time to just wander around Budapest and take it all in!
Take a look at what we managed to see and do in Budapest during a weekend in January!

•DAY 1: late night arrival•

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 We arrived in Budapest late on Friday night, and the first thing we did right after checking in at our hostel was to explore the area. Our hostel, Wombat’s, is located in the center of Budapest right across the bustling Gozsdu Udvar with several cafés, bars and restaurants. We were amazed by Budapest’s such vibrant nightlife and so thrilled to discover Burger Market’s  awesome burgers, aka heaven in a box :
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Beef burger with sweet potato fries on the side.

•DAY 2: Exploring Budapest•

◊ Walked to the famous “Chain Bridge”.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge is one of the most outstanding architectural sites of Budapest, part of the World Heritage and one of the symbols of the city. It was inaugurated in 1849 as the first bridge connecting Buda and Pest. It is “guarded” on both ends by two stone lions. This is the most photographed bridge of Budapest :

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The view of the Chain Bridge from Buda side.

◊ Visited the Buda Castle District.

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View of the Buda Castle once we crossed the bridge.

Once we crossed the bridge, we arrived at the bottom of the Castle Hill of the Buda Castle, one of Budapest’s most known landmarks. Lot’s of people use the funicular to reach the top of the hill, where the famous Buda Castle is….

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Entrance to the funicular which takes you directly to the top of the Hill.
…but instead of taking the funicular, we walked along the cobblestone streets…
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The road which leads up to the Buda Castle.

…and it turned out to be so exciting, as the panorama of the Danube from there was breathtaking :

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Amazing view of the Danube and the Pest side of the city on the opposite side of the river.

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Budapest’s Castle District is packed with many historic sites and attractions, interesting museums, charming medieval streets following the shape of the hill, as well as some nice cafés and restaurants. Of course, besides the monuments, you get a breathtaking view of the Danube with the Chain Bridge and the Pest side of the city.

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Map of the Buda Castle District.

The Buda Castle is part of the World Heritage. It consists of several famous buildings such as :

• The former Royal Palace which houses museums, national collections and the Széchényi Library, featuring various exhibitions..

• The Sandor Palace, housing the office of the President of Hungary.

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• Fisherman’s Bastion, the most famous observation spot from where you can have a splendid view of Budapest and take fantastic pictures. In the middle you can see the statue of St. Stephen.IMG_8567_Snapseed

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•Matthias Church.

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Matthias Church is the most unique church of Europe and it is over 700 years old. It’s a very popular landmark of Budapest, located in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion.

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In the area of the Buda Castle District there’s also a market full with local souvenirs which we absolutely adored :

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Hungarian paprika, is the symbolic spice of the country’s cuisine.

◊ Shoes on the Danube bank.

Probably one of the most moving memorials that can be found openly in this fantastic city…

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The shoes on the Danube bank is a memorial to honor the people (mainly Budapest Jews) who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II.IMG_9399_Snapseed

◊Hungarian Parliament.

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View of the Hungarian Parliament from the side of Buda.

The Hungarian Parliament is the most dominating Neo-gothic building of Budapest. It lies in Lajos Kossuth Square, on the bank of the Danube on the Pest side, and it is an absolutely must see attraction. It houses one of Hungary’s greatest treasure: the Holy Crown of St Stephen. You can visit the inside of the Parliament on organized tours offered in a variety of languages at specific time each day.

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Behind the parliament building there is also a small memorial dedicated to the Hungarian revolution in 1956, which also hosts an underground museum.

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Memorial to the Hungarian Revolution in 1956.

◊ Lunch at the famous “Sir Lancelot“.

After all that walking we did that day, a hearty lunch was all that we needed to re-fuel. We went to the famous “Sir Lancelot”, a medieval-themed restaurant located near Nyugati tér (where you can find the Western Railway station and Westend Citycenter). The minute we walked into this place we felt like we traveled back in the medieval times.

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The food was exceptional, the portions were HUGE (the kind waitress suggested we took our leftovers with us) and the prices were reasonable for what this place has to offer. The best part though? You actually eat with your bear hands! (ok besides the soup for which we had to use a spoon anyways).

◊ Drinks at Szimpla Kert.

After heading back to our hostel for some rest, we decided to go for a drink at one the most famous ruin pub of Budapest; Szimpla Kert. I absolutely LOVED this place! The music, the atmosphere, the decoration,…where do I even start?

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IMG_9278_Snapseed           It’s a really cult place giving new trends.

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Szimpla Kert is a large complex with many rooms, a top floor too and a courtyard, filled with graffiti, art and all manner of unexpected items.

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•DAY 2•

◊Wandering around Budapest.

There’s no better way to actually get the sense of a city than by exploring it on foot. We devoted most of our time today walking around the center of Budapest whilst trying to capture its beauty :

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Ronald Reagan Statue.

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Memorial to the victims of the German invasion.

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◊New York Café .

In Budapest, Hungary, the Most Beautiful Café in the World takes place. It is part of the history of Budapest and Hungarian literary life. Stepping foot in the New York Café means taking a step back in time: magnificence, sophistication and the charm of the Belle Époque welcomes its visitors. If you go to Budapest you have to visit this Café !

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The famous New York cappuccino!

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◊ Szechenyi thermal baths.

Our Budapest experience wouldn’t be complete, if we hadn’t gone to one of Budapest’s famous thermal baths! The steam from the warm water was absolutely relaxing! I wish we could have stayed longer! Even though we went around 6pm it was already really dark outside. I would recommend going there during day-time and maybe devoting the whole day in order to relax and to fully enjoy your time.

Szechenyi thermal baths was built in 1913 and is one the most praised attractions in Budapest. It’s worth the visit, affordable and you don’t even need to make a reservation. Just one tip : don’t forget to bring your own flip-flops, towel and most importantly, your bathing suit. You’ll thank me later 🙂

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At one of the outdoor pools with some fellow Spanish Erasmus students we met there that day 🙂

The City Park Ice Rink.

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Not too far from the Szechenyi Baths where we were earlier, the “Outdoor Ice Rink in the City Park”, aka Varosligeti Mujegpalya, is one the most famous winter attractions in Europe. This enormous ice rink actually turns into a lake boat in the summer time.

◊ Heroes’ Square.

As we continued walking from the ice skating rink, right in front of us was the famous Heroes’ Square; aka Hősök tere, the largest square of Budapest. At the center of Heroes’ Square stands the Millennium Monument, and soaring above Heroes’ Square is the Millennium Column, the focal point of the Millennium Monument. The column is topped with a statue of the archangel Gabriel.

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Behind the column is a semicircular colonnade with statues of famous men who made their mark on Hungarian history. Statues atop the colonnades symbolize War, Peace, Work and Welfare, and Knowledge and Glory.

◊The Timewheel.

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The Timewheel (Hungarian: Időkerék) is one of the world’s largest hourglass situated in Budapest near to the City park and Heroes’ Square. It is made of granite, steel, and glass, and weighs 60 tons. The “sand” (actually glass granules) flows from the upper to the lower glass chamber for one year. The sand runs out on New Year’s Eve and the Timewheel is then turned 180 degrees so the flow of the sand can resume for the next year. The turning is done by manual power using steel cables and it takes roughly 45 minutes for 4 people to complete the half turn. The Timewheel was unveiled on 1 May 2004 to commemorate the historic enlargement of the European Union that admitted Hungary (along with 9 other countries) to the EU.

◊Vajdahunyad castle.

Located in the background of the City Park Ice Ring, the Vajdahunyad Castle is a very special architectural complex, mixing and merging a variety of styles from Roman, through gothic and renaissance to baroque, which represent the most common architectural styles in Hungary.

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The entrance of the castle complex.

In the courtyard of Vajdahunyad Castle, you will find the statue of Anonymous, which represents the first medieval Hungarian chronicler. Legend has it that if you touch the tip of his pen you will never run out of words.

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“Anonymus Szobor” (Anonymous’ Statue).

◊ St. Stephen’s Basilica.

Budapest’s largest Roman Catholic Church is named in honor of Stephen, the first King of Hungary. Unfortunately we arrived there pretty late and we weren’t able to visit the inside of the church, which we were told that is worth seeing.

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I loved Budapest and I am really happy with everything that we got to see in this really charming city ! I’m sure that there are a lot of other things that we would love to see and do here, but the weather wasn’t very helpful (it was so cold during January) and the time we had available was too little! Despite that, we had a great time… Hope to visit Budapest again soon and maybe this time during a warmer weather!

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Thank you for reading 🙂

xx

Perrie

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