The city of Budapest is certainly one of the most visited destinations in Central Europe. One of the main reasons for the tourist attractiveness of this city is its historical importance during the Austro-Hungarian empire and the architectural and patrimonial mark that this glorious past impressed in this city.
Also important not to forget the most recent past of this city, under the communist regime, being part of the famous iron curtain. This also triggered changes in the city that are still visible today, and in many cases still the source of tourist attraction. It is all this past so varied and, even contrasting, that makes this capital with more than 3 million people, an appetizing destination that we did not want to miss.
We were in this city 4 days, during the end of the summer and we were offered a pleasant weather that invited to explore all the corners of this magnificent city. Still we are sure that Budapest with snow also offers a spectacular scenery, so if you want to visit the city, choose the spring and summer seasons.
Where to stay in Budapest
Again, and as is customary in our travels, we have searched for a location with a good Price / Quality / Location balance. We were lucky to find an offer that exceeded all our expectations, the Three Corners Lifestyle Hotel Budapest.
This hotel had just been opened when we first arrived, and we especially emphasize the balance and comfort between modern and classic. The room was extremely spacious and well decorated and the common areas invited to spend a good bit there, especially the living room. We thoroughly recommend this hotel and we can say that we got a price of around 130 €.
We visited lots of places, and to make it easier, we wanted to divide our itinerary following the main division of this city, that is, the one that is made by the river Danube. Thus, we will speak in this first part about the zone of Buda and in the second part about Pest.
Budapest – Buda Area
Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge)
We started the route crossing this one that is one of the 3 most emblematic bridges of the city, staying in the central zone. Built at the end of the 19th century, it is a metallic bridge and patrimonial symbol of the Austro-Hungarian empire, following the tendency that was spreading at the time, of constructing all in metal. This bridge is also known as the chain bridge.
From here we have a view of the river and especially the bank of Buda, deserving of many photos and a moment of contemplation.
Budavari sikló (Castle Hill Funicular)
Already on the bank of Buda, the ascent to the castle in the mount Gellert, can be made on foot or by the funicular. We opted for the second option, not because the walking distance is too long or inadequate, but because of the experience of traveling in this small elevator. With more than 100 years of existence, the brown and old-style funicular takes us to the castle directly up one of the slopes of Mount Gellert.
The view during the climb is well worth it, always with the Danube bridge and river as background scenery and the imposing citadel up there. A simple trip is priced at 1,200 Hungarian Florins, ie approximately € 3.70. It is open every day between 7:30 and 10:00 pm. However, we strongly advise you to book online (Which can you do here) in order to avoid the huge queues that we found on the day we visited and that can make you wait 2h!
Budavári Palota (Buda Castle)
This is arguably the main tourist attraction in Buda. We were truly delighted with all the heritage beauty we found in this castle. Built in the 18th century, this complex, which also includes the natural history museum and the national art gallery, has been a patrimony of humanity since 1987.
The castle itself includes the court building, also often called the Royal Palace. The predominant style is baroque, and we visited some rooms of this monument (many are not open to visitors), of which we highlight the coronation hall and the royal chapel. The whole visit is surrounded by classic works and many pieces of art that deserve a closer look.
The tour is included in the tour ticket to the castle we bought, for € 10 per person, which can also be booked online here.
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria (Royal national gallery)
In the same complex that constitutes the castle of Buda, is the national gallery of Hungary. It is here that are the main works of Hungarian painters and sculptors, most of the imperial period, but also many works referring to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The most recent period of Hungarian art history has not been forgotten either, and we were pleased to find some more recent works.
Unfortunately we only had time to visit the permanent exhibition, however, after consulting the history of temporary exhibitions, we found that these often focus on very interesting and unique themes, which are certainly worth a visit. The ticket to the gallery was also included in the tour of the Buda Castle.
Mátyás-templom (St. Mathias Church)
After descending through the Gellert park (if you have time, make a stop at this park, which offers a unique view of the city and a fantastic surrounding), we arrived at the church of St. Mathias. With a Gothic style, this church was built in the fourteenth century and recovered in the nineteenth century. What impressed us the most were actually those stone works on the main bell tower! It is a work of a fantastic architectural and artistic detail !!
Being a Catholic Christian church, the visit to the interior is also worthy of visit, for the existence of more works of art that populate the walls and the ceiling and worked pillars that are absolutely incredible! Again, this tourist attraction is also included in the tour ticket and as you may have already noticed, it is really a great purchase!
Halaszbastya (Fisherman’s Bastion)
Practically close to the church of San Matias, there is the famous Fisherman’s Bastion. This complex, centered on a large neo-gothic terrace, offers one of the best views of the city of Budapest. Among the seven famous towers representing the 7 Magyar tribes that formed Hungary, it is possible to have a 180 ° view of the entire Pest bank, especially the Hungarian Parliament, which stands out on the other side.
In the center of this monument stands a prominent statue, with a man on horseback. It is Stephen I, the last Hungarian King before the formation of the empire.
Do not forget to visit this place !! It was one of our favorite waypoints and there is no way we can not enjoy the sunset at this magical place.
Gellért gyógyfürdő (Gellert Spa)
To finish the course on the Buda side, nothing better than a refreshing bath in the thermal waters of the Gellert hot springs (Open between 6:00 AM and 8:00 PM every day of the week). Budapest is famous for the thermal baths it offers and there are several famous thermal baths. After some research, we concluded that the best option would be to live this experience in Buda, and it was a very wise choice!
The main building is divided into two parts, an indoor thermal pool and an outdoor pool. Faced with the pleasant temperature, we opted to stay in the outdoor pool, but we also visited the covered part. It was totally worth it and we can say, without lying, that we feel totally full of energy again after such a tiring day!
The entrance to the spa of Gellert costs € 19 and can only be paid face-to-face, which is fine because the waiting line is not usually long.
Gellérthegyi-barlang (Cave Gellert Church)
This is another one of those Budapest surprises that was not even in our initial script, but that was worth the small detour !!! What are we talking about? A church inside a cave. Yes, inside a cave! Former home of monks for several centuries, the church of Gellert continues to be active part of religious orders and is worth a visit.
At the top of Mount Gellert (25m high) stands Citadella, a fort built during the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and which plays a key role in Hungarian history, such as when it was one of the key points occupied by the Soviets and that allowed to control the Hungarian revolt of 1956.
With another fantastic view, we highlight above all the statues always with a strong message and full of symbolism. The visit to this place is totally free!
Margitsziged (Margaret Island/ Danube Boat Cruise)
We ended our day in Budapest with a sunset cruise on the Danube river, passing through Margaret Island. It was a moment that we will not forget so quickly, especially for the environment created by nightfall in this beautiful city. Margaret Island is in the middle of the Danube River and essentially features parks, so it is great for a more calm time or a picnic.
It really is a well-filled list of activities that the Buda margin offers us, and if you follow our script, I’m sure you will not be disappointed. In the second part of this visit, we will talk about Pest and the main restaurants to taste the Hungarian gastronomy at its best!