Buda and Pest were once two different cities divided by the Danube; Buda in the hills and Pest on the flat part. Later in 1873 both were united with another city, Óbuda, a unification that resulted in today’s capital of Hungary: Budapest. On contrary to what many people think, Buda doesn’t come from the father of Buddhism – the Buddha – nor does Pest is related to disease.
Chronicles of the middles ages says that the city of Buda was named after his founder Bleda, and that Pest might have come from an old fortress of the Roman times called “Contra-Aquincum“, referred as “Pession“. Who knows! What I know is that Budapest is an amazing city to visit in Europe, that I have been there twice and would happily return to.
Located in the Eastern part of Europe, built on both sides of the Danube, with over 1.7 million inhabitants, Budapest is one of the largest cities of the European Union and a very cheap place to visit, easily affordable by any type tourists. As Hungary has not adopted the Euro, the official currency is the Hungarian Forint – 1 Euro is approximately 312 HUF. To have an idea, one bottle of 330ml water costs 189HUF, less than 1EUR.
When in Budapest, take your time to walk up the Géllert Hill to the Citadella – Citadel – and be enchanted by the view of the city from the Buda side. It’s ok if you don’t want to leave – it’s that beautiful – so, sit down and enjoy yourself at this magnificent and unique place. When you decide to walk your way down, cross one of the famous bridges of the city: the Chain Bridge, Elisabeth Bridge or the Liberty Bridge – my favorite one – and make sure to pay a visit to the Central Hall Market and check out its local products.
If you are now hungry and would love to have that so famous Goulash soup and a local beer or white wine, you will have plenty of options at the Váci street – just a few steps from the Central Hall Market – along with souvenirs for every taste.
Still craving for more spectacular views? You can’t leave Budapest without visiting the Buda Castle. Not only will you love the view, but will also learn a bit more about the city’s history and maybe have the opportunity to visit one of its exhibitions. From there, you can take a walk to the Fisherman’s Bastion to contemplate one of the most beautiful views of the Hungarian Parliament Building and the Chain Bridge. Just nearby, you will be able to walk through the old streets of the Buda city and visit the Matthias Church – officially named Church of our Lady – scene of several coronations and weddings.
Then comes my favorite part! What I most enjoyed doing in Budapest: taking a long, long walk at the Danube promenade, admiring the Citadella and Buda Castle’s lights at night, the gigantic bridges and old trams crossing them from one side to the other, and finally sitting at a restaurant by the river contemplating the view, with a glass of Hungarian white wine. Or even having dinner at a boat restaurant watching the sunset behind the city’s hills and admiring its peculiar architecture. Discover Budapest and fall in love with one of the most vibrant cities of Europe.
Some useful tips
- Transportation is cheap and organized, buy the Budapest Card!
- Decide when visiting the city: summer or winter? Your decision can make a lot of difference (I may help you with that in a future post);
- Try their local white wine; I am sure you will not be disappointed. I recommend the ones from Nyakas. If you can’t find them at a restaurant, I am sure you will find them in any supermarket;
- Or if you are more into beer, try one of the local beers too, like Soproni;
- If you like shopping, Budapest is a very cheap city for that, especially when it comes to shoes;
- Take a boat tour or simply dine at one of the boat restaurants found between the Chain Bridge and Elizabeth Bridge;
- And of course you can go to one of the city’s famous spa for a thermal bath – this one is still on my list!
Where to eat
It’s no doubt there are endless great options to eat in Budapest, but I highly recommend these ones:
This spectacular cafe will leave you breathless as soon as you enter through its door. But you won’t be only enchanted by its architecture and decoration styles, their sweets are to die for.
A great option to relax – after walking the entire city around – and have a glass of wine watching the sunset by the Danube. The food and the price won’t disappoint, and the view only matches!
Extraordinary food and service with a breathtaking view. A boat restaurant on the Danube, where you can sit on the terrace and relish a sunset looking at Budapest’s most beloved monuments. From the appetizer to the dessert, try it all and don’t worry about the bill, you won’t regret! *A review is coming up!
Where to stay
The location is good, not so far from the center, though not within walking distance to the Danube, for example. Restaurants nearby, as well as public, transportation. Great hotel, very different style!
If you are looking for a cheaper option, here is one for you. Breakfast is good, very close to the Danube and public transportation. Don’t expect luxury, its a 3 stars; but its very clean and they accept late check-out without additional costs.
For more information about Budapest visit: http://www.budapest.com/