Oh Budapest, you easily became one of my favourite places to visit in 2015. With your incredibly charming architecture, cheap as chips food, sick lattes, and friendly people it’s no wonder that droves of travellers are spilling into your streets every single day. Now, I’ll be honest, as with most places I’ve been to I really didn’t know much about Budapest (heck I didn’t even know there’s a Buda and a Pest… yup, you heard me) but I loved you so much I ended up extending my 3 day solo sojourn to a whole week…
Maybe it was my addiction to the Hummus Bar or Wok2Go that kept me there for so long or perhaps my incredible hostel, which is still one of my favourites in the world! Either way Budapest was incredible and it’s somewhere I highly recommend people visit, especially if you’re on a tight (oh i mean tiiiiight) budget!
One of the main things I loved about Budapest is that it’s a very easy city to walk, which means you can spend more time on foot exploring everything in detail, rather than be stuck on the metro or bus trying to get to lots of distant places. I also personally felt very safe both during the day and at night, which is one of the reasons I stayed there for so much longer than I had planned. At night everyone comes out to the parks and plazas to have a few bevs and chat, which means it’s very social and the place is filled with young people (I think it’s a big student city) – please note lots of skateboards. For me it was also interesting to see how the different rulers of Budapest had an influence in it’s identity today, for example the Turk’s created many of the bath houses tourists and locals still use frequently, they introduced paprika and coffee to the country and as someone with Turkish descent it was also strange to recognise some of the sounds of Hungarian and thinking for a second “wait that sounds so Turkish”. And then above all else Budapest I love because I could live like a princess nay a quueeeen for such little dough, this place is so good in terms of value for money – I hands down had the best time and I couldn’t (and I still can’t) stop raving about it.
I stayed at the Wombat’s City Hostel on Kiraly. U., which is located in a very trendy part of the city brimming with epic cafes, cool bars and friendly folk. It’s right across from a laneway that is well-known for it’s restaurants and pubs, which makes getting a feed very convenient. As soon as you walk into the hostel, which is hidden behind some very large wooden doors you’ll probably need a second to process. Why? Well, this isn’t like many of the hostels you may have been to, oh no this is like a hotel, from the ornate coloured glass ceiling to the extremely clean lobby and friendly staff it.is.sah-bliiime.
I opted to stay in a 6-bed female dorm, and I still prefer female dorms because most of the time they are the same price as a mixed dorm but for me personally MUCH more comfortable. I.e. I don’t want to get changed in front of guys but don’t mind doing so in front of women, and so it means I save time rather than wait for the bathroom and I just feel more at ease – worth it solo travel babes! The rooms are super clean as the cleaning staff are very consistent, the beds comfortable and the best part (and i still don’t understand why every hostel doesn’t have this) is a light, charging point and shelf for each bed – so good!
I have a pretty lengthy Budapest foodie guide, which you can read here. PLEASE prepare yourself cause you will salivate!
Grand Central Market
Welcome to the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest! This is the perfect place to visit if you want to browse fresh produce, exotic spices and hand-made knick knacks across three extensive floors covering about 10,000 sqm. There are eateries on the first floor selling Hungarian specialities such as langos and goulash as well as embroidery, peasant shirts and other local crafts, the ground floor is devoted mainly to fresh produce, dairy, pastries, candies and spices and the basement is fresh meat, fish and pickles. And don’t think this place is just for tourists, oh no, many locals come here every day to buy produce and it’s lovely to see them in their element, chatting away and browsing for the best deals.
Recently having watched Anthony Bourdain’s adventure to Budapest his poet friend who features in the show makes a very good point “whenever you’re looking down on something you’re in Buda, whenever you’re looking up at something you’re in Pest”. Now if it’s a view you’re looking for then climbing Gellert Hill on a sunny day is just the right answer! Almost everything in Buda is perched upon a hill, and the views really do justice to the city. I was wearing a jacket, jumper and scarf but after the first few steps uphill I had to start peeling layers off! It’s not a difficult climb by any means but depending on your fitness level it may take you a while or maybe not that long at all (damn fit people!). There were quite a few locals around when I went, which was lucky for me because as a solo-traveller sometimes I need nice people to help me take pictures of me looking like a N00B overseas 😀
It might be the Turkish blood in me but there’s something SO irresistible about a bath house, I just have to go! Anyone else feel this way?? So I decided to check out the Gellert Baths and shchhyyennizizi (how the heck do you spell it?!)… Széchenyi (there we go..) Baths on my trip, honestly I would have gone to more if I had time x money. So a little bit of his-tuh-reee on these baths but first it’s worth noting that Budapest is titled the “City of Spas” as it has more thermal and medicinal water than any other capital city with around 118 springs pumping out 70 million litres of thermal water A DAY. Also, there are 15 public baths in Budapest for us all to enjoy, which is perfect because apparently there are a range of health benefits from soaking in these magical waters including: heals skin, boosts circulation, removes toxins, improves immunity, eases pain, improves sleep and relaxation. Where do I sign up?!
Built between 1912-1918 in Art Nouveau style the baths have a temperature of around 35°C and 40°C, with the main pool you see below hovering around 22°C. If you want to swim in that you will HAVE TO bring a swimming cap, which I did not know until I started frolicking and playing around and suddenly heard “beeeeep” “beeeeeep” and I thought “woah someone must be in trouble” and that someone was me… I was told to get out because “you need a cap to swim in that bath”. Oh well, live and learn people! Now as stunning as the Gellert bath was I have to say that Sczenheynieniii was really breathtaking, literally took away my breath. 😀
Széchenyi became the first thermal spa in Pest and is still one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. I found this spa had so many more thermal baths with a range of temperatures from 18°C to 42°C – I decided to go from 18 to 42, and that was very interesting indeed… You can watch that moment here…
What a stunning building, and yes of course I would suggest seeing all the buildings in Buda but for me this was straight out of a fairytale. And from what I’ve seen of other friends photos it really comes alive at night, when it’s lit up, twinkling like a star. There was a street performer playing classical music whilst we were there so I just sat by the columns and imagined myself away to another time, I would probably recommend coming really early if you want to avoid the crowds. I really think I’ll have to start doing that, waking up super early to catch the first light before everyone else drags themselves out of bed! Also I spy the Parliament building in the background of the first photo and that’s where I recommend you should see next.
The largest building in Hungary, the tallest building in Budapest and one of the oldest legislative buildings in Europe – how can you miss it? Construction of the Gothic Revival building commenced in 1885 with completion in 1904. Although I didn’t get to go inside, I did manage to take quite a lot of shots outside and even see a changing of the guard! I would probably recommend going in to check it out, which I will probably do the next time I return to Budapest!
Budapest Push Scooter Tour by Bike Breeze
Ok so on the first night I met a lovely lady from Surinam who was staying in my dorm, we got to chatting about our plans for the next day and she suggested I join her on a push scooter tour of Budapest. I thought why not! I’ve never been on a push scooter tour so it might be really fun! Oh it was so much fun, and I highly recommend doing something like this because it’s a very easy and convenient way to see the sights. From St. Stephen’s Basilica to that strange sculpture of Ronald Reagan in a square that used to be a monument to Communism as well as a bunch of other sights. I had so much fun and you can watch the video here.
I really hope you enjoyed this little guide to Budapest, it’s definitely in my top 3 favourite places I have visited thus far in 2015 and I would highly recommend it to anyone on a budget! Until next time, ciao ragazzi!