Top things to do in Budapest
Take an evening stroll along the Danube and admire the view from Chain Bridge at night
Try traditional Hungarian food at Cantine in Andrassy Street
Check out St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Parliament buildings (although best seen at night from Chain Bridge)
Take a moment at the Jewish Memorial of Shoes along the Danube
Eat lunch at Central Market Hall
Cross the Green Bridge from Pest to Buda
Visit the Castle on top of Castle Hill
Visit the beautiful Matthias Church
Book a evening boat cruise (whether it’s a party cruise or a classy romantic one- you need to see Budapest from the Danube at night!)
Visit the Szechenyi thermal baths
Go on a bar crawl in one of Europe’s party capitals
Budapest has always been on my bucket list and I knew that if I left Europe without visiting it this year, I would regret it BIG TIME. Thankfully because of how things turned out I was able to get there and since it was my last destination before coming home, it meant that I finished my grand travels with a BANG.
Our train arrived early evening so after finding our hostel and settling in we had the evening to have a little look around. We walked down to the Danube River and were struck with awe at the magical beauty that lay before us. Buda on one bank and Pest on the other, each decorated with churches, castles and parliaments shining in gold, the brightly lit Chain Bridge connecting the two sides. We climbed up onto the bridge and sat down, looking out at the mind-blowing picture set before us. I had such a moment and my stomach filled with butterflies as I got goosebumps. We had barely been there a few hours and already Budapest was becoming one of my favourite places.
For supper we went to the hostel-recommended restaurant, Cantine, serving a three-course traditional Hungarian meal for a super reasonable price. I had goulash soup, paprika chicken and cream cheese dumplings. all under fairy lights and in the most atmospheric restaurant on Andrassy street.
The next day Amy and I set out for a jam-packed day of sight-seeing in Budapest. We walked on over to the St. Stephen’s Basilica while enjoying yummy ice coffee and not-as-yummy trdelnik.
We then reached the Danuabe river which was still a wonder during the day. There is a memorial there of countless empty shoes perched on the edge of the river. This is in memory of all of the Jews that were shot in the backs and fell into the Danaube during the Holocaust. It was extremely chilling and powerful to see.
Just beyond the memorial is the exquisite building that is the parliament. I find it so remarkable how so many buildings here are just so intricately designed and each a work of art in their own right.
Our hungry tummies led us to the Central Market Hall where we walked around stalls filled with fresh produce, traditional Hungarian products, souvenirs and steaming hot plates of local and hearty food. I got myself a delicious plate of beef goulash and Amy a traditional fried bread with all sorts of toppings. With regained energy we headed on across the river, the Green Bridge taking us from Pest to Buda.
We walked all the way along the river watching as bright yellow old school trams rattled past us. Our first destination was the Castle on top of Castle Hill. Luckily for us there were various escalators and elevators that helped us reach the top without having to climb up ridiculously steep flights of stairs. Once we’d got to the top we looked out at the most breath-taking view of the city. We put our cameras away and stood for a solid amount of time just trying to take it all in. WOW.
We then had a lovely stop on Castle Hill at a restaurant with fresh homemade lemonade. It was exactly what we needed after a long and tiring day of sight-seeing. Once we were sufficiently refreshed we set off to Matthias Church. We looked up at the swirly white steeples and interesting colourful tiled roofs. I think the architecture is the biggest reminder of how far east one is here.
At the base of the church were lots of short temple things which I found so cute and intriguing. A little bit like something out of the Hobbit. We once again had the chance to admire beautiful Budapest from above.
That evening Amy and I had booked a party boat cruise. It was just a no-brainer as you could enjoy an evening cruise and party at the same time, all for less than a normal evening cruise ticket. It was honestly one of the best nights of my whole traveling experience with the most incredible views of the city from the boat and a really, really fun time!
The next day we were joined by one of our really really good friends, Carla, who had flown in for the weekend from England, where she’s stooging this year. It was such a joy to see her after such a long time! We spent the day at the Szechenyi thermal baths which was the most perfect thing we could’ve done. We all enjoyed relaxing our tired muscles in the warm waters while catching up on all that we’ve missed in each other’s lives.
That evening we did a bar crawl, getting to experience some of Budapest’s most famous ruin bars. Budapest is also ranked as Europe’s party capitals and so I don’t think we could’ve found a better place to celebrate my last night traveling!
And so that’s that. I came back to Annemasse for a few days to tie up loose ends before my final journey home. I can’t believe how much has happened, how much I’ve experienced and all that I’ve seen. I’ve been blessed to have visited 14 countries in the past 9 months, met the most incredible people along the way from all over the world and made memories to last a lifetime. I know that these are stories I will one day tell my children. For now this is the end of a chapter. But my passion for travel has only just been ignited. My heart yearns to discover the ends of the earth: India, South East Asia, South and Central America- all places that are high up on my bucket list.
So this is my final blog post in this series: M’année en France. It’s been real.