The second part of my European adventure with From Europe and Beyond took part in the huge city of Budapest. It was much bigger and busier than I expected, so my carefully planned walking tour turned into a marathon, but there are some amazing things to see.
We stayed at the Red Fox Hostel, which is most definitely a party hostel and nothing but. As soon as we arrived we booked ourselves onto an “all you can drink” bar crawl which was the exact opposite of “all you can drink”, so check the small print before you pay for anything.
Budapest is the largest city in Hungary and I definitely did not realise this when planning our adventure, however the public transport here is great. From Red Fox Hostel we walked north east for 20 minutes and hopped on the 4/6 tram. That took us to the middle of Margaret Bridge, giving us a great view of the Danube, with the Hungarian Parliament on the left and the Fisherman’s Bastion on the right.
If you walk south along the riverbank you’ll pass some lovely old churches and have the view of the majestic Hungarian Parliament to to your left. It’s about 20 minutes until you reach the road for the Fisherman’s Bastion.
I absolutely fell in love with this spot. As you climb the slope to the south you’ll find yourself standing at the base of the absolutely gorgeous St Mattias Church. The tiled roof sparkles with different colours that really stand out against the white stone.
If you really want to splash out you can have dinner at the Halaszbastya Restaurant, it definitely has the best view in the city. My favourite part however was the bastion itself. The white towers looks like turrets from a fairytale castle, you can climb to the top for incredible panoramic views of the city. The only downside is the ugly Hilton Hotel right behind it.
As you climb back down towards the river be sure to cross the famous Chain Bridge which gives you yet another angle of the Danube and the buildings that line it. It’s only a 10 minute walk north until you reach the humbling Shoes on the Danube monument, built to honour the people shot into the river by militiamen during World War 2.
You’ll now be able to admire the majestic building of the Hungarian Parliament up close. It’s one of the oldest legislative buildings in Europe, as well as being the largest and tallest building in Hungary. The Gothic Revival style building is symmetrical inside and out, they use one parliament hall for politics and one for guided tours.
On the way back to the hostel we took a detour to the grand St Stephen’s Basilica. For all you cat lovers out there, the Budapest Cat Cafe is a block away. The food is simple, the wine is cheap, but you can spent hours there playing with all the cats. Some of them will just come and sit on your table so you can admire them. Some will ignore completely, but what’s new?
It was almost impossible to beat the castle-like Fisherman’s Bastion and a few hours in the Cat Cafe, but we did it with a trip to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. If you’re hungover after a night in the ruin bars then give yourself an entire day to enjoy this place, you’ll need it!
The main courtyard has three main pools. One cold, one medium hot and one boiling. If that’s not enough the building that surrounds the main courtyard is full of another hundred mini baths, some with natural healing properties. There are also several saunas and steam rooms if you’re not hot enough yet.
We paid 4,500 Ft (£10) for entrance and a locker, it was well worth it. I would recommend taking the metro here because it’s a very long an uninteresting walk from downtown. Be sure to stop at Hósök Here station and admire Hero’s Square and the Millennium Memorial. You should also check out the Vajdahunyad Castle as you take a stroll around the city park.
When your sick of all the gorgeous old buildings, wonderful views and relaxing activities then you should go in search of the perfect bowl of goulash, some incredibly cheap beer from the ruin bars and a ‘langosh’ to soak it all up. If you stay at Red Fox Hostel just head down the road to Kupak Café for cheap food and head to Instant Ruin Bar for the best experience!
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