Budapest was my favorite city that we visited and I think one of the most beautiful cities I have been to. The city center is quite large but there are so many things to see everywhere that I really didn’t mind walking everywhere. Budapest used to be 2 separate cities on either side of the Danube River: Buda is the side with the castle and Pest with the parliament building. We stayed at an airbnb on the Pest side, which was nice because you get better views! Most of the restaurants and shopping seems to be on Pest as well so it was a good decision!
From the moment we arrived we were in awe of the views! Our flat was on the edge of the center, close to the Central Market Hall so we made our way towards the center and the Parliament building on the other side. We walked along the Danube river and enjoyed the views of Buda Castle and the rest of Castle Hill as well as Chain Bridge. We got all the way to the Hungarian Parliament Building only to find out that all tickets were sold out for the day! I ended up buying tickets online for another day luckily.
One of my favorite things to do in Europe is to walk around and see the cities by night. Almost everything is lit up with pretty lights and it’s nice to walk around and take it all in. I had seen amazing photos of the Parliament Building from across the Danube and I wanted to walk down the Buda side to get a photo as well. It was nice because the following day was a national holiday so there was live music playing in the center and many street vendors and people walking everywhere.
Sunday (August 20th) was a national holiday so many things were closed. We took advantage of our “free” time by going to a thermal bath, which Budapest is known for. We chose to go to Gellert Baths because it was close to our flat and had great reviews. The art nouveau interior is well preserved with beautiful mosaic tiles, stained glass windows, and statues. To swim in the indoor pool you need to wear a swim cap but there is so many things to do there including an outdoor wave pool, Finnish sauna, steam room and thermal baths. There’s nothing I love more than relaxing while on vacation so I was a happy camper!
That evening we went out to the banks of the Danube to enjoy the fireworks for State Foundation Day/St. Stephen’s Day. We were told that the fireworks would be in between Chain Bridge and Elisabeth Bridge so we found a spot in between to watch the fireworks. It turns out that the fireworks were behind the Parliament building so the best place to watch them would have been from the Buda side! We still got to see a lot of fireworks but I saw photos people posted from the other side and it looked even more amazing! Either way, I’m still in awe of the amazing night time views of Castle Hill.
The next day we woke up early to avoid all the people and explore Castle Hill. There’s a funicular that goes up the hill but it’s only about a 15 minute walk. Castle Hill looks really big but is surprisingly small. We didn’t get to go into Buda Castle because it’s closed on Mondays but we got to enjoy the extremely beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Since we had gotten there so early to take photos, we were able to walk down every single street in Castle Hill. Fisherman’s Bastion is incredibly picturesque and I am glad we were able to get amazing photos without a million people in them (like the one pictured above!).
Later that afternoon we went back to the Parliament Building for our guided tour. The tour itself is about 30 minutes then you’re allowed a bit of time in the museum at the end. Unfortunately one of the more spectacular rooms is the dome with the crown but no photos were allowed. The other rooms were also pretty nice though and our guide was pretty good about explaining everything.
The last thing we did was head over to Heroes’ Square. We were pretty tired because we woke up so early but I didn’t want to miss out on the last thing on my checklist. Heroes’ Square is quite far from the center so since we had a metro pass we decided to go check it out.
We ended the night early as the next morning we had to, once again, wake up early to catch our train to our next stop! Vienna here we come!