After my trip to Berlin, Germany, I flew to Budapest and had one of the best adventures there for three days. Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and is divided into two sectors: the hilly Buda and the flat Pest, both of which are connected by its 19th-century Bridges, and hence Budapest. Budapest is a beautiful city with countless attractions and amazing architecture. The city is known for its natural thermal baths, and is also given the nickname, “Paris of the East.”
For accommodation, I stayed at Avenue Hostel, in a 4-Beds Dorm, which cost around 14 EURO per night per person (around $22 CAD). The room was very narrow, and looked slightly different and smaller compared to the pictures that were shared on their website or Hostel World. At first, it was quite difficult to locate the building because it looked like an ordinary apartment building (which it is), and so I didn’t expect it to be our hostel. After entering, you will first see an open area with an elevator in front of you and a stair adjacent to it, both of which would lead you upstairs to the reception. My first impression after entering the building was being slightly disappointed with how dark and run-down it looked. If you look from their website, the hostel actually looked very bright and clean, but it was actually not so true. The reception was actually decent, despite how bad the entrance looked; there were a lot of people in the hostel as well, which gave me hope that the hostel wouldn’t be so bad, after all. I arrived a couple of hours early so I was not able to check in until 2PM, and was given a free locker and lock to keep my bags and luggage away so I could roam Budapest until the check-in time. After checking in, one of the staff brought me into a very-run down elevator and led me up to my room on the fourth floor. Despite the building being so old and a little dirty, my room was very decent. My room was located in a massive room that also had three other rooms inside. There was also a kitchen right in the middle of this massive room and a lounge behind the kitchen. I thought it was very unique and smart because people wouldn’t have to share a lounge area with everyone in the hostel, but instead, have their own kitchen and lounge space, and were able to meet just the people in the same area where their dorms were. Each dorm had four bunk beds and an en-suite bathroom; there were various lockers inside each dorm, so I believe each person had about 2-3 lockers per person. I also loved the wooden material they used to make their lockers and beds because it gave off this eco-friendly environment. The hostel also served free breakfast everyday from 8AM to 11AM in the main unit at the reception; they served cereal and Hungarian salad with their famous paprika, juices, coffee, or tea (they also served free dinner on specific days, as well). The hostel also gave me a free towel and there was a hair-dryer included in each bathroom! There was a deposit of around 1,500 HUF (Hungarian Forint) per person (about $8 CAD) that you’d have to pay for the key, towels, etc and would be refunded when you check out on your last day.
Budapest, Oktogon 4, 1067 Hungary
Transportation in Budapest was very affordable. First, to get from the airport to the city centre of Budapest (and vice versa), you can purchase a ticket for the airport shuttle at either the info centre inside the airport or at a machine nearby, which cost 900 HUF per person ($4.30 CAD). The shuttle number was 100E and took approximately 40-60mins to get to the city centre. After I got off the city centre, I purchased the Budapest 72-Hour Travel Card at the info centre, underground of Deak Ferenc Ter, that cost 4,150 HUF per person ($20 CAD). This travel card was very convenient as you can travel with any public transportation in Budapest such as the subway, buses, or the trams for three consecutive days. More information on Budapest Public Transportation can be found here.
Since I had three days in Budapest, I will break down my itinerary as follows:
[ Day One ]
Before I checked-in at the hostel, I had a random walk that led me to the area around Deak Ferenc Ter, which you can find the Budapest Eye and a beautiful park with a mini-pool and a small open-market that sold mostly souvenirs from Budapest. Nearby this area, I also bought Budapest’s traditional Kürtőskalács, or Chimney Cake, which looked like a spiral bread that is covered in different flavours such as chocolate or cinnamon. I also got on the Budapest Eye, which is a Ferris wheel, and the ticket cost 2,700 HUF per person ($13 CAD). I witnessed a beautiful view of the city, which also gave me a nice introduction to what Budapest has to offer.
Budapest, Erzsébet tér, 1051 Hungary
I had my first breakfast at a restaurant near my hostel called, Menza Étterem és Kávézó, which had high reviews and very pretty decor. The food was delicious, however, it was quite expensive; I also had a feeling it was a type of place where tourists may expect to pay a lot for the service fee, because my bill came to almost $40 CAD per person, which I thought was definitely way too expensive. Nevertheless, I took this as an experience and continued on my travel.
Menza Étterem és Kávézó
Budapest, Liszt Ferenc tér 2, 1061 Hungary
After I checked-in at our hostel and had a small nap, I went out to the city during the night time where I witnessed the prettiest sights of Hungary. Budapest is absolutely stunning during the night because all of its famous attractions such as the Hungarian Parliament Building or Buda Castle, were lit up and glowing. Everything was like black and gold during the night time in Budapest, and I loved every single minute of it. I also got to walk on the famous Chain Bridge, which connected where I was (Pest) to Buda.
Just before my first night ended, I celebrated this beautiful scenery at a nearby pub on the Buda side of Budapest at Port Beer & Food, which didn’t have anything related to Hungary besides the beer (it served mostly Italian and American food), but I thought it was one of the cheapest and most suitable place to chill since it was close to the river. It was still quite expensive to eat here, but I wanted to do it mostly for the experience.
Port Beer & Food
Halasz utca 1., Budapest 1011, Hungary
[ Day Two ]
After waking up early and enjoying the free breakfast at the hostel, I went straight to Hősök Tere, or Heroes’ Square, that was only a 15 min walk away from the hostel. I saw the Millennium Monument right at the square, and Vajdahunyad Castle, which was nearby. Vajdahunyad Castle was built in 1896 as part of the Millennial Exhibition which celebrated the 1,000 years of Hungary since the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895. I also saw Jaki Chapel and the Anonymous Statue right next to the castle.
Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) | Millennium Monument
Budapest, 1146 Hungary
Budapest, Vajdahunyad vár, 1146 Hungary
Budapest, 1146 Hungary
Budapest is quite easy to travel around because most of the attractions are very close to each other. For example, after I got to see Heroes’ Square and the Vajdahunyad Castle, I headed to the next famous attraction, Széchenyi Thermal Bath, which was just a 5 min walk away. I originally purchased the ticket for this bath at my hostel, which was cheaper and also helped me skipped the line at the entrance. The ticket for this bath cost around 5,200-5,400 HUF per person ($25 CAD) for the public locker ticket. If you want to have your own private cabin to change your clothes, the ticket would cost around 5,700-5,900 HUF per person ($30 CAD). I went there pretty early in the day, which must have been around 11AM, so there were actually less people compared to the late afternoon between 1-3PM. Nevertheless, there were still a lot of people in the pool during early morning, so I would definitely recommend to go early if you would like to avoid busy lockers or pool.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
After the bath, I headed to find food at the Great Market Hall, which was a restored Neo-Gothic hall for traders with grocery produce on the ground & souvenirs on the 1st floor. Unfortunately, I found the market to be very crowded and expensive, so I left to find food somewhere else. However, the produce on the ground floor is very fresh and quite affordable, so I did end up buy a couple of fruits before I left.
Great Market Hall
Budapest, Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary
I had lunch at Buddies Burger, which was a local fast-food restaurant that probably had the cheapest burger in the city. I wanted to find something cheap to eat since I was on a budget and Buddies Burger was one of the few places that popped up on TripAdvisor that offered affordable prices. It also had amazing reviews online and once we got to the restaurant, I was NOT disappointed. Not only was the food cheap and delicious, the owner and staffs were super friendly. I didn’t have enough coins to buy fries, so the owner ended up giving me fries for free, which was super thoughtful of him. The burger was also a decent size that kept me full for a long time. I also had a coffee break at Costa which was nearby and I thought the donuts were very cute on these cups.
Budapest, Magyar u. 52, 1053 Hungary
After I refueled my energy, I spent the rest of our second day in Budapest hiking…First, I hiked up to Buda Castle, instead of taking the Funicular Railway, or the cable car that would take you up to Buda Castle in less than 10 mins; I decided to save money and burn the calories and hiked, instead. It would have cost 1,800 HUF per person for a round ticket ($9 CAD) on the Funicular Railway; in addition, I found hiking up to Buda Castle to be a much more fulfilling experience of immersing yourself in the castle since there were a lot to see along the hike. It took me around 20-30 mins to hike up to the top of the Castle. The hike was definitely worth it because the view up there was breathtaking.
Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary
After thr hike at Buda Castle, I had a crazy idea of doing a second hike and to go up the Citadella of Budapest, which would be a 30 min walk from where I was at Buda Castle, and around another 30 min to hike up to the top of the Citadella. My feet were already starting to hurt when I was hiking down from Buda Castle, but I somehow managed to pull through and hiked up the easy-to-moderate-level hike to the Citadella. The view at the Citadella was even more beautiful compared to Buda Castle and it was a proper hike where you would sweat and pant, a little. But it was, yet again, so worth it.
Budapest, 1118 Hungary
Leaving the Citadella was difficult, not because I had to leave such a spectacular view, but because at this point in time, I was dying of pain. My feet were so sore from hiking and walking the whole day, so on my way down the Citadella, I found a park nearby called, Gellérthegy Jubileumi Park, in which I spent probably around an hour to rest before heading back to the hostel and calling it a night. I also decided to not eat out and bought groceries near the hostel to save money and because I was so tired. I bought a couple of things recommended by the internet for Hungarian must-try groceries and the following two are worth to be mentioned:
Here is the little, Pöttyös Túró Rudi, which is a curd snack popular in Hungary since 1968. The bar is composed of a thin chocolate-flavored outer coating and an inner filling of túró (curd). To me, it tasted like cream cheese inside a chocolate, and I thought it had a very interesting texture and taste.
Here was my favourite food that I bought at the grocery store, PICK Nosztalgia Párizsi, which was a “Premium quality Parisian made using beef and pork raw materials. Its slightly peppery flavor and delicious smell nostalgic atmosphere.” I pretty much ate it like ham and sausage; it was savory and soft and tasted great alone (I pretty much just bit the whole chunk of it myself). Everything in the grocery store was so cheap that I bought everything for less than $30 CAD and I managed to buy enough food to make for lunch the next day. It was definitely cheaper to buy groceries and cook in Budapest compared to eating out.
[ Day Three ]
On my last day at Budapest, I went to see New York Café, which is known to be the most beautiful cafe in the world. I didn’t make any reservation, so I had to wait around 10 mins to get seats for two people (bear in mind, we went pretty early at around 10-11AM). I read online from other bloggers and YouTubers that the cafe is worth a visit, but they do not recommend to eat here because the food is either shit or overpriced. I agree. I only ordered one dessert to share and we had a drink each, and they weren’t even good. It was also very overpriced just for ice-cream and orange juice, but I have to admit that I enjoyed looking at the building inside and listening to the quartet and the piano that were playing in the background.
New York Café
Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073 Hungary
After the cafe, I went to see the Hungarian Parliament Building, which was just ridiculously beautiful. There was also a marathon nearby the river so I stopped to watch them for awhile. About a 10 min walk away from Parliament building, I saw the Shoes on the Danube Bank, which is a memorial conceived by film director Can Togay and sculptor Gyula Pauer to honour the people who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. What happened was that the victims were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank. It felt very surreal for me to stand upon these shoes and imagine myself in their positions and see the river below that they all fell down in. Memorials like these are worth a visit so that not only are you enjoying the view of Budapest, but you are also learning about the history that have shaped Budapest into the beautiful city it is today.
Hungarian Parliament Building
Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary
Shoes on the Danube Bank
Budapest, Id. Antall József rkp., 1054 Hungary
I crossed the Chain Bridge, again, to Buda, passed the Buda Castle and headed towards Fisherman’s Bastion, a terrace in Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque style situated on the Buda bank of the Danube, around Matthias Church. It was a much appreciated area of Budapest that had less tourists compared to the other places I visited so far. I bought a ticket to enter the small area of Fisherman’s Bastion for 400 HUF per person ($2 CAD) for the student discount ticket. Regular tickets for adults will cost 800 HUF ($8 CAD). The view on top of the Fisherman’s Bastion was very similar to the Citadella or Buda Castle; so if you prefer to save money, the Citadella and Buda Castle are free to enter.
Budapest, Szentháromság tér, 1014 Hungary
Aside from Buda and Pest, the capital city of Hungary has another little gem called Margaret Island, a tranquil getaway within the city. Pedestrian promenades navigate around parkland, an art nouveau water tower, the ruins of a 13th-century Dominican convent, a musical fountain and a small zoo. Other attractions include jogging tracks, thermal spas and swimming pools. Summertime brings pop-up bars and restaurants, as well as live music (read more about Margaret Island and its history here). I crossed the Margaret Bridge prior to getting on the island and I noticed there were a lot of people who were also heading toward this little gem. The moment I got on the island, I saw a huge park, a lot of dogs and people playing Frisbee and sun-bathing on the grass. Since I had been walking the whole day, I took this chance to rest my feet before heading to the last destination of this trip.
Margitsziget 23800, Budapest 1007, Hungary
My last meal in Budapest was at a restaurant near the hostel called, Pesti Disznó Bisztró, which served a decent amount of Hungarian food. I ordered a platter of mixed appetizers for two, which included Craftsmen butcher’s smoked ham, salami, sausage, liver sausage, cracklings, and fresh vegetables. I also finally got to try the famous Hungarian Beef Goulash Soup. It was definitely expensive to eat out in Budapest, but because I budgeted nicely throughout the trip, I thought it was appropriate to treat myself to the final dinner on my last night in Budapest. The price was actually quite decent at this restaurant, so I found it to be a good place to spend a little money on.
Pesti Disznó Bisztró
Budapest, Nagymező u. 19, 1063 Hungary
Budapest is probably one of my favourite cities in Europe that I have visited so far because of the vast amount of attractions to see or do here. Despite being a tourist-trapped city, a lot of the activities and attractions I have visited are free, such as the Buda Castle, the Citadella, or the Shoes on the Danube Bank. The view of Budapest at night excites me and I love just walking around and getting lost in this beautiful city. The architecture is unbelievably stunning and the history behind every single buildings or attractions are so intriguing. It was such a pleasure to witness this beautiful city and I look forward to coming back again in the future.