Every time going on vacation to some new place I am telling myself to not look into any guides and follow my intuition. I want to be amazed and surprised by what I see and preferable have zero expectations. That doesn’t work always, because you start getting this feeling that you are simply passing by old buildings, monuments, squares and having no idea what and why they are here. A piece of history or a legend helps to grasp the beauty of the place. Too bad for my trip to Budapest I didn’t research on any of that. At least kept my WOW moment.
After a sever-hour drive from Prague, we are finally in Budapest – considered by many of the most delightful cities in Europe. Mainstream is so cool that I couldn’t resist the urge to see it myself. I lied, it just happened that we ended up on our weekend in Budapest.
I usually say don’t go where all the tourists go, but not in this case. Natural thermal baths are simply amazing. As if you are swimming and having fun in a museum. We have been to Szechenyi. Wikipedia says it’s the largest medicinal bath in Europe – good to know. Szechenyi has outdoor and indoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpool, streams to massage your neck, feet and ass. Probably there is much more, but I didn’t bother hoping from one pool to another, so I simply enjoyed sunbathing outside.
Be a tourist till the end and go take tons of pictures by the Budapest Parliament. This building is huge, I mean it. I haven’t been inside, but was told very little can be seen and is not worth the money. Don’t forget to check on the monuments around, Museum of Ethnography, a bunch of statues and the rocky beach by the Danube river.
Not far from Szechenyi baths you can see Heroes’ Square, the Timewheel and Vajdahunyad Castle. Pack them up together in one sightseeing tour. The story with Vajdahunyad Castle is curious – it was built to celebrate 1000 years since the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin. Was made initially in cardboard and wood, afterwards being rebuilt in brick and stone. Different perspectives on history start to pop up when you travel to your neighborhood countries.
St. Stephen’s Basilica keeps up with the majestic atmosphere of the city. Go up if you want to see the city from the top, because it is one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest and no other building is allowed to overcome its height of 96 meters.
Even though I am not particularly interested in those landmarks and have very little knowledge about their architectural or historical importance, I like the atmosphere that they create and the fact that in 2 days I have walked 47,000 steps, around 34 km and climbed 90 floors to see just a tiny portion of the city.
Now about the cool stuff. Parapark is a game where you descent with your friends into a basement to crack some code, solve puzzles and reveal the mysteries. It is the classical doors puzzle game with real locks, keys, basement heavy smell, creepy background sounds and Xubuntu installed on an in-game PC. Go to their website and book a last minute game.
We had a team of 3 and it was perfect. While having the most incredible team, we still didn’t solve the mystery in 60 minutes, but we were close. Nevertheless our guide was kind enough to allow us to finish the game. My hands were dirty from all the dust around, we were sweating running around trying to fit a code to a safe, I was struggling to understand the walkie-talkie accent and it was awesome!
Cat Cafe Budapest
Few cities in Europe have cat cafes and Budapest is one of them. Cat Cafe Budapest is an adorable place with about 8-10 cats lying around, waiting to be pet by you, curiously inspecting the insides of your bag. There is a big lion-like cat, a newbie in the house, a grey elegant cat, long-haired pitch-black cat – for all tastes. The owner of the place is a very nice man, who sincerely loves all of his cats and high-fives with them.
Margaret island, where Sziget Festival takes place, has a fun fountain. Go there in the evening at 9PM to enjoy music and lights. It gave me goose bumps listening to Verdi accompanied by the spectacular water show. It is not a world wonder, but it is a nice place to meet the sunset.
They make your trip memorable. Like a gigantic ice-cream that you can buy at Oktogon intersection, old metro line of Budapest that resembles a way to hell, fun Erasmus people riding a beer bike, top of a fake boat and sinking Greek arc by the National Theater, big number of various fountains, not being able to find a specialty Hungarian dish that wouldn’t be also serve in Czech Republic.
Not so pretty
When you are visiting a place, you don’t want to see the ugly part of the city. But it stoke me how dirty can Budapest be. I suppose it was some special “throw-away” weekend, since by the houses on the streets there were mounds of garbage, like old cupboards, chairs, paintings, computer screens and other apartment waste.
Homeless people is probably also one of the city’s problems.
I have collected all the Budapest locations I have been to on a Google Map. Who knows, maybe you are going there this weekend and will find it useful.
View Budapest in a larger map