The Ultimate Travel Blog for Visiting Budapest | Pt 1: Preparation / Things to See & Do
Contributed by: @ImAdeAkins
If you're looking for a great food scene, hipster vibes, and a city rich in history and culture then look no further than Budapest, Hungary. As someone who loved Budapest so much the first time, I travelled in 2015 that I had to go back in July 2016 and compile the Ultimate Travel Blog for Visiting Budapest. So ultimate in fact that it had to be divided into two parts. In this post, I'm going to talk you through the things to think about in preparation before you've even booked the flight and then a list of what to see and do when you do arrive. Be sure to check out Pt 2: Eating, Drinking & Nightlife.
BOOKING THE FLIGHT TO BUDAPEST
With most places you travel to, depending on what month you'd like to travel, and how far in advance you book, the prices can vary greatly. I've used both Skyscanner and TravelSupermarket respectively when booking my trips- don't be afraid to shop around for the best deal!
#TravelADZVICE: Unless you get a package deal, flights from London to Budapest tend to be more than twice as expensive as they would be from continental Europe so perhaps making this a real adventure & flying from somewhere like Berlin for instance.
Budapest is a city you can comfortably spend 2-3 nights in, making it the perfect weekend away. The flight from London takes about 2.5 hours.
Hungarian Forin (HUF) is the local currency, Like anywhere else with a different currency, I definitely recommend exchanging before you arrive.
#TravelADZVICE: In terms of daily budget, £60 max should be cool (this is per person- if you're going with someone you can split everything and save money).
Before Brexit, there was such a thing as a strong Great British Pound which made Budapest even better value for money! Going back in 2016, I realised how blessed we were :(.
BUDA OR PEST? - CHOOSING WHERE TO STAY
Budapest is actually formed of two cities; Buda and Pest. Buda is more hilly and scenic and a more affluent area of the city. This is where older residents and those with families would typically reside.
#TravelADZVICE: You would probably want to stay in Pest as its more vibrant, younger and where all the bars are, especially around the Jewish Quarter.You want to stay in or as close to Deák Ferenc tér as possible as this is the centre of the city where it all happens. Luckily the metro system is easy to use and runs from 4.30am -11:30pm so as long as you can get to the centre you're cool!
GETTING AROUND BUDAPEST
I bet you didn't know that Budapest's metro system is the second oldest underground railway after the London Underground? Well now you do! Depending on where you stay will dictate how much you need to use it. My hostel was quite central so I ended up walking often.
#TravelADZVICE: Buy a single tram ticket and go from one end to another cheapest way to see the city sights. Thank me later ;).
UBER no longer operates in Budapest but an old Hungarian colleague recommends City Taxi because they're reliable, fluent in English & take cards.
THINGS TO SEE & DO IN BUDAPEST
The Chain Bridge separates Buda and Pest and was originally constructed as a way of ensuring residents could travel out of the city during the colder months when the rivers would freeze. Get a great look over the Danube, Europe's second largest river and the largest in the EU stretching between Central and Eastern Europe.
Free Budapest Walking Tour
In 2.5 hours you'll feel so energised with nuggets of information on the country's past and what contributes to the modern city you're currently enjoying in. Budapest is rich in culture and history and this tour is the best way to find out. It was on this tour that I discovered how much Hungarians had contributed to the world. For instance, Hungarian-born inventors were responsible for creating: Vitamin C, the Rubick's Cube, soda, the singing method 'do-re-mi-fa' and sadly the atomic bomb. Visit http://www.triptobudapest.hu/ for more info on the tour.
For an epic view of the city you have to visit the Liberty Statue. It is a pretty steep climb so I'd call it more of a hike. The statue is a tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary.
#TravelADZVICE:The best time to visit this is between 7-9pm where you'll get fantastic views of Budapest at sunset. Be sure to take water, snacks and maybe some bubbly to enjoy the surroundings once you get to the top as you won't be in a rush to come back down. Ideal if you're with your partner or on a date 😘
#TravelADZVICE: for the equivalent of less than £2, paying entry to the church and going to the top provides another cracking view of the city from 96 metres above ground.
(Mid-August)- this 7 day festival featured everyone from Robbie Williams to Alt+J when I was therein 2015. It's on an island outside of Budapest and what most tourists around during this time are here for.
Another thing Budapest is famed for is its communal pools known as baths. Szechenyi(pictured below) is the biggest and most popular of all the baths. You cannot visit Budapest without taking a dip in one of the many pools, each with different temperature offerings. Be warned, these get PACKED so your best bet is to go to one of the smaller ones or get there early.
#TravelADZVICE: Most Saturday's at Szechenyi there 'Sparties' (parties in the spas) that happen. I'd certainly recommend checking these out as they sound like a lot of fun but wasn't something I wanted to do alone! http://szechenyispabaths.com/sparties/
Another cool bath to check out isRudas Bath & Spa. It features a rather impressive and relatively new outdoor pool.
This is where the Hungarian Prime Minister resides. There is often a changing of the guards ceremony similar to that which occurs at Buckingham Palace/Whitehall. Located in Buda, there are amazing views of the city to be had.
Located on what many refer to as the Hungarian Shanzay Lezay due to the prevalence of many high-fashion stores and boutiques on offer.
#TravelADZVICE:If you rock up an hour before the show you can usually buy tickets for the equivalent of under £5!
There was a rather interesting exhibition on cycling when I last went, hence the following photos.
There are of course other museums but I did not get a chance to personally visit. Here's a list of those to consider when you go:
- Museum of Fine Arts: http://www.szepmuveszeti.hu/main
- Hungarian National Museum:http://www.hnm.hu/en/fooldal/mainPage.php
- Hungarian National Gallery: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/visiting/virtualtour/?gclid=CLGR18ff27cCFVMbtAodeFQAjw#/central-hall/
- Kunsthalle Budapest: http://www.mucsarnok.hu/new_site/index.php?lang=en
THAT'S IT FOR PT 1 - NOW, LET'S TALK ABOUT FOOD!
After all that sightseeing you're probably going to be frantically searching for a cracking restaurant or your closest watering hole. Find Adzvice on this in the second part of The Ultimate Travel Blog for Visiting Budapest as well as a couple of suggestions for nightlife. Click here to read Pt 2: Eating, Drinking & Nightlife.
Until the next time chaps!
Ade Akins (@ImAdeAkins)