THE TWIN CITY
If I said that Budapest is “not a city, but a feeling”, it would sound nothing more or less than a classic cliché. But please bear with me while I recall my time spent over there travelling, so that I can justify why that cliché still stands.
Budapest, like many cities I have visited- since the time I can recall- shares a rich heritage that would interest an enthusiast of any age. It has suffered through imperialism, communalism, and socialism to become the admirable city it is now, without losing the essence of its past. Buda and its baroque estates, neo-gothic churches, after crossing Danube, give way to Pest and its hip and happening social life. And these contrasting elements come together to form this beautiful city.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
Being a fairly small city, much of Budapest can be traversed on foot. If your hotel is in Buda, high chances are that it would be in the residential district, it is smart to take a metro down till Keleti Palyaudvar, the main train station, which is in the center of the town square, giving you instant access to all that Pest has to offer. Taxi in Budapest isn’t a really good idea, cause even though it is cheaper than the rest of Europe; it’s still quite expensive, thus the underground metro stands as a decent alternative. The great thing about Budapest’s underground network is that along with being cheap it is quite easy to understand; there are information centers in every station and everyone there can speak decent English. For almost all the places that I would recommend, the best way to travel would be by booking a hop on hop off tour as they connect you to all the major sights and their buses are decent enough while being quite reasonably priced. You can book your tour from redbus or sightseeing-budapest; they have plenty of offices in the city center and buses leave every 15 minutes from 8:30 am to almost 10 pm.
WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS-
Incase of Budapest, there are so many places one would want to go because they are “recommended”, but truth to be told, most of them don’t really crack it.
But in all of that, few places are a must. The Citadela, being one of them. You can get one of the best views of the city from the Citadela, which rests upon the hilltop. Andrassy avenue is also a great place to go, as said by the locals, it is the Champs-Élysées of Budapest; with high street stores and cafés, it makes a nice evening destination. Talking about shopping, Varsmarty intersection is a great spot for a night out, as most shops stay open till 10pm. En route sightseeing, make a detour towards the House of Terror for some great exhibitions about the communist past of the city. Varosligeti Fasor Street is a great place for a walk after having lunch near Hero’s square; also called the Nobel avenue, the picturesque tree-lined street is home to historic houses and schools. To finish all that, visit the Parliament at night to fall in love with the city all over again. And finally, a day trip to Szentendre isn’t a bad idea either.
WHAT YOU CAN MISS-
Castle square is a real hit or miss, it’s mostly old buildings and nothing much, the eateries on top are not that great either. Thus making the castle square a place you can visit only if you have nothing to do except sit and stare at some good-looking buildings. Apart from that, nothing in Budapest isn’t worth visiting.
WHERE TO STAY?
If you are willing to spend the buck, then for upwards of 200$ you can get a great room in Pest. But for half as that you can get an even better room in Buda, the only downside being that it adds a bit to the commute of your day. I stayed in Mercure Buda, they have decent rooms there and it’s also pretty close to the metro and train station.
WHAT TO EAT AND WHERE TO EAT IT?
Budapest has a lot to offer gastronomically, be it heritage cafes or hip restaurants, you’ll find everything to satiate your hunger and even your heart. Even though most places offer both an outdoor and an indoor sitting, I would always suggest that you take the opportunity to sit in the open as it is a completely different experience all together. I am keeping this small, as food is kinda subjective. However, these juggernauts will satisfy any palate.
“Dinner on the Danube” sounds like a beautiful title for a poem; I assure you, it makes for an even better meal. With the cool breeze blowing and delicious food, one can’t not over eat!
Grilled river prawn
Want a bite of history; visit this historic café in Pest. Serving delicious cakes and coffees, this 100-year-old cafe still sticks with what matters that is good food and outdoor sitting.
This might be a bit illegal, but it’s harmless. If you can, then get a guided tour of the Buda Castle Labyrinth. Just look it up on Google, it’s worth it. The only problem is that people aren’t allowed to enter easily.
NEWYORK CAFÉ, this place might be beautiful, but is also the most clichéd place in Pest. Coming from a guy who actually fell for it, the food is bad and service, worse.