Budapest has quickly become a top backpacker destination in Europe, and it’s not hard to see why. The dollar and euro are super strong there ($1 is about 279 Hungarian forint), it’s filled with lush green spaces, the weather is lovely and perfect for walking everywhere, the buildings are vibrant, and there’s plenty to do!
I was lucky enough to have three nights here (usually I have 1-2 nights per city), so I was able to really explore the city. First and foremost, for a visit during the summer, you absolutely must visit one of the Budapest baths. Personally, I’m partial to the Szechenyi Baths.
In Budapest, the the baths are heated by geothermal water, full of minerals that are super good for you. Most of the bathhouses have a sauna you can visit, as well. Essentially, the “bathing” areas of the baths look like really lovely and huge swimming pools. There’s usually one pool designated for swimmers exercising and doing laps, and this pool is much colder and the geothermal heated pools. It’s great to spend half a day at the baths to escape the summer heat, and enjoy and ice cream or a “giant pancake” by the baths!
The Szecheny Baths are located in a huge park/green space, and nearby is a serene river where you can watch the ducks with their ducklings, souvenir shop, and rent a paddle boat!
Nestled behind some trees next to the river is the Agricultural Museum. I wasn’t interested in the museum itself, but the small park and row of buildings surrounding it are absolutely worth a look! The architecture is original and has been kept in great condition.
Across the bridge a few minutes away from the Agricultural Museum is Hero’s Square. The square is stately and imposing with huge statues of important figures displayed in a semi-circle surrounding the square. Don’t be surprised if you see a few brides taking their wedding photos there!
On the other side of the city from Hero’s Square is St. Stephen’s Basilica. For a few euros, you can take a lift to the tower and get a wonderful panoramic view of the city!
Across from the Basilica is a super chic wine bar called DiVino. The appetizers are yummy, and the wine is too. It’s the perfect place to people watch and soak in Budapest! For a more inexpensive option, down the street you can buy a delicious pizza from a pharmacy window.
From the square of St. Stephen’s, you can cross over the famous Chain Bridge to reach the Buda side of Budapest. Across from the entrance to the Chain Bridge is a super fun sculpture installation that you just have to take at least a few minutes to contemplate (and take some pics with!)
After crossing the bridge, you can take a funicular up to Buda Castle. The castle is in the Old Town of Budapest, and it’s easy to walk around the whole area. There’s a great view over the city, beautiful fountains, and great architectural designs.
Upon entering the castle grounds, immediately after the ruins, there is a man in traditional Hungarian clothing (plus Nike sneakers) facilitating an archery/crossbow/throwing star experience. Do it! It’s a ton of fun, and only costs about 3 euros.
There are many attractions in Budapest, but it’s also important to spend some time experiencing the cafe culture of Hungary and simply soaking of the ambience of the city. Order a cappuccino or some fresh squeezed orange juice, enjoy a fresh-from-the-oven croissant, and concentrate on just being where you are. Two cafes I would especially recommend for this are the New York Cafe (I know, I’m partial to New York, but and local Budapest-ian will rave about this place, too) and the Ruszwowrm ? Confectionary. The Ruszwowrm is a delicious bakery in Old Town near Buda Castle, and serves delicious cakes and treats while you sit outside.
The New York Cafe is on the Pest side of Budapest, and it’s located within the Boccolo ? Hotel. This cafe is al glitz and gilded glamour, but the food is delicious as well!
I hope you have the chance to love Budapest as much as I do!