Without a doubt, one of my favourite cities in the world, I first visited the capital of Hungary in November 2013 rather naively knowing very little about it’s history or what to expect, the travel bug had only really started to bite at this point and Eastern Europe was somewhere I hadn’t really considered largely down to ignorance, how foolish was I!
The airport and surrounding area is fairly non-descript, and the journey into the city centre which takes about an hour follows main arterial routes going through some rundown but very interesting industrial and residential areas, I find these journeys fascinating and much prefer the urban grit to vast expanses of nothingness or massive ultra modern commercial districts that many of these routes run through.
We stayed in the Buda part of the city (it is a conglomerate of two former cities which joined in 1873, Buda on the west side of the river Danube, and Pest on the east.) which has amongst many other things, the stunning Buda Castle complex which includes the Fishermans Bastion, and then further along the Citadella at the top of Gellért Hill to the south giving magnificent views over the city below. Plan to spend at least a whole day exploring just these two landmarks, particularly the Castle area which has many lovely side streets, cafes, museums and galleries to fill your time with.
One of the first things that struck me though upon arriving at our hotel were the bullet holes in side of buildings literally everywhere you looked, a stark reminder of its oppressive past, but which now along with a general feeling of being a little unkempt and grubby just adds to its charm.
Over on the Pest side of the Danube is the more buzzing cosmopolitan side of the city, restaurants, bars, large hotels, government buildings, you get the idea. In amongst these however are numerous galleries, museums, parks, and numerous examples of public art, most notable being the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank‘, I won’t go into detail here but check the link out to read about it, very fitting tribute to a dark moment in Budapest’s history.
And I’ve not yet mentioned how cheap it is, when I visited for 5 days I spent under 100 Euros, and this included eating out at least twice a day, several beers/wine etc, fantastically inexpensive, as are the flights and accommodation.
Highly recommended, this should be at the very top of anyone wanting a city break within Europe, I for one cannot wait go back.