I recently visited Budapest on a five day trip with four amazing friends. It was the second time I visited this lovely city and this time I _really_ fell for this sparkling metropolis.
I’ll keep it short(ish) and sum up my personal top ten things to do in Budapest:
1. Visit the Thermal Baths
Oh God, how I love the baths. Usually I am not a ‘spa person’, but in Budapest I don’t seem to mind. If you only have time for one spa I would recommend Széchenyi Baths for their sheer immensity. It has the largest number (and variety) of baths. If numbers mean nothing to you Gellért is also a great choice. It has a limited number of baths but the architecture is overwhelming.
On a side note: during summer some baths organize special events. We went to Sparty (kudos to whoever thought of that name), a late night part at the Széchenyi Baths. Even though I wouldn’t do it again, it was a once in a lifetime experience. If you decide to go however: (1) rent your own cabin, (2) bring your own towel and (3) be prepared for drunken teenagers and lewd behaviour.
2. Eat like you’ve never eaten before
Budapest is a melting pot of different cuisines and when out with a group this is a really great thing. If you visit in spring/summer make sure to go to one of the many kerts (the most famous is Szimpla Kert). These open air venues serve lots of different foods and have a great atmosphere. If you visit in winter/autumn you can always go to Zeller Bistro. A really great Hungarian restaurant serving Hungarian wine and delicious dishes. Make sure to book a table though.
This will probably shock all my friends (they know how much I love London) but the Parliament in Budapest is the most beautiful one I’ve seen so far. They also have an interesting English tour I would highly recommend.
4. Castle District
Stroll down the castle districts with its Royal Palace, Matthias Church and Fishermen’s Bastion. If you are on a tight schedule: you can skip the interior bits. Enjoy the warm Budapest weather and take your time to breathe in the beauty. If it rains: yes, you can go inside.
5. Take the right cab
Maybe a weird highlight, but taking the right cab can save you loads of money you can later spend on thermal baths, food, clothing or museums. At one point it seemed like at least one in two cabs were a fraud. You can spot them by looking for a logo. Does your taxi bear a logo? Everything’s fine. Is it just yellow? Turn around and grab another one.
6. House of Terror
We didn’t go to House of Terror this time, but I visited over five years ago. The feeling still lingers: the museum is one giant emotional roller coaster (spoiler: with mostly downs). It is done so beautifully, so sincerely I count it as one of the most interesting history/war museums I’ve ever set foot in.
7. Great Synagogue
We took the English tour and our guide – a lovely young lady – really spoke to me. Historically a really significant place in Budapest.
8. Basilica of St Stephen
Lovely atmosphere on the square next to is, beautiful view from the top and a stunning interior: this is one top-notch cathedral.
9. Street art and architecture
Many facades in Budapest streets are gorgeous. Either because they are so old or because they have great street art covering them. Just get lost in the streets and let the beauty of the city lead you.
10. Opera House
Beautiful building, nice interior and an interesting English tour. You cannot ask for more, can you?