Budapest was our first stop on our mini interailing trip. We got the train from Bratislava to Budapest which took around 2 hours 45 minutes. Once you arrive in Budapest you are greeted with Budapest train station, which is rather grand in itself.
Budapest is the Capital of Hungary and is actually a City and a County. Budapest is a combination of the cities Buda and Pest and is bisected by the River Danube. It is full of incredible architecture, great nightlife particular in the famous ruin bars and is bursting with history.
We booked our three night stay in an Airbnb not too far from the centre. We arrived at two large doors and wondered if we were in the right place, but through the doors, was a large courtyard, with staircases leading up to flats. It felt very European. The Airbnb was modern, light, with high ceilings and was a great base for our time in Budapest, it's a shame our host was a grumpy so and so with a face like a smacked arse.
Our first afternoon/night mainly consisted of walking around to get our bearings and finding some of the famous ruin bars. I had read about the run down buildings which had been turned into bars and clubs and we were both intrigued. We did stop for a bite to eat and we tried the Hungarian pork in Paprika, but I forgot to take a picture.
The ruin bars are full of character and atmosphere and random stuff, like sinks as plant pots and bread rolls as decor. I loved the ruin bars, they were so different to normal bars and pubs, there was so much to look at and they were putting an otherwise derelict building to good use.
We woke up for day two with slight fuzzy heads after a night in the ruin bars and in need of food. We headed to Karavan, which is a street food courtyard, with various food vendors to choose from. We both went for the ultimate hangover cure, 'The Real Cheeseburger', it was a heart attack in the making, but boy was it delicious. Karavan has a great vibe and I could imagine it would be absolutely rammed in the summer.
We had a bit of a mad dash, as we were going on a free walking tour, which is one of our favourite things to do in new European cities. As we walked/ran to the meeting spot I could help but stop and take pictures of the amazing street art we passed on the way.
We made it to the meeting point in time and started the walking tour. The tour took us around many of the main sights and the tour guide had so much knowledge of the local area and the history.
We walked to the River Danube and had views of the iconic yellow trams, the river and the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace has the Castle Museum, National Széchenyi Library and the Hungarian National Gallery and has actually been rebuilt numerous times across the past seventh centuries.
We then walked to the Basilica of St Stephen and then back to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and walked across to Buda. The views did not disappoint.
After we walked over the bridge we walked around the Buda Castle and Matthias Church. The Buda side of Budapest was absolutely stunning and was a lot prettier than Pest. Rob and I both wished we had stayed over this side of the river, but it is a bit out of the way of the restaurants and bars.
The views from Buda Castle are amazing and you will not want to put your camera down and we actually got some blue sky, which was nice after on and off rain most of the afternoon.
After the walking tour was over and we stayed over the Buda side of the river and spent an hour wandering around, before heading back over the bridge for dinner.
We opted for a restaurant near Basilica of St Stephen and tried the goulash served with Hungarian nokedli dumplings. The goulash was lovely but I wasn't sure about the dumplings.
After dinner we went out for a few more drinks and found a local bar to our Airbnb, with 1 Euro pints. Rob also tried the plum pálinka which is a fruit brandy and the alcohol content varies between between 37% and 86%...lets just say Rob got a bit giggly after one or two shots.
The following morning we walked over to the Great Market Hall for lunch (well that was the plan). On the ground floor there are loads of green grocers and stalls selling all types of delicious local products and on the upper storey there are stalls selling cooked traditional Hungarian food. Unfortunately, the upper storey was so busy we could barely walk and it was hard to even see what was on offer. People were barging and pushing to get through and it wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience. After about 15 minutes, we decided to cut our losses and left. I am a bit gutted that we didn't get to try some of the local food as it smelt and looked amazing. I would definitely recommend a visit to the Great Market Hall, even just to have a walk around and you can't leave without trying something to eat, so we got a apple strudel on the way out. It was a bit odd as it tasted like it had cottage cheese in it.
We continued to explore Budapest in the afternoon and stumbled across interesting things throughout the day. One thing we stumbled across which was really sad, was a Holocaust shrine and it really makes you take a minute to remember what happened all those years ago. I think seeing the child's shoes is what stuck in my mind.
During the entire three days in Budapest, we didn't use any form of public transport and walked everywhere. It is definitely the best way to see the real Budapest, as you see things which you would not see if you were on a tram or in a car.
It was our final night in Budapest, so how better than to spend it in a ruin bar.
And that was it, our time in Budapest had come to an end and the following morning we were off to Vienna.
I loved Budapest, the history, the atmosphere, the nightlife and the architecture. It was a perfect first stop on our trip and I would highly recommend it, especially if you are looking for somewhere to go in Europe for a long weekend.
Any regrets? Yes, I wish I went to the thermal baths, which is obviously one of the main attractions of Budapest, but we just ran out of time. If I went back, then this is something that I would like to do.
I would love to hear your views on Budapest. Did you like it as much as I did?