Budapest give you a very different experience to the western part of Europe. There is a rough unpolished beauty about Budapest, one that you don’t experience in nearby places like Vienna where the buildings are white, clean, and pretty.
KnowIt: Budapest is divided into two parts: Buda & Pest = Budapest
8 am – Pálinkás jó reggelt!
Start the morning with a hearty breakfast and a palinka (Hungarian alcoholic shot), and greet your fellow travelers with the traditional greeting “Pálinkás jó reggelt!”, which means “Good morning with Pálinkás!”
Budapest is a beautiful city to see from afar, so you will get the best views from the top of the hill of Buda.
9 am – Start the day on top.
Take the castle bus up to the Fisherman’s Bastion. An amazing panoramic view over the city and Donau river. You’ll also see the best side of the majestic Parliament building, which is a lot nicer from a distance than up close.
11 am – Chain Bridge and Oldest Cafe In Town
Walk over the famous Chain bridge and take some nice photos. Have lunch or a coffee break at one of the oldest cafes in town, Cafe Gerbeaud. It’s a cafe with a long history dating back to 1858, and is known for its huge variety of cakes and sweets. It’s quite a touristy place, so finding cafes is not a problem in Budapest, there is a cafe around every street corner!
1 pm – Shop at the Market
Soak up the food culture and buy some of the traditional handicrafts in the Central Market Hall. Don’t forget to buy some of their beloved Paprika spice that they happily cover ALL food with.
2 pm – People & History
A visit to the Holocaust Memorial Center would be interesting even for those who don’t like museums. It’s a very strong, moving experience, and you really get an insight in the history of Budapest and an understanding of why the city looks and feels the way it does. See the pain and suffering the people have gone through.
Being here and then going back to town and see all the old houses with bulletholes all over is tough, especially if you’re staying in one of the hostels (where we stayed) in the old Jewish Quarter, which used to be the old Jewish Ghetto the Nazi’s created during world war2.
4 pm – Shop Vintage
Walk along the streets, there are many vintage and second hand shop with some really interesting stuff.
5 pm – Luxury Latte
Have another coffee and cake – this time make sure it is at the New York Cafe, probably the most beautiful cafe in Europe. A visit to this luxurious cafe is a true experience in itself. The cafe is covered with gold decorations and details everywhere – be aware: it’s VERY expensive – but such an amazing thing to see!
The cafe dates back to 1894 and used to be very popular among the rich writers, poets and journalists who belonged to the upper-class folk of Hungary.
6 pm – Pleasures Of Life
Take a dip and play some chess in the Hungarian thermal pools. Many to choose between, but can get really crowded. Széchenyi is a beautiful thermal bath, and also one of the biggest in Europe.
There are 15 different pools for swimming, massaging or just relaxing playing a game in chess, including all-year outdoor pools which is really nice to relax in when the weather is a bit chilly.
The building is of a Neo-baroque style and was built in 1913, so not only will you enjoy soaking in the sun but also get a chance to soak up some history.
9 pm – Dinner Time
There are so many restaurants to choose between, and the famous award winning Gunde right by the Heroes Square might be a bit pricey for the normal backpacker. If you can afford it however, it’s worth a visit. In 1913, Károly Gundel decided to open a family-type restaurant in the same neighborhood for the visitors of the Budapest Zoo. Only women cook and serve the dishes, it might sound a bit sexist but it sure is different.
For more budget options, check out this site for a list of great budget restaurants.
If you have a spare day
A great thing to do is to join a free guide tour around the city.
The Free Budapest Walking Tour starts at 10.30 am and goes on for about 3 hours, and the guides are local students looking to get some extra cash (they get payed by tip). The goal of this walking tour is to discover and experience Budapest through the eyes of the insiders, to bring to life streets, bridges and statues.
Visit triptobudapest for more info.