A cheap city break, that was all Sam and I were looking for when browsing for our summer holiday on a rainy Sunday in January and Budapest gave us exactly that. Last year we visited the city of love, food and shopping; Paris, but being the broke students we were, we budgeted each day and cooked meals in our Airbnb apartment. Although it was expensive we still has a wonderful time, check out the Paris photo diary here. Budapest had to offer everything a student traveler needs, cheap food, cheap alcohol and reasonably priced accommodation.
Our Airbnb was located in Pest a few minute’s walk from Rákóczi tér metro stop, which was slightly further away from the river than we had thought but getting around was simple as the city only has 4 metro lines and travel cards for students are available for HUF 3 450, which is less that £10 for a month’s travel for trams, buses, metros and trains. Even if you are not in the city for very long, this option is cheaper than buying an adult ticket for one week. 5 night’s stay in our one bedroom fully equipped apartment cost approximately £150 for us both, and flights were booked a few months in advance with air miles.
So here is a roundup of what we got up to during our five days exploring Budapest…
MONDAY 26th JUNE 2017
Heroes Square, Budapest Zoo & St Stephen’s Basilica
We visited Heroes Square, one of Budapest’s major squares and even without knowing much about Hungary’s history and leaders the statues are something you should see. The square is located at the entrance to the city’s park and although we only wandered around the park’s perimeter it looked beautiful, with a lake to relax next by.
Just a few minute’s walk from the park is where Budapest Zoo is located. We spent a few hours wondering round looking at the different animals that they look after. Tickets were HUF 1 500 (£4.30 approx.) and there was plenty to see, including polar bears, seals and penguins which kept Sam and I entertained. I also really loved the butterfly house as you could wander along the path inside and let the insects land around you, making it the perfect opportunity to take photos.
We still had some time left in the day so after a late lunch, we got the yellow line metro a few stops down towards Opera for a little wonder. When walking through the streets behind The Opera we stumbled across St. Stephen’s Basilica, a catholic church named to honour the first king of Hungary. It didn’t interest us to see the inside but I believe you are only expected to leave a small donation rather than paying admission.
TUESDAY 27th JUNE 2017
Buda Castle, Great Synagogue, Margaret Island
This was our first time across the river in Buda, where there are some incredible views of the Pest skyline and Parliament building. St. Stephen’s Basilica can also be seen in the distance, peeking through a gap in the buildings. We headed up towards Fisherman’s Bastion and walked along to Buda Castle to have a look around.
We then headed back down and across to Pest, where we happened to stumble across the main shopping street in Budapest. The area was very touristy and the shops were the same as at home so we didn’t spend too long here before heading somewhere new.
The Jewish District wasn’t too far from where we stayed so we decided to walk to the Synagogue, even though we used Google maps we still managed to go the wrong way, eventually we found it tucked a few streets back from the main road. As the Synagogue was undergoing some repairs, scaffolding surrounded the building, meaning we couldn’t get too close.
Lastly, to end our most hectic day of exploring we took the tram up to Margaret Island and watched the fountain display. As we had done so much walking we weren’t too fussed about seeing much of the island but I believe it’s a good place to rent bikes and cycle round.
WEDNESDAY 28th JUNE 2017
Gellert Bath and Spa
After a busy day seeing the cities sights, we decided to visit one of Budapest’s natural spa’s. We chose Gellert Bath and Spa, back over on the Buda side of the river. Admission was HUF 5 500 (£16 approx.) which gave us access to the large outdoor pool, adventure pool, sauna, plunge pools, and the Gellert Palace Spa pool. The one thing we were unaware of when purchasing our tickets on the door was that we would be unable to use the indoor Palace Spa Pool without wearing hair caps which were rather pricey once inside the building, meaning that we did not get to use this pool. For anyone planning on a visit, I would suggest taking one with you, or purchasing before arrival, as this was a bit disappointing because we had picked Gellert Baths over the other popular Szechenyi baths due to the aesthetic of the inside spa features.
Neither Sam or myself took a camera into the spa, but we did get a little bit of GoPro footage that will hopefully be edited soon if I get myself organised.
THURSDAY 29th JUNE 2017
Parliament and House of Terror.
Being our last full day in the city, we decided to go back to Parliament as we had only seen the building from a distance and wanted to see the grounds closer up. The building is beautiful; it really puts Westminster to shame. We spent a little more time wondering around the area looking for somewhere to eat and there was plenty for us to choose from. I will be writing a post all about the places we ate and drank while in Budapest, so look out for that coming soon.
In the afternoon we visited Budapest’s House of Terror, somewhere we had been recommended by a few people. I won’t spoil it for anyone that plans to visit, but it’s a museum dedicated to exposing the awful things Nazi’s and Soviet Communists did, and to remember those who suffered under Hungary’s reign of terror. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of history knowledge, the House of Terror was one of the most captivating museums I’ve ever experienced. Also as an EU citizen (taking advantage while we still can) our tickets only cost HUF 800 (£2.50 approx.) and we spent around 2 hours inside the exhibition.
FRIDAY 30th JUNE 2017
Back to London
Starting our day of travelling home, we fuelled up on breakfast in one of our favourite places to eat in the city, then headed central to watch the Red Bull Air Race that had been taking place during the week we were there. Not long after we took the metro and a bus to the airport to catch our flight back to London Heathrow. I was sad that our adventure had come to an end, but we had spent just the right amount of time in the city to do everything we had planned too.
I recommend Budapest to anyone looking for a European getaway on a budget, as the prices are amazing, the city is beautiful and its can be explored over a long weekend or few nights stay.
There will be another Budapest blog post coming soon, all about the places we ate and drank over the week! To keep up to date you can find me on:
Have any of you been to Budapest before? What did you think of it?
Thanks for reading,
The full collection of photographs are available to view on my portfolio.