Budapest, Hungary is the first Eastern European city I’ve explored, and it ignited a beautiful love affair with this region. The city was small enough so as not to overwhelm you, while still offering a multitude of things to do in and around the city. I wasn’t aware prior to my trip, but Budapest is actually the combination of two formerly separate cities: Buda and Pest. For first time visitors, I suggest planning your days around what you can see and do on each side.
There are several spots you’ll want to be sure to visit on your first trip to Budapest. Check out my part I of my top 20 list below for some ideas on where to start!
Hands down one of the best lookout points over the city. Located on the “Buda” side, in Castle Hill, you absolutely cannot miss this spot. I suggest going first thing in the morning and having the entire area to yourself. With seven different towers, you’ll want to admire the city from every vantage point.
After enjoying the early morning views from Fisherman’s Bastion, hang around for the opening of Matthias Church. If you have to wait, stroll through the charming neighborhood for colorful homes and cobblestone streets until the opening of the doors. Too often I take for granted beautiful churches and fail to read the history behind each of them. The beauty of these churches is only heightened by their history. Thankfully, my brother and sister-in-law are both so great about taking time to stop and learn about a place. The history behind Matthias church is impressive and only amplifies your experience. You can read more about it here.
Ride the Funicular to the top of Castle Hill right to Buda Castle We arrived at the top just as the sun was setting over the Danube. It’s another perfect outlook of the city.
If you have time, walk along the Buda Castle grounds. We looked around, but didn’t have the time to go inside Buda Castle. I guess we had to leave something for next visit, right?
Remember how I mentioned wandering the streets on the Buda side of the city? If you do, keep an eye out for Dracula’s Lair. Say what!? The Labryinth of Buda castle once held Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) as a prisoner. The tour operations weren’t open yet so we didn’t actually go down into the lair, but it was creepy enough from the outside. I read later on, you get to go down into the dungeon where he was held with only an old lantern to guide your way.
The views from Castle Hill is really how I fell in love with Budapest. This city, these views, are incredible and unforgettable. I think I could have spent my whole trip here. Don’t miss exploring and admiring this area.
Between the Buda side and Pest side lies the impressive Danube river. A trip to Budapest would not be complete without taking in the views from the water, too. Sure, you could spend a pretty penny for an overpriced tourist trap dinner cruise OR you could simply pay 2 euros to enjoy the views from a comfy seat on a water taxi! We hopped on the water taxi after exploring Margaret Island and had the best views of the city on the cheap.
If you’re making your way from one side to the other, you’ll have to cross one of the eight bridges that connect the two. If you have to choose, head toward the Chain Bridge and enjoy the ornate details carved directly into the bridge.
On our second day in Budapest we headed over to Margaret Island. The island is a quaint area with parks, trails, and fountains. We rented a three-person pedal cart and wheeled our way around the island. If you need a break from the hustle-bustle of the city, this is the place to escape.
I had a hard time finding the shoes. It ended up being that I didn’t walk far enough down the Danube to see them along the water. According to Visit Budapest, it’s a memorial honoring the victims killed by fascist Arrow Cross Militiamen in Budapest during World War II.
Curious to know what the next 10 are?! Stay tuned because next week we dive into the Pest sights you can’t miss!