Budapest is often called the “Pearl of the Danube”, and it truly is a stunningly beautiful place. This city is full of diversity, and so is its history having conquered by many empires. The architecture style ranges from Roman amphitheaters and Gothic-styled cathedrals to traditional Turkish baths and Baroque style buildings.
On top of that, Budapest is one of the most budget friendly European cities, making it a very popular travel destinations Here are the 10 reasons why you must visit Budapest.
The official currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF) in Hungary. 1000 Forint = 3.2 euro.
#1 Ridiculously good (and cheap) Hungarian Food & Wines
Hungary is famous for its cuisine and Budapest is a great foodie destination. We stuffed ourselves silly with street food, restaurant food, desserts and even Michelin star rated fine dining meal.
Budapest is also the cheapest destination in Europe to buy alcoholic drinks, according to new research by the Post Office. A pint of beer costs around 400-600 HUF (<2 euro), while a set meal in Mcdonalds costs about 1200 HUF (< 4 euro).
The Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall (Hungarian “Nagyvásárcsarnok”) is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, Hungary.
Some of the must-try Hungarian dishes include Halászlé (Fisherman’s soup), Gulyás (Goulash soup), Töltött káposzta (Stuffed cabbage), Sült kolbász (Fried sausage), Lángos (fried bread), and so much more can be found here. Remember to get some paprika powder and tokaji sweet wines as souvenirs.
Boys Gastrobar at the Jewish Quarter near our hotel is so famous for their cheap eats – a special soup-and-sandwich combinations, made of carefully selected ingredients. DO expect long queues when you are here, but the queue is worth it. Our French Lady sandwich was so so so good!
Cafe Ruszwurm is one of the oldest traditional cafes & confectioner’s in Budapest. It’s only a 2 minute walk from Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Their signature cakes – the Ruszwurm cream cake and the Dobos Torta are really good.
There are four Michelin starred restaurants in Budapest and we managed to dine in one – Borkonyha Wine Bar. It is located near St Stephen’s Basilica. We love their selection of 200 types of mostly Hungarian wines, and trust me when I say that Hungarian wines are super underrated.
A meal for two with wines costs us about 19000 Hungarian Forint/Euro 60.
#2 Efficient Public Transport with Old Fashioned Charm
Do you know that Budapest has the oldest underground transportation line in continental Europe? Budapest travel cards are very reasonably priced too, starting from HUF 1650 for a 24 hours pass.
Trams and buses are abundant and convenient for travel within Budapest.
If you are lucky, you might be able to travel by nostalgic 100 year old trams in Budapest.
#3 Szechenyi Bridge
We were staying at the Pest side, so every morning we would take a walk along the Szechenyi Bridge to get to the Buda side. The Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone-bridge connecting Pest and Buda, and only the second permanent crossing on the whole length of the river Danube.
I have never seen any city look so gorgeous at night. The bridge is light up at night, and it is such a beautiful sight!
#4 The Romantic Danube River
Framed by rolling hillsides, lush vineyards, and medieval castles, the Danube River has captivated musicians, artists and poets throughout the centuries.
We had so much of romantic moments here, that we will remember and keep in our hearts for a very long time.
We also enjoyed the sunset by the river in the evening.
However, there were some sad stories relating to this beautiful river. The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial to honor the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.
#5 Castle District
Budapest can be divided as Buda (hilly side with Buda Castle, Matthias Church or the postcard city) and Pest (flat side or the real city with character) clearly demarcated by the Danube River. The Castle Hill Funicular or Sikló in Budapest takes visitors from Chain Bridge to Castle Hill, offering great panoramic views.
Budapest’s Castle District is packed with historic sights and attractions (the Royal Palace, the Matthias Church, medieval houses), interesting museums, charming, crooked streets following the shape of the hill, as well as some good cafés and restaurants.
Besides the monuments, you get a breathtaking panorama of the Danube with the Chain Bridge and the Pest side of the city on the opposite side of the river.
The Fisherman’s Bastian is a look out terrace.
It has seven turrets, one for each of the Hungarian tribes.
The beautifull Matthias church has its name comes from the fact that the popular King Matthias held both of his weddings here.
During the Turk’s ruling, the Turks subsequently turned the Matthias Church into a mosque. Hence, we can see a little bit of Turks influences here and there.
The original Royal Palace was also destroyed and rebuilt many times, just like the Matthias Church.
One can easily spend one whole afternoon here. The Castle District is a huge area!
#6 Hunting Down the Dracula
The Labyrinth is situated in the complex of caves and cellars beneath Castle Hill.
It was said that in the 15th century the Labyrinth gave home to a prison and it’s most famous prisoner was Vlad Tepes, better known as Count Dracula, held in captivity by Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus.
Dating back to the medieval times, the Budapest Vajdahunyad Castle was built over a 100 years ago for the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian State. There were many tales of Draculas and one most the most reasonable explation is Dracula’s character was most probably inspired by Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century Transylvanian prince, also known as Vlad III Dracul of Wallachia, who was imprisoned by John Hunyadi in Vajdahunyad Castle for years. Besides keeping him behind bars, John Hunyadi was also said to have killed his father, Vlad II Dracul.
Eerie tales aside, Vajdahunyad Castle is full of histories. The anonymous statue is there because historians believe that it was he who recorded the early chapters of the history of the Hungarians (Magyars) in his work called Gesta Hungarorum.
#7 The Magnificent Hungarian Parliament
The Parliament building, a magnificent example of Neo-Gothic architecture (although displaying Renaissance and Baroque characters too), is just over 100 years old. It is also the world’s third largest Parliament building.
Guided tours of the Parliament are available when the National Assembly is not in session. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and is well worth the price, as it covers the main entrance stairs and hall, one of the lobbies, the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels.
We booked the tour in advance as limited entries are allowed each day. It was an amazing experience looking at the real crown jewel, that was lost and stolen a few times.
#8 Visit the World’s Most Beautiful Mcdonald’s and Cafe
The most beautiful McDonalds in Europe is located in the Nyugati railway station, that shares the same architect as Eiffel Tower It is an old railway building. If you are in Budapest, I recommend to have a stop there – even I personally don’t like fast-food.
The 121 year old New York Café is in everyone’s itinerary when in Budapest. In 2011, for example, it was chosen to be the world’s most beautiful coffee house. We were so impressed by its stunning interiors.
Our order of cottage cheese with apricot jam ice cream was really delicious.
#9 Thermal Spa in the City
Hungary is said to have more than 1,000 hot springs thanks to super-thin earth crust. Hence a visit to Budapest is not complete without a visit to one of its many marvelous bath houses. Szechenyi Baths (built in 1913) is the most visited because it is also one of the most beautiful baths in Budapest.
It was such an enjoyable experience talking to the locals (mostly old folks), while soaking in the atomosphere of the the neo-baroque masterpiece.
We preferred the outdoor pool where temperature can reach about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
#10 Discover the Jewish Quarter
Budapest’s seventh district, once home to a flourishing Jewish community before World War II but which languished for decades after, has emerged as one of the hipster area with awesome night life.
The second largest synagogue of the world is also found here. The Dohány Street Synagogue (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) was built in 1859 in Moorish Revival Style. It seats 3000. This complex is not only a place of worship, but also hosts the Hungarian Jewish Museum.
Ruin bars are all the rage in Budapest, Hungry. Szimpla is one of the more famous and prominent one. We were quite in awe looking at how they turned an abandoned building into such a hip place.
Every Sunday morning, Simzpla is turned into a farmer’s market, featuring various local produce and artisan food.
Even cafes are aplenty here. It was great to stay in this neighbourhood as I got my dosage of good quality caffeine every morning.
We were staying at the Roombach Hotel Budapest Centre for 3 nights. The hotel is within walking distance to Deák Ferenc Tér, one of the main transportation hub in the city. It is also within walking distance to most of the main sights, which we really love. There are many pubs, cafes and restaurant within the hotels too.
Our hotel room is decent in size, clean and very modern looking. Couldn’t be more happy for the price (RM 300 per night).
The complimentary breakfast might not have the best selection, but the fresh fruit from the current season and good quality cold cuts make up for it.
We found this hotel from HotelsCombined. It is a site that compares the best hotel reservation sites to find the cheapest accommodation deals on 2795 hotels in Budapest, Hungary. We booked our hotel quite last minute but fortunately we were still able to secure a great deal.