After our crazy adventures in Dublin, my roommates and I knew that Budapest would have to be a more relaxed affair. After (finally) getting a great night of sleep, we headed out to experience Budapest’s famous thermal baths. We decided on the Széchenyi Bath, which is the largest medicinal bath in the city. Floating around in the hot water and soaking in some sun was just the afternoon I had in mind. Note: this experience made me miss the beach and the summer terribly.
Perhaps the most interesting stop in Budapest was to The House of Terror, a museum dedicated to victims who were imprisoned, tortured, and killed in the building during the Fascist and Communist regimes. The experience was both educational and incredibly moving. Hungary has a brutal history, which is not often talked about in the U.S. in comparison to that of other countries. The tour of the prisons within the House of Terror was particularly disturbing. This museum is fascinating, but it deals with a heavy subject, and I would certainly not recommend it for young children.
As for other tourist attractions, we climbed to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica late one afternoon to take some fabulous pictures of the city. The inside of the church is beautiful as well- what struck me the most was the sheer size. We walked by the Basilica a few different times, so I was able to get pictures by day and night!
A walk along the Danube River to see the Parliament was also in order before dinner. The Parliament is a spectacular building, probably the most beautiful building I saw in Budapest. Unfortunately we were on the same side of the river as the Parliament, which isn’t the best place to be for photography purposes.
A few more remarks on Budapest:
- The Ruinpubs are a must-see, the heart and soul of Budapest’s nightlife. These are bars located in abandoned buildings that have not been renovated. Rather, they are decorated with all sorts of old toys, electronics, and graffiti. The most popular one (and the only one I went to) is called Szimpla Kert. I can say that it was, hands down, the coolest bar I have ever been to. Also, super cheap drinks!
- I was very impressed with the food in Budapest. It is easy to eat ridiculously well for a cheap price. I had goulash at two different places, and both were very good. On both nights I ate out, the waiters were extremely kind and accommodating. Sadly, I was so excited about all the food that I failed to take even a single picture.
- This city is NOT expensive, especially having grown up in D.C. and currently living in Paris. Time and time again I was blown away by how little I was paying for high-class dining, the metro, drinks at bars, and pretty much anything else.
All in all, Budapest was a great stop. It isn’t one of those gorgeous cities where you wander around and all the streets look like they’re out of a fairytale, but there are some interesting attractions and plenty of stunning places to see within the city. It is definitely a place with a great deal of history and lots of character. Two days is a short time to see any city, so here’s hoping one day I’ll return to Budapest and experience even more of its charm!