Budapest was one of the places I most wanted to visit during my time abroad, especially since it’s located so close to Prague. I wanted to go so badly that I decided I’d even travel there alone if I had to [see “Traveling (Riding) Solo” blog post for more on traveling alone]. So, a booking mishap and a bus delay later, I found myself alone in Budapest, ready to take on the city in 36 hours.
Budapest (Pronounced Boodah-pescht) is much bigger than I expected it to be. The Danube River divides the city into two parts, Buda and Pest. The Buda side is older-looking but also contains some of the prettiest parts of the city IMO, including Castle Hill. The Pest side is more modern and is where you’ll find more restaurants, shopping, and bars. (Note: The taxis will rip you off and the city doesn’t have Uber. I would either download the Taxify app or take public transportation to get around).
Overall, I thought it was a crazy fun and uniquely different city. 36 hours in Budapest definitely isn’t enough. But if 36 hours is all you’ve got, here are some highlights I recommend:
The Parliament Building
The Budapest Parliament building is probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. For just 10 euros, you can tour the interior of the building. If you don’t have time for the tour, it’s still worth it just to go see the building and maybe spend some time in its garden area.
Castle Hill is (as you could probably guess) a huge hill on the Buda side. Unfortunately, there is no castle on Castle Hill. Just a really cute area to walk around and get some dinner. While on Castle Hill, make sure to see Matthias Church (left) and Fisherman’s Bastion (right). They’re conveniently located right next to each other, so you can’t miss them. Fisherman’s Bastion is probably the closest thing to a castle on Castle Hill. It has a beautiful lookout point from which you can see great views of the Danube River and the Pest side of the city.
Great (Central) Market Hall
The Central Market Hall is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. Here, you can buy fresh produce, fish, paprika (A Hungarian specialty–they put it in everything), and lots of souvenirs. It’s a cool place to go if you want to mingle with locals or shop a little. It can get pretty crowded though, so I suggest visiting at a less popular time of day/week.
These abandoned post-war buildings (ruins) have been turned into some of the coolest bars in the city. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to a Ruin Bar this trip since going out alone wasn’t very appealing at the time. But these bars are at the top of my list next time I visit Budapest. If you go to a Ruin Bar and you’re feeling adventurous, order a famous Hungarian Pálinka shot, which can have an alcohol content up to 86%.
Budapest is famous for these natural hot spring thermal baths. There are several of them all over the city to choose from, but the most popular are the Szechenyi Baths. I can liken the experience to basically a beautiful, heated, public pool. You can also get massages and other spa treatments at the baths. Definitely worth the visit!
I loved my time in Budapest, and I’m so glad I was able to see it while abroad. I plan to go back someday, but maybe this time for longer than 36 hours and with some company 🙂