In case you hadn’t realised, I loved my trip to Budapest. The city really surprised me. I didn’t know what to expect at all as it was my first time visiting eastern Europe. I’d heard people raving about how amazing it is and then I’d heard people saying it was dirty and oppressive. After visiting and forming my own opinion, I am firmly in the ‘it’s amazing’ camp. The centre of the city is really clean and spacious. The main shopping area (Belvaros) could have been in any western city. Wide, pedestrianised streets, statues, all the major shop and hotel chains, clean, well looked after.
We stayed in Erzsebetvaros & the Jewish quarter (I’m not entirely sure where the boundaries for each are, but it was around there) and this was the perfect location. We were about a 10 minute walk from the Danube, 15 ish minutes from Heroes Square and city park and had the benefits of tasty yet cheap cuisine on our doorstep. In fact, all 3 nights we ate at restaurants on the same street in the Jewish quarter. I can imagine the Jewish quarter as being the area that tourists staying in Belvaros are advised to visit for cheap, tasty meals.
The main thing that surprised me was just how cheap Budapest is. Seriously! I think I spent about £100 in 3 or 4 days, without being tight! We got to the point where if a restaurant or cafe looked expensive, then it was probably about the same price as the UK. Our first meal was in a little Italian place opposite the synagogue called Pasta Bella Tesztabar. There was only about 6 tables. All were full, except one, and I believe it was mainly locals which is always a good sign! We each had a main course and a drink (wine & diet coke) and the whole bill came to about £12!!!! I couldn’t believe it! After our meal, I looked up the restaurant on Tripadvisor and it was rated something like number 50 of almost 2000 restaurants in Budapest. In fact, all 3 of the restaurants were in the top 100 on Tripadvisor.
One of the reasons that Budapest is so cheap, is that lots of the main tourist attractions are free. Fisherman’s Bastion, Heroes Square, Shoes on the Danube and St Stephen’s basilica are all gratis. And if you just want to see the royal palace, the synagogue, the parliament building and the Szechenyi Baths, then it won’t cost you a penny either. You can do tours and pay to go in these places, but we didn’t. Our biggest expense was food and cocktails (shock!!).
As I mentioned previously, we visited most of the major attractions in the city. We walked everywhere, which I love to do when visiting somewhere. We went down back streets, took wrong turns, walked round in circles a few times, but it was all part of the fun! It doesn’t help that Hungarian has no similarities to English or any other latin based language so everything was a guess! This was actually the first time in a long time that I’ve visited a country and not even known what hello was in their language. That’s appalling on my part! Even in Thailand I knew hello and thank you!
There were many things I loved about Budapest, but one of the main things was how seriously Hungarians take their cake! OMG!! Their cakes are amazing! I reckon they could give France a run for their money. My favourite cake and Hungarian speciality was Dobos torta. This is a layered chocolate and cream cake with a caramelised sugar top. Quite possibly the best cake I’ve ever eaten. I actually had it twice in two of the most renowned patisseries in Budapest. I was so pleased that I could say I’ve had traditional Hungarian food!
I plan on writing more detailed posts about everything that we saw/ did/ ate!
Budapest is such an amazing city with a very interesting past. If you’re into war history then there’s plenty to see and do. A perfect city break!
Have you been to Budapest? Where is your favourite city?