This was the day we saw most of the city and when I well and truly fell head over heels for the place. We started early and had a route mapped out. We walked down to the Danube and crossed over the Elisabeth Bridge. The Elisabeth Bridge is the third newest bridge over the Danube river, connecting Buda and Pest. It’s actually built over the narrowest part of the river and is named after Elisabeth of Bavaria. On the Pest side is the oldest inner city church in Budapest and on the Buda side in Gellert hill with Gellert monument. We walked up to the Gellert monument and admired the view. Then we headed on over towards Buda castle.
The castle district or Castle Hill is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Budapest. It contains a lot of history and many of the cities important museums and buildings. The castle district is also UNESCO world heritage listed. The walled area consists of the old town and the royal palace. Within this area there are many things to see such as Fisherman’s Bastion, St Matthias church, Budapest History Museum and Hospital in the Rock as well as the castle itself.
We started by exploring the palace grounds. There’s some fantastic vantage points all around this area of the city. The walls to the front of the palace overlook the Danube, whilst the area behind the palace overlooks Obuda, the oldest part of of Buda.
The palace complex itself is at least 600 years old, but the palace has been rebuilt several times. Bela IV first built a royal residence in the 13th century and this has been added to over the years. It was destroyed in 1686 by the Turks and then was rebuilt by the Habsburgs. Today, inside the palace is the Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum and National Szechenyi Library. We didn’t venture inside as we felt all arted out after Italy.
Once we’d admired the view, we headed over towards St Matthias church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Between the two sites is the funicular which takes you up the hill from the chain bridge to the palace. I was incredibly excited by this and insisted we caught it down. I loved it! It cost about £3 and lasts about 5 minutes but it was just fun! It’s probably better to catch it up the hill! Try and get in the front carriage so you get the best views!
Fisherman’s bastion was one of the sights that I was most determined to see in Budapest due to the incredible views of the river! It certainly didn’t disappoint! It was originally built as a viewing platform in 1905 and it’s name was taken from the medieval guild of fisherman that were responsible for protecting this area of the castle wall. It has seven turrets which represent the Magyar tribes that founded the city in the late 9th century. In my opinion, it was one of my favourite places in Budapest simply for the stunning views. I love a good view and photo opportunity and Fisherman’s Bastion certainly provides that.
After we visited Fisherman’s Bastion, we decided to sample traditional Hungarian food…. cake! There’s an amazing cake shop near by called Ruszwurm Cukraszda. It gets very busy and is very touristy but the cakes are good and it’s traditional. This was where I tried my first piece of dobos cake. Beautiful!! Definitely worth a visit. We then headed towards the Hospital in the Rock but didn’t stay. They only do tours every hour and it was like 45 minutes until the next one.
The view from the city walls over Obuda is stunning. I could totally see why Budapest is nicknamed the Paris of the east!
We headed back to the funicular and went down the hill towards the Szechenyi Chain Bridge. This bridge is the oldest one and opened in 1849. Although it was designed by Szechenyi, it was built by a Scotsman! Check out the lion statues at either side! We walked across the bridge and took many photos, then headed up the river banks towards the parliament building. Along this stretch is the Shoes on the Danube war memorial. It is to remember the Hungarian Jews that were shot and then thrown into the river by the Arrow Party in 1944. The memorial is 60 pairs of shoes and boots left higgledy piggledy by the side of the river. People had left candles and other tributes amongst some of the statues. Budapest has MANY statues around the city but I found this one to be the most poignant. It was quite quiet and calming, considering it’s right next to a busy road.
Opposite the shoes, stands the parliament building, the biggest building in Hungary. It’s an epic building! To get the best view of it, you really need to go on a river cruise, which we didn’t! It’s truly impressive to see! The are around parliament and heading south is really nice. I got the impression it had had money spent on it over the last few years to clean it up. The whole city is beautiful but I just felt that parliament area and Belvaros were very European and could have been in several cities eg Paris, London etc. The streets are wide and clean, quite modern but with old buildings. It’s a lovely area of the city but hasn’t got the same grit as the Jewish quarter has.
Once we’d seen Parliament, we’d seen most of the things we had planned to that day. We pottered about the city a bit more, heading up towards our hotel.
For dinner, we went to a traditional Hungarian restaurant on the street next to our hotel. I can’t remember what it was called but it seemed popular with locals and had entertainment on each night. I had steak and chips for about £10 and my friend had goulash for about £6! We checked on Trip Advisor and it was something like number 80 out of 1200 restaurants! The Jewish Quarter and Erszebetvaros definitely has an amazing selection of restuarants and bars that are really cheap.