On my recent tour though Europe, I was lucky to spend 48 hours exploring the city of Budapest, Hungary. One of the reasons why I picked this tour was because it started in Budapest, and the idea of spending a couple of days in the city excited me to no end.
Budapest: a city of gorgeous architecture, endless monuments and those thermal baths. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I left a piece of my heart in the city, and I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to spend 48 glorious hours in the city exploring. While I think you could easily spend a full week in Budapest since there are so many hidden gems, we only had a limited amount of time so we had to make the most of it, and while there were a few things that we didn’t get to, I’m pretty happy with what I was able to achieve in such a short amount of time.
While everything I’m about to describe took place over 2 days, you can see from this map just how close everything is, and believe me when I say it is walkable, though you should definitely use the public transport systems where and when you can to save both time and your feet.
Castle Buda, located on Castle Hill, is a great starting point for your explorations of Budapest since from here you can just work your way down. The castle was first completed in 1265, but the remains that stand today were built in the 1700s. The castle is now home to two major Hungarian museums. I didn’t visit the museums and instead just explored the outisde grounds.
I recommend taking the tram to the top just for the views.
Fisherman’s Bastion is also located on Castle Hill and you can just walk over once you’ve finished exploring the castle. Just follow the flags. Fisherman’s Bastion was originally built between 1895 and 1902 amd looks older than it really is, and had to be repaired following World War II.
During our exploration of the Bastion we randomly found a sign mysteriously lablelled ‘Labyrinth’ with an arrow pointed down a lane way. We figured this seemed perfectly safe and reasonable so we followed the sign to a big black door that took us 16 meters underground. What followed was an hour of running around underground caverns, fumbling in the dark and sporadically happening across extravagant wax figure opera scenes. It was a blast!
This was such a somber memorial, and gains a whole deeper meaning once you’ve learnt a little bit about the event at the House of Terror.
This monument marks the place where 3,500 victims, 800 of which were Jews, were lined up along the bank of the Danube River, ordered to take their shoes off, and shot into the river between 1944 and 1945 by the Arrow Cross Militia, the Hungarian Nazis.
While I took photos of the shoes, I didn’t feel comfortable taking a smiling selfie with them like many of the other people visiting the site.
Prior to 1920, St Stephen’s Basillica was the sixth largeth church buildingin Hungary. The church is actually equal in height to the Hungarian Parliamemt building, standing at 96 meters tall. This was done to symbolise the equality of importance between church and state.
It will cost you a small donation to enter the main church so you can admire the inferior architecture, and a couple more Euro to walk up the spire for some (I assume) wicked views of the city.
While you’re in the area keep an eye out for the gellato shop that models flowers out of gellato.
This is the major square in Budapest and features statues of the seven chieftains of the Magyars and other Hungarian leaders. The Millennium Monument in the centre of the square was created to commemorate the 1000-year-old history of the Magyar’s. The statues you can seen in the above photograph are some of the chieftains who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary. There’s not much to do here except take photos, but it’s cool to see nevertheless.
These are arguably the most iconic thermal baths in the world and everyone wants that Instagram- worthy, people-free photo. Sorry to say, but that’s almost impossible.
As you entre the baths you will have to purchase a day pass with either a locker or cabin. Once you have changed you can explore the labyrinth of rooms with baths of all temperatures ranging from freezing cold to uncomfortably warm. There are also a number of saunas and steam rooms sprinkled throughout the complex. You have to walk through all of these baths to get to the large outdoor bath. Outside there are actually three pools: one large lap pool in the centre that you have to wear a swimming cap to get into, and on each end a semi-circular pool. The pool on the left side is warmer a d has a giant fountain while the pool on the left has a whirlpool in the centre.
The pools cost about 6 Euros and you can rent towels and flipflops, and book beauty treatments.
Just to be completely honest with you about my experience here, I thought the outdoor pool was okay, but the indoor pools were murkey or sometimes even greenish. I did not get in these pools because #gross .
This was one of the highlights of my trip. The Parliamemt House, Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle looked absolutely amazing lit up against the night sky. While my meal was not the best (gluten free sucks) the appetizers and included wine was great. The only thing is if you want a good photo of the Parliamemt House you have to be quick since the boat won’t stop.
The main feature of ghis island is the magic water fountain. It lights up, ‘dances’ to the music and uses holographs. You can access the island via a bridge.
This museum allows visitors to explore the fascist and communist regimes that existed in Hungary in the 20th Century. The museum contains some great exhibitions, but be prepared for A LOT of reading, as in, one full A4 page per room.
I have no photographs of this amazing but tragic place as photographs are not allowed.
This final one is not a destination but rather an experience. There are so many statues, parks and memorials throughout the city, you almost discover a new one around every corner. I had such a great time just waking and exploring hole-in-the-wall museums and chilling out in the many parks.
I only had 48 hours in the city, so I’m sure there are heaps of things I missed. What would you do if you had 48 hours in Budapest?