Last July, part of my overcoming fears journey, my friends and I decided to hit the roads again and travel to the Land of Healing Waters: Hungary.
To be honest, the country wasn’t on my Traveling Bucket List, yet I got carried away with the excitement of visiting a new place.
5 days and Budapest amazed me with its charm. Simple yet full of life… This city exceeded my expectations.
To help you/encourage you to visit this country, check out some of the things I discovered there…
1.Local Currency: Though Hungary is part of the European Union, the country has its own currency: the HUF (okay, that sounds funny but their currency is the Hungarian Forint).
Now let us make it hard on people who hate Mathematics: 1 USD amounts to 292 HUFs (Try buying a coffee cup without feeling like you paid a lot :P).
2.Spending Budget: If you are a young tourist wanting to benefit from the land’s sights yet on a budget, a day in Budapest would actually cost you around 100$. (25$ for the accommodation, split between 2, 8$ for the transportation, and the rest for entrance fees, food and gifts) – That being said, Budapest is very, very affordable!
3.When: Early Summer. (Last week of May is Optimal, not too crowded, not too cold).
View from Top of Buda Castle
4.Location to stay at: Budapest is actually the combination of two cities Buda and Pest. (Buda being the “Elitist”). Zoom your map to Pest, find a location near the Metro Station and Book it!
5.Ways to Commute: METRO. Easy, simple, and giving you access to all the main locations in the city. Besides that, Budapest Metro is not heavily populated like other European cities (Paris, Rome).
Tip: If you are traveling in a group (2 or more), buy the Group Ticket (24-Hour Group Travel Ticket)., it’s a saver especially if you are using it a lot.
You have to note that you can get to a good number of attraction sites by walking.
6.Top Places to Visit:
A- St Stephen’s Church: Though beautiful from outside, make the effort to go inside and don’t even think of missing the Tower. The church oversees Budapest and the view from up there is breathtaking!
Tip: Entering the tower requires an entrance fee, yet entering the church is free of charge.
B- The Hungarian Parliament: Not only the 3rd biggest parliament in all Europe, it is also majestic! Gothic style with a brown-reddish dome… Just beautiful!
C- Buda Castle: Located in Buda, on Castle Hill and overseeing Pest. The Chain Bridge (that one can pass by when commuting between Pest and Buda) is visible from up there.
Tip: Instead of walking all the way to the Castle (20 min of walk in the hot summer weather, take the TukTuk. It gets you close to the castle in a minute and grants you a good view and “new” commuting experience in the city.
D- Matthias Church: 15 minutes away from Buda Castle, this church is witnessed the coronation of several Hungarian Kings (Most famous being Franz Joseph). The tiles covering the church can’t be missed (As they are a Hungarian Specialty).
Tip: The Church is both a prayer place and a museum. Benefit by visiting both for a minimal fee.
E- Fisherman’s Bastion: Originally built to commemorate the memory of fishermen who maintained this part of the city (A fish market was located there instead of the bastion).
Good to know: It’s been said that Walt Disney got inspired from this place to build the actual Disney castles.
Tip: The place is so close to Matthias Church. Also, benefit from having a quick bite in the market nearby. (The sausages there are a must try!)
F- Margaret Island: It is a big park (an actual island). You can bike it all! (Such a cool experience)!
7.Food Items to try out:
A- Kurtoskalacs or Hungary’s famous Chimney Cakes. Yummy! Just heavenly and so worth the try (eat one every day – worth it and make sure to try the different combinations!).
A must try. Day and Night, those chimney cakes are amazing!
B- Goulash soup: not the best thing I’ve had yet famous in the Hungarian cuisine, so it is a must!
C- Sausages. Sausages. And even more sausages. Try them all!
D- Tarhonya: looks like couscous yet in fact its big pasta with meat/chicken stew next to it. (not bad at all).
5 days and I felt like I needed much more to discover plenty of things about this place. And even though I didn’t foresee it, Budapest turned out to be a hidden gem in the middle of Europe!
Advising you all to book a flight and visit this city full of life!