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Dreaming Of Travel: Budapest – A City In Pictures (And A Few Words)

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I don’t usually write about the many places I’m fortunate enough to visit because destination reviews aren’t really my forte and there are just too many tastes to cater to. However, as most of us still can’t travel internationally and as it’s nice to be able to dream of visiting great places (and briefly forget about what’s going on around us), I thought I’d resurrect some pictures of a trip I took to Budapest and shine a light on a city that really surprised me.

Why Budapest?

The idea to visit Budapest actually came from MJ (my teenager) who’s really getting into her stride as a traveler. She keeps a wall map of all the places in the world she has seen and a list of places in the world she’d like to visit, so when it came to picking somewhere for us both to visit during the school vacations, I had quite a bit to work with.

There were a few European destinations on MJ’s list that I could choose from, but Budapest stood out because it wasn’t somewhere that I’d ever really considered visiting. It’s not that I ever considered Budapest as a destination and then dismissed it – it’s just a place that’s never come to mind when I’ve been planning my trips.

I did a few Google searches for things to do in Budapest, I bought a guidebook to see what the city has to offer and after a little bit of research, decided that Budapest could be a fun place to check out. I was right.

Images Of Budapest

Budapest is a city divided into two parts by the river Danube and it’s these parts that give the city its name – Buda (to the west) and Pest (to the east).

Budapest is a very easy city to get around – partly because it isn’t actually all that big, partly because there are easy-to-use cheap transport options like the subway, buses, and trams…

….and partly because most of the signs are in Hungarian and English.

Hungary’s more recent history hasn’t really been what you would call peaceful so, between the uneasy liaison with Austria (1867-1918), the 1st World War, the 2nd World War, and the subsequent Soviet domination up until 1989, Budapest has seen a lot of turmoil. Somehow, however, it has emerged from that turmoil as a very beautiful city.

From the old palace on the Buda side of the Danube…

…the Matthias Church in the castle district…

…to the Hungarian Parliament in Pest…

…there’s old history all around.

The city’s more modern history isn’t lost either.

Budapest is home to the world’s 2nd largest synagogue which sat inside the ghetto created by the Nazis in WWII – the consequences of the occupation were predictably tragic.

Newer still is the somewhat surprising memorial to the soviet forces who “liberated” Budapest from German occupation.

Considering what the Soviet Union put Hungary through for almost half of the 20th century, it’s surprising to see this still standing.

Almost everywhere you look in Budapest there’s something beautiful or interesting to take in, from architecture…

…to striking bridges…

…to random works of art on the sidewalks.

The city is home to numerous churches (as you may expect in this part of the world)…

…and the main basilica is worth visiting if only to see the amazing artwork inside.

If you’re prepared to do a bit of walking (or if you take a tour) you’ll get some great views of the city from the elevated, Buda side of the Danube…

…and when you’re tired of exploring the history and architecture of the city, there’s always the markets…

…the cafe culture…

…and great local food to enjoy.

Finally, I have to mention Budapest at night because from the right vantage point (e.g. the 9th-floor lounge at the Budapest Marriott Hotel), the city looks stunning when it’s lit up.

When the sun goes down and the lights start coming on, the buildings that looked impressive and majestic during the day can look truly spectacular.

Bottom Line

We spent just three nights in Budapest and could probably have done with a few more because there’s quite a bit to see (especially if you want to take in the museums and do a few tours). But whether you go for a few nights or a week, Budapest is a city with an incredible amount to offer and even though it isn’t a cheap destination to visit (unlike a few of the other more easterly European cities), it’s a city that I can highly recommend.

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  1. Great report Ziggy. People must visit one of the baths. So worthwhile. I also recommend visiting the Shoes on the Danube which commemorates the slaughter of Jews by the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Nazis) in WWII.

  2. Wonderful city. The tourism infrastructure is extremely well developed. Good food, lovely architecture, plentiful history, and a superb hop on/hop off bus system. Very safe as well. I particularly enjoy the Roman ruins of Aquinicum.

    • Agreed, the transportation is impressive (the tram system was fun) and I wasn’t expecting the city to have as many outdoor cafes as it does – a big positive if visiting during milder months.

  3. My wife and I enjoyed Budapest. Like you, we were there for 3 days but could have spent a couple of more days there. It’s old, it’s new, it’s full of history and was told it’s architecture gave it the nickname “Paris of Eastern Europe”.
    The people were friendly and outgoing, and we found that a lot of the students were eager to practice their English with us which was a good thing because neither of us could utter a word in Hungarian. We stayed at the IHG Intercontinental Budapest and upgraded to the lounge which was a great choice. We had the pleasure of chatting with one of the young waiters every evening. We asked him what his thoughts were of the previous Communist government. He said that his generation had a more favorable outlook but the old timers were hardened with there hatred towards Moscow. His assessment became very evident when I went outside of the hotel.
    My young granddaughter wanted me to bring back a rock from Budapest. I found a few stones and when I was going back in, the doorman asked me what I was doing. When I explained the reason to him, he started grinning and added that the stones were split in a rock quarry by political prisoners from the previous regime and I should tell her that. He must have been one of the old timers.
    If you get the chance to go, do it. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

    • I’m pretty sure we walked past the IC on our way to the Chain Bridge (greal location if I’m remembering correctly).

      The frindliness of the locals was definitly a big positive for us too, although I now regret not tryign to find out more about their feelings towards their 20th-century history as that would have been interesting to hear.

      • When we were in Prague, there was no holding back on the hatred for the Communists. When taking one of the city tour buses, the guide was very vocal about this. The same in Krakow Poland. There’s still a lot of resentment.

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