A couple of years ago, I was looking for a new place to explore that was close to me, affordable and totally worth the investment. I stumbled upon Budapest, and honestly, I got lucky! It is not in vain that they say that Budapest is the Paris of the East part of Europe. It has one of the most beautiful neo-renaissance architecture in this part of Europe. Sadly, the communist rule in the past century mixed it with the SSSR and created an unusual mix. But, you will overlook that after a lovely and long walk on its streets.
Budapest is a dynamic city that lives and breathes 24/7. And let us not forget the beautiful Danube river. A town that Nextravel recommends visiting! Read below to find the reasons why!
One of the most alluring aspects of Budapest is the potent mix of both western and eastern Europe. While you walk on the streets, you can transition from Austro-Hungarian architecture and feel to a communist echo that slowly fades away thanks to newer Hungarian generations.
What to Visit In Budapest?
When I visited Budapest, I took a boat ride, without expecting too much. After all, it is just a river, I thought. I was dead wrong. UNESCO put the banks of the Danube river as a World Heritage site, which made my experience even better. The ride will take you through all of Budapest, and you will see both parts of communism and Austro-Hungarian rule. The prices depend on which company you will choose, but when I was there, I paid $30 with included drinks.
Overlooking the city, Castle Hill is a must-see tourist attraction. Some of the buildings in the complex area date back to the 14th century, which tells you about the longevity of the building structure. On the Castle Hill, you can find cobblestone streets and other attractions such as Trinity Square, Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Also, let us not forget the Buda Castle, another great area to explore.
The Market Hall
The Great Market Halls dates back from the 19th century. It is an indoor market that draws all locals to buy fruits, veggies, souvenirs and other food. If you look at it, this may be the prototype of the first mall, which is pretty amazing! However, be warned about the prices – they are higher than the things you can get on the Buda side of Budapest.
Dohány Great Synagogue
It is the second largest synagogue in the world. It can seat up to 3000 people, and it is the centre of Neolog Judaism. It was initially built between 1854-1859 with the Moorish Revival style by Ludwig Forster, with its decoration based on Islamic models from Africa. The Dohany Synagogue is part of Dohany complex which also consists of Heroe’s Temple, The Jewish Musem and the graveyard. If you want to learn about the Jewish section of Hungarian culture, Nextravel recommends!
The House of Terror
Every country in the world has a piece of history that they are not so much proud. The same can be said about Hungary in the Nazi and communist period. In that honour, so people do not forget the authorities done by the Nazis, they created a memorial represented the House of Terror museum. There you can find all the information about the Nazi and communist rules, and the dealings of the secret police on both sides.
It is an iconic building of Budapest and the largest in the country. Plus, it is the third largest in the world. From the outside, it looks beautiful, but if you want to see the real beauty, we recommend you visit it inside. There is a fee, of course, but nothing too expensive – only 4$!
Communists loved building statutes of their leaders and Budapest is filled with them. Once the communism ended, people tore down all of these buildings and located them in Memento Park. Today it has become an accessible tourist location. You can see tourists taking a selfie with Stalin and other communist leaders. Getting there is easy when you go with a tour. On the other hand, getting there with public transportation could take you an hour or so. Better stick with a toured guide transport.
Hungarian State Opera House
One of the most stunning neo-Renaissance structure in Budapest, the opera house offers charm, history and good entertainment. If you think that opera tickets in Budapest are the same price as Vienna, then you are wrong. It is quite the opposite, you can get a attend great productions at a reliable price. However, if you are not into opera and still want to explore the building, you can always take a tour inside!
Explore Budapest on Foot!
One of the best ways to explore Budapest is on foot. This way, you can learn things at first hand and create your own unique view of the city. Speaking from experience, when I arrived on the first day together with my wife, we walked more than 5 hours and still we didn’t cover all the places we wanted to see. The most interesting part was that we weren’t tired at all! I know some older people can get tired, but trust me experiencing all those streets structures, interacting with people and finding hidden culinary treasures will keep you on foot!
If you want to know other aspects of Budapest, we will explore that in Part 2!