Intrigue. The best word to describe what I thought about Budapest before actually going there. Surprise. The feeling I had when I met the city for the first time – Budapest is fantastic!
From it’s long, wide streets to the many parks, nightlife, the Danube river and it’s many World Heritage listed buildings and monuments, Budapest really has something for everyone.
I arrived mid afternoon on a sunny Tuesday from Rome, where it had been 30 degrees solid and this warm weather seemed to follow me for the 90 minute flight across to the Hungarian capital. When I exited Ferihegy Airport I was hit with humidity which isn’t what you want when lugging a 24kg case and 10kg backpack around with you.
I took a very efficient door to door shuttle which dropped me at the Tulip Hostel (formerly Mandarin Hostel) in the 8th District on the Pest side of the city for 3200 HUF (Hungarian Forint/€10), very reasonable indeed. Alternatively, you can get the 200E bus right outside the terminals to the last stop on the M3 metro line (Kobanya Kispest) and then jump on the Metro to take you to the City Centre, which comes to 700 HUF/€2.20 – dirt cheap! Both options take around 40 minutes.
After dropping my bags I went for a walk to start exploring. I took the M3 Metro into the City Centre (Single Pass 350 HUF/€1.15) and from here walked down to the mighty Danube River, via the Chain Bridge.
The Danube river is a beige colour around these parts, I don’t know why, but some things I do know are that the Danube starts in the Black Forest in Germany and travels around 2850km, ending in the Black Sea and passing another 7 countries after Hungary. The strength of the currents are visible from atop any of the 10 bridges that span the river in Budapest.
8 of those 10 bridges were destroyed in World War II and had to be rebuilt. Crossing over to the Buda side of the city gives you the opportunity to go up to Castle Hill via the Funicular for some amazing views of the city back over the Danube to the Pest side. (1700 HUF return/€4.80) There is also the option of going to the Citadella and/or the Fishermans Bastion for more views. There is plenty of Baroque Architecture in Budapest, and you cannot leave without trying the Beef Goulash soup which you can get quite easily in town for on average 1000 HUF/€3.50.
I used the Giraffe City Tour buses to get around the city, which were very cheap and good value considering they have 2 lines, a 1 hour River cruise, full commentary and a Night tour all included in the price of 5900 HUF/€19. What started out as a rainy day became sunny, but come 4pm a massive storm with torrential rain and ear splitting thunder and lightning had moved in, making for an even more interesting cruise!
Now it would be remiss of me to write about Budapest and not mention the nightlife. It is a real party town here with many Europeans and travellers alike coming here for Stag parties, amazing Music festivals (Sziget et al) and the world famous “Sparty”, which is a party in one of the Budapest baths, in City Park which takes place every Saturday night from 10:30-03:00. Most hostels are well connected to the Pub Crawls of Budapest which gives punters a taster of the Budapest nightlife on offer.
So there you have it, a brief look into what can be done in Budapest in 48 hours. Your. Time. Starts. Now.