We arrived into Budapest late on Friday night so didn’t get out and about to explore the city at all on that day but we did check into our awesome hostel which I have to be honest, I picked mainly because I had seen cute pictures of it all over Pinterest. It was the Lavender Circus Hostel located on Muzeum Krt in the Pest side of the city. It’s quirky, bohemian charm won me over immediately. Our room was massive (although the shower situation was somewhat strange, make sure to take flip flops for in the bathroom) and we had a little kitchen area with a fridge for storing snacks in our room. It is not suitable for people with disabilities though as you have to climb quite a few flights of stairs to reach reception and to get into your room.
The next morning we started with a metro ride out to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths for a morning dip. The outdoor baths, which can be seen all over social media were the big pull here and are truly stunning, but there are also plenty of baths of varying sizes and temperatures to keep you entertained for a while. Be aware that if you want to properly swim in the pool with lanes you will require a swimming hat or you will not be allowed in but for all the other pools you do not need one. We spent a couple of hours here and when we arrived it wasn’t too busy but by the time we left the crowds were certainly starting to build as these particular baths are extremely popular.
We then went to find some lunch. I had seen the Central Market was somewhere we should try and visit so we made our way back across town to here. The lower level was mainly market stalls selling all sorts of products, we were pulled in by the plentiful types of paprika and couldn’t resist buying bags worth of the stuff. Upstairs there were vendors selling food and a limited number of tables to eat at. We eventually managed to find a spot to try some local goulash, a paprika based stew that originates from Hungary.
We were booked onto a free walking tour in the afternoon so we then arrived at the meeting point for this only to find out that not enough people had signed up for our particular one so they had moved us into a group for a street art, bohemian tour instead. We almost went along with this however as this was our first time in the city we really wanted to see some of the main sights so we reverted back to our fail safe method of exploring a new place, a self tour using the Triposo app. If you have never used this before the app allows you to download the city you are going to if it is on their database (which is pretty extensive) for free and then use it offline to find all the main landmarks around the city.
Our first stop was at St Stephen’s Basilica where we were able to do one of my favourite activities to complete when I reach a new city and climb up to a viewing deck to be able to orientate myself to where all the main attractions are located from a birds eye viewpoint. From here we were able to see some of the beautiful buildings on both sides of the River Danube and really get a feel for the local architecture, which is absolutely incredible.
Once down we made our way through Liberty Square to the Hungarian Parliament building. The intricacy of the sculpture and brickwork here is mesmerising and it is something to behold from up close although it is perhaps even more picturesque from the water on the opposite side of the building.
We did then circle the parliament to stroll along the banks of the Danube to get views overlooking the Buda side of the city. Not far into our wandering we came across some iron shoes on the banks. This is a tribute to the Jews who were forced to remove their own shoes before being shot so that they fell into the river, their bodies were swept away by the flow in the 2nd World War. It is an impactful memorial although the amount of rubbish that has been stuffed into the shoes does slightly taint that.
That evening we went out for a posh dinner at a place called Borkonyha Winekitchen which serves delicate, delicious Hungarian food and has earned a Michelin star. As the name suggests, to accompany your food there is a huge selection of wines, mostly from Hungary. We picked our meals which were divine and our server recommended the drink to go with them. As I am not much of a drinker I just had one pairing however Fraser made the most of the service. While it is more pricy than a lot of the places you can eat in Budapest, it is very reasonable compared to Michelin star restaurants you may find elsewhere in the world. The restaurant itself looks more like a bistro from outside but has a wonderful ambience and the service was impeccable. I would highly recommend a visit for some top notch grub.
Have you got any favourite places to visit on the Pest side of the city? Where was your favourite place to eat in Budapest?