In our trip to Budapest it was explained to us why the city has that name, Budapest. Basically, the Danube river separates two cities, one is Buda and the other is Pest. And that is why the capitall of Hungary is called Budapest.
Is there a “side” that I liked more? Maybe. But I won’t tell you. You go and see for yourself.
So I am going to separate the places that we visited in two big groups, one group belongs to what we visited in Buda and the second group what we visited in Pest. But first Thermal Baths!
Gellért Thermal Baths
The Gellért Thermal Baths or Gellért Spa and Bath is one of the most famous thermal baths in Budapest. At the moment you enter to the thermal baths it seems you are in a completely different world (a good one by the way). There are different pools with different temperatures, you have sauna rooms, steam baths and if you like you can have a massage or other spa treatments that are available (these last two require an additional payment), but you can spend all the time you want enjoying yourselves in the pools and sauna/steam baths. We chose not having any spa treatment but we tried all the pools and the sauna and steam baths. However we spent more time in the outdoor pool that was next to a sauna room. It was a really nice experience watching the day light fading inside warm waters. This is the real life, am I right?
If you want to have a complete experience you can always stay here, since it is also a 5 star hotel.
Address: Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 Hungary
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
These are maybe the most known thermal baths of Budapest. There are 21 different pools and 2 of them are outdoors. You have also sauna rooms and steam baths. One of the sauna rooms has a mental scent that is very pleasant.
It is such a good experience. Especially for us, it was snowing when we were in the outdoor pool. It is a great sensation and we felt really lucky to have the opportunity to be here.
Please DO GO to the thermal baths in Budapest. You will end up liking one more than the others but do not miss it. It is definitely one of the best things to do in Budapest!
Address: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
St. Stephen’s Basilica
This basilica is one of the most beautiful buildings I have been in my entire life. If you want a place where you ended up open-mouthed, this is the place. The basilica is already amazing from the outside, but the inside with its details, colors, paintings, stained-glasses are to take your breath away. This is a place that you must not miss.
Address: Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary
House of Parliament
When you think in Budapest, this is for sure the place that comes to mind. It is one of the most known and famous places in Budapest and deserves that distinction. The building with its reddish domes, with its magnificience, everything claims luxury.
To visit the House of Parliament you have to book a guided-tour. You do not need to book in advance there are plenty of tours daily so you won’t need to wait a lot of time. There is a café if you want to sit while you wait or you can walk around. During our visit, our guide told us this is the biggest building of Budapest and the second biggest Parliament of Europe. From inside, as expected the architecture transpires glory. It is in here where you can see the crown of the first Hungarian king and it is estimated that it was used 40 Kg of gold and half million of precious stones during the construction of the House of Parliament. It’s something, isn’t it?
Address: Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér, 1055 Hungary
Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum (Hungarian National Museum)
This was the first place that we visited in Budapest. The building itself is amazing (from inside and outside).
There are columns on the outside of the building that reminds a roman temple. On the inside there are marble columns and the ceilings and walls paintings are to take your breath away. This museum shows different collections, taking the visitor from the prehistoric era to the recent years.
It is a really nice museum to visit.
Address: Budapest, Múzeum krt. 14-16, 1088 Hungary
This place is one of the most important places in Budapest and has been place of many important events. It is also here where you can find the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art. The central monument in the center of this squares was begun to be built on the year that was commemorated the thousandth anniversary of the foundation of the Hungarian state and that is why is called the Millennium Memorial. On the top of the column it is represented the Archangel Gabriel and around the base we have statues representing the chieftains of the seven tribes that settled in Hungary.
Regarding the museums, we wanted to visit the Museum of Fine Arts but it was closed so we went to the Hall of Art. Basically a waste of money because we didn’t like it at all but at least we could get away from the heavy snow for awhile.
Address: Budapest, Hősök tere, 1146 Hungary
This castle as the Heroes’ Square was built to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of Hungarian state. This area is really nice and when we were here it was snowing making it look like a fairy tale scenario. During the winter there is also a ice ring and all year you can find here the Magyar Mezőgazdasági Múzeum (Museum of Hungarian Agriculture) and the City Garden where you can have a nice walk. In this area you can find also the Széchenyi thermal baths (and this was our main reason to come to this area).
Address: Budapest, Vajdahunyad stny., 1146 Hungary
Holocaust Memorial Center
The holocaust is an episode very much present in the Hungarian culture. There are several monuments and memorials spread in the city about this horrible part of the human history. The Holocaust Memorial Center is one of them. There are pictures, texts, horrible descriptions about what happened during these dark times. And it makes you feel sad and wondering why the humanity has to be so cruel. I have to confess that I left this place feeling a bit down and glum. But that is expected, isn’t it?
Address: Budapest, Páva u., 1094 Hungary
House of Terror Museum
This museum is also focused on the Holocaust. We thought about coming here but we didn’t for two reasons. The first one, it was closed for annual maintenance and the second one, after being in the Holocaust Memorial Center we thought we couldn’t cope to see more about this subject. I think it is important to understand why the freedom is so important for Hungary and that goes through understanding a bit more about the Holocaust, but I get impressed very quickly. If you are interested:
Address: Budapest, Andrássy út 60, 1062 Hungary
Shoes on Danube Bank
Shoes on Danube Bank is a memorial close to the House of Parliament and it is to honor the Jews killed in here. They were ordered to take off their shoes before being shot, falling in the water of the river. That is why this memorial is made of shoes sculptures.
This place made us think not about the Holocaust itself but why people are so stupid. So you are here and you should show respect for what it represents but in the end you are taking selfies like everything was a big joke. Do you know what? If you don’t know how to behave in this kind of situations, please don’t travel. You are doing a favor to the others.
Address: Budapest, Id. Antall József rkp., 1054 Hungary
Váci Street and Szent Mihály-templom (St. Michael’s Church)
Váci Street in downtown Budapest is one of the world’s most attractive pedestrian shopping streets. You can find all kind of stores from clothes, restaurants, coffee shops, souvenirs and much more. It is a really nice place to walk even if you are not in the “shopping mood”. While we were here we ended up entering in a small church, the St. Michael’s church.
Dohány Street Synagogue
This synagogue is a great cultural and religious place to visit and to understand a bit more about this city. We didn’t actually go inside because we thought the price of the tickets were a little bit too much (almost twice of what we paid to enter in the other places in Budapest). However, I didn’t want to not mention it in case you are interested, because I personally think it is a place that should be visited.
Address: Budapest, Dohány u. 2, 1074 Hungary
Citadella can be found on the top of the Gellért Hill and it is the highest point of the city. To get here you can climb the hill for 20-30 minutes or you can catch the bus if you don’t fell like walking. I think the walk is worth it and lots of people are doing it at the same time as you. I am excused to say the view of the city from the Citadella is amazing.
Citadella had an important military role in protecting the city and in here you can find 3 statues. The biggest one is called the Liberty Statue and it was built in 1947 representing the Soviet liberation of Hungary during World War II.
You can walk around the Citadella and see the city from different points and if you are starting to get hungry there are stalls here selling food that looks delicious (we didn’t have any because we were heading to the Géllert Baths.
Gellérthegyi-barlang (Gellért Hill Cave)
The Gellért Hill Cave is a church inside the hill. When you were walking through the Liberty Bridge towards Pest side we noticed a curious structure looking like a little castle. When we got there we realized it was a church excavated inside the mountain. It can be visited Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm.
Address: Budapest, 1118 Hungary
Buda Castle Hill
The Castle District on the Castle Hill belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage and it is one of the most touristic and beautiful places in Budapest. In here you can find a lot of museums, the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. We visited the Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Hungarian National Gallery and the Buda Castle. But there are a lot more to see:
- Hospital in the Rock Museum (I would like to have visited this one but there was no time)
- Budapest History Museum
- Museum of Hungarian Telephony
- Hungarian Military Museum
- Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum
- Church of Maria Magdalene
- You can also get the Funicular
You can get prices and much more about these sites on this website: http://budacastlebudapest.com/
Buda Castle and Hungarian National Gallery
In the Buda Castle you can find not only the castle itself but also the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History museum. In the National Gallery you can appreciate fine arts from the Medieval Ages to Modern ages.
Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion
I am putting these two places together because they are literally next to each to other. Both can be found in the Castle Hill. Fisherman’s Bastion started to be built on the year that it was celebrated the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian state. It has 7 towers and each represents one of the Hungarian chieftains who had led their tribes to settled down in here and that is the origin of Hungary. The entry to the balconies at Fisherman’s Bastion is free but to enter in the upper towers and to get into the Matthias Church you need to get tickets. For the church, the tickets are around 6 euros.
Danube River Cruise
Other experience that I think you should really consider is doing a cruise in the Danube River. There are different offers from different companies. For example, you can choose to have dinner while in the cruise or as we did have a drink while in it. Do not leave until the last minute to buy the tickets because the sell fast.
We chose the Legenda Sightseeing Boats because it was the company with better reviews. It was a lovely experience, be able to see the city from other perspective and because we did it when it was already dark, all the lights made our journey even more spectacular. Our cruise took 1 hour, I imagine if you are having dinner it will take more. But try it, you will not regret.