Things to Do in
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Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a tale of two cities (not to steal from Dickens). Buda and Pest are separated by the Danube and have distinctly different feels. Buda is quieter and has the older style architecture. The Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion dominate that side of the river and the hilly streets house more of the elite crowd. Pest is more bustling and, at least by European standards, modern with a great nightlife and abundance of restaurants. Budapest, is a welcoming city as beautiful at night as it is during the day.
Cross the famous Chain Bridge, then climb the steps to Buda Castle to see its stunning architecture and fabulous sweeping views of the city.
Visit Fisherman's Bastion when you're finished at Buda Cstle. There you will enjoy its impressive views of parliament across the river, uniquely roofed church, and white washed defensive cliffside walls
Visit Margaret Island. This was a huge family hit! 2.5kms long right in the middle of the Danube with walking and biking trails, playgrounds, athletic fields, a zoo, and two pool areas. The largest, Palatinus Strand (for a fee), had a water park (slides and wave pool) and thermal pools. The musical fountain just over the bridge on the island is also well worth a visit.
See St. Stephen’s Basilica. It is one of the most dominant buildings on the Pest side and is awe inspiring inside and out (our place was right across the street from it and the ringing of the bells is certainly an event).
See the Parliament at night from across the Danube (or by boat for a fee). No visit to Budapest is complete without a picture of this landmark.
Visit Heroes Square (one of the most photographed spots in Pest) for some historical perspective on the city and then take a nice stroll through City Park. We took public transit since this was a little distance from where we were staying.
See the Shoes on the Danube Bank on the banks of the Danube near Parliament and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. It is a memorial to the 20,000 Jewish people shot into the river during World War II, it is both subtle and hauntingly powerful. To reach it, you can walk along Zoltán Street towards the Danube or walk along the banks of the river from the Chain Bridge towards Parliament.
Worth the Money
Eat langos - traditional fried bread with sour cream and cheese. We tried ours at the Karavan street market - you can get traditional and modern food in a festive food trucks etting.
Tips for Visiting
We did exchange money for the Hungarian currency because the Karavan street market food carts don’t all accept credit cards. We were able to use it on souvenirs, groceries and one final restaurant let us use all the rest of our cash and put the remainder on credit card.
The transit system is difficult to figure out if you don’t have an app. It is inexpensive, efficient and will get you most places that you want to go.
The city is walkable, as in it has sidewalks everywhere, but it is spread out with more miles between sites than we cared to walk.