Maia’s good friend who lived with her in high school as part of an exchange program, was our gracious host while we were in Budapest. We were blessed to have a local guide who was so passionate about her city and country’s history.
To get the iconic view of the city you need to venture to the top of Gellért Hill. There are public transport options to get to top. We would recommend going at sunset so you can watch the city come alive as dusk settles. While not encouraged, it would be a good spot to take a bottle of wine and relax for a couple hours.
The city has a number of public baths and it is something you must experience while in the city. The Széchenyi thermal bath is one of the grandest and located in the public park. You will pay a fee to enter the baths. About 20 dollars a person. You will get a locker to leave you belongings. It is recommended that you bring sandals and a towel.
The Hungarian parliament building is a great place to visit for those history buffs in your group. We were lucky enough to get a personal tour from a friend who works there and it is beyond impressive. Tours are available for the public, pending availability.
Just behind the Parliament building, along the River, you’ll find “Shoes on the Danube.” It is a memorial dedicated to the innocent Jews who were shot in that very place. This is one of those bone chilling places where you’ll immediately feel your heart drop into your stomach.
Walk Adnrassy Avenue, visit the Hungarian Opera House.
House of Terror
Insightful view into what this city has gone through to become what it is today (still not without struggles). It walked us through its history of fascist and Nazi regimes (two distinct regimes of terror) and the horrid realities civilians faced in their daily lives. There are many alive today who still vividly recall life during those dark times and understandably continue to mistrust society and government. Make time for this museum during your stay giving yourself three hours to soak in the exhibits.
Buda Castle & Fisherman’s Bastion
You can ride the funicular to the top of Buda Hill or take public transport, but you won’t want to miss exploring the Buda Castle Complex. We happened upon a cultural fair serving traditional Hungarian foods and showcasing the trades and activities of yesteryear. Matthias Church is also part of the complex.
Food and Drink
These are bars that opened inside abandoned, derelict buildings. They offer cheap drinks, a unique atmosphere, and talented DJs or musicians. There are countless options throughout the city at night to find a ruin pub that has the vibe you’re seeking. Make a bar crawl out of it. Some of them are so expansive that you can get lost in the maze of the building’s hallways and side rooms.