Budapest by a Local

This blog entry was submitted by Isabelle Colf, who studied abroad in Budapest.
Featured photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

“Budapest is an amazing city full of 19th-century architecture that has recently been “rediscovered” by tourists since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Although there are many visitors, the city is still relatively new to tourism, making it the perfect place to visit if you want to get an authentic feel for Hungary. I’m half Hungarian, and I wanted to share all my favorite places to visit because I have never met a person that didn’t fall in love with Budapest.

The first place everyone needs to see, at least from the outside, is the Hungarian Parliament. Every single website will say this, but trust me, it’s worth visiting, and many say the most beautiful parliament building in the world. It is also the third largest parliament building in the world.

Close by to the Parliament is St. Stephen’s Basilica. Entrance is free (they recommend a small donation) or for 7 euros you can climb to the top for amazing views of Budapest (and a really good Insta pic). The surrounding streets also have a ton of restaurants to choose from. If you walk to the end of the street, you can see your next destination… 

…the Chain Bridge. This is not only beautiful but a scenic walk to the other side of the Danube where the castle is, but Hungary’s oldest permanent bridge. From the middle, you have a great view of both sides of Budapest.

Once you’re on the Buda side (the castle side) if you walk up to the castle district you can easily spend a day there visiting the castle district. I highly recommend the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is beautiful in itself but is also probably the best lookout point in all of Budapest.

So once you’re done seeing the educational stuff, Budapest is famous for all of its’ amazing ruin bars. The most famous one is Szimpla Kert, and it really is pretty awesome. They also serve food and it’s mostly a casual place to hang out with your friends or get to know some fellow tourists.

If you’re looking for authentic Hungarian food, Puli is probably your best option. The restaurant is named after the most famous Hungarian dog breed (you have to google it to believe it) and offers only authentic Hungarian food for very reasonable prices. It has two locations, one on the Vaci Utca, which is the main shopping street, and another on the Andrassy Ut, which might just be the most beautiful street in Budapest. Be wary of other restaurants on the Vaci Utca– most of them are way overpriced and not very good.

Of course, you can’t forget Hero’s Square. I recommend reading up on some Hungarian history before you go here, it will be so much more meaningful. Behind the square, you can find the Széchenyi Thermal Bath which is probably the most famous spa in Hungary. It’s open all year round despite being partly outdoors and makes for some amazing pictures in the winter, with the fog rising up out of the baths.

These are just a few things that I love about Budapest, but really, you could spend so much time exploring on your own as well. Like I said, I haven’t met a single person that hasn’t completely fallen in love with the city during their visit to Budapest.”

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