parliament-building-budapest-close-up

Budapest: the Ruin Pubs, Margaret Island, Sziget Eye and the Synagogue

We had just finished our bike tour with Budapest Bike Breeze, and were up for some cooling down. It was the hottest moment of the day, so we decided to head to Margaret Island: the lush green island in the middle of the Danube River. We had heard that this is a beautiful oasis ánd that it has a few swimming pools. Bonus!

Margaret Island

It was easy enough to reach Margaret Island via tram and the bridge that connects Pest with the island. While we walked towards the swimming pools of Palatinus Bath, we passed the musical fountain. Apparently quite famous, the fountain would splash up water on the rhythm of the (slightly annoying) music and we would see some flashing lights as well.  It just wasn’t for us.

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The musical fountain

We walked on and finally found Palatinus Baths, where we spent the final hours of the afternoon (Get a discount on Palatinus Baths with the Budapest Card). The bath has a few thermal pools, as well as a wave pool and some slides.  Something peculiar happened when we wanted to rent a towel and we received a white bed sheet instead. Still don’t really get that?

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ruins in Margaret Park

When it was nearing closing time, we left the pools and made our way back into town. In the tram, on our way to Margaret Island, we had passed by the beautiful Governmental Building. It had neared Golden Hour when we returned to the Governmental Building and the view really was breathtaking.

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golden-hour-budapest

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After having taken some photos we walked towards the Danube River, where we quickly enough stumbled upon the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’: a memorial to honor the Jews who were killed during WWII. The Jewish people had to take off their shoes and were shot, so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. The shoes on the Danube bank represent the shoes of these victims. An impressive statement, especially since some candles and roses were put inside the shoes by visitors.

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jewish-memorial-budapest-rose

Instead of taking the tram back to town, we decided to walk along the Danube River. This time, we saw the Chain Bridge and Buda Castle from the other side, which was just as spectacular as the views we had seen on our first day in town.

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chain-bridge-budapest

While looking for a place to have dinner, we came across a fancy-looking restaurant with a terrace looking out over St Stephen’s Basilica. In the Netherlands and Switzerland (my friend I was traveling with is from Switzerland), we would pay tons for a meal at such restaurants, here we had a meal and drinks for as little as something equal to €10.00! Yes, we LOVE Budapest and not just for the stunning buildings!

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having dinner looking upon the Basilica

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I’m not sure if you’ve read about our first day in Budapest (if you haven’t, you can check it out here), but we failed in finding the famous ruin pubs on day 1. This time, our last night in Hungary’s capital, we were determined to find the bars in the old and abandoned buildings of the Jewish District. And we did! Yes ladies and gentlemen, our image was saved, as we actually found the streets with all the outdoor and indoor pubs and bars. Street art, bright and colorful lights and a bric and brac of furniture made up the surroundings. We met a few wonderful people (who actually bought us drinks, yay!) and it’s needless to say that we had an amazing time that night!

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ruin-pubs-budapest

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Szimpla Kert, one of the most famous of the ruin pubs

The next morning… The next morning it felt a bit like having a hangover, while we actually didn’t drink that much the night before. The hangover mainly consisted of sadness to have to leave this beautiful city. But not before we spent another morning in Pest with the Central Market Hall, the Sziget Eye and the Synagogue on our program.

Food, drinks, clothing and souvenirs aplenty we found in the neogothic Market Hall, which wasn’t actually that busy at 9am in the morning. Two stories of merchandise made up the building and we stayed around for a little while to take some more photos.

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After having consumed a coffee (or: ice coffee rather with this hot weather), we headed towards the ferris wheel we had seen earlier. The ‘Sziget Eye’ (promoting the Sziget Festival which takes place right now – 10 to 17 August, 2015), was located at Erzsébet Square and provided us with some exciting views over the city.

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view-sgizet-eye

Three rounds in the Eye and that was it. Now, it was only a small walk to the Synagogue, somewhere down the street. Especially the interior of the largest synagogue in Europe, and one of the largest in the world, was absolutely stunning. A cemetery, small museum and a Holocaust Memorial Park were also present at the site, but the inside of the religious building was where we spent most of the time.

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synagogue-budapest-interior

synagogue-budapest

It quickly neared noon:  the time I had to head back to the airport. Sad but true, our time in Budapest had come to an end. Even though we had only about 48 hours in the city, we got to do and see so many things:

  • Strolling along the Danube, taking in spectacular views
  • Swim in the most famous Baths of Budapest
  • Mingle with the locals at Ersébet Square
  • Joining a bike tour
  • Visit Margaret Island
  • Experience the nightlife of the ruin pubs
  • Do some morning shopping at the Central Market Hall
  • Seeing the city from above from the Eye
  • Visit the magnificent Synagogue

48 Hours never to forget!


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  • I’m hoping to return to Budapest next year as I loved it – never got to Margaret Island and I’d like to go to the ruin pubs so am pinning this to my Travel Wishlist on Pinterest

  • Hello, You can’t go wrong in Budapest can you? It’s such a nice city to have a city break/long weekend…We stayed there for 4 days and will surely return.

    http://www.couplertw.com

  • So many beautiful buildings – even more than I realised. The pools at Margaret Island sound great too. Budapest is a city I’m longing to visit and even more so now.
    Sad to read about the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ though. It must be very moving to see and I would like to pay my respects there one day.

    • Yes there are a lot of beautiful buildings! It was pretty moving indeed

  • I am so jealous of your trip! I want to return to Budapest so badly – I think the last time I visited was about ten years ago on the way to Lake Balaton so I can hardly remember it but I know I loved it! 😀 Victoria x

    • I’ve actually never been to Lake Balatan, but hear it’s a lot of fun!