Budapest Day 1 – Rookie Mistakes, the Best Views and THE Spa
We arrived at a hot Budapest airport on Monday morning. I had left the Netherlands earlier that day in about 18 degrees Celsius and was welcomed by the warm air that can best be compared with the heat of a hair dryer.
I met up with my friend from Switzerland in the arrival hall of Budapest Airport, and together we picked up our Budapest Card at the information point. With this card in our possession, we simply had to show it to the bus driver and at the metro station on our way to the city center, and we were good to go. During the following 48 hours, we were allowed to travel at every mean of transport for free, and enjoyed some great discounts and even a few free entrances to famous museums. It goes without saying that we made good use of it during our stay!
Since our Airbnb host was still at work, we couldn’t drop off our backpacks at the apartment, so we made our way straight to Budapest’s city center. We used the map and information brochure we received with the Budapest Card, since we both didn’t bring a guide book with us. We had read up about some places already back at home, and had some sights written down on our list, but that basically sums up the (lousy) preparation of this trip.
Quickly we found a place to eat, right in the middle of Fashion Street, THE shopping street of Budapest. We were utterly surprised by the price on the bill: the price of a meal and drinks was so low for our Dutch and (especially) Swiss standards! Funnily enough however, our guide the next day at the bike tour we joined, told us that we should never have a meal at a restaurant in Fashion Street, as all the bars and restaurants here are complete ripoffs. We wisely remained silent and didn’t tell her about us having a meal there just the day before… Rookie mistake!
After we had filled our empty tummies, we made our way down to the river Danube. Once there, we realized that this was the view that everyone was talking about. The famous Chain Bridge on our right, Budapest Castle and the Citadel right across the river and the historical yellow trams (panoramic tram 2) passing by while we walked down the boulevard. It honestly couldn’t get more perfect.
After this wonderful introduction of Budapest, we got onto the metro and headed to the City Park. We had an appointment at 3PM at the world famous Széchenyi Baths, but arrived a half hour early in the park where the baths are located. A great excuse this was to have a look around in this – what proved to be – massive park. People were floating around in their rented car-boats at the lake, and we saw some sort of castle that appeared to come straight out of Disneyland. That we left up for discovery for the next day.
We did however walk up south and came face to face with the huge Millennium Monument at Heroes Square. A very important monument for the inhabitants of Hungary, as it displays sculptures of prominent Hungarian persons throughout history.
Then it was finally time to head to the Széchenyi Baths, something of which we were very excited about. It are the most famous thermal baths of Budapest. You can find a sneak peak of what this stunning place looks like below, but if you want the full photo feature, you can find it here (don’t worry you won’t go anywhere: the link will open in a new tab).
After we felt completely rejuvenated from our bath visit, we took our heavy backpacks with us and went to find our Airbnb apartment. Our host Julia let us in and introduced us to our neighbor, a girl from Mexico who was studying in Budapest. We enjoyed some pleasant conversation with her before we went back into the city for dinner.
We found this adorable Italian place where we had some delicious pasta. People-watching is one of my hobbies, and the street we picked to have dinner was just the right place for it. Needless to say I was in my element: the weather was great, the food sumptuous and the street lively. The only thing that was missing was Eros Ramazzotti performing for us, but hey, you can’t have everything, right?
We had dinner quite late, so after we had paid the bill it had quickly become dark outside. We headed our way back to the Danube and walked along the boulevard. The views there were even more magnificent at night then they had been that afternoon. After some photo-taking (I didn’t have my tripod with me, so it took me a few attempts to get my photos sharp), we became thirsty. We had heard about the Ruin Pubs and wanted to check out what it was all about.
With our award-winning map reading skills at hand (cue sarcastic laugh), we didn’t find the pubs that first night out. Nevertheless, we ended up at Erzsébet Square where it was crawling with people. Many of them were sitting on the grass having drinks, others were sitting on the terrace of an alfresco bar. Music was playing and it ended up to be the perfect place for our first night out. We sampled some ridiculously cheap alcoholic beverages (some more successful in taste than others), went on with people watching and chatted the night away while doing so.
As the night proceeded, I became more and more convinced that we picked the perfect destination for our summer city trip. I couldn’t wait to find out what else was in store for us. Day 2 and 3 of our Budapest adventure will be up on the blog soon!
Many thanks to the Budapest Festival and Tourist Center for providing us with the Budapest Cards. We had the 48hrs card, however you can also opt for the 24hrs or 72hrs card. The Budapest card provides you with free public transport, free museum visits and plenty of discounts on restaurants and museums. The cards are on sale at many info points around Budapest. For more information, please visit the Budapest Card website: www.budapest-card.com. Even though this was a sponsored post, all opinions, views and photos are my own.
See, I did not know about the Budapest Card. I’ll put that on the list for next time 🙂 Looking forward to reading about your second day in Budapest.
It’s a great thing to have when you’re in town for only a few days 🙂
It’s definitely super handy to have!
This brings back great memories, I loved that spa and I really want to return to Budapest with my husband who has never been. I was supposed to run a half marathon there but it was so hot that I have to admit I only ran part of it!
It’s such a lovely city isn’t it?
Great to hear how you enjoyed day one and I am sure you will enjoy day 2 as well. In case you don’t know what to do (which is almost impossible) here is some inspiration: http://www.budapestagent.com/101-things-to-see-and-do-in-budapest.html
We absolutely did Matthias! Thanks for stopping by!
Great post Maaike! I went to Budapest a scary amount of years ago now and this brought it all back! Aren’t the baths absolutely brilliant?! The perfect spot to soak your weary backpacker feet. I even got a cheeky massage by the poolside – living the dream! Great tip about the Budapest card… not sure those even existed when I last went but i’ll make sure to pick one up when we go again. Great post Maaike, lovely photos also – that night shot is a GREAT effort without a tripod. Gorgeous! 🙂
The baths are GREAT! Really they are. Oh we missed out on that massage though! Thanks so much Gabby 🙂
We also tried out the canoe catamaran tour down the Danube, it was amazing! You can find them on their website but we booked through our hotel.
That sounds lovely! I’ll put that on the list for next time!
Nice! We visited Budapest last summer and also had a great time — particularly eating 🙂 and bathing 🙂 http://www.housetolaos.com/hipster-beautiful-budapest/
The food there is great (and very cheap!)
Glad to know there’s a card to use in Budapest since we usually save a lot of money using them in cities we visit. Plus it looks like nice city we might have to add to our bucketlist. Thanks for sharing!
It’s a beautiful city, and the city card can definitely help you along the way. Keep an eye out on the blog for the next installments of our Budapest trip
Your writing and photos are wonderful. We have known quite a few dramatic and warm Hungarians here in Australia. Your travel post is both charming and evocative. Thanks, Maaike.
Thank you so much! That means the world to me 🙂
It looks like a really nice city. I’ll put it on my list now. Thanks for the tip about the card.
It’s beautiful 🙂