Budapest, Hungary (Part 1)

Check out my planning posts here and here.

After Vienna (Part 1 and Part 2), I hoped on the train to Budapest, getting to my hostel around 3 pm. I had 4 days planned in Budapest and was sick for most of the time I spent in the city! I pushed through until the last day but I’m glad I brought cold medicine with me and lots of Kleenex!

Day one: Vaci Street, Pub Crawl/Ruin Bars
Day two: St. Stephen’s Basilica, Parliament Tour, Danube, Walking Tour, Blue Rose (Dinner)
Day three: Széchany Thermal Bath, Agriculture Museum, Vajdahunyad Castle, Heroes Square, Timewheel, Andrassy Avenue, House of Terror, Budapest eye, Hostel Friends in Jewish Quarter/Ruin Bars
Day four: Bonnie, Dohány Street Synagogue, Fisherman’s Bastion, Chain Bridge, Parliament
Day five: Budapest Central Market

Day One: Vaci Street, Pub Crawl/Ruin Bars

I left Vienna around 11 am and arrived at my hostel at 3 pm, just too late to go on the free walking tour that afternoon. I’d originally signed up for a Craft Beer Pub Crawl but it was cancelled so I signed up for the free one my first night.

I set out in search of food and wandered down Vaci Street (the pedestrian shopping street) which turned out to be the most expensive place to find food. I grabbed a bowl of goulash soup (classic Hungarian meal and perfect for my cold) and a beer (so cheap). It was a beautiful day so I ate on the patio and read my book.


Next, I wandered back to my hostel to get ready for the free pub crawl. The meeting place was at a Burger King and the pub crawl worked the same way as the free walking tours: you give a tip at the end of the night based on how you felt the tour guides were doing. I ended up not drinking (on account of feeling sick) and hanging out with a few other travellers who were also sick and not drinking. We all stayed until the second bar and then we all left together.

Day two: St. Stephen’s Basilica, Parliament Tour, Danube, Walking Tour, Blue Rose (Dinner)

I woke up feeling worse than the day before but took some cold medicine and brought some in my bag as well. It was a long day!

I left the hostel early to wander around Budapest. My first stop was at St. Stephen’s Basilica (cost: donation) to take pictures inside and around the square with minimal people. Inside the cathedral is the Holy Right Hand of St. Stephen (the mummified hand). I opted not to pay for the light to shine on the hand. The cathedral is beautiful and worth the stop!



I then walked in the direction of Parliament to stop at the State Opera House but it was under construction. The Alexandra Book Cafe was my next stop – but it was closed indefinitely. I was feeling unimpressed with my day so far so I stopped for a tea to make myself feel better and to go through my pictures.

I did the Parliament Tour by the recommendation of a co-worker and I LOVED the interior. If you want to do the tour, I recommend buying and printing a ticket in advance. I did not have a printed ticket (thought I could use the one on my phone) so they made me go to the customer service desk and I was almost late to the tour I was registered for. Included in the price of the ticket is a set of headphones to hear the tour guide (the groups are fairly large and the tour guide would be hard to hear otherwise). I was consistently the last person out of the room because I was taking pictures. (The security guard following us must have been annoyed but never rushed me.)


Quote from tour guide: “We entered the building by the most beautiful staircase and we are leaving by the ugliest”. See the comparison below!


There is an exhibition at the end of the tour that gave a history of Budapest, the development of the Parliament building, some history of artifacts and a small scale replica of the Parliament building (see below).

Cost: 6050 huf, Time: 1 hour (45 minute tour + security)


I then toured around Parliament, taking a few photos, followed by a walk along the Danube.


I made my way back to St. Stephen’s Basilica for some food and the free walking tour. I grabbed a bagel at a local bakery (and was so disappointed in the service AND the food) but was so hungry at that point I couldn’t care.

There were several walking tours and I decided to do the classic tour with Regi. She was wonderful! Very funny, knowledgeable and a good speaker (all the things you want out of a tour guide).



I love free walking tours because you get to meet some other amazing travellers and learn about the history of the city, see all the best attractions and get some tips from locals on where to eat/drink/be merry. Some of the tips from the tour guide were:

  1. Drinks at Aquarium Bar in Elizabeth Square
  2. King Street is full of local bars and clubs (drinks will be cheaper and less touristy)
  3. Centrum Market Hall for local and cheap food (rather than Vaci Street)
  4. Blue Rose or Frici Papa for dinner

Some interesting facts I remember:

  1. There are 44 letters in the Hungarian alphabet.
  2. Budapest is actually two cities: Buda and Pest. The tour guide said “You do things in Buda and live in Pest” because living in Buda is so expensive but the best things to do are on that side of the Danube.
  3. Hungary is part of the European Union but has not yet phased out the Hungarian Forint.
  4. The tallest part of both the Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica are the two tallest buildings in Budapest. No other building can be taller.
  5. The inventor of the Rubik’s Cube was born in Budapest.
  6. Vitamin-C was discovered by a Hungarian.

Cost of walking tour: by donation, approximately 3 hours

After the tour, I went for dinner at the Blue Road (Regi’s suggestion) and walked back to the hostel. I still wasn’t feeling well so I went to bed early to get up early the next day.

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Thursday!

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