Budapest was enchanting and awe inspiring from the beginning of my time there until the end…both times. I was originally scheduled to be in the city for only four days. Four days turned into nine days. I left for another five before making the decision to return again for another week. I never wanted to leave.
Where I Stayed
Meander Hostel Budapest. I have never loved a hostel more. The location is impeccable and the staff is absolutely out of this world. I cried both times I left because I hated that I was leaving all of the friends that I made there. It was also great because while not a party hostel, they are partnered with several party hostels and they all participate in nightly activities, like Jagertrain, Boat Party, Alcoholympics, Budabash, etc. Your liver will hate you but the memories you have will be priceless.
What I Did (And what you should also do)
- Boat Party on the Danube
Seeing the city of Budapest at night from the water is absolutely breathtaking and pretty much indescribable. I went on three boat parties altogether, and every single time I just had to give myself a minute to take in my surroundings and realize where I was.
- Free Walking Tour
I love me a good walking tour. I went on four while in BP-two general ones (once by myself and another time with friends I had made), Red Budapest (discussing BP/Hungary under communism), and the Jewish Quarter. It was cool getting to see so much of the city with guides who knew what they were talking about and made it interesting at the same time.
- Get Up to the Citadella
The citadel offers the absolute best view of the city. It doesn’t matter how you get up there-you can walk up or take a hop-on/hop-off bus like we did-you just need to make it up there. I was a bit bummed my first time in the city when I didn’t get the chance to, but being able to the second time definitely made up for it.
- House of Terror- This is all about the socialist/Nazi Arrow Cross Party that ruled Hungary for only months (yet the terror inflicted upon citizens is unimaginable) and also the communist government that followed and did not fall until 1991.
- Holocaust Memorial Center- This brings you through the entire history of the holocaust, both before, during, and after. It’s incredibly haunting-the only thing worse I experienced was my visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Toted as one of the largest legislative buildings in the world, the gothic revival building is stunning and absolutely massive. The details on the spires, dome, and façade are incredible.
- Shoes on the Danube
It is no secret that Hungary’s past is rather grim and depressing. The Shoes on the Danube are another reminder of that. Built as a memorial to the nearly 4,000 Jews that were brought in the middle of the night to the bank of the Danube and ordered to step out of their shoes before being shot into the river by Arrow Cross militiamen, it serves as a chilling reminder of the Holocaust. As it is only steps behind Parliament, I’d definitely recommend visiting and paying your respects…just stop and think while you’re there.
- Ruin Bars
Budapest is world famous for its ruin bars, or bars that have popped up in old factories and decaying buildings. There’s ones such as Szimpla, the most famous, which has numerous rooms all crammed with odd and nifty art and décor, and ones such as Ankert which is a bit more boujee and refined. My favorites would definitely be Ankert because the vibe is great and Ellatokert, which serves food and I had the literal best burritos I have ever had in my life there. And who doesn’t love a good burrito while they’re smashed?
- Thermal Baths
Budapest sits on top of over a hundred natural hot springs, so thermal baths are a popular tradition in the city. I visited the biggest, Szechenyi, which is outdoors and so much fun! Plus, they’re a great hangover cure when you’ve had a bit too much palinka the night before.