Budapest highlights

Stay at…

Lavender Circus. I’ve already raved about this cheap but lovely, eccentric and laid back hostel, I can’t recommend it enough.

Kitchen and common area

Shop at…

Front and Insitu. Both run by the same company and less than 5 min walk from each other (and Lavender Circus!). They stock cool tees, lomography accessories, funky jewellery, cool design-y bits and pieces, toys and and fun things like big wall stickers. There’s another cool clothing/tee shop next to Insitu as well but I can’t remember its name.

Retrock. There are two but the original one (on Ferenczy Istvan utca – also near Lavender Circus) is better. They have some new printed tees and lots of cool retro and second-hand clothes.

Szputnyik Bazár. Similar stuff to Retrock but bigger and with more retro clothes (also a bit cheaper).

Eat at…

Trofea Grill. It’s an all-you-can-eat restaurant, but quite fancy. But cheap! And the price includes unlimited alcohol! (Beer, wine or soft drinks.) There’s a buffet but they also have a live grill where you point at what you’d like and a guy grills it up in front of of you. It’s DELICIOUS and you get to sample a lot of different Hungarian foods (and other, generally tasty things). Go hungry! The staff are really friendly and they’ll explain how it works in perfect English. We went to the one on Király utca: highly recommended.

Alexandra Bookcafe, Andrássy út 39. The bookshop is lovely but go up to the top floor where the cafe is. It’s beautiful and once again, crazy cheap.

Great Market Hall, near Szabadsag Bridge. Try the Langos (pronounced “lan-gosh”) bread on the top floor. Unhealthy but DELICIOUS. The market is good for gift shopping as well – we bought some lovely lambs’ leather gloves for an excellent price (the seller knocked it down without us even needing to haggle).

Great Market Hall

Go to…

The baths. There are three main ones: Szechenyi, Gellert and Rudas (the Turkish one). We went to Szechenyi and it was fantastic. Huge. So many baths, indoor and outdoor ones. And lots of different saunas, including an aromatherapy and a light therapy sauana.

The Opera House. It’s actually cheaper to buy tickets to see a performance than it is to go on a tour of the inside, which is worth seeing either way because it’s such a beautiful building. The majority of tickets are less than AU$10 but if you leave it until an hour before the performance only the most expensive seats may be left which are more like AU$80.

House of Terror Museum. A fascinating museum about the Nazi and Communist occupations of Budapest and Hungary. It’s housed in the very building that those regimes were run from: the basement was used as a prison with rooms for torturing dissenters. The whole exhibition is very well designed with visuals and sound combining to form a powerful experience. We spent about 3 hours there.

Memento Park. Home to giant, intimidating statues which lived in the centre of Budapest during its Communist occupation. It’s a bit outside of town – you can take public transport or you can pay a bit more and take the organised bus.

St Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Walk across the Chain Bridge and up the stairs (or take the funicular if you’re a bit footsore). At the top are St Matthias Church with its beautiful tiled roof and Fisherman’s Bastion, like a fairytale castle with beautiful turrets. It also offers a great view of the famous Parliament Building on the other side of the Danube.

Fisherman's Bastion

Other things to see…

  • Andrássy Avenue (where Alexandra Bookcafe, the Opera House and the House of Terror are) is Budapest’s equivalent of the Champs-Élysées and is nice to stroll down.
  • Ride the yellow meto line. Budapest is quite walkable but this is the second oldest metro line in the world (after the London Underground) and it’s worth seeing for its charming carriages. It follows Andrássy street and it’s only 1 or 2 metres underneath the surface!
  • Vajdahunyad Castle near Szechenyi baths. It’s like a hodgepodge of different castles smooshed together into a random mixed up building.
  • Ngyugati Station, designed by Gustave Eiffel.
  • The McDonalds next to Ngyugati Station. Said to be the most beautiful McDonalds in the world (although I think the one in Porto is a strong rival for that title).

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