Exploring Budapest: Baths, Castles and Danube River

Underrated and beautiful, Budapest is definitely one of those cities that deserve more than 24 hours. I had no idea that trying to cover the whole city in a day is an ambitious plan. Add summer crowd into the mix, and it becomes impossible. I initially intended to have at least a full day and a half in this city. But due to changes in our flight and transfer schedules, we had no choice but to let the half day go. It also happened to be Hungary’s National Day, hence, every place was nearly closed on the afternoon of our arrival.

The following morning we’re determined to make the most of whatever time we’ve left. So, we headed early to Széchenyi Baths to treat our jetlagged body with a warm soak. Thermal baths in Budapest are known for its healing qualities. And also one of the few places where you can experience traditional Turkish baths dating back to 16th century.

budapest hungary
Széchenyi Baths is the largest in Budapest consisting of 18 thermal pools both indoor and outdoor.

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

It was August and though it’s summer in Europe, the weather feels so much different from the summer I know in Southeast Asia (where it’s hot and sticky). The air is chilly despite the glaring sun. Wading into the warm water was pure bliss.

budapest hungary

budapest hungary
After the rejuvenating experience in the baths, we had a simple breakfast at California Coffee Company.

As you may have already known, Buda and Pest are actually two characters of Hungary’s capital, separated by Danube River (Europe’s second largest river). Built on hills, Buda is where all the landmarks are – the Castle district, Fisherman’s Bastion and the lovely view of The Hungarian Parliament. Pest, on the other hand, is the modern part of the city buzzing with a variety of bars, shops, and restaurants.

budapest hungary

budapest hungary
The glorious Buda Castle. We didn’t have enough time to visit it, but thankfully, we’re still able to see it from afar. A reason to come back, isn’t it?

With our limited time, we skipped the tourist musts in Pests and decided to just focused on Buda side. We crossed Danube River via the Chain Bridge and arrived in Buda in no time.

budapest hungary
A suspension bridge across Danube River that connects Buda and Pest.
budapest hungary
Boat cruises that give you a beautiful view of both Buda and Pest.

The vibrant baroque roof of Matthias Church is a site to see! Located on Castle Hill, it is the second largest church in Budapest which has been serving citizens since 1015. The unique gothic style architecture is so beautiful; I wish I was able to photograph it from a drone.

If you’re visiting as a tourist, you’ll need to pay for an admission ticket. But even if you don’t get inside, the exterior is just as remarkable.

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary
The famous Matthias Church is over 700 years old.

Literally just a few steps from the church is Fisherman’s Bastion, an ornate viewing terrace that provides a panoramic viewpoint of Danube River and Pest. The views from here are amazing!

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

budapest hungary

Despite hustling from one place to another, we had a wonderful time in Budapest. I planned too little time to explore the city because I didn’t have high expectations, but it definitely has its own charm that I’d love to get back to next time.

Oh Budapest! I look forward to the day we meet each other again.

budapest hungary

Good to know:

  • The currency used in Hungary is not Euro but Hungarian Forint. Some shops/restaurants may accept Euros but in most cases, conversion rate won’t be good and you’ll end paying more than you should. Use of bank cards is widely accepted. If you’re not planning to stay long, you can use your bank cards instead of exchanging for local money.
  • Violent crime is rare in Budapest but as with any other crowded places, be wary of tourist traps and pickpockets.
  • It’s easy to get around the city via public transport (tram, train, and buses). Not sure why, we noticed though that most are not air-conditioned (and some establishments too).
  • It’s Boo-da-pesht, not Boo-da-pest.

Have you been to Budapest?

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