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Best of Budapest

By Krishna Shah, October 23, 2019, Categories: Entertainment, Featured, GlobeTrotter, Reviews, Slider

Voted ‘European Best Destination 2019’, Budapest makes it to the bucket lists of many – including our globetrotter Krishna Shah. Hungary’s capital is the perfect mix of heritage, architectural awe, eclectic city life and natural attractions

It was around fifteen hours of comfortable flying time, with a stop at Doha, to reach the beautiful Budapest. There are various modes of transportation available from the airport to the main city – bus, taxi, private vehicle. I recommend the Budapest Card – the official city pass, regardless of the number of days you’re spending in the city. The pass permits use of public transport in the entire city, walking tours of Buda and Pest, entry into Lukacs Thermal Bath, Budapest Castle bus ride and entries to many museums – all for free!

First evening
As the sun went down on our first evening, we wandered along the banks of the Danube. The weather was perfectly warm and humid, making us feel welcome already. I fell in love with the vibe here.

The iron shoes on the Danube, with its rather painful history, were joy for the aesthetic eye. The memorial to the Jews who were shot by militiamen between 1940s is symbolic for the victims who were lined up and asked to take their shoes off before they were shot making their bodies drop in the river.

The calming sound of the river and the sunset cruises floating by ended our day for the start of a memorable holiday.

Big Bus Tours
The next morning, we booked seats on the Big Bus Tours via Klook, which, of course has great offers. Even if you’ve not booked in advance, you can buy your tickets at the various stands across the city where Big Bus Tours reps are always present. There are over 30 stops for ‘hop-on’ and ‘hop-off’ along the way. Being a wanderbum, I took full advantage of this facility by hopping on and off all along!

Our first stop was Gellért Hill, looking over Budapest. It is a must-visit as you get to see Buda, Pest, Chain Bridge and other popular monuments of the city from bird’s eye view. Budapest is the city of statues and the Liberty Statue on the Gellért Hill is surely one of them.

Next in our list was Fisherman’s Bastion. This is one of the most popular and most recommended tourist destinations in the city. It looks less historical and more like a fairytale castle fantasy. Though we were here in the late morning, I reckon visiting here at sunset because the night view gets more dramatic once the evening lights go up.

I loved the panoramic view of Chain Bridge, the Hungarian Parliament, the Gresham Palace and the Castle Hill. Apart from these, one cannot miss Saint Steven Chapel, Saint Laszlo Chapel and the Loft hallway inside the Matthias Church.

With this we ended our morning schedule and it was a time to feed our empty stomachs. We decided to go street-style with Turkish kebabs and continued our journey towards the next and most awaited stop, the Hungarian Parliament. ‘Gorgeous’ was the only word that crossed through my mind. I was totally taken aback with this neo-gothic building. Don’t miss seeing the structure from the back as well – its worth the walk. The opening hours are from 11 to 5 with limited availability. It is recommended to book it well in advanced.

Our bus tour included a visit to the Shoes on the Banks of Danube. We were happy to make that one again. This was the end of our first day and we hailed back to our hotel after having an amazing dinner at the Vega City.

We started our day two by crossing the lovely Chain Bridge. It is the oldest bridge connecting Buda and Pest. Designed by William Tierney Clark in 19th Century, this bridge is the architectural marvel. There are number of films shot on this bridge. It is located between the Buda Castle and the Hungarian Parliament which makes the whole area picturesque prospect, especially at night. It is worth to have a walk around it and look closely at the ‘guards’ of the bridge – the four lion statues at the front.

After this we went on to see the Buda Castle. This is a historical castle where the Kings in Hungary used to reside. Located on the Buda Hill, it is one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the entire continent. We took the funicular down and saw the Art Gallery and History Museum.

While reading up about Budapest before the trip, the one common suggestion made by every travel blogger was to experience the Thermal Baths. However, the summer heat was making us sweat enough already so we skipped the dip. It was still a visual treat to visit these baths. The Széchenyi thermal bath, largest in Budapest (and of course Europe), has both indoor and outdoor baths. Its baroque-style architecture is an absolute delight for the eyes as the shimmering blue pools are set against the canary yellow building. Large summer parasols and bright landscaping took our weariness away even without a plunge in the pool!

Other popular baths here are Rudas, estimated 450 years old and Lukacs an antiquated, beautiful bath complex (which is free on the Budapest card).

It was the end of the evening and we were famished after the visit to the baths. This time we wanted to try something local. Although, in Budapest, menus tend to be meat-heavy, there are plenty vegan and vegetarian options. We went to Café Kor, an all-day eatery with typical Hungarian dishes. We had Goulash, the Classic Hungarian Stew along with strapachka (cheesy potato noodles/dumplings).

At sundown (time-wise, not literally), we headed towards our next stop Heroes’ Square. Getting there was even more fun because we walked down, Andrássy Avenue – the most buzzing place in the city. We walked past the Terror House Museum, Hungarian Opera House and Pest Broadway. Words cannot justify the beauty of this street that gives you awe-inspiring storytellers in the form of those gorgeous buildings. While we were walking towards the Heroes’ Square, we also came across to an Indian restaurant called ‘Haveli’. Soon we reached to the major square of the city filled with iconic statues representing Hungarian Leaders. Here, apart from the square, we visited the Palace of Art – the largest concert venue of Hungary, is an architectural marvel. If we would’ve paced ourselves better, we also could have visited the Museum of Fine Arts before closing time.

Hungary has sunlight till 9 at night! But when you’re on a holiday you’re not complaining about long days. We parked ourselves at Bock Bisztró because it was ‘wine o’clock’ for us! The restaurant is very generous with their portions, and we were hungry enough to dig into everything from starters, mains and dessert.

We started late next morning, well because the day was going to be long anyway! We took our time to leisurely enjoy the city and indulge in some light shopping! We started the day with Central Market that is divided into two parts. Upstairs there are several shops selling variety of foods and downstairs mouth-watering traditional dishes to try. I couldn’t resist potato Langos – a deep-fried dough, made into a round, flat shape. After feeding my ever-empty stomach, we went on to visit the Vaci Street. Dotted with restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops, this street has everything that you might want to get back with you from Budapest.

Next we stopped at the Great Synagogue. This is a historical building in the 7th district. It is one of the largest synagogues in Europe and the second largest in the world! The moment you enter Dohaney Street, you’re awe-struck by the majestic monument. The opulence in the architecture was evident. Take your time to explore the place – the Heroes Temple, the Museum, the Jewish Cemetery and the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park.

Though on our agenda, we skipped Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden. Instead, we took a cruise on the Danube. We enjoyed the evening with a cocktail witnessing the unbelievable beauty of Budapest from the deck. This three-hour cruise took us around the city at an hour when it looks most stunning.

I didn’t want to miss visiting the ‘ruin bars’ – old Soviet buildings transformed into clubbing hotspots. We went to Instant, city’s biggest ruin bar. It stays open till 6 in the morning! It was the perfect setting to end the day with eclectic artworks and electrifying music.


I see why Budapest makes it on a traveler’s bucket list, from the very first moment I landed there. A fine combination of pleasant weather and wonderful sights. I already want to go again. There are number of festivals like, The Sziget Festival (August), Jewish festival, a Baroque festival and an international wine festival (September) along with the annual Christmas Market in the month of November make this city worth visiting all year round. My advice to anyone planning to have a budget friendly Europe trip would be, do not miss this ‘Little Paris of Middle Europe’ stretched along the banks of Danube.

As published in A-DesiFlava magazine’s Sep-Oct 2019 issue

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Krishna Shah

I am Dr Krishna living in the city of fast pace, Hong Kong. I am an educationist who strive hard to bring in the change in lives of people around me. Being a vivid reader of human behaviour and psychology, I try to counsel people who face behaviour issues. I have joined A-desiflava team as an Assistant General Manager to experience the career change and understand the industry work more closely.

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