Budapest is one big ole beautiful spread out city that has so much to see and do! This being said, Patrick and I have unfinished business in Budapest! We took an early morning train there from Vienna and took the evening train back. It was 3 hours each way. We had about 9 hours to see and do it all in Budapest…in the rain…with two kiddos…which didn’t happen. Given this scenario though, we did see a lot! I mean we walked over 25 miles in Budapest!
It’s important to know and understand that Budapest was originally two separate cities…Buda and Pest. The Danube River splits the two sides of this city that are now connected by the famous Chain Bridge. Knowing this helps you to understand and appreciate why this city is so big and stretched out!
Our train came into the Keleti Station which is deep into the Pest side of the city. This was good because it allowed us to see and explore a lot of the Pest side, but once I saw the Buda side I had wished we had gotten to explore more of it! I guess everything happens for a reason though…Pest is relatively flat while all of the Buda sites are set into the rolling hills. We would have struggled with our stroller on the Buda side for sure!
It seems only natural to start sharing on the Buda side since it comes first in the name, but we actually visited there second.
I love the word “Serendipity” – a happy accident 🙂 We happened to be at the Elizabeth Bridge and decided to walk across it to the Pest Side instead of backtracking to the Chain Bridge. If we hadn’t we would have never experienced one of our most beautiful surprises in Budapest, the Saint Gellert Monument!
This was not even on my radar! I didn’t even know it existed! I don’t know how it wasn’t listed on all of the countless websites I researched? Maybe I bypassed it thinking “We don’t have time for another monument.”, but this isn’t just any monument! Wow! We were just walking across an unsuspecting bridge and as our eyes adjusted, we got to take in such beauty! If we ever make it back to Budapest without kids, or grown kids that can walk themselves, I am running to this place to take in that view from the top!! Well maybe not running…it would be a long run in Budapest, and who likes running anyhow 😉
Also in this area worth checking out are Gellert Hill and the Citidella.
As we walked along the Danube on the Buda side, we passed the Buda Castle…the below photo was taken from the Pest side though.
By this point in our trip I was thinking “I’ve seen enough castles, let’s skip this one.” But this castle was pretty darned beautiful and I wish we would have had time to really visit it! There is a funicular that takes you to the top, which is always fun and provides a beautiful view! Castle Hill is a UNESCO site. It always makes me sad to be so close to a UNESCO site and not get to see and experience it! Matthias Church is in this area and supposed to be really beautiful, so if visiting, be sure to check it out as well! Right next to the church is a place called Faust Wine Cellar that I read is also a must! Another place in this vicinity that I so badly wanted to see was Fisherman’s Baston, which are beautiful lookout towers. We did not make it there as the walk up the hill with the kids was too intimidating for us.
In the below photo, you can see Matthias Church with its colorful patterned roof and towers. Fisherman’s Baston is the long towered building in front of the church…just beautiful even if to just see from afar!
Next visit the beautiful Buda side will get much more of our attention!
So there is a lot to see and do on this side, but I think it is actually most appreciated from the Buda side as this is where you can get the best view of Budapest’s most impressive building, the Parliament Building.
There is a lot of beautiful architecture in Budapest, but this is something special! It’s MASSIVE! Patrick guesstimated it has to be about 3 football fields long! Side note: Only an Ex-NFLer would measure in football fields – am I right?!
My absolute favorite thing seen on the Pest side was the Shoes On The Danube Memorial. Never in my live have I ever been so moved by a monument. 60 pairs of rusted shoes in different styles and sizes line the Danube River in front of the Parliament building. Each signifies the men, women and children of Jewish dissent who were ordered to take off their shoes before being shot into the water. Reading about it prior to the trip moved me, but being there and seeing it with my own eyes, imagining the freight and terror brought out emotion I wasn’t expecting from a collection of sculptures. A definite must see if you are planning on visiting the area!
St. Stephen’s Basilica is one beautiful church from the outside! It’s allegedly beautiful on the inside and boasts a beautiful view from the top. It was named after the first King of Hungary and houses his supposed right hand. I can’t speak personally on the inside though because there was a fee to get in and I didn’t pay it. It didn’t appear to be very stroller friendly and to be honest, my kids were just at their wits end by this point of our venture. Outside of this beautiful building I experienced such joy watching my boy act like an attacking bear followed by big tackling bear hugs! Sometimes you just need to stop and have moments like this when traveling with kids! Though I’m sure beautiful from the inside, I can’t fathom a more beautiful view than my happy boy!
That happiness continued at Gelarto Rosa! A friend from college gave me the tip of this place and it is so beyond share worthy! Delicious gelato is formed into rose petals making the most beautiful cone I’ve ever seen!
This place, which is located right outside of St. Stephens Basilica, offers the most unique flavors! I went with basil and chocolate and my only regret is not getting a larger size! I will think of that place often, I’m sure of it!
Andrassy Avenue is one of the many UNESCO sites in this city. It is a unique boulevard lined with upscale shops and restaurants and some of the most beautiful mansions I’ve seen in all my life! When George Ezra sings of his “house in Budapest”, I imagine it has got to be located on Andrassy Avenue! FUN FACT: When George Ezra wrote the song “Budapest” he had actually never been there! He was supposed to go there but missed his train due to a hangover – ha! Who knew such beautiful lyrics could be penned about such a beautiful place never visited!!
City Park was such a happening place, especially for children! I’m convinced we could have happily spent the entire day there had it not been for the long list of must see’s and to-do’s I had in front of us! It is home to the UNESCO site of Heroes Square, which is a monument depicting the 7 tribes who founded Hungary…
Built to celebrate the 1,000th Anniversary of Hungary is the Vajdahunyad Castle. This 120 year old castle was unique because it boasts a moat! You always hear of castles having moats, yet of all the castles we saw this trip, only this one had a moat! It looks much older than it is, but that is because it was built to feature copies of several Hungarian landmarks at the time.
There was so much going on around this Castle! There was a lake with paddle boats, vendors selling uniquely crafted food and goods, fair grounds with rides and a permanent Circus…we had to get out of there before our kids trapped us in there all day long! We skipped over the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Gardens that also call this massive park home. However we did lustfully check out the Szechenyi Thermal Bathhouse! That sounds real creepy, but y’all, we were supposed to go here…!
We were supposed to spend the morning here splashing in the natural springs with our babies…but with my hubs torn up body from his bike accident, we could no longer safely do so 🙁 We both were so looking forward to this experience that we just had to check it out even if we didn’t get to experience it…
The last site I’ll mention is the Timewheel. It is located right outside of City Park. It is an hourglass for the year, and one of the largest hourglasses in the world! I found this concept to be so ridiculously cool, but the actual piece of art was a bit of a disappointment. For the life of me I could not see any sand falling down! One of the bottom windows was shattered on the inside so maybe this had something to do with it? I was so geeked to see this, but it was a little bit of a let down 🙁
That’s all for our day trip to Budapest! If you get the chance, definitely check out this big ole beautiful city!
Be Blessed + Be A Blessing
TIPS FOR VISITING BUDAPEST
Allow more than 1 day! This city is way too big to see in a day!
Most locals speak Hungarian, so the language will be a little different for Americans to understand.
The currency is the Hungarian Forint, however we didn’t need to exchange any money here as we found Euros or card to be accepted in all the places we visited. I believe most, but not all, do accept Euros.
Promoters really hustle tourists to buy into their Bus Tours…which can give you a negative feeling initially, but they actually are something to look into! We only spoke to them once we realized we would have to walk alllll the way back to the train station…the price was decent and the perks were worth it, but the times just didn’t work in our favor. Look into it early on to get your money’s worth!