It was a lovely day of Spring when I first created my plan on what to see in Budapest. The weather was warm, the air smelled sweet, and the trees were already blooming. I've long read stories of Romanian intellectuals who took the road for better learning opportunities in Budapest and been wanting to visit the Hungarian capital for far too many years to still count.
There are far too many places to visit and things to do in Budapest. In fact, my affair with Budapest was out of ordinary. It was the first ever city which reminded me of various European cities at once. I remember starting my morning walking by the Danube, which in turn reminded me of London's Thames. Some streets took me to Barcelona, others reminded me of Romania's Sighisoara. Major churches took me in small German towns, whilst other's made me admire Rome once more. The majestic bridges made me think of Paris whilst certain interiors brought me back to Vienna. Budapest is magic, I say to myself! A couple of days in Budapest were enough for me to fall in love. And as in love as I might have been, my mind was everywhere but down to Earth. Emails came from readers asking me about what to see in Budapest and in my infatuated state, I advised everyone to ditch any Budapest guide and just come and see. Budapest was my new Paris, the city of love, the city of romance.
Months have gone by, hoping that my infatuation will ease on me, but instead, I found myself day dreaming of my next Budapest visit. We are so often asked what is our favourite city here, what is our favourite country there. As travellers, it's difficult to just pick one place and stick with it. The more we see, the more we evolve and our tastes change accordingly. A decade ago, I would have been madly in love with London but having passionate affairs with Paris. Today, I can't stand the thought of being far away from Tokyo, yet I'm shamelessly flirting with various European cities. Everyone said that Budapest is one of those gems on the Danube. Budapest truly took my breath away in ways I can't even describe. One moment, I was admiring a vibrant, fast-paced city, the other, I was smiling in expectation, looking at the quietest sunset I've ever experienced in a European capital.
What to see in Budapest
If I were to give you one advice, it would be to just visit everything and nothing specific. Your visit to Budapest should be like a blind date, where you seek to discover, but without knowing what you are precisely looking for. There are, however, Budapest sights which I wouldn't bear for you to miss. But remember, that timing is of the essence. For example, visit the Fisherman's Basion on the Buda side, but during night time. This will enable you to forget about the tourists and have the place for yourself. Indulge yourself in photographing the fantastic House of Parliament through the great arches.
Start your morning as early as possible, and have a walk next to the Danube. Sunday mornings are ideal for walks on the Elizabeth bridge. Cross to the Pest side and meander around the city centre. Saturday night is known to be great for partying, which makes Sunday morning the best time to photograph a more deserted Budapest, just before brunch time. As the city awakens, the streets soon fill with families eager to promenade along the centre. Now it's the time to hunt for some traditional Hungarian cuisine. Try the langos at Retro Làngos Büfé place. We shed tears of joy upon tasting this magnificent fried bread topped with sour cream and cheese. Guaranteed for your taste buds to attain nirvana.
A more non-conventional place is the Lucky7 burger. Not only the service was impeccable, but the cooked to perfection burgers were hugged by the softest brioche bun I've ever tasted.
For the best place to stay in Budapest, I recommend the Buda side without a shadow of a doubt. But do note that we are not party people, so having a quiet night, in a safe and elegant neighborhood was essential for us. Should you wish to taste the wicked side of Budapest, then Pest is where you need to get accommodation.
Beyond the beautiful, exciting, and sexy Budapest, there is a relaxing, soothing part of the city which many know of but few take the time to explore: The Budapest Spa. Known for its incredible thermal waters, Budapest attracts countless spa enthusiasts who wish to experience the health benefits of the hot spring waters. I couldn't miss the opportunity of soaking in the Gellért Spa. I bounced between the swimming pool and the thermal waters.
Relaxed, invigorated, spend the rest of the day wandering around Pest, with the camera in your hand. Take each street, explore each possibility. Stop and eat, buy, taste. Don't be afraid to experience Budapest with all your senses.
I'm not going to skip the sunset, which looks like an explosion of soft hues, gently painting the skies for your visual pleasures. Take a seat by the Danube, on the Pest side, and get lost in your thoughts, allow yourself to just fall in love with Budapest, once more.