The last European destination on our around-the-world ticket was Budapest, Hungary. We had previously spent two nights here, on our way from Croatia to Romania, but this was not nearly enough time to fully explore the city!
From the moment you arrive in Budapest, it is obvious that the city was once a cornerstone of the Austro-Hungarian empire. There are numerous similarities with Vienna, including some architectural masterpieces and a seemingly endless stream of cafes and bars. Despite this, Budapest definitely had more of an underground, hipster vibe, and it was also much more affordable!
Budapest is known internationally for its collective of thermal baths, so naturally we were keen to see what the fuss was about. We chose to visit the Szechenyi Thermal Bath, the largest in Budapest, and it did not disappoint! With its 18 pools, Szechenyi has something for everyone, even a whirlpool in one of the outdoor pools. The neo-baroque style architecture was was equally as impressive – with the Bath recently celebrating its 100 year anniversary!
Other than baths, Budapest is also renowned for its ‘ruin pubs‘ which are located in previously abandoned buildings in the old Jewish Quarter. Whole apartment buildings have been transformed into bars/pubs, while some also house flea markets and art galleries. We visited Szimpla Kert, the original ruin pub that opened in 2001. With multiple floors, eclectic furniture, various bars, shisha and live music, this ruin pub had it all! Shout out to our friends Nay, Luke and Georgia who helped make our exploration of the Jewish quarter (on our first Budapest trip) so much fun! Nothing like bumping into Aussies abroad!
Luckily we had decided to stay in the Jewish Quarter, and we spent many hours wandering the streets, checking out the various boutique stores and cafes along Kiraly Street! Our favourite cafe in the area was GOAMAMA Coffee – strong coffee and delicious sweets, with a side of some classic tabletop games!
The beauty of Budapest is that it is a well-connected city, and we were able to navigate to many of the sights just by walking! A short stroll from the Jewish Quarter leads you to St Stephen’s Basilica, one of the more spectacular churches we have seen on our trip! From here, we walked down to the Danube River to view the amazing Hungarian Parliament building and a touching tribute to Jews executed on the river during World War II. If you are in this area of the city, it is worth crossing the bridge to Margaret Island, the ‘green heart’ of Budapest- comprising running tracks, parkland and even a Japanese garden.
With this being our last stop in Europe, we wanted to do one final walking tour! We decided to go with Free Budapest Walking Tours and visit the Castle Hill district, which is on the ‘Buda’ side of the river. The city is divided by the Danube – each district being one half of the city’s name Buda-Pest. This district is home to a range of monuments and impressive buildings, including the Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and Fishermans Bastion, which offers the best panoramic view of the city! The tour was informative and we came away with an improved knowledge of Budapest’s (and Hungary’s!) complex history!
After around 4 months in Europe, it was time to bid farewell to the continent, knowing that we will return one day to tick more off the travel bucket list! However, it was now time for Southeast Asia!
Until next time,
AP & DT