Walking the Bridges of Central Europe—Budapest
The bustling city of Budapest, sectioned by the Danube, was truly a memorable stop during my trip through Europe. My first impression of this extensive city was its perfect balance between urbanization and the retention of the rich history of the place. As the city is definitely more well-known than Bratislava, it attracted more tourists and seemed more crowded. The familiar Gothic architecture was scattered across the city with the Budapest Castle, Matthias Church and other attractions that stunningly highlighted the same style. The best part of my trip to Budapest was the convenient hop-on/hop-off bus tours that offered audio-guided trips to the city’s top attractions. No plan? No problem! The buses had you covered.
THINGS TO DO:
- Budapest Castle –
Situated on what was once the Buda city, this castle housed many lineages throughout the centuries. For those who aren’t too keen on history, the view from the castle grounds is stunning and there are quite a few restaurants and cafes set up for tourists. We enjoyed the well-maintained grounds and discovered picturesque sculptures that provided a great reason to click pretty photographs. The castle is part of the larger Castle District and can be accessed either by the funicular or by a tourist golf cart that runs through the district. We took the golf cart since the line to the funicular seemed to go on for miles.
2. Fisherman’s Bastion –
This beautiful structure is one of the stops on the golf cart tour and is a must-see attraction. Though I have already mentioned the views from previous attractions to be breathtaking, panoramic views of Budapest are the best from here. Anyone looking for the perfect picture to post will find fairytale towers and window arches that look like they have popped out of a Disney movie. Some parts of the balcony can be used for free while there’s an entrance fee for others. In and around the area, there are restaurants where tourists can take a short coffee break if need be.
3. Matthias Church –
Named after King Matthias Corvinus the Fair, who remodelled the exquisite Neo-Gothic church, Matthias Church was the highlight of my trip to Budapest. It is part of the same stop on the tour as Fisherman’s Bastion. Mesmerized by the architecture and the coloured tile roofs, I couldn’t bring myself to pull away from the structure. Every time I looked at the building I saw something new and was able to find a different dimension to it. I didn’t think I could be further impressed by it before I set my eyes on its interior. There is an entrance fee but it’s completely worth it in my opinion. Romanticized by golden gothic styles, there is a certain mysterious atmosphere that excites all tourists who walk through the church’s doors. Parts of the church have been used as exhibits, with interesting facts of its history guiding the tourists through it.
4. Chain Bridge –
This is the first permanent bridge connecting the two cities of Buda and Pest over the Danube. It greatly signifies the countries development while exuding serenity and stability. The bridge is a popular attraction and is always filled with tourists walking to different sides of the now united city. It has also made several cameos in movies from all over the world. We even spotted a few models posing on the bridge in extravagant white and pink gowns, during our stay. One thing is certain about the capital— it never takes a day off.
5. Vaci Street –
This district is the haven for food and shopping lovers. With dozens of stores like H&M, CCC and souvenir stores, the district is comparable to those in Paris or Milan. An immeasurable amount of restaurants line the streets, serving cuisines ranging from Hungarian to Japanese. We spent a lot of our time in Budapest on Vaci Street, shopping, eating and people watching at different times of the day. Make sure to carry money to spend because a visit to Vaci Street has left many with a dent in their pocket.
Although Budapest is known for its famous Gellért and Széchenyi Medicinal Baths, unfortunately, my family isn’t big on swimming. So, we settled on sightseeing. People say that a trip to either one of these baths would be an experience unattainable elsewhere. The Citadella, situated on Gellert Hill, offers exceptionally beautiful views of the city and a long walk around the fortress. I would recommend adding this attraction to the itinerary on a slower day. Saint Stephens Basilica and Heroes’ Square are both stops on the hop-on/hop-off bus tours and can be visited at leisure. We were not able to visit Vajdahunyad Castle on account of lack of time but it is a recommended attraction that is situated away from the city.