After a delayed flight, we arrived in Budapest at 10.30pm; an hour later than we were expecting. We had planned to get the airport bus to the city, before jumping on the metro to our hostel but by the time we arrived, I couldn’t face lugging my bags around! Lucky for me, Gary had pre-booked a taxi without telling me, so that was a lovely surprise!! It took about half an hour to reach our hostel. We were dropped outside what looked like a haunted apartment block and tentatively stepped inside. The insides were as decrepit as the exterior and didn’t really fill us with much hope! We hoisted our bags up two backbreaking staircases in complete darkness before spotting an old fashioned lift. Reluctantly, we both squeezed ourselves and massive bags into the tiny space to reach the hostel on the fourth floor. We finally made it to reception, only to be told there were actually two Unity hostels and unfortunately we were in the wrong one! Buggar. Luckily the hostels weren’t far apart and ten minutes later, we were tucked up in our 14 bed dorm room for the night…
On our first full day in Budapest we woke up early, eager to make the most of the sunshine and see as much as possible. We headed to the Central Market first, and wandered up and down the aisles across three floors packed with fresh fruit and veg, meat, fish, clothing and the famous Hungarian paprika. The top floor houses a collection restaurants cooking up Hungarian specialities using local produce from the market below.
After the market, we crossed the Szabadsag bridge over the Danube river from Pest into Buda to find ourselves some lunch. Stopping at ‘Vegan Love’, a street food restaurant, we stuffed ourselves with some HUGE burgers. Gary went for the sweet potato burger and I opted for their BBQ tofu burger – both delicious!
Fuelled by our burgers, we headed North towards the Citadel. We walked through the park and winding forest paths up Gellert Hill for about 45 minutes until we reached the Citadel and Liberty statue. It was about 29 degrees, so it was a sweaty climb, but the incredible views across the river were definitely worth the effort! After winding our way back down again we carried on heading North – to Buda Castle. We spent another hour or so exploring the castle grounds, which also offered some great views of Pest, including the beautiful and iconic Parliament building.
Next up on our exploration of Buda was Fisherman’s Bastion, a collection of fairytale towers built in the 19th century. It definitely felt more like we were at Disney World here – the buildings are amazing! We particularly loved Mathias Church (pictured below) and its colourful spires. We stopped for a drink in a posh cafe inside one of the buildings, under arched beams and overlooking the river. Lovely!
We continued our walk along the river until we reached Batthyany ter Metro station. Just outside, you have the best views of the Parliament building as the station is directly opposite. After snapping our generic tourist photos, our next stop was Margaret Bridge, which offers more panoramic views of the Parliament building and Gellert Hill – this is where those classic sunset/ sunrise photos of Budapest are taken!
We decided to hop down on to Margaret Island whilst we were over in that direction. The island is really pretty, and definitely worth a visit. It’s a really green space, with a small running track around the outside and a collection of bars in the middle. It’s also home to the famous dancing water feature, which plays blasts out classic tunes and spurts water in the air in time to the music! After spending seven hours on our feet by this point, we were very happy to find one of the bars had giant beanbags, so we settled down with a beer for the next hour.
We ended our mammoth nine hour day with a big dinner at a popular vegan restaurant called Napfenyes where I enjoyed a huge bowl of spicy tomato and ‘salami’ pasta with a min schnitzel and Gary opted for a Hungarian ‘sausage’ pizza – YUM. After a sleepless first night, we had no problems after this crazy day of walking and both slept like babies!
NEXT POST >>> DAY TWO IN BUDAPEST!
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