Like many fans of Wes Anderson's whimsical films I immediately wanted to visit Budapest after watching The Grand Budapest Hotel. Whilst Wes sure does set a pretty dreamy benchmark I can honestly say that Budapest met and exceeded my expectations. From the beautiful architecture to the delicious food options I was quickly smitten. Not to mention the incredibly reasonable prices in comparison to other parts of Europe. Here are a few tips on what to see and do when in beautiful Budapest.
Where to Stay:
The city is divided into Buda and Pest via the Danube River. Whilst landmarks such as Buda Castle are on the Buda side of the city I personally opted to stay on the Pest side. There are far more cafe, restaurant and bar options on the Pest side of the city and the street art and architecture are just as striking.
SEE AND DO
Stroll along the Danube River:
The best way to take in Budapest is to stroll along the river where you will get gorgeous views of the city and landmarks including Buda Castle, Hungarian Parliament Building, Shoes on the Danube sculpture and more.
Make sure to cross the Danube River via the beautiful blue Chain Bridge, which connects Buda and Pest.
Best vantage points:
The best places to soak up Budapest in my opinion are from the Citadel, Buda Castle and the Fisherman's Bastion. At sunset the Citadel, which sits upon Gellért Hill at the highest point of the city, is particularly striking.
City Park and Vajdahunyad Castle:
A lovely park with plenty of greenery and space for exploring. There were plenty of lovely opportunities for people and dog watching and during the wintertime there is an ice skating rink. Vajdahunyad Castle, which is truly whimsical up close, can also be found in this park.
Central Market Hall:
Strolling through food markets is one of my favourite travel rituals when in a new city. This food market is located in a lovely renovated neogothic hall. To be honest the food on the top floor wasn't great (very much 'tourist food') but I highly recommend trying the delicious strudel on the ground floor. The best food and people watching was on the lower ground level where most of the locals opted to shop.
If you happen to be visiting during the Christmas season (November - January) perusing the markets should be high up on your list. By far my favourite Christmas market in Europe with so many yummy food options. Make sure to try the potato pancakes and Chimney Cakes, which are made from delicious sweet dough that is rolled in sugar prior to roasting.
Ruin Bar District:
A very much evolving bar scene in district VII (Jewish Quarter) with new bars popping up all the time.