I keep going to places thinking that five or six days is enough time. Too often, though, it’s not, and I really felt that way with Budapest. I loved my Airbnb apartment, I was spending very little money for great meals, the weather was fabulous (mid 70s and sunny every day), and I was really enjoying myself.
And then it was time to leave. Ugh!
It was over much too soon, but I know that I’ll be back. Budapest is a wonderful travel destination and a great bargain.
In the meantime, here are a few things to know about Budapest:
- Most Hungarians speak English. Yay! This is because they know that their language is heinously difficult to learn. The Hungarian alphabet has 44 characters and features vowels and consonants like this: á, é, í, ó, ö, ő, ú, ü, ű, cs, gy, ly, ny, ty, sz, and zs. The letter s is pronounced like shhhh. sz is pronounced like an s. dzs sound like j in jazz. zs sounds like the j in bonjour. And those are the easy ones!
- While Hungary is part of the European Union, they have their own currency — the forint. It’s a bit unsettling requesting 50,000 forints from the ATM, until you do the math and realize that it’s only about $182.
- The Chain Bridge is Budapest’s most famous crossing over the Danube. While it is very beautiful, it’s Liberty Bridge that I like the most.
- Most big European cities have central, covered markets, but I don’t think any of them match the size and charm of Budapest’s Central Market Hall, conveniently located next to the Liberty Bridge!
- Public transport in Budapest is fantastic, with a sizable network of trams, buses and subways. I love their metro system in particular, because each line is like its own snapshot in time. Line 1 is the oldest with vintage carriages that look like underground street cars and stations with beautiful tile and metal work. Line 2 is fairly modern and reminds me of the subways in Italy. Line 4 is the newest, and it’s incredible. Some of the stations (like Rákóczi tér) are jaw-droppingly massive, modern and beautiful. Line 3 screams “Soviet Era” with cars and stations that are really old and worn. Oddly enough, I think I like Line 3 the best!
- I always try to take street art tours in cities that offer them. They’re usually led by people who are very passionate about their city and really connected to the creative community. I’ve taken the Alternative Budapest Tour (with Antonia) twice now, and it’s a really great way to learn about the local culture … from a local! Here are some photos from my most recent tour:
- The Alternative Budapest Tour weaves through the heart of the 7th district, which is home to the historical Jewish Quarter. It’s also the section of town that’s still dotted with the ruins of buildings bombed in WWII. These buildings exist in a legal and political limbo that keeps them from being restored or torn down. But, of course, they also sparked a trend that’s unique to Budapest: ruin pubs! As I mentioned in a previous post, Szimpla Kert is not only the most famous ruin pub … it was the first.
- Budapest also has beautiful buildings in the 7th district and everywhere else you look throughout the city:
There’s a lot more I could write about Budapest, but it’s time to start planning for my next destination. Here are the rest of my photos from Hungary’s capital city: