Budapest is a remarkable city to visit, the buildings range from beautiful, grand and immaculately kept to grungy, falling to pieces and riddled with bullet holes (some still unpatched). With the last Hungarian Revolution occurring in 1956 (where approx. 3000 were killed after a student demonstration escalated) and the Russians only leaving the country in 1991, Budapest has a volatile history.
On our last day we met an old man called Laszlo (the name derives from a famous 11th Century King of Hungary) who gave us his life story and described some of the tough times that Hungary has seen. He described how the police would take people from their homes to vote if they didn’t go themselves, and how there was only 1 party to tick when you got to the polling booth. How it was almost impossible to travel, despite being able to easily get a passport, because no-one would exchange the Hungarian Forint, so effectively you were broke when you left the country. Laszlo never thought he would live to see the day that the Russians left Hungary, he said that the liberty to travel and live life how you wish, since the Russians left, has been the most incredible gift. It goes to show how lucky we are.
Lachlan with Laszlo and his dog Doti
We spent a long weekend in Budapest and managed to cover a lot of the city on our single speed bikes in a few days; however, you could easily spend a week in this beautiful city and not run out of things to do. A few of our favourite places worth seeing & visiting are:
With a rich café culture, the extensive selection of amazing & highly recommended cafes made it hard to choose. Espresso Embassy was really good, the staff were so friendly & helpful, and they have an amazing selection of coffee to purchase along with tasty treats, both savory & sweet! Ask for the Apple, Walnut & Poppy Seed Traditional Jewish cake, its unbelievably good (see top right in the picture above)!
(Photo credit – to the official website of Lukacs Baths, we didn’t end up getting any!)
Budapest is well known for its Thermal baths and the health benefits of its thermal waters. Our favorite place was Lukacs Baths, it was the most cost effective baths we could find and had some amazing old baths which are the oldest consistently running baths in the City. Baths have been in operation here since the 12th Century. The Sauna runs at 85 degrees, try doing a 20min stint followed by 5min in the cold tub…. It’s a journey!
This is from the other baths we visited in Budapest, the ‘Gellért Baths’
Our Amazing Lunch, at ‘Grandma’s House’
We came across this quaint little spot by accident. Think local cuisine served in your Grandmas sitting room, wallpaper mixed with floral everywhere, and you will have some idea of what its like. Its right over the road from the Lukacs Baths so easy to stop by after a long relaxing spa.
The shoes on the Danube
The shoes on the Danube is a memorial to honour the Jews who were lined up on the banks of the Danube and ordered to take off their shoes before being shot and pushed into the Danube so that their bodies were dragged away by the current.
Mazel Tov was recommended to us by a Slovenian guy, Marco, at Trail days in Kranjska Gora. It is a Jewish restaurant serving a range of Israeli street food and modern cuisine. The food is spectacular, but what really makes the place is the live music. While we were there a young guy used a loop machine to build up modern pop songs using only his Violin, it was unreal!
The Central Market Hall
A great place to get some local cured meats! The garlic one was our favourite.
This castle is located in the Budapest Park, if you are going to Budapest in a van like us there is a massive carpark on the edge of the park that is free and you are allowed to camp in. This is really close to town and makes the visit to Budapest 100 times easier.
Located on west side of the city over-looking the Danube and the city. Half way to the Citadella there is an old roman half circle shaped monument, Fun fact – if you whisper on one corner your voice echo’s around to the other corner.
The view from the top of the Citadella.