Updated: Dec 13, 2018
Picture this, the thoughts of how lucky you could be to hop a plane from LAX to Europe in order to Rome the streets of Rome, Flounce down the ave’s of Florence, get giddy on a gondola in Venice, do so many things in just about every major city, within not just one, but three different countries.
Budapest is a Big City
A week stay would be an injustice and a complete disservice to yourself because how could you possibly inhale such beauty in countries such as Italy, Croatia and now the bustling streets of Budapest. We strongly suggest to plan it! Plan to stay and when we mean stay, we don't necessarily mean the three month TravelHogz stay. Take time to plan at least three weeks to a month. Budapest is a rewarding city to do just that!
Once You Arrive
The occasional “I’ve been there” long enough to take a selfie in front of the postcard icons means even more if you take a city by it’s horns and walk it! Can't walk? There's e-scooter rentals everywhere and if you're smart, you'll rent for the length of time in Budapest to not only get a better deal, but to take in Budapest without being so darned tired. Budapest is fairly large and spread out. Though it's walkable, making your way by e-scooter is quite awesome especially if you are limited on time. There is Europe and then there is Budapest. Extremely unique in it’s own way, this vast and historical city can quickly be taken for granted if you don't know how to get around. For the Travel Hogz, The Xiaomi Mi M365 Electric Scooter with an approximate range of 18.6 Miles, could get up to 15.5 MPH was the perfect get around tool.
It's easy fold-n-carry design and ultra-lightweight makes it a fun and functional toy. Be sure to be very careful as safety comes first. Also a bit of advice ...... STAY OUT OF THE STREET ON YOUR SCOOTER!!!! You could end up on a stretcher with no real intent to be sent to the emergency, and if you are lucky enough to get there, they probably won't help much as they aren't too favorable to non Hungarians.(Walked into and emergency once for an eye problem and there were sick unattended people everywhere and the nurse at the counter yelled and sent one of the Hogz away for not speaking Hungarian).
Budapest was two cities, Buda and Pest, divided by the Danube. It was united in 1873 when it became the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And there are amazing sights on both sides of the river along with graceful bridges such as the famous Chain Bridge, so one either side of the Danube you catch unforgettable views. You can admire the Hungarian Parliament on the Pest side or the Buda Castle on the Buda side. Most who have not gathered in the true heart of this town, will say there is no main place where tourists gather. They say they gather everywhere. Not true. There are a few main places in fact. To walk is to be rewarded. Seek, find and conquer is a must. Stroll the boulevards and back streets and find what you may have otherwise missed rushing around with planned maps and itineraries. You’ll walk away a different person and it will leave you with even more of a cherished memory. How wonderful would that be????
Pest Side (Inner City - Where Downtown L.A.& Hollywood Clash)
At first glance during the day, in the inner streets of the Pest side, you might wonder what is this place? Towering ancient fading buildings that look as if they were wishing for a wrecking ball to come do its job. Bullet holes from WWII still beveled in some places. In some areas, the wrecking ball actually took up the offer. Stone piles of brick next to brick. The streets are filled with the unfortunate who maybe had a little too much to drink or in some case, a lot to drink. You'll run across benches filled with the unsavory stench of vagrants slumbering from alcohol and drug abuse. The next thing you know, you are looking at a remarkable Baroque style church with amazing architecture. Flat land with miles of massive European apartments and businesses lining both sides of the streets with the metro railways mixing in with the traffic. It's all so much to take in. But after a while of walking through, you'll find the river that clefts in twain both the Buda & the Pest side.
This is where a tourist will feel more like well....a tourist. Beautiful quaint coffee shops and restaurants line from bridge to bridge. In between some of the street of the beaten paths are more "touristy places". Very nice in deed. But if you don't mind the occasional snarl & rudeness of the fellow Magyar, we advise to take a path into the inner city because there are also great things to experience there are well. (Andrassy Street, Via Utca (near the river but upper shopping), plenty of pubs, great pizza places, several shopping malls and street food. If you think your tastebuds can handle salt like a champ, then head in!
Buda Side (The hills are alive with the sound of music!)
Filled with parks and hilly terrain, along with friendlier Hungarians, the Buda side seems to be a bit more relaxed. Is it because this side's extravagant display of affluence? Who knows. While there isn't any real proof, it's just the feeling you get, but you will definitely see a difference. There aren't really any street filled benches with homeless Hungarian drunks and the people don't seem as rough around the edges. In fact, this is the side where most of the attractions are. That could have a baring on its character. All in all, when the light are off, Budapest morphs into a glamorous princess glittery city.
Hungarians In General
You may be a bit intimidated by the hard working community, but if you are from a large city such as Los Angeles, you’ll just have to put on your game face because in some instances, you just may need it. The people are busy dealing with whatever life’s injustices has thrown their path and they take it out on tourists. Ignoring you, yelling at your travel dogs when the poor dogs are only being friendly to their neighbor. For the most part, the closer to the river you get, you will find a few more pleasant and tolerable Hungarians. The locals, where the Hogz resided, for the most part were sneering and bitter. Occasional onlookers would smile at you and the pups, but in general, they don't like tourists. After a while of being treated that way, the Hogz brought a bit of Los Angeles flare of no tolerance to this demeanor. The Hungarians with nasty attitudes could then sense that and backed off. They were a lot less willing to be as rude. Let's not get started on the older well endowed Hungarian Men. For some reason, they seemed a little intrigued with one Travel Hog in particular as if they were using x-ray vision and a mind that was in the gutter of the streets of Budapest. One perverted Hungarian even propositioned her with vile gestures while she was walking her dog! EW! Moving on!
Food In Budapest
Ask the Hogz what they did in Budapest. They ate! The first impression was that the food is generally way too salty. Before trying much of the high end food, the expectations of great food were at a low in the first few days. The fast food was horrible which they should have never indulged in to begin with. Even McDonalds was guilty of adding more salt on top of the sodium that is in the food. Ewww.
Could it be that Hungarians love to eat as every other business on the boulevard has a place to eat? You can see how watching your waistline is a challenge. An activity that should NOT be taken for granted. Just be sure to walk a lot, hit the gym or count your calories, because after indulging in their delicious traditional cookery and if you're lucky to stumble upon a place that isn't murdered with salt, you’ll really blend in with the locals. Here are the places which served had excellent, fresh food that wasn't salty, or greasy. There are also some amazing places to grab not only a cup of fantastic coffee, but also embellished with the perfect atmosphere as well! If you know the Hogz, then you know that atmosphere is, oh so, important.
Let's do the briefing on some of the Travel Hogz thumbs up best places: The Original Buda in the Westend mall (not salty), Guru in the Alle mall (Buda side), Escobar (has terrific fish and chips, greek salad and a great view of the Danube, & friendly staff), Babka Budapest (terrific hummus & beef couscous, Radisson Blue Beke Hotel (coffee, strudel, & awesome salad & fish & ships, sandwiches, delicately spicy [extremely flavored but not hot] chicken wings) Smúz-viragneked.hu (coffee - red velvet & blue velvet), KOLLÁZS - Brasserie & Bar in the 4 Season hotel (great garden salad with figs, nuts & mozzarella & fruit tea, coffee, mojitos pricey but comes with the territory) the restaurant in the Rudas baths (amazing goulash & greek salad & homemade bread & an amazing view), Vinikli Wine & Bike (excellent coffee & croissants & choco chip cookies all homemade), Caffé Torino (great snacks & excellent coffee, very friendly service.
Carlo, the owner, is from Tuscany and knows a great latte!), Good Spirit Whisky & Cocktail Bar (great chill a little spicy but good, the best mojitos and other finger gastro pub foods, love the service), Maharaja Indian Restaurant, by far THE BEST Indian Food in Budapest! The GM, Bart is amazing! The service is outstanding! For a taste of Greece try Dionysos Taverna ..... nothing short of amazing, and we believe they not only have the best Greek food in town, but also the cutest and cleanest bathrooms! Brasserie & Atrium in the Corinthia Hotel (great duck & goulash, atmosphere is nice but a bit ghostly, good service), Beefbar in Hotel Clark Budapest (absolutely the best Kobe rib Lángos in town, wonderful service & extremely friendly staff, astounding atmosphere - view of the chain bridge. There is also rooftop), Vendiak Étterem (the cutest place for indoor & outdoor atmosphere with a view of Eorvos Lorand University, great cafe latte, we absolutely adore the manager there and the staff is incredible & very friendly), and the best place for the best coffee and most relaxed atmosphere is SuWu. A good cup of coffee is always worth a quest!
Credit cards, unlike a lot of places in Split, Croatia and are widely accepted in Budapest, and surprisingly selectively in the local areas. Good thing to know when you would like a Kava and a delicious Kürtöskalács a Hungarian chimney cake (those are yummy). Now you know what the Hogz did in Budapest.
Budapest At Night
Budapest at night will sweep you off of your feet. Practically every ancient landmark is lined with lights year round similar to a Christmas presentation including the seven bridges which stitch the two sides together. These buildings and bridges are all lit up at night making them appear even more magical.
There are droves of statues and Baroque styled churches everywhere. St. Stephen’s Basilica and St. Matthias Church are by far the most beautiful churches in Budapest. They too have the nocturnal glam. However, the most dynamic sight shimmering over the Danube, is Parliament.
THINGS TO DO LIST
After eating some of the most terrific meals, you must do something to burn off those calories! Take in a museum, take a 10 mile walk, ride your Mi scooter for a couple hours around the city or spend 8-9 hours at a thermal bath house swimming. Dip in elegance in the thermal baths which go as far back as the ancient Roman times. They became far more popular when the Turks took over bringing their own proximity of thermal bathing. Since Budapest sits right on the surface of mineral thermal waters, thermal bath houses are abundant throughout the city. Don't know which one to choose from? Then, do what the Travel Hogz did and splash your way around all 5 of the major bath houses.
Budapest is an ideal spa city both for those who like thermal water and for those who dread submerging in it. Apart from the world-famous pools of curative mineral water, there’s the experience of bathing in real monuments. Some even use the baths for medicinal purposes.
Széchenyi Spa Baths in Budapest is one of the most popular and one of the largest spa baths in Europe with its 15 indoor baths and 3 grand outdoor pools. There’s no better feeling to relax in such a grand royal environment.
Built in 1913, Szechenyi Thermal Bath is the most visited and much praised attraction in Budapest: for about $21, experience pure bliss, At night, get a little romantic with your significant other. In addition to blissful, romantic and marvelous, the baths are known to be naturally medicinal. Healing certain types of illnesses but the overall it will heal your anxiety. You’ll relax like never before. There are thermal waters in the 18 pools, there are 10 saunas / steam cabins, several massage therapies, relaxation room with refreshments, facial treatments, a place to eat and more. Be sure to check the pool rules and days available for not only this location but all the others as well.
On a different note, there are the Palatinus Strand Baths at Margaret Park. Zip on over to the Disneyland of baths for about $11. The Palatinus bath is on Margaret Island, a large green excursion area in northern Pest, close to the city centre. You’ll have to cross the bridge to enter and once there the park is a massive park playground where there are motorized scooters, little golf cart cars, a water fountain with live entertainment, restaurants, monumental ruins, a hotel places to relax, play catch with your dog and of course the Palatinus Baths.
The bath opened in 1919 as a simple beach on the Danube bank, then with the construction of the large pool in 1921, it functioned as a bath and lido.
The beach quickly became very popular so an expansion was needed that was done in 1937.
The thermal springs of Margaret Island supply the water (rich in calcium-magnesium hydrocarbonate) for the pools. There 11 Outdoor Pools are including a slide and a section for children. There are 2 indoor pools one warm the other cold both are filled with the in vogue mineral water. Massages are there as well and so is the junk food goodies.
Another thermal bath to consider is Rudas Baths which has pretty much the original indoor baths from ancient times. The rooftop pool with the view of the Pest side is highly recommended in the evening to catch a sunset behind the Danube river. Dinning at the amazing restaurant over looking the city is a must. Be prepared to pay for not 1 section but 3 sections of the bath house. If you do, the cost will run you about $20.
Gellért Baths was ranking in beauty. Most of their pools were indoor but you cannot discount the 2 pools in the garden. Beautiful. For $21 You can go to all of the pools and there are also massages and a place to eat as well as a hotel.
Then there are Lukas Baths. Pretty much the same as Rudas with original pools refurbished from ancient times. However, the Hogz have yet to indulge. If you are a party animal and love the spas, there are always having SPARTIES! Why not get your feet wet while partying!
A Travel Hogz favorite by far, wss the Palatinus baths because it has more to do for less and second in line was Széchenyi Spa Baths. Whether summer, winter or fall, you can go to all of these bath houses year round and enjoy a splendid retreat for a day!
Exploring museums, historical churches, and monuments in Europe is a must. Not only does it give you something to do, but it helps you learn more about great rulers who came and went, the culture, and other cultures as well. The Museums in Budapest are a good idea to visit and some of the Hog favorites were Buda Castle which is basically 3 museums in 1, Buda Garden, St. Stephen's Basilica, Matthias Church next to Fisherman's Bastion, the Citadel (walk up to see the entire city of Pest and walk through a gorgeous park), Margaret Island (Margitsziget), Park in Central Budapest, Heroes square, and Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest City Park (near Szechenyi baths).
St. Stephen's Basilica
Gorgeous and massive. Holds the mummified hand of St. Stephen. Add coins to the tiny relic and it lights up....Pass! Just another money maker.
Heroe's square, Szechenyi Baths, & Vajdahunyad Castle
Buda Castle, Fisherman's Bastion & Matthias Church
Directly next to Buda Castle overlooking the Danube as well as most buildings on the Buda side the garden site across from a beautiful eatery to have coffee, wine or food.
The Cave Church
A hidden church back in the 1940's to hide christianity from communists and the secret police.
Also, Buda is directly above an underground cave city. If you are tolerant of tight spaces you can arrange a tour into the hidden city.