Budapest has been very popular lately, the number of tourists has been increasing every year. Budapest is the capital city of Hungary, with a population of 2 million people. And of course thousands of tourists every day. As a local, I have seen the city and the main tourist spots so many times, but there is something, that is still so magical about Budapest. Every time I see the Danube with its gorgeous bridges or the Gellert-hill with the Buda Castle, I become a little child, who is amazed by everything around her. It is beautiful, peaceful and looks like a postcard. I will tell you 5 “must-do” when you are in Budapest.
1. Go sightseeing by segway or electric scooter
Budapest is a big city, especially if you would like to do sightseeing on foot. I highly recommend renting either a segway, a bike or an electric scooter. Any of these can be so useful if you would like to see the most, in a relatively short time. There are tours, where you can join a group of people and go look around in the city together with a leader, who will tell you about history, places to visit, and some hidden gems. You can also go by yourself, renting a bike for a whole day is still cheap and you won’t be extremely tired at the end of the day. My personal favorite is the electric scooter, which is available for an affordable price and even you can go up on the hill easily. There are different routes, that you can choose from. My recommendation is to go from the Heroes’ Square, through the Andrassy street, Basilica, Chain Bridge, and finish at the Buda Castle. This is a long distance and you can see many of the famous places.
2. Visit one of the famous Turkish baths
Anytime I talk to somebody who is planning to visit Hungary, I tell them to go to a bath. It is a very unique experience, something that doesn’t exist in so many other countries. There are five different thermal baths in Budapest, but my absolute favorite is the Rudas Bath. It is located next to the river Danube, at the bottom of Gellert-hill. The most unique place to relax a little bit is the jacuzzi on the top of the building, looking over the river, the Parliament, the bridges, the Budapest-Eye, and the Basilica. A lot of people visit Szechenyi-bath, which is a nice place to go, mostly in the summer, because the big pools are outside. However, it is open all year round and you can take a good dip in the swimming pool if you can handle the cold outside through the winter time. You can find several inside pools, sauna, spa sessions, massages, and relaxing areas.
3. Take a walk on the Margaret Island
Some tour guides mention Margaret Island, but I don’t think it is getting enough attention. From March to October, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Hungary. This is where locals go to meet each other, families go for a nice walk, a lot of people do yoga, running or other sports activities. You can find huge parks to play soccer, frisbee, do a picnic, or just sit down for a minute and enjoy the nature. A gorgeous fountain is waiting for you at the entrance, which has music sometimes. If you go more inside the island, you will see a zoo, a beach, restaurants, bars, ice-cream carts, and some typical Hungarian snack trucks. You must try “kurtos kalacs” (=chimney cake), and “langos” (=fried bread) to have some local special food, which is very popular between tourists as well).
4. Shopping on Vaci Street
This is the ultimate shopping street in Budapest! You will find everything! Clothes, shoes, souvenirs, liquor, handmade gifts, Hungarian food store, and so on. If you would like to save some money, I would recommend you to go to a shopping mall, which you can find within 10 minutes from Vaci Street. As a tourist, probably you will find the prices low, and very cheap items for example in the clothes stores. If you are a luxury type of person, you should to the Andrassy street to do your shopping, that’s where you can find Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and just to mention the Hungarian porcelain factory: Herendi, with beautiful hand-painted porcelain. As you walk through Vaci street, you will see a lot of restaurants with traditional Hungarian menu, Goulash-soup, chicken paprikash, Hungarian Hortobagyi style pancake, Dobos-cake, Somloi sponge-cake, I think everybody can find something to their tastes.
5. Watch the lights in the evening
Budapest is not only beautiful in the daytime. You should take a look at it in the evenings. You can’t miss seeing the Chain Bridge, the Parliament, the Buda Castle when these buildings have all their lights on and the city looks like the dark sky with billions of stars on it. If you are craving for the best view you could ever get, get a ticket to the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel and enjoy the spectacular view. The Ferris wheel is located on the Pest side if you would like to see the city from the other side, the best spot for this is the Citadel. Be ready for a long walk to the Gellert-hill (you can take public transportation as well), but the view from the top of the hill is probably giving you an unforgettable memory.
Most of the tourists come here for a few days only, which could be enough if you only would like to see the basic places. If you are interested in spending some more time when you can enjoy the real life of Budapest, I would recommend staying at least two weeks. 2 weeks is enough to see every important part and maybe go for a little bit further outside of Budapest, because Hungary is not only known for the capital city! There are so much more to see in this small, but charming country!