It was too easy to be bowled over by Budapest.
I arrived in Budapest Kelati station by train from Vienna. It was a few stops on the metro and I reached my apartment Dolce Vita situated on the restaurant street Raday Utca. I wandered everyday out of the apartment, so I never got to eat at Raday Utca but I know the food is great because every night when I return, the good ones are filled with locals and the food smells really good. This street is also much cheaper than Vaci street which is touristy but worth a go just to see where the buzz is.
Budapest is formed by joining Buda and Pest with the various beautiful bridges that are on the Danube river. I had lots of fun walking on the bridges and enjoying the views. At night time, they turn magical because they are up in lights.
The highlight of the trip was really the food. The food in Budapest so far is really really good and you can get Michelin style food at a fraction of the price. If you’re a foodie, you’re in paradise. If you’re not a foodie, become one here coz it won’t break the bank! Budapest boasts the world’s most beautiful cafe, the New York Cafe at Boscolo hotel. Plus, if they can have the worlds finest McDonald’s, you know they’ve done something right!
My first dinner was at Alabárdos just opposite the St Mathias church. The restaurant was beautifully decorated and had a courtyard. I would have sat there if it wasn’t raining. A 4 course dinner with wine will be about 50 euros and my favorite was the Mangalica which was a small breed of Hungarian pig. It tastes like our Sio Ba, but the taste lingers on your tongue with very bite. The chocolate cake made of 3 types of chocolate was better than the Sacher torte in Salzburg 😱
My second dinner was at Laci Konyha. A bib gourmand, Michelin recommended as well. This needed Google maps as it was in a residential area about 30 minutes walk from the world’s finest McDonalds. Totally worth the walk. My 4 course dinner with wine costed me 30 euros plus tips. The highlight? The soup was really delicious. So good I had 2.
Last dinner was at Petrus which was French inspired Hungarian food. They won a bib gourmand recently and they now have the logo on their window so you won’t miss it. It’s also on a residential area and about 15 walks from Raday Utca or take the metro to Klinikak station (metro3) and walk for 5 minutes. The typical french duck confit was given a Hungarian twist and served in a bowl because the sauce was soo soo good u can slurp it up.
Lunch on my last day before heading to Croatia was the best yet. Costes Downtown didn’t disappoint. It’s near the chain bridge and is the sister restaurant of Costes which is just near our apartment at Raday Utca. I chose Downtown because the menu was slight cheaper and they served lunch. Both are Michelin starred. If you go from Monday to Friday, you get a cheaper lunch set. I paid 80 euros for my 4 course with a glass of very good Hungarian wine. It’s my most expensive so far, but where else can you find a Michelin 1 star restaurant that’s less than USD 100 these days?
Do remember to eat at the worlds finest McDonald’s at the west railway station called Nyugati palyaudvar. I had tea there. And if you can afford the queue and skip past all the tourist, eat at the most beautiful cafe in the world, the New York Cafe near Hotel Astoria. (Astoria on Metro2)
Because I planned to eat so much, of course I had to walk everywhere and scale towers so that I can work off all the goodness. Where should you go? These are my recommendations.
St Stephens Basilica is huge and imposing and it’s free to go in so please do.
Andrassy Avenue is like the Champs Elysee of Budapest. It’s a beautiful stretch with shops, greenery and cafes. You can do some shopping and indulge in the cafe culture and people watch. Along that stretch, you will see the Opera house of Budapest, the terror museum and end up in Heroes square with the museums.
Do visit the Synagogue near hotel Astoria. It’s the world’s second largest and is super beautiful inside. There is a guided tour with your entrance fee and please keep your shoulders and knees covered with a scarf else you will have to buy something like a surgeons suit from them to cover up. I always carry a scarf so I can wrap myself when I enter churches. Because it’s too it in summer to be in jeans!
All the bridges are beautiful day and night so walk walk walk them!
You have to visit the Castle district which consist of the Budapest castle, the St Mathias church, the fisherman’s bastion and of course climb the tower. Your entrance fee to the tower includes he tour so do it as it gives you the best panoramic view of the city of Budapest. And it’s 200 steps so you can burn off enough calories. You can take the funicular up near the chain bridge at Clark Adam ter.
Get up to Gellert Hill as well to see the liberty statue and also, free panoramic views of the city. You can see Parliament house quite clearly from there.
I did the cruise along the Danube as they said no trip to Budapest should be without it. But it was majorly touristy as I chose the silver line cruise and it’s also hard to take any photos when you’re on board because it’s too crowded. I recommend walking along the banks of the rivers on either side for better photos and views at your own pace and without too many people fighting for your photo opportunity.
Of course you have to walk the Grand Market hall. It’s just 5 minutes walk from Kevin Ter(Metro 3 and 4), near the apartment. The grand market hall is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Go for breakfast, buy everything from paprika and fruits, to fish and souvenirs. I had the legendary large Langos there! From there, you can walk towards the liberty bridge to Gallert Hill.
The national museum is also a beautiful building and so is the Parliament. If you’re lazy to figure out the metro, buy a ticket for the hop on hop off tours. They stop at all the major attractions 😄 and includes the boat ride.
If you’re taking the metro on your own, buy the 10 tickets for 3000HUF or 350 per ticket. Use the automated machines that accept cash and credit card and choose English. It’s very easy to use. Almost everyone speaks English so you have no worries. I felt safe walking around at night. Just be more vigilant at night if you’re walking on quiet streets. In crowded places, keep your valuables in check and close to you. Don’t leave anything unattended in the cafes especially if you’re seated outside. For money changers, change at the ones not at the super touristy areas. I managed to find one near the grand market without commission and with a good rate.
I loved Budapest for the food, the people and the sights. It gets magical and romantic at night as you walk along the river and the old buildings and bridges are lit up. It’s also cooler and more pleasant at night in summer. People in Budapest are very proud of their food and wine and they will tell you their favorites if you ask. My Italian Bnb host came to Budapest 10 years ago and he’s not regretted it. If an Italian can say food is good in Budapest, how can I refute him? 😂 Get ready to get hungry in Hungary!