Why Budapest Is My Hidden Treasure Chest Travel With Cooky

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Budapest may not be the first name that springs to mind when people look to travel in Europe. The picturesque and historic Hungarian capital city has a charm that’s left a lasting hold on me. I was fortunate enough to visit here to ring in 2020 and boy… talk about things going downhill from there!

My trip to Budapest came during a backpacking trip through 4 European countries starting in Vienna, Austria on December 26th and concluding in Prague, Czech Republic 3 weeks later. In this article I will let you in on my must do activities while in brilliant Budapest and everything you need to know from costs to transportation.

Pano views from the Fisherman’s Bastion

As I am sure you are aware by now, Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is landlocked between Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Ukraine Romania and Serbia. This Eastern-European capital is actually a merger of three cities; ‘Buda’, ‘Peste’ and ‘Óbuda’ and has been known as Budapest (pronounced Buda-Pesht) since 1873. The Danube river separates Buda and Peste and is linked by the gloriously impressive Széchenyi Bridge aka Chain Bridge.

The city is one of the most photogenic in Europe with a dramatic skyline of 19th-century architecture kissing the Danube River. One of the most famous buildings you may be familiar with is the impeccable parliament building as well as a number of incredible basilicas that scatter the city skyline.

So let’s delve into what you must do when visiting this incredible place. One would not be out of place in a fairy tale.

Transportation And Getting There

As I mentioned, visiting Budapest was part of a backpacking trip that took me through Eastern Europe. Having previously researched flights to the Hungarian capital and coming up short I found an easy alternative. Europe offers some of the best budget flights and transportation in the world. It is so easy to get around from place to place, country to country, whether it be by train, plane or automobile. The most productive way to get to Hungary for me was to fly direct from the UK to another country and city that had always been on my radar, Vienna, Austria. Flights can cost as little as £40 return to the Austrian capital so I just couldn’t resist. So if you have the time why not kill two birds with one stone and see more than one wonderful European destination on your trip?

From A to B

You can then get to Budapest quite easily and inexpensively via train or bus. I personally recommend using ‘Flixbus’. This is a bus company that operates all over Eastern Europe especially is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to hop from country to country. Fares start from as little as 5 Euros if you book far enough in advance. These do start to climb closer to the departure date and so I advise getting in early to get a real bargain!

Don’t have the time to backpack across countries? Budapest airport is situated on the outskirts of the city and is accessible via bus or metro. Bus 100E departs the airport every 30 minites and gets to central in approximatley 35 minutes and is the most cost effective and efficient way of getting from plane to city and visa versa.

Budapest does not have Uber, but it does have ‘Bolt’. This runs in basically the same way and is just the Uber of Budapest. You also have the metro, trams and even rent-able electric scooters that seem to be popping up all over Europe. For short distances to hop around the city, have a go on the fantastic ‘Lime’ scooters for a fun and cheap way to explore.

No visit to Budapest will be complete without visiting some of its world-famous ‘ruin bars’. No really, Szimpla Ruin Bar was actually voted #3 best bar in the WORLD and #1 in Budapest. This bar is an endless labyrinth of quirky rooms, crazy decor and bars tucked in every nook and cranny. You cannot imagine the random decor that plasters every wall and room and looks like a jumble sale on magic mushrooms!

From smoking hookah to incredible beer, this bar has everything and is a hotspot and a buzzing centre of the Old Jewish Quarter. Words cannot aptly describe this place so here is a sneak peek of what to expect. One of the most alternate nights out you will ever experience runs from 18:00- 04:00 weekends (pre-pandemic). One word of advice would be to get there before 10 as queues around the block and long wait times after this time show how popular this place is.

Something For Everyone

Ruin bars are not the only nightlife experience here in Budapest. The hot-spot for nightlife is around the Old Jewish Quarter but there is an abundance of nightlife throughout this incredible city, whatever your style. There is an abundance of bars situated all over the city. My honest advice would be to visit some of the well-known ruin bars but also get lost in the old town alleyways and just stumble across the many hidden gems of the city.

I personally spent 2019/2020 New Year at the ‘Liget Club’. The nightclub is approximately 10-15 minute taxi journey from the Old Jewish Quarter and boasts a capacity of 5,000 persons. If you are looking to hit Hungary for a New Year Celebration I highly recommend pre-booking tickets here! What’s more, I was travelling solo and met other’s doing likewise. With the prospect of having a New Year alone, this was really one of my favourite memories of any New Year. I will cherish the memories for a lifetime due to the amazing people I met on my travels. Never be afraid to travel solo…it will be the best thing you ever did!

Did you know that Budapest has an abundance of underground hot water sources? This gives life to one of the countries top tourist attractions, the Szechenyi Bath, which first opened its doors in 1913. The hot water of the spa contains minerals including sodium, calcium magnesium hydrogen carbonate, sulfates, fluoride and meta-boric acid. For this very reason, the Spa’s are considered extremely good for the body and are said to have healing properties.

Visit there in the summertime and take part in incredible parties equipped with laser shows and DJ sets to party like never before! So don’t forget your swimmers!

Must-See Magnificent Structures

St Stephens Basilica

St Stephens Basilica with blue skies in the background

Pride of place in the centre square of the city is the amazing St Stephen’s Basilica. The cathedral is not only an attraction for its overwhelming beauty. It is also famous for its beautiful organ concerts. It is the largest church in Budapest and can accommodate an incredible 8,500 people!

In winter months the square is the epicentre of the Christmas Markets and is bustling with the sounds and smells of mulled wines and cooked meats. Lit up at night, this really is an incredible place to watch the world go by.

Parliament Building

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