Budapest, the capital of Hungary

Finland to Budapest isn't exactly close... But the two countries have more similarities than you might think at first sight!
The languages spoken in these countries are actually very closely related to each other! And the Hungarians are almost as keen of their saunas and baths as the Finns.
Two similarities. OK... maybe they don't have thát much in common but still...
Unlike Finland, Hungary is cheap, the temperatures are a little more comfortable and there is much more to see in the capital of this nation.

Lapland to Budapest

From all the way up north I had to take three planes to finally arrive at my final destination for this European winter tour. My carbon footprint immediately raised by quite a lot! But fortunately I walked every single day for about fifteen kilometers (877.5 km in total! – that would be about 545 miles.) And so I can tell to myself that I (at least tried to) diminish my footprint by a few points.

With almost an hour delay I arrive in Berlin, and I have barely twenty minutes to move on to my next plane. I sprinted out of the plane -after I almost had to beg the passengers sitting next to me who refused to stand up until more people were leaving the plane-, *sigh*, and once I was out of this metal bird, I saw that I again had to go through a security check.
Fortunately, there was almost no waiting line. I threw everything in a basket as fast as possible and hurried through the metal detector.
Two minutes later I’m standing at the check-in of my next plane, panting like I just won a medal at the Olympucs. And that’s only when I noticed that I still had plenty of time. Because the flight was delayed by an hour… The joys of airports!

When I finally arrive in Budapest it’s already after one o’clock at night, and today I thus can’t explore more of the city. Luckily I still have three full days to uncover all of Budapest secrets!

The beautiful parliament of Budapest. Impressive at the outside, but even more so from the inside!

The beautiful parliament of Budapest. Impressive at the outside, but even more so from the inside!

Exploring Budapest

I don’t know why, but I thought Budapest would gi-gan-tic. But in fact, it’s not at all!
You ca’t of course call it a small town, but the part that in my eyes was the prettiest was quite close together and was not huge.

If you don’t have much time in Budapest, I recommend to head straight to the Danube. This mighty river that divides the Hungarian capital into two sides (‘Buda’ and ‘Pest’) and it is also here that you can see most of the impressive sights of this city.

The Hungarian Parliament is beautiful and you can’t miss out on it. The building is huge and you can walk around it on all sides to get a new, spectacular view. Not only the exterior is beautiful. The interior is gorgeous as well!
Everyday you can arrange guided tours in the parliament. A ticket for an EU resident costs 2000 HUF (and 1000 for a student), about € 6.5 or $7,5.
To see the building from outside of course doesn’t cost you anything.

The Hungarian Parliament is beautifully lit at night! It even seems that it is made out of gold!

The Hungarian Parliament is beautifully lit at night! It even seems that it is made out of gold!

Across the Danube you see a lot of other stately buildings. Unfortunately it was very foggy during my stay in Budapest, and I could see these gorgeous buildings only covered in fog.
Nothing else to do than to cross one of the mighty bridges and take a closer look at some of these imposing structures.

From the parliament it only takes about ten minutes to get on the Chain Bridge, a beautiful bridge with a wide sidewalk where you can stare at both sides of Budapest without being run over by the vast amount of cars speeding next to you.
On the way to this bridge you might also see the shoes on the Danube. A monument in memory of the many Jews who were sent to extermination camps from Budapest.

The shoes at the Danube, a monument to remember the many Jewish victims of WW II.

The shoes at the Danube, a monument to remember the many Jewish victims of WW II.

The Buda side

Most tourists stay on the Pest side of the city. That’s simply because over there you can see and do the most. There are many restaurants, shops, attractions, … And in fact it is really the lively center of the town.
Across the Danube, on the Buda side, there are however also some places worth visiting.

When you have crossed the Chain Bridge, you almost immediately arrive at the Budapest castle. You can climb through the park to get to the top, or you can take a cable car to save yourself the trouble. From the castle you get a magnificent view of the Pest side of the city, but the castle itself is also spectacular to see. Walk around and go to the different floors, because there is a lot to discover. Don’t forget to look at the Fisherman’s Bastion. In my opinion the most beautiful place of the castle.
Did you see everything you wanted to see? Then head towards the gardens of the castle and move to the Citadella from here. It’s about a fifteen minute walk.
This stately fortress was not very spectacular to me, but the view you get from here is -again- phenomenal.

One of the many gorgeous buildings on the domain of the Budapest Castle.

One of the many gorgeous buildings on the domain of the Budapest Castle.

Relaxing in the thermal baths

A visit to Budapest is not complete without a visit to one of the many thermal baths.
Below the town, warm mineral waters are flowing and directly pumped into the many spas. Of course, spoiled as we humans are, we are not happy with just these hot waters. The Hungarians made the baths even more attractive by beautifully decorating all of these bathhouses spread over the city.

A visit to a thermal bath is an excellent experience, year round. Not only will you be completely relaxed after a visit, all of the locations are simply breathtaking.
Most pools are open all year round, and every season has its own charms. To avoid the crowds, it is best to go during weekdays in the morning or afternoon.

Széchenyi baths

I only went to the Széchenyi Bath, which are pretty much always mentioned as the largest and most famous baths in town. The stately building immediately makes you wonder whether you’ve arrived at the right place. “Are you sure this is not an opera hall or some museum?”. Because the abundance of marble, stately sculptures and attention to detail is to say the least spectacular.

Inside the building the luxury is perhaps even more visible, and when you finally enter the bath area you will be truly amazed.
Roman columns, marble floors, huge baths and amazing architecture. In total you can visit several dozen baths and each room has its own characteristics. Personally, I really liked the last bath and pool.
The latter bath is decorated with red marble and frescos, fringes and the overall atmosphere makes you feel zen right away. Who needs prozac anyway?!

The main attraction of this spa is of course the huge pool that you probably already have seen at some pictures of Budapest. Amidst the bright yellow walls, you can plunge into a couple pf bright blue spas that evaporate slowly into the open air. (in winter there’s an almost permanent fog! Mysterious!) Around the pools you will find beautiful images, decorations and if it’s not too cold you can go sun bathing on one of the benches.

Of course there are plenty of other pools, but if there is one bath that you must see, it is the Széchenyi Baths.

In my opinion the most gorgeous pool inside of the Szecheny thermal baths.

In my opinion the most gorgeous pool inside of the Szecheny thermal baths.

The well known outer baths of Szechenyi.

The well known outer baths of Szechenyi.

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