My First Impressions of Budapest, Hungary: Things to do in Budapest

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If you learn nothing else from my first impressions of Budapest, know that it is 100% okay for you to drink the toilet water. Should you choose to test this out, I support you wholeheartedly. However, I am not liable if anything goes wrong.

Last night I watched Will Smith do the #ShiggyChallenge on a bridge that was clearly in Budapest. When I saw it I was trying to figure out why I felt like I’d walked along that bridge and I found myself looking for a landmark. I knew it had to be one of my new favorite cities. After a quick google search my suspicions were confirmed. He was in fact in Budapest and something in me yearned to be back. When I miss cities it’s an actual physical feeling that I experience, and it’s not pleasant at all.

Budapest was one of those cities where I could simply walk around and be entertained and fulfilled, so I didn’t go out of my way to do much, but I wanted to share a few things to do in Budapest that I 1000% recommend.

A Bridge A Day

A bridge a day keeps the doctor away… I’m positive there is some truth to this statement. When I spotted my first bridge in Budapest (because I’m a walker) I decided to cross it. Before I even got to the other side I spotted several bridges on either side of me and vowed to cross one a day. This was just to give myself something to do and to have different areas to check out, but it was the best decision I could have made. It led me to some of the most amazing views of Budapest and for that, I’m grateful to the beautiful inanimate objects.

Buda Castle & Hill

Like everything else, I stumbled upon Buda Castle by accident. I was looking for a free museum to check out and followed my map to a specific area. Once I crossed my first bridge I saw the castle at the top of the hill and noticed people waiting for a tram while others walked up a winding hill. Guess who I followed?

I walked up the hill to the museum and realized there were several museums/galleries and they all happened to be a part of the castle. Mind you I had no clue I was on my way to a castle until I was walking up the hill and paying attention to the walls and gates. There was even a point in my vlog where I audibly said “I think this used to be a castle.”

After checking out the museums (this could take hours) I recommend exploring Buda Hill. There are plenty of views, restaurants, and shops along the way. I took my time wandering the streets before descending down the opposite hill to explore Budapest some more.

Central Market Hall

I love food but would never claim the title of “foodie.” I sort of shocked myself by going out of my way to visit the Central Market. I thought it was too cool to pass up. I also would rather buy food and trinkets from locals rather than stores, so this was a welcomed stop on my itinerary for the day.

The Central Market Hall is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. It houses dozens upon dozens of fruit, vegetable, and food stalls. I also decided to take a peak at the second level of the hall and stumbled upon stalls that sold trinkets and souvenirs, which was exactly what I’d been looking for. You could find everything from wooden, portable chess sets to a variety of refrigerator magnets. I recommend window shopping before making a purchase because you’re sure to find something better and cheaper than what you originally wanted to purchase.

Try A Chimney Cake

While you may see these sweet treats all throughout Central Europe, the kürtőskalác (chimney cake) belongs to Budapest. In fact, I saw them being sold in Prague for about quadruple the price and refused to buy one. For about a buck, you can get the simple version of this magical deliciousness sans all the filling (ice cream, whipped cream, etc) and fluff.

I noticed the pictures of these pastries plastered on the side of stands (think NYC newspaper stands) and the long lines right in front of them. On the day I had an appetite and decided to finally indulge, I was too late and all of the stands were closed. On the day I did find one I patiently stood in line waiting for my kürtőskalács to be freshly made. I opted for the sugar/cinnamon and thought I thought it was “just okay” when I originally had it. Now I find myself still craving it to this day. And unfortunately for me there’s nothing else that tastes like it.

Matthias Church

Nestled atop Buda Hill is Matthias Church in all its glory. I love a good church, but was honestly just walking along and spotted the roof of this gorgeous structure. That quickly led to several Instagram stories and photos. It is hands down one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen in my life, possibly second to the Firenze Duomo. You don’t have to go out of your way to see this church, but Buda Hill is a MUST visit area so while you’re there, you might as well pop on over.

Gellért Thermal Bath

This is the one thing on this list that I didn’t actually do but would totally go for during my next visit to Budapest. While crossing my “bridge of the day” I noticed people going into this building and simply assumed it was a museum. It turned out to be Hotel Gellért and it was confirmed later to be a big deal when I overheard a woman spotting it and pointing it out to her husband.

While walking through the lobby I noticed people in bathing suits going in and out of various rooms but I didn’t expect them to be partaking in thermal baths. Now I wish I would’ve known about this activity to beforehand. Gellért Spa is not only one of the most famous spa baths in Europe, but the leading thermal bathhouse in Budapest.

Views from the Citadella

As with most things I stumble upon, I noticed people walking up a hill after I left Hotel Gellért. Naturally, I decided to follow. It wasn’t the most pleasant hike but each time I reached the point where I thought it ended, I decided to go higher. At one point I realized I must have been on the trail I’d read about the night before. It was a place where, once you reach the top, you should be able get the best views of Budapest from the highest point in the city. And I was unintentionally there. On a clear day it’s said that you should be able to see the mountains of Slovakia and of course I think I did.

Checking out views from the top of buildings and hills was a theme of my most recent eurotrip and now a new tradition that I must carry on. There are stalls selling snacks and drinks if you need to refuel for your trip back down the hill which is obviously easier than the trek up.

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  1. I have been wanting to visit Budapest for so many years but haven’t had the time to visit yet! I love large marketplaces in general and the central market here sounds right up my alley!

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