Rich in art and culture, Budapest is a favorite destination of budget travelers like me.
Food and transportation cost much lower there than in other cities in Europe, and there are a range of attractions that caters not only to solo travelers (again, like me), but also for families as well.
Those into self-care would love the city’s numerous spas and thermal baths, too.
Had I been in a regular frame of mind when I was in Budapest in the early spring of 2012, I would have done my best to see everything that I could. After all, there are a gazillion things to do in Budapest.
However, at that time I was still in a depressed mood (you can read the story of my 70-day backpacking trip in Europe to find out why) and I couldn’t muster enough energy to come up with enough things to do during my three-day stay there.
If you arrive in Budapest too tired and lazy to come up with an itinerary, here are things I suggest you can do.
Take a free walking tour.
It was in Budapest when I’ve learned about free walking tours. The tour was ran by two very funny guides; they made history so much alive. They were very informative without sounding dry, and we covered a lot of ground in two hours. We started at St. Stephen’s Basilica and made our way over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and into Castle Hill.
Aside from the general walk (which I had taken), they also offer the Communism Walk and Jewish District Walk. Check out their Facebook page: Free Budapest Walking Tours.
(Incidentally, not all cities in Europe offer free walking tours. In Italy, for example, it is even forbidden!)
Check out the city’s ruin bars.
These bars are so-called because they’re located in old buildings that have seen better days, with mismatched furniture, unpainted walls, and broken doors. From the outside, they even look like safety hazards.
Inside these pubs, however, you will find the young and trendy, or old (literal and figurative) friends chatting over coffee. Some offer free concerts to its clients, others have artwork on the walls. If there’s one thing ruin pubs have in common, however, aside from how they look, it’s the cheap price of its drinks.
Listen to street musicians in Castle Hill.
I got separated from my free walking tour group because I had stopped to listen to a street musician in Castle Hill. I have seen a lot of them in Europe; I saw my first one in Bremen and since then, I had never passed up a chance to stop and listen. They can be quite good, and some have even reduced me to tears!
So yep, basically, in three days, that’s all that I did in Budapest, aside from playing with my host’s cat, Dormi. I had planned on joining another tour group (a paid one this time) to explore the caves in Buda, but I called too late. They were already fully booked. If you have more time in this beautiful city, make sure to call in advance.
Aside from exploring the caves or enjoying its thermal baths, you can also go on a cruise along the River Danube. I know I would have loved it if I had thought of it when I was there. The Danube River splits Budapest into two (former independent) cities: Buda and Pest. The Hungarian Parliament is on the Pest side, but there are other breathtaking views you can see as well when you take the cruise.
There are many, many more wonderful things to do in Budapest. If I were given a chance to go back there, I certainly would, and next time, I would never allow heartbreak to ruin my travel again. Or at least I hope so.
Have you been to Budapest? What do you like best about the city?