Happy Travel Tuesday! This week I’ll tell you about my trip to Budapest, Hungary.
As it turns out, I’m really horrible at geography and I’m even worse at history. (I was asleep a lot…) Teenage Lisa really wasn’t interested in European history and College Lisa decided to take History of New York , so it’s fair to say there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge of European history, including the Cold War and the Iron Curtain. When I decided to embark on this journey to Prague, I imagined lots of gray. Just…everywhere. Buildings, clothing, food, whatever. I’d done my research (into brunch spots and coffeeshops, obviously the important stuff) but I figured those were the exceptions. Instead, Prague turned out to be one of the most beautiful cities I visited while in Europe.
Budapest looks the way I thought Prague would. There’s a lot of gray. Where I was traveling, of course. I can’t speak to the entire city, but certainly not as colorful as Prague is. The two cities are often compared and whether that’s fair or not, I can’t say, but Prague was my point of reference, so there it is. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful in its own way, though, quite the opposite. Enough prologue, though, let’s get to it.
Where We Stayed
After my week long solo trip to Spain and Portugal, it was nice to go on this trip with my friends and Husband. We decided to stay at an Airbnb in the Josefov neighborhood. It was a super cozy space and since we were only there for the weekend, it was exactly what we needed.
What We Did
This building is huge! Also, it’s pretty cool to look at, which is really all we could do. We only spent a couple of minutes here.
Home to Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and the Holy Trinity Column. This is the go-to spot in Budapest for tourists. Be sure to take the funicular for a cutesy (albeit short) experience.
My personal favorite was the Holy Trinity Column. We didn’t go inside, but the colors and architecture of this building were really beautiful and unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Fisherman’s Bastion is a cool piece of architecture as well, but I was more interested in its maze-like passages that made it seem like I was in some sort of medieval labyrinth.
Buda Castle has the most amazing view of the city. We happened to get there as the sun was setting and the street lights were coming on and it was gorgeous.
You can’t come to Budapest and not try at least one thermal bath. We managed to squeeze in visits to two. These thermal baths are said to have healing properties. I can’t say that I necessarily felt healed, but given the fact that it was cold and snowy the entire weekend we were here, it was definitely a welcome reprieve from the weather.
The first one we went to was Gellert Spa and Bath. Simply put, it was a fantastic time. There are different rooms that house different baths of varying temperatures. There are also steam rooms, saunas, and even ice baths. (You have to try it! I’m not saying you’ll like it, but definitely worth trying once in your life.) On top of that, it’s really just beautiful. The green and blue hues and fountains make for a really luxurious time.
The second one we went to (in the snow) was the Szechenyi Bath. This is one of the famed outdoor baths, with good reason. I was really nervous to go out into the snow in my bikini to make it down the stairs to the pool, but what a unique experience. The bath, of course, is super warm, but with the steam rising from the pool, you’ll quickly forget that it’s freezing outside and just get to relax. Getting out of course, is a mission. Inside, I’ll say that I liked Gellert Spa and Bath’s offerings a bit more, but Szechenyi also had some cool features. In addition to steam rooms and saunas, there was a color room and showers that alternated cold and hot water. Definitely a can’t miss if you’re in Budapest.
Where I Ate (and Drank!)
Stika is the sort of place that wouldn’t be out of place in gentrified Brooklyn. Minimalist decor, tons of different coffee options made by the bearded and tattooed barista, etc. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my brunch here, I’m just painting a picture for you. I got my brunch go-to, eggs benedict and chai latte. The eggs benedict were great, the chai latte was just okay. There was a bit of a wait, but not too unbearable. It was a nice start to the day.
I read about this place on Great Trips’ Instagram and it came in handy when we were starving after visiting Gellert. We wanted to try something Hungarian, but something also a little modern and Steg was the best of both worlds. I ordered fish soup and a wrap. Both were pretty good, but I think I liked the fish soup more. It was something new and had a nice kick. Bonus points for having games on the tables and for fantastic service.
Budapest is famous for what are known as ruin bars. Started out in abandoned, run down buildings, they’re known for their cheap drinks and quirky decor. Szimpla Kert is credited as being one of the very first ruin bars. It’s really a sight to behold, with art, signs, objects, and lights everywhere – on the walls, ceilings, every single nook and cranny. It’s wild. There are also live performances, but we didn’t get to see any when we were there. We were there on a Saturday night, so it was pretty busy, but not packed to the point where you couldn’t move.
Budapest was such a fun trip and really took me by surprise. I can’t wait to visit again in the warmer weather.