It’s day 2 in Budapest and after a reasonably tame night out, our group is rested and ready to tackle an ambitious sightseeing itinerary. We start our day on the Buda side beginning with St. Stephen’s Basilica (opens at 9AM – allocate 30 minute visit) followed by the Great Synagogue (opens at 10AM – allocate 30-60 minute visit). Our day was too busy for guided tours so you may want to allocate more time. When we arrived to the Great Synagogue around 9:40AM it was relatively quiet with no line at the ticket booth. Within 15 minutes, several buses arrived, tourists flowed out and a lengthy line formed. My advice, be that person who starts the line so you avoid being stuck behind it.
From there you can walk 10 minutes further down the river to the Parliament building. Tickets for non-EU members cost 5400 HUF and you must use a tour guide. Due to our time constraint, we opted out of the tour and admired the building from the outside. I’ve read online it’s a long wait for a short tour but I’d welcome any contradicting feedback. With the Buda side accomplished we crossed over the Chain Bridge into the Pest side of the city. You can take a train up Castle Hill but the hike offers good views and is not challenging. It’s easy to get lost along the way but you’ll likely just end up in one of the many museums atop the hill. On that particular day, there was a fair in front of the Hungarian National Gallery featuring local delicacies, such as Kürtőskalács, draft beers and hand-made crafts. Once you’re at the top of Castle Hill, there are no wrong turns. On one side you have Matthias Church. We paid for the church entrance and Fisherman’s Bastion panoramic view. Disregard the relatively small benefit from paying for the Bastion and enjoy a nap, as it’s one of the few places I found secluded from crowds of tourists. Case and point below:
The Pest side of the city is much more touristy which result in inflated prices. Whereas a beer in Buda runs about 500 HUF on this side it’s closer to 1400 HUF (about $2.50 vs. $8). So take that, as you will. After the visit to Matthias we made our final stop to the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum. The 60-minute tour is well worth the small fee as you’ll learn about a hidden hospital used through wartime.
After all the walking, I decided I’d visit Gellert Hill and Statue and Central Market Hall on my next visit. It was time to enjoy more Hungarian beer and find a spot for dinner. I’m convinced there’s no shortage of good restaurants in Budapest, but if you need a recommendation visit KonyvBar & Restaurant. It’s designed to look like a library and its menu is inspired by actual novels. I’ll take the easy pass and rather than try to describe our meal in words, I’ll just share a few pictures:
Even if your trip to Europe begins as far away as Spain or England, make it a point to stop by Budapest. Your stomach and wallet will thank you.