An ancient town originally settled by the Romans, in Budapest awaits grandeur and wonder for those who visit. A gem of Hungary, the name Budapest comes from the combination of 2 originally Bulgarian towns having sat on either side of the Danube River, Buda and Pest. After the Széchenyi Chain Bridge was built as the first permanent bridge to cross the Danube in 1849, Buda and Pest quickly integrated into each other allowing for more accessible trade and the towns quickly grew together. War and devastation wreaked Hungary during the early 1900’s and was destroyed even more through the wrath of World War II. Soviet forces blew up the Buda Castle and every bridge on the Danube as the Nazi’s refused to surrender.
Rebuilt, Budapest offers a unique way of life in the trendy city. 20% of the population of Hungary lives in Budapest, so take it from the Hungarians and go to Budapest! From amazing architecture and ancient ruins, to some of the funkiest bars in Europe, here is a few measly reasons you should add Budapest to your European Vacation.
The Budapest Thermal Baths
Seriously one of the most unique and interesting experiences I’ve had in my life. Stripping down to practically nothing, then heading outside into 45-degree weather, to take a dip in natural outdoor hot springs with hundreds of people from all over the world, is unforgettable.
There are several different locations for Thermal Baths in Budapest, though my favorite are the Széchenyi Baths, with 15 indoor baths, and a huge outdoor one, all ranging with different temperatures. Different saunas with different temperatures and aromas are there as well- and there is now even a beer bath! Take a meditating dip in a private bath with other person with natural minerals found in beer, combined with hops, and have all you can drink beer for the session!
Pro Tip- When you get there you will need to rent a locker or a cabin, and you will want to bring your own towel/robe!
The Parliament House
Built between 1885 and 1902, the Parliament house was considered one of the largest parliament buildings in the entire world, and to this day some consider it to be one of the grandest. A top sight to see in Budapest, it is he largest building in Hungary and the tallest in Budapest. The crown jewels are currently housed and on display in the building. The crown jewels of Hungary are currently housed in the building, but it has not always been so. They were held in the US reserves for a while during the trials of war and turmoil in the earlier half of the 1900’s until Jimmy Carter returned them.
691 rooms in the building she is pretty hard to miss!
Pro-Tip: To get the best view of the Parliament house, head across to the other side of the Danube and head up to the castle district!
The Ruin Pubs
The trendiest way to spend any evening in Europe is by heading out to one of the many popular Ruin Pubs Budapest has to offer! Sit in what used to be an old car repair shop, or an old apartment, or something else very bizarre, throw in some mix-matched hand-me-down furniture, and boom! You’ve got yourself a Budapest Ruin Pub. Covered in twinkling lights usually, and a hipster’s dream, head to one of these such as Szimpla kertz and enjoy the evening with really cheap beer (around €2) in one of the world’s most unique atmospheres
It’s sort if like every day is Thanksgiving. Hungarians love their beef stews, casseroles, Goulash, and dumplings. If you in search of some delicious and heavy meals for a few days- go to Hungary and chow down! For lovers of soups and stews- Budapest is the place to be!
St. Stephen’s Basilica
The 3rd largest church in Hungary, Saint Stephen’s Basilica is a sight to behold. The two towers of the church hold 6 bells, among which is the Szent István-bell (Great St. Stephan bell) the biggest bell in all of Hungary weighing in at 9250 kg (20,393 lbs) and it is usually only rung twice a year.
The Catholics do this weird things where they keep bits of dead saints, and in this church is the hand of Saint Stephen. Every year on August 26 Budapest hosts a parade to honor Saint Stephen. Who leads this parade, you ask? Oh just none other than Saint Stephen’s hand himself. He wouldn’t want to miss out on his own big day now, would he?
The Shoes on the Danube
Created in April of 2005, the memorial commemorates the lives of the Jews who were killed by the fascist Arrow Cross Militiamen. Those killed were ordered to take their shoes off before being shot. Lined up along the bank they were then shot down with arrows, left to fall away into the river. About 60 pairs of iron shoes rest on the banks of the Danube.
People often put flowers and other trinkets inside the shoes to honor those lost. A must-see while in Budapest, this humbling river-side memorial pays tribute to those lost, with the backdrop of the Buda castle in the distance.