A Return Trip To Budapest
Editors note: This is a guest post from Carley Hollis. You can check out her full bio below.
The first time I travelled to Budapest, it was the middle of July and the city was hot, stuffy and stuffed with tourists and gap-year travellers alike. It was an interesting first visit to the capital of Hungary, but I was a little unprepared for the heat of the summer in the city. My second visit was much more relaxed and after experiencing a return trip in September, I’d definitely recommend an escorted tour to Budapest for anyone who hasn’t visited the city before!
Budapest is an interesting place to visit, with cultural attractions, traditional food and thrilling history to experience. Budapest is actually two cities Buda and Pest separated by the Danube River, with a number of bridges linking the two areas. There are a number of attractions on each side from Castle Hill on the Buda side to the Hungarian Parliament Building (apparently based on the British Parliament at Westminster) on the Pest side of the river. While the biggest and most famous of the bridges spanning the Danube is the Chain Bridge, there are a number of others which are open for pedestrian crossing.
If you have time, try crossing the Petofi Bridge if you cross from the Pest to the Buda side, not only will you find a stunning view of Buda Castle, but you will also see a number of locks attached to the side of the bridge. A symbol of everlasting romance by lovers, couples buy a padlock and engrave it with their names and messages before locking it to the bridge and throwing away the key; it’s said that the couple’s love will last as long as the lock is attached to the bridge. Whether you’re visiting with a loved one and want to publicly show your adoration or just want to read the messages left by others, a trip across the bridge is a lovely reminder of Budapest as a romantic destination!
Budapest is a city of bridges, and another bridge worth visiting is Margaret Bridge. It links both sides of the city to Margaret Island and is well worth a visit. On the island is a Japanese garden, some football pitches, a small petting zoo and a tower but the main attraction on my visit was the musical fountain. As the classical music plays from the speakers set into the trees around the fountain, water shoots and falls in time with the recognizable tunes. The island is much larger than it first seems, so it may be wise to rent one of the cycle or electric cars and there’s only one way on and off the island so remember, however far you walk, you’ll have to walk back again!
Another must-do on a first time tour of Budapest is a visit one of the Budapest bath houses. These are hugely relaxing places to visit, especially after a morning of exploring the city on foot! Budapest in September is still much more like summer than autumn so a bathhouse with an outdoor pool is a great choice! I visited the GellÈrt Baths which have wonderful Art Nouveau decorations but very modern facilities, including timed lockers, fabulous steam rooms and stunning outdoor areas. There are separate men’s and women’s areas within the thermal baths; although, some locals do strip down to their birthday suits, so be warned if you enter!
My visit to Budapest culminated with a trip to TrafÛ Centre of Contemporary Arts–a cultural centre where you can find local and international art, dance and musical performances. I managed to grab some last minute tickets to see a British band (Los Campesinos!) playing at the TrafÛ and spent a wonderful evening drinking Hungarian beer (very cheap!), chatting with locals (very friendly!) and listening to the band (very good!). All in all, a great end to my second visit to Budapest!
Carley Hollis is a freelance travel writer who has written a number of articles for a wide range of online publications. She’s dedicated to finding out insider tips to a destination and wants to live like a local at each new destination! She’s based in Edinburgh and is currently planning more trips to continental Europe.
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