Budapest was my first trip to Eastern Europe and I have to say, it left me with a great first impression. Budapest is truly a beautiful place, not to mention an architecture lover’s heaven. The many cultural influences that affected Budapest during its long history are still visible (it’s not all fixed up as in Western Europe), which makes exploring it that much more interesting.
I’ll admit that Budapest is a little rough on the edges and maybe even scruffy at times, but that’s what won me over. Marc and I spent four days in Budapest, which was only enough to scratch the surface – it definitely deserves a second visit!
On our first day, we climbed the Gellért Hill for an amazing view over the city. It wasn’t a short climb but it was well worth it. Overlooking the Danube river, you can see both the Buda side and the Pest side, which used to be separate cities until 1873. Can you imagine if they had decided to call the union of the two cities ‘Pestbuda’? 🙂
The Pest side is flat and more industrial looking. It’s also the urban center so it feels busier and more lively. Some parts reminded me of Toronto at night!
The Buda side is more hilly compared to the Pest side. Below, you can spot the massive Buda Castle which used to be the former Hungarian and Austro-Hungarian royal palace.
The Castle District on the Buda side is where most of the sight-seeing attractions are located. If you go at the right time, you can even witness changing of the guards.
Marc is not a guard but he stands like one, don’t you think?
The Turul is a mythical bird and a national symbol. Any animal holding a sword is cool in my books!
My favourite architecture at the Castle District was the Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s made up of seven towers, representing the seven Magyar tribes that first settled in Hungary.
I loved the Neo-Gothic inspirations and the photogenic arches…
…and the gorgeous view overlooking the Parliament building on the Pest side.
The Matthias Church right beside the Fisherman’s Bastion was built in the 13th century. It’s hard to imagine it as the main mosque when the Turks ruled Buda.
The Hungarian Parliament Building is probably one of the most impressive architecture in Budapest. Look at how small the cars look against it!
We took a night cruise on the Danube River and got to see the Parliament all lit up. I think it’s even prettier at night.
What you can’t see from these photos are the incredible details on the façade of the Parliament, showcasing statues of Hungarian rulers and military figures.
The Budapest bridges are also very pretty, like the Chain Bridge – which was the first bridge across the Danube river, igniting the economic revival of Hungary.
Legend has it that the sculptor of the lions at the entrance of the bridge committed suicide after realizing that he had forgotten to carve out the tongues. Not true! Apparently the tongues do exist, but can only be seen from above.
Another beautiful architecture I really loved is the New York Cafe, aka ‘the most beautiful cafe in the world’. We went in and just had to take some dessert to thoroughly enjoy the interior. It is huge and absolutely gorgeous everywhere you look. The food is very overpriced and to be honest, we were pretty disappointed with the quality of the dessert. Do keep in mind though that my level of pickiness with food has sky-rocketed since I started living in France, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing, right? 😉
Since we love trying local dishes everywhere we go, we started exploring the Hungarian cuisine by going to the Central Market Hall (which has really cool looking roofs if you asked me).
Paprika can be found in many Hungarian dishes and in every corner of the market!
Some of the most memorable dishes we tried on the trip were stuffed cabbage, goulash soup and Chimney Cake. They were more delicious than they appear 😉 . Authentic Hungary dishes are pretty heavy and rich, thank goodness we always get to work these excess calories off by wandering around in the city.
Thanks for reading et à la prochaine!