I’m going to be honest with you – when the song ‘Budapest‘ by George Ezra came out, I didn’t even know Budapest was a safe place to visit. I thought it was some city in a war torn country and I was amazed he was singing about it as loudly as he was.
It’s safe to say, geology was never my strong suit.
Once I learned it was in Hungary (yes, I had to learn this), and that Hungary is actually very safe to visit, I packed my bags and detoured north. It took me 36 hours to get there, including a 17 hour train trip, but let me tell you, it was worth every second.
Budapest is largely benefitting from the Eastern Europe tourism inflation witnessed in the past few years, and it’s really not hard to see why; it’s cheap, it’s beautiful, it’s mesmerising and it’s exciting. If my words haven’t convinced you to add it to your Europe itinerary, I hope these photos will: may I present, my top 8 reasons you need to get to Budapest ASAP!
1. The Forests of Buda
In Australia, we have ‘bushes’. Aka, acres and acres of dry, brown, dusty clumps of trees. Yes, they contain kangaroos, bugs, koalas and all of that fun stuff, but after a while, you realise the brown theme is actually kind of dull.
In Europe, and especially Budapest, they have FORESTS! Green, lush, exciting and alive spreads of trees, pine needles and streaming light. For the most part, nature excites me more then any building ever will. So take my word, take a day, take a picnic, take a map and GET LOST! Wander and wander until you’re buried so deep you can’t hear the world anymore, and it’s just you and the birds out there. Nature clarifys the soul and mind; I actually did this twice during my stay there because I had so much fun the first time!
(Obviously don’t get so lost you die out there and tell someone you’re going etc etc. Be smart kids, we’ve all heard those horror stories of people who get lost and have to eat leaves and ants to survive till they’re found.)
2. Parliament House
Yes, I just said nature excites me more than buildings, but that doesn’t mean buildings don’t excite me at all! Budapest’s Parliament House is an iconic piece of European architecture well worth the visit. Whether you’re getting up close, or enjoying this beauty from far away, it’s sure to impress. Make sure to head to the rear of the building were the public lawns provide a great spot for a picnic or rest stop during your busy day!
3. Andrássy út
They say Budapest is the Paris of the East, and after a stroll down Andrássy út, it’s easy to see why. The street is strongly reminsicent of the Champs-Élysées – the tree lined road protects a cobblestone footpath that allows pedestrians to stroll along the street, soaking up the European facades that cram the sidewalk. The street is long and there’s plenty to see, so make sure you bookmark this as a Budapest must-see.
At the top of the boulevard is Hősök tere, another must-see, and beyond that is Vajdahunyad Castle (see number 5!).
4. Hősök tere
This square rests at the top of the Andrássy út, and to say the least, it’s bloody impressive. The statue is in honor of the Seven chieftains of the Magyars, and at the base rest the Tomb of an Unknown Soldier. Even if you’re not familiar with Hungarian history, the detail on the statues is incredible, so make sure to really soak it up!
5. Vajdahunyad Castle
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: castles are COOL. I actually stumbled on this one during a late night stroll around Budapest and couldn’t wait to come back in daylight to check it out! Heralded as one of Budapest most romantic castles, the historic building is so impressive I felt as though I was transported to the 1800’s. Surrounded by lush parks, a large lake and complete with a drop iron gate, it’s well worth the stop!
6. Szechenyi Baths
Boasting 3 outdoor pools, 15 pools and water supplied to them from 2 thermal springs, Szechenyi Baths are considered the largest medicinal baths in Europe! After lugging 20+kgs of luggage around Europe for months and months, my aching body got to ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE ITS REAL HEALING POWERS. Sorry for caps, but guys… It’s holy water.
Make sure to check out the mint bath inside, that’s where the magic happens.
7. Kozmosz Vegan Restaurant
I’ve visited vegan restaurants all over the world, and this is easily in my top 5. It’s cute, kitchy, underground (literally), cheap and the food is unreal! I actually went here with an omni (meat eater) friend, and she said their spag bol (spaghetti bolognese) was the best she’s ever had! If that’s not a raving review, then I’m not sure what is.
Seriously, unreal. Get around it.
8. The Food
Finding vegan food around the world can definitely be challenging, but what I LOVED about Hungary is how Vegan friendly it was! The further east you travel, the less you’ll they use dairy products in their cooking. These means I got to engorge on salads, veggie burgers, falafel wraps and hummus platters for days and days, without stressing I was eating animal products! The best part was – I genuinely enjoyed the food too. How good!
9. Shoes on the Danube
They say a picture tells a thousand words, so I’ll let this one speak for itself.
All I’ll add is the backstory – During WWII a group of Jews were ordered to remove their shoes and were shot by Arrow Cross militiamen at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. This memorial is a tribute to these victims… Absolutely touching.
10. Hotel Parliament
If there’s something I get excited about, it’s when people WELCOME the vegan movement. Accepting is one step, but welcoming is a whole new ball game. During my stay in Budapest I rested at Hotel Parliament who welcomed me and my cause with open arms.
One thing I think is really important is supporting those that support you or your cause: this is the concept of a consumers buying power. If you spend your money on causes you want to see grow, then you are exercising your power as a consumer in an impactful way. If Hotel Parliament, or any other business, supports the vegan movement, then I feel it’s important to support them through your buying power. Your money is like water – spread it on the flowers you want to see grow.
Have you been to any of these places? Or have I left something off the list? Let me know below!