2 Days in Budapest
Updated: Apr 10, 2022
79,187 steps walked, 198 photos taken, 11 hours of sleep total, and one weekend trip down!
Budapest was exhausting but in the best way possible. We got there early Friday morning and went straight to our hostel. This was the first hostel that I have ever stayed in, so I was not quite sure what to expect out of the experience. It was quite rowdy and quite sketchy, and I had the option to leave and switch to another hostel. In the end, I am really happy I stayed though. I am only young enough to be able to survive the party hostel scene for so long, and I had such a blast.
I really enjoy how social hostels are. As an extrovert, I love constantly meeting new people. Everyone in our hostel, and I would assume most hostels, were of all ages and were from all over the world. I met a 29-year-old man from Argentina, a 22-year-old girl from Melbourne, as well as plenty of other Americans. It was not nearly as scary as I would have guessed based on my first impression of the place.
Once we were all checked in and changed for the chilly Budapest weather, we took some welcome shots from our hostel and headed out. We walked towards Fisherman’s Bastion which was almost the opposite side of Budapest from where we were staying. I purposely planned it out so that we could take our time and make some stops along the way. I did not want our plan for the day to be too rigid or restricting because I wanted to be able to stop off wherever people wanted without being worried about time.
We walked through the city and passed the Great Synagogue towards the chain bridge. The chain bridge was impressive in and of itself. It was a nice green color and provided a lovely view of both Buda and Pest. Once we crossed, we took the funicular, a cable car that can take you up or down a hill, up to Buda Castle. I would definitely recommend the funicular despite the price because it saved us a lot of valuable time.
We walked around Buda Castle for a bit to admire the bridge and the structure itself, and we realized that we were able to use our ICOMOS cards to get into the art museum for free. The ICOMOS card is a membership that CYA provided us with that gives us free access to a bunch of different cultural exhibits and sights. We can visit the Acropolis for free, museums like the one in Buda Castle, and places like the Coliseum in Rome. If you are under 30, you can get an ICOMOS card for $70 a year here.
The museum held art from the 18th century as well as more modern pieces. The top floor was probably my favorite because it was the most modern, but all of the art was really beautiful. The dome at the top of the castle has a piece of these mache human figures that are hanging down from the ceiling. Jared and I laid under it for a while to admire the piece which provided a quick moment of peace before the chaotic adventure of the rest of the trip.
After the museum and a quick bowl of goulash soup, we headed to Matthias Church and then Fisherman’s Bastion. Both of these places were really close to each other, and it would be hard to choose which was more impressive than the other. It was sunset when we got there which gave everything this warm golden glow.
We then took the tram back down and crossed the river back to Pest. On our way back, we stopped at the Basilica. We met a few of Jared’s friends who were studying abroad in Milan and who were also staying in our hostel! They were super cool and gave us a dinner recommendation. We agreed to meet back at the hostel before going out that night, and quickly hurried to dinner.
Drum cafe was a small restaurant that I would probably normally overlook, but it was cheap and it was amazing. I got a traditional Hungarian meal called langos, fried dough with sour cream, cheese, and garlic. The others got dumplings, pork, and paprika chicken.
We were all exhausted, so we headed back to take some quick power naps and quickly get ready for our hostel’s bar crawl.
We stopped at a taqueria and some other bar, but the main highlight of the bar crawl was this ruin bar called “Instant.” Ruin bars are bars/nightclubs that are made from old ruins of communist structures. I am sure that there are plenty of other amazing ruin bars to check out, but Instant is famous for being the largest one.
Instant had 15 bars and 7 dancefloors that all played different styles of music. I wandered the club with my friends the entire night and I am still not sure that I even saw half of it. I spent most of my time at the EDM dance floor, but I also really liked the rock area and the rooftop terrace. Instant also has a pizza place built into it, so I may or may not have stopped to the side for a pineapple pizza before immediately returning to the dancefloor. We left Instant pretty late, yet still managed to spend a significant amount of time socializing with the other people in our hostel.
After far too little sleep, it was the next morning. We started off the day with brunch at this cute restaurant down the street from our hostel called Ten66. It is quite the hole in the wall, but it offered traditional Hungarian breakfast and that was all we could really ask for at that point. We figured out a rough plan for the rest of the day before heading back to the hostel to change into swimsuits and grab whatever we needed. On our way to the thermal baths, we stumbled across a small area that had these beautiful castles and churches.
We went to the Szechenyi thermal bath which was insanely gorgeous. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves on this one.
If you plan on going to the baths drink a lot of water!! Every website and travel guide in existence told me the exact same thing and for some reason I did not listen. Especially if you plan on melting in the sauna for a while, you need to drink water or you will have a headache and feel fatigued until you do. You’ve been warned.
Anyways, on our way back to the hostel we stopped at a restaurant for some Turkish food and continued to sightsee. We passed through a pork festival that was in town for the weekend, and, after an embarrassing amount of free pork and cheese samples, went to see the Parliament Building. We had seen the Parliament Building from a distance throughout the trip, but seeing it up close when it was all lit up at night time was a different experience entirely. Once again, I think I am gonna have to let the pictures speak for themselves. Nothing I say will be able to do it justice, and honestly neither will a photo that I or anyone take.
We got dinner that night at this place that basically just had huge servings of meat. It was called Grillamania and it's dank. Once again, it was cheap which I enjoyed. We got back to the hostel close to 11pm, but had another quick turnaround and another trip to our favorite place in Budapest, Instant! We ended our night there and left for the airport the next morning to head back home to Athens.
I could not ask for much more out of my first weekend trip abroad. I feel much closer to everyone I traveled with, I met a bunch of new people, and I was privileged enough to see so many beautiful things. I am obviously excited for all of my other trips, but, honestly, this one might be tough to top.