Budapest Travel Guide: I arrived at Budapest through an overnight train from Krakow. The ticket was bought directly at train station. Since I knew staffs at ticket booth might not speak English at all, I wrote the train information on a piece of paper in advance, which made things so much easier.
I bought a train ticket of a two-bed compartment. Given the fact that there were not too many single travellers in that part of the world, it is highly likely that I would be the only passenger in a two-bed compartment. And my prediction turned out to be right and the entire compartment was mine that night. I could have bought a ticket for one-bed compartment to have the entire compartment, which would have cost twice as much as I paid for.
One thing to note, a one-bed compartment and a two-bed compartment are the same, while the only difference is that the second bed is folded up against the wall in a one-bed compartment. The compartment was very decent with a sink coming with running water. Each passenger was also provided a free bottled water. I arrived in Budapest in the early morning.
The Metro in Budapest was great and it was fairly easy to use. The Metro station right outside the train Station was also equipped with English speaking staff to assist tourists to purchase Metro tokens.
In Budapest, I found that almost every subway station had a few ticket inspectors and each one had to show them a valid ticket before entering the Metro system. Sometimes ticket inspectors were at the exit of metro system. I simply bought a whole-day ticket to make things easier. It was a pretty easy metro ride to my hotel in downtown. I lived in Hotel Ibis Budapest Centrum. The hotel was in a great location and the staffs were exceptionally professional and friendly.
The first thing I did right after I checked into hotel was to go to the famous Szechenyi Thermal Baths, which was right next to the famous Heroes’ Square. It is very easy to get to the Szechenyi Themal Baths by subway, since there is a metro station right next to it.
It was a great experience and I think whoever goes to Budapest should take the Thermal Bath as the #1 thing to do. The use of the locker system in the changing room was a bit tricky but some helpful locals simply helped me out.
One thing to note is that in order to swim in the central pool, everyone needs to have a swimming cap or buy a temporary swimming cap. It is better to have this ready before getting into water. The towel can be rented there for a small fee. But if it is not too much trouble, I would recommend that everyone simply brings a small towel by him/herself. The entire bath is huge with both outdoor pools and many indoor pools, each of which comes with different chemical elements and/or temperatures for various physical therapy purposes. I spent most of my time in the outside pool as follows but also tried a few indoor pools.
In the afternoon, I went to the communist statue park recommended by Rick Steves’ guidebook. To get there, I first had to take a tram ride to somewhere a bit out of the historical city centre and then took a bus from a bus station right outside a large shopping mall. The entire ride was interesting and gave me a rare chance to see how locals lived there. Surprisingly because of that, I discovered some nice eateries, a good mall and a flee market where locals hang around near the tram station where I left the tram for the bus ride. While the statue park was interesting and unique, if you are short on time in Budapest, I personally think it is skippable. The communist time souvenir there was also fairly expensive.
Next day morning, I went to the famous Budapest Grand Market hall.
After a quick walk around, I had the traditional Goulash soup, which was delicious but pretty oily.
Then I took a walk around the pest area after breakfast. My original plan was to visit the impressive Parliament. But that day, there was a session going on inside the building and no visit was allowed. What a pity. So I decided to walk around and check other areas of the Pest. Surprisingly, there was a lot to see in the Pest area, including famous Saint Stephen’s Basilica.
Below is the famous St. Stephen’s Basilica.
In the afternoon, I went to the heritage Andrássy Avenue, where there are a lot of nice restaurants. On the avenue, I checked out the Hungarian Opera House and then took another short metro ride to the famous Heroes’ Square.
After I finished hanging around the Heroes’s Square in the late afternoon, I went to another part of downtown to check out the The Great Synagogue. It seemed that the Great Synagogue closed pretty early and I did not get a chance to enter.
The next day was a highlight and I went to the Buda castle area to check where most highlights of Budapest are at. Getting to Buda was fairly easy. First, I took a walk on the legendary Chain Bridge over the Danube River. From the other side of Chain Bridge, it was possible to take a funicular to get to the hill top of Buda Castle.
To save some money, I took a less expensive min-bus to get to the hill top of Buda castle, since it was quite a walk uphill. On the way back, I simply walked all the way down, crossed the bridge and then walked to my hotel. I would highly recommended that everyone should buy a day-pass metro ticket. The trolley was everywhere and convenient with frequent stops. When I was tired, I simply got on the trolley to do sightseeing and took a break at the same time, given some trolleys run alongside the Danube river back and forth.
Below is the famous chain bridge.
The mighty Buda Castle
View of Parliament Building from the middle of the Danube River
The Fisherman’s Bastion is a popular spot.
Below is the beautiful Mathias Church.
At night time, I took a quick walk on the busy, popular but also infamous Váci Utca where many bars, night clubs, strip clubs, and restaurants were at. Since many travel resources mentioned that the entire Váci Utca was filled with various types of scams, I just went there and walk around without getting into any establishment. The entire street was filled with a lot of energy and people. Many people there tried to get me into a nightclub. I simply smiled and walked away. After I got to the other end of Váci Utca, there was a square with a lot of street vendors and street eateries. The entire area suddenly became pleasant.
This basically concluded my 3 day stay in Budapest. At the end, like many locals, I took a combined Metro and bus ride to the airport, which was inexpensive and smooth. The bus took me right outside the terminal.