Visiting Budapest in 3 Days – Day 1

Budapeste - 74 The Parliament seen from the Buda Castle 

The last of three cities from a wonderful trip to Central Europe.

So we met Budapest, in the evening of an Autumn day, with bright colors and mystical landscapes, constrasting with the cosmopolitan side of the city, and we soon fell in love.
Budapest is exactly that, a place where we find a medieval castle, a gothic church, a Baroque building, a hidden alley, a luxurious avenue, a square filled with bars and cafés, where we find a bit of everything and where the past, present and future live in harmony!

It’s the city of two cities, the mysterious and magical Buda city, and the agitated, business city of Pest.

An excellent way to finish this travel through three dstinct cities, with so much history in common.

Budapeste - 26mHistory of Budapest

Budapest supposedly began in the I century BC, when it was occupied by the romans, who stayed there for centuries.

In 826 was the time for the Magyars tribes to install themselves in the region.
In 1000, the famous King Stephen is coronated and declares the country as a Christian State.
Followed the Mongolian invasions during the XIII century.

Later, between 1458-90 the city becomes one of the main capitals of the European Renaissance, during the reign of  Mátyás.

Budapeste - 27Saint Stephen’s Cathedral 

Already in the XVI century, the Turkish invaded the city and there stayed for 150 years, until 1686 when the city met freedom by the hands of an European army ally. The Habsburgs then started to control Hungary (remember them from the history of Vienna, right?! See).

In the following centuries came the Reform Era, during which several public institutions were created and the city evolved positively.

Between 1848-49 took place the Independence War, while the country tried to become free from the Austrian Empire, without success, until in 1867 an agreement was made to establish a double monarchy between Austria and Hungary.

In 1918, after the World War I, the empires dissociate.

Budapeste - 62Later, the Russians with helped to free the country from the Nazi Germany of the World War II, and the country fell in a Communist period for around 45 years, until in 1989 free elections were announced.

With this brief history summary we are able to realize that Budapest has a lot of architecture from Renaissance, there’s art in every corner, it also has a very noticeable Imperial influence, from the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, it also has, in some areas, a darker face, influence of the communism years, but above all, it clearly has, a very bohemian culture.

Budapeste - 108And so, after traveling a bit through history, let’s travel around the city!

Similarly to the other cities, Prague and Vienna, I elaborated a three day guide, we didn’t do everything we wanted to, but it was perfectly enough to get to know the essence of Budapest and wanting to return in the future.

It’s a very cost accessible city, the visiting places and transportation are quite cheaper than other European cities (coming from Vienna also makes everything seem cheaper!).
The city can easily be divided in five areas, we didn’t go to all of them, but we were in three, so I’ll tell you about what we did in three days and what I suggest in case you have more time, five days seem enough to me.

Budapeste - 10 View over the Gellért Hotel, famous for its thermal baths 

The city can be divided into the following five areas:
– Castle District – Buda
– Lipótvaros (Parliament) – Pest
– Belváros – Pest
– Gellért-Hegy and Rózsadomb – Buda
– Oktogon and Városliget – Pest

We only visited the first three, so I’ll mostly talk about those.

Budapeste - 251st DAY

– Belváros

We arrived late in the city, by train (travel time: 4h) from Vienna, the station building promised a very pretty and agitated city. The sun was up, despite the cold, and we went to the hotel (see) to leave the bags and go out to discover the city.

Once it was late, we chose to walk around the nearest area of the hotel, Belváros, and leave the other places for the next days.

Budapeste - 3Vorosmarty tér Square

In Belváros there are some places where you can visit the interior or simple choose to walk around and enjoy the city as a local, not a tourist, and that’s what we did. Wandering around without a specific destination, discovering a lively city, with a wonderful bohemian touch, and a surprise in each corner.

Budapeste - 41Váci utca

We continued our trip (walking, of course) by the most famous street in the city, Váci utca. This street is filled with restaurants, bars, cafés, clothing, jewelry and  book stores, among many other things.

The beautiful terraces pile up on top of each other and everywhere we look there’s an immensity of people.

If you wish to stop for a coffee or to eat something, the bars and cafés are a great option, not the restaurants, once here they’re much more expensive than in other areas of the city, and they’ve got nothing of tradtitonal, the true tourist hunting places (this doesn’t mean that there can’t be a good one, but in general, that’s not what happens, unfortunately), however, to better enjoy this area, I advise you to have a coffee in one of the oldest and most famous cafés in the city.

Budapeste - 2Gerbeaud

For me, the most interesting one is probably the Gerbeaud, at the Vorosmarty tér square, which can be considered the north end of Váci utca. This square is also, by itself, a beautiful place, with a bohemian and imperial environment, and in December it transformes into a Christmas Market.

This avenue, which in the medieval period crossed Pest from one end to the other, has been a place to walk around and shop from the beginning of the  XVIII century, reaching its pinnacle in the end of the XIX century, beginning of the XX century.
Nowadays, it’s still a landmark in the city, and one of the most visited areas by tourists and also by locals for their dates and usual meetings; for shopping, currently the best stores are in the Andrássy Avenue.

Budapeste - 4Interior of the Váci uca church

In the Belváros area there are three important places to visit (we opted to not enter any of the museums because we didn’t have the time that day):

The Nagy Zsinagóga and Zsidó Múzeum or Great Synagogue is the second largest in the world (the biggest is in New York City) and the Jewish Museum next to it, portrays the holocaust in Hungary.

Budapeste - 24The Great Synagogue

The Great Synagogue is an imposing, beautiful and eclectic building, on its back is located a memorial park where are buried many of the Jews who died when this region of the city became a guetto.

As to the Jewish Musuem, it shares with the world, the holocaust tragedy, with photographs from that period.

Budapeste - 23Hungarian National Museum

The Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum or Hunagrian National Museum is the largest in the country and home of one of the most important pieces to the people, the Coronation Mantle of King Stephen I.

Installed in a neoclassical colossus, the museum was born from the initiative of the great reformist of the city, Ferenc Széchényi, in 1847 by the hands of the architect Mihály.

Here you’ll find a wide collection of prints, manuscripts, books, maps, medieval stone sculptures, Roman lapidary and all the history from the beginnng of the city to the freedom from communism.

Budapeste - 22 Budapeste - 21Most important thing: feel yourselves stepping in history, because it was in the stairs of this building (exterior staircase) that one of the most significant moments of the country took place, the national anthem by the words of the poet Sándor Petofi exhorting the Hungarians to free themselves from the Habsburgs. Maybe one of the main causes of the Independence War of 1848-49, which the Habsburgs would win.

The Iparmuvészeti Múzeum, or Museum of Applied Arts, is another place of interest in the region of Belváros and it’s worthy for itself, independently of its collections, being a perfect example of the Secessionist architecture, with Islamic and Hindu features, and several oriental themes. The building was inaugurated for the World Exhibition of Vienna in 1873, but in that time without the current architectural and decorative side, which happened later in 1896.

Inside it’s possible to find antiques, furniture and art noveau decorations, ceramics, texiles, silvers and prints of the museums great collections.

If this type of museum doesn’t please you, at least don’t miss its exterior beauty.

Budapeste - 7

Budapeste - 6 Great Market

On the other end of Váci utca we finished our walk at the Great Market, the Nagycsarnok. Constructed in the end of the XIX century, it is a beautiful art noveau building, that is more fascinating on the outside, than the inside. Inside we find three floors with lots of stalls with a wide range of ingredients with very good looks, and also artisanal pieces.

Budapeste - 18

It’s not so amazing as some other markets we already visited in other countries, but it serves its purpose well for the city.

  Budapeste - 19       Budapeste - 12       Budapeste - 14

Budapeste - 16

After this wonderful and refreshing walk, which allowed us to meet a part of Pest, we returned to the hotel, in order to rest a bit and get ready to a traditional Hungarian dinner at the És Bisztró restaurant of the Hotel Kempinski (see).

Where to Stay
InterContinental Budapest
Kempinski Hotel Corvinus

Versão Portuguesa

Text: Cíntia Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses with Sony A7S

– The pictures don’t always represent our first passage in some of the places or even the same day of the travel.

This article is the 1st of 2 articles of our Budapest Guide 

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