When I told my Mom I was planning a visit to Budapest, Hungary this month, I’m pretty sure she was equally as excited as I was. To date, I would be one of the only family members to visit the country my mother’s side of the family comes from- something I am quite proud of. It was very cool to go see the countries my ancestors traveled from before landing in the United States via Ellis Island in New York.
Whether you have personal ties or not, however, I think Budapest is a must see when in Europe.
I hope by sharing my (AMAZING) experience in Budapest, my mother and everyone else will be inspired to visit the city that reinvigorated my appreciation for European cities. After visiting most of the capital cities across EU, admittedly, they all start to blend together. I guess it’s fair to say I’ve become “travel spoiled.” Having seen so much in the past year, it takes a hit more to bring out the shock and awe.
Budapest did just that, though. I was pleasantly shocked by the city’s beauty and moved to awe by the strong cultural and historical presence. There’s something(s) different about this city that will keep me coming back for many years to come.
Firstly, I am mildly obsessed with the architecture.
I love to find historic buildings that still hold their authenticity so strongly. It’s amazing to walk the streets and see a building like this…
The pretty Danube River that separates the busy “Pest” side of the city from the more quiet residential “Buda” side.
Local hangouts like this pool where people picnic and sunbathe.
Budapest locals are super cool. Never have I seen people just hanging out on the railing of a bridge having lunch, but I like it! This is the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube river.
Then there was my favorite part of the Budapest experience…
The baths of HEAVEN!
The Turkish baths make your swimming pool back home look like a cheap pond. I visited both of the big “houses,” Széchenyi and Gellert.
A big plus for travelers on a budget like me? Free mineral “healing” water all around the city coming out of historic looking fountains- some are sculpted into animals like lions. And if you miss a fountain on the way home, don’t worry all of the tap water in Budapest isn’t just drinkable. It’s 100% better tasting than bottled Evian.
Another thing I appreciated about Budapest were the endless accommodation options. There are hostels/hotels for any/all budget types. I tried two VERY different hostels in this city.
- Wombats City Hostel
- Loft Hostel
The first one, Wombats City Hostel, was more of a hotel than a hostel. While it was nice and extremely clean, it lacked the “at home” feeling one gets when staying in a more intimate friendly place. The service was okay. No one seemed to really care what your experience was, so long as you checked in and out on time and paid in full. I will say, however, that Wombats has an excellent location with tons of restaurant and bars on the same street. They also have some of the most comfortable hostel bed sheets I’ve encountered…(oh how I miss nice bed sheets when I travel!).
On night 5, when I switched over to the smaller Loft Hostel which is about a 20 min walk from Wombats, I felt instantly more welcomed and at home than at Wombats. The hostel is on the top floor of a historic 100 year old building that somehow stands strong to this day and it maintained well enough.The staff member that welcomed me was incredibly warm and friendly. She even offered me tea to help the cold I was nursing. I was given a full tour of the hostel and maps of the surrounding area.
Next time I visit this city, I will absolutely choose to stay at Loft based on their availability. They only have 18 beds, so booking in advance is key- a new concept to my last minute booking style, but I think it’s worth it. It’s become so important to me to feel welcomed and comfortable in the hostels I choose. After so long of being away from home, I’m constantly on the search for a place that feels just a bit like home.
So maybe it was the people, or the city itself, or something in the water…but I fell in love Budapest and can not wait to come back.