A couple of weeks ago I headed to Budapest for a few days with some friends. With extremely lacking knowledge and no expectations, I was very pleasantly surprised! As cities go, I'm not sure I've ever seen anywhere that looks so pretty in such dull weather!
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, pretty shattered after an early start and had a wander round the neighbourhood. We stayed on the Pest side of the river, about a 10 minute walk from the Chain Bridge over the Danube - a perfect location for what we needed! We decided to go for a hostel to keep costs down, and I can't recommend Wombats Hostels enough. Having stayed in their Berlin hostel last September (a trip you can read about here and here) and now Budapest, they are so reasonably priced, clean, friendly and do very good, cheap breakfasts to set you up for a day of sightseeing!
On Friday morning we headed over the bridge to Buda, which is historically the wealthier, more fancy side of the river. We headed up to the Castle on the Funicular
Originally built in the 13th century, the castle has been destructed and rebuilt after seiges and attacks. It's now a maze of ruins, the Baroque palace and underground tunnels built into the hill. It's also home to the Budapest Historical Museum.
After a look round and a quick bite to eat we headed along Castle Hill to Matthias Church (which the coolest tiled roof I've ever seen on a church!)
And the Fishermans Bastion... the closest I've ever come to a Disney Fairytale Castle!
From the Bastion there are amazing views of the Parliament Building across the Danube and Pest.
We had a wander around the Castle Hill area in search of coffee & cake and some very wise words.
As the sun set, we headed back to Pest just as all the lights came up on the historical buildings on both sides of the river.
In what was possibly the most cultural day of my life, we then decided to go to a string orchestra concert in St Stephen's Basilica.
A very impressive concert... and I even recognised some of the music (even more impressive!)
A very busy but interesting first day in Budapest!