Budapest: Simply the Pest

Budapest isn’t just contained to one side of the Danube. On the other side of the river, there’s even more places to explore. The bulk of Budapest Castle is free to enter and the majority of it is open air, making for a great walk up to the top. There’s everything from steps and ramps to escalators to get you higher and higher to that all important viewpoint of the city. And what a view it is! I think this was when I got a sense of how much I was falling in love with Budapest. There aren’t any skyscrapers but it’s still one hell of a skyline.

Further along, there’s also the Fisherman’s Bastion which has equally superb view over the city. Again, the bulk of the viewpoints are free but there’s a couple which cost a small amount to enter. However, after 8pm (and all day off-season), the whole of the Bastion is free to enter. The ticket barriers are switched off and you can access all areas. Given I think Budapest looks even more magical at night, it’s definitely worth paying a visit to the Bastion after sunset.

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Budapest by day.
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Budapest by night.

Further down beyond the Chain Bridge and the bridge after that, is another brilliant green chill out space in the form of Margaret Island. I don’t know who Margaret is or why she was given an island but it’s basically just a giant park in the middle of the river. It was funny to see locals sunbathing more or less on rocks on the edge of the island. For landlocked Hungary, I’m not sure if this is the closest they ever get to a beach. It’s a brilliant open space with food stalls, beer and lots of places to walk. It’s also home to the most insane water fountain I’ve ever seen. It was like a firework display. Every hour, it’d shoot up in time to music – everything from Guns & Roses to Frozen – and was just a little bit mad. I’ve never been so impressed by a water fountain but maybe I’ve just lived a sheltered life.

In terms of food, unless you arrive on a Sunday evening, there’s tonnes of choices across the city. Again, it feels a bit like London because there’s lots of hipster, street food type places springing up all over the place which are good for budget travellers like me. The Karavan Street Food area is worth a look as it has a number of different food stalls selling all kinds of stuff. It’s pretty popular for young people and tourists.

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Like a water fountain on drugs.

There’s not enough space in a blog post to do Budapest justice and I don’t think I was there long enough to see everything I wanted to but it’s shot right up my list of favourite spots, not just in Europe but in the world. It’s the sort of city I can imagine living in because it’s got everything I could hope for. I hadn’t heard a bad word spoken about Budapest before I visited and it’s now easy to see why. It’s not just hype when it comes to Budapest – it really is THAT good.

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