Budapest - What to Do and See
It was a wet and rainy day when we arrived in Hungary’s capital, but we couldn’t let that put us off because time was of the essence. After getting to our accommodation and settling in for a bit we went off in search of the Tourist Office to pick up our Budapest Cards, which we were given courtesy of the Budapest Tourism Board. They proved immensely helpful in getting around the city to see the different sights we had in mind. You can find more information from the official site (linked above), but the best parts about the card, according to us, are the free transport and free entry to various attractions. Examples of free attractions include entry to the Lukács Thermal Baths, a ride on the Castle Hill Funicular, and a walking tour. Some attractions/activities may depend on what type of card you get (the PLUS card gets the most things).
Shoes on the Danube Bank
This is a small memorial located close to the Parliament Building. Hungarian Jews were shot by members of the Arrow Cross Militia/Police along the banks of the Danube, which carried many of their bodies away. The shoes in the memorial represent the shoes left behind from the victims when they were ordered to remove them before being murdered.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
This massive cathedral can be seen from streets away if you’re just walking around the neighborhood, which is exactly how we came upon it. From just a few blocks over the giant dome still looms large and makes quite an impressive sight. We didn’t enter, but it’s said to be quite beautiful on the inside as well.
Fat Policeman Statue
We happened upon this statue as we were walking through the neighborhood and gazing at the St. Stephen’s Basilica. It’s quite a funny statue because of the old policeman uniform, conical cap, styled mustache, and especially the large belly. Apparently, this is one of the “lucky” statues you can find around Budapest along with Anonymous, The Little Princess, and András Hadik. You are supposed to gain different types of fortune from rubbing/touching different parts of each statue. Guess which part of the Fat Policeman people have been rubbing. Hint: it’s quite shiny.
If you’re exploring the city at all, especially on the Buda side, you’re going to get amazing views of the Budapest Parliament Building. It’s really quite the massive and beautiful structure that makes you take a minute or thirty to find just the right shot you’ve been looking for. Hopefully, you have better luck than we did trying to get a shot directly across from the building without giant river cruise ships blocking the angle.
This was my favorite place we visited in Budapest. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any history or anything really about this location other than I wanted to be here early for the views. During normal hours you can walk around the area and get some good shots, but you will have to pay to gain access to an upper terrace area. However, if you come outside the hours of ticketing then you can just go around as you please. For us, this meant getting up very early to catch some fantastic sunrise colors in the sky. There were only a couple other people around when we arrived, but by the time we were leaving there were a lot of people showing up. I think we ended up arriving around 6:00 AM when actual sunrise was around 5:15 AM. Lots of people started showing up especially after 7:00 AM. It’s well worth getting over here early to enjoy such amazing views.
At some point you’ll find yourself walking along this bridge, or at least near it. There are many amazing viewpoints to catch some good shots of the bridge, but our favorite was on the Buda side right next to the Castle Hill Funicular area. There is a small park area right above the tunnel that lets cars go straight through the hill where you can get some really nice straight-on shots of the bridge. Also, you can see St. Stephen’s Basilica in the background. We got here around sunset and the only people around were a few couples just chatting and enjoying some drinks. We stayed until evening to try out a few long-exposures.
This wasn’t a comprehensive list of every single thing we did, but these were the highlights of our exploration around the city of Budapest. Definitely try some of the local food while you’re here, especially a langos! It’s fried dough with sour cream, cheese, and salt. It’s delicious. The one we had was at the Keleti train station and cost around 450 Hungarian Forint (about $1.50).
Walking around the Buda Castle area is really nice, especially on a sunny day. It’s very nice there and the views are great, including across the river and to the hundreds of houses in the Buda Hills.
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