Hey travelers! We are Jess & Joe from @lockthemap. In this article we will be sharing our experiences in Budapest and providing you with tips on the five best things to do in this wonderful city. Before we get started, let us tell you a little bit about ourselves and our traveling background.
We are married millennials who love to travel! We actually met as kids in high school. In fact, Jess’s earliest memory of Joe was when she sat on a ski lift with him on a skiing trip to Italy at 13 years old. We were friends through high school and eventually we ended up dating from college onwards.
Fast-forward nine years and we are married, have a house, two dogs and full time careers. We both have a big passion for visiting new places, trying new things and just getting out there and exploring the world.
From a young age, we have both focused our decision making around being able to travel – choosing our career paths wisely and learning to make the most of our annual leave and time off. If we haven’t been able to physically leave the country (which has become common now due to the pandemic), we have been more than happy to explore our own backyard.
We have a gigantic map of the UK up in our house and whenever we find ourselves with a free day or weekend, we tick off a new place in the UK!
Surprise Birthday Trip to Budapest
Budapest was on our list for so long thanks to Instagram and other social media platforms. The panoramic views of the city that you see plastered all over the Internet taken from Fisherman’s Bastion with a view of the Hungarian Parliament really drew us in and encouraged us to get there.
Jess actually booked this trip as a surprise birthday present for Joe. He didn’t know we were going until a few days before which was exciting. It would be safe to say that in the end he was very happy with this choice.
Budapest is a vibrant city which has the allure of great views and a romantic skyline. It’s a capital city, so like any capital there is something for everyone. Restaurants and shopping can be found in abundance, architecture is epic and there are historical landmarks everywhere you turn.
The city also has quirkier attractions that you don’t necessarily see in the UK, like thermal baths right in the centre of a park that give you the option of relaxation if you are looking to hit the pause button on the busy city.
This may sound cliche but our favorite place in Budapest was Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s a breathtaking spot offering panoramic views of the Danube River and Hungarian Parliament. We visited early in the morning at 8am before the bus loads of people arrived, and the colors of the sky at that time were so dreamy and perfect – providing an exquisite feast for the eyes!
Some of the photos Joe captured of Jess up there are some of our favorite photos of all time. They really did look like something out of a fairytale. We actually have these photos hanging up now in our hallway at home.
5 Must-Do Experiences in Budapest
Most people will tell you to try and live like a local in a new destination and if you really want to get to know and see a place you have to hit the back streets and visit all of the lesser known places and hidden gems. Whilst we agree with this to an extent, traveling (in our opinion) is about arriving in a brand new place and taking advantage of everything that it has to offer.
With this in mind, our first stops are always the top rated tourist attractions before anything else. We travel to be tourists and so we’re sure going to be them! Some of our favorite things we did in Budapest were the following:
- Twilight River Cruise along the Danube River: Budapest really is a glowing city at night, so it was magical to watch all of the lights come on as the sun set from a unique viewpoint on the water.
- Cruise around the City on a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus: This is the ultimate tourist activity! The weather was gorgeous for us when we visited in late October. It really is a great way to get around and see the sights.
- People Watch while Enjoying an Ice Cream up Gellert Hill: It’s quite the climb up this hill and so the ice cream we had went down a treat!
- Capture Photos from Fisherman’s Bastion: A romantic spot where you can take some amazing pictures of the skyline and surroundings.
- Stroll around the Castle District and Grounds: It was late October when we went and all of the leaves were turning lovely shades of red and orange. Again, the whole area just felt really romantic and move-like. The huge garden walls reminded us of a romance novel like Romeo and Juliet. It was just an incredibly lovely area to walk around.
Food & Accommodation in Budapest
Jess will admit that she’s not the most cultured when it comes to trying new foods. Joe is though and he lives for good food and is always up for trying anything new. In Budapest we mostly dined on casual street food we came across and ate on the go. However, we did enjoy a meal one night at Hard Rock Cafe which was lovely and it’s a place that caters for most tastes.
For our accommodation, we stayed at a lovely little boutique called Hotel Museum in the city centre. We’re not ones for extravagant and luxurious hotels when we travel, and we usually pick our hotels primarily based on location. We like to be centrally located so nothing is ever too far to walk to.
Although, we did end up jumping in a few bolts (the equivalent of Uber in Hungary) a couple of times when we were running late for our river cruise!
Need to Know Before you Go
- Wear Sensible Footwear: Bring your trainers because you will cover quite some distance. Budapest is a beautiful city to explore on foot.
- See the City Come to Life at Night: We remember coming off our river cruise in Budapest and thinking: “wow, we have never really seen a city light up like that before”! The way the lights reflect from the bridges onto the river at night was just such a treat to see.
- Use Public Transport: We must admit that we usually are guilty of jumping in a taxi to/from the airport but I had read reviews before going to Budapest which said not to bother, and that the buses into the city were more frequent, convenient and cheaper (of course). We found the public transport very easy to navigate in general.
- Familiarize Yourself with the Currency: Despite being in Europe, Hungary doesn’t use the Euro. It uses the Hungarian Forint, which is super inflated compared to the likes of the Pound and Euro. It can take some getting used to, so it’s best to have a good idea of the conversion rates in your head in order to know what you are getting yourself into.
- Go Exploring Early: This tip is not just for Budapest but any place! You just can’t beat hitting the busy tourist attractions before they get super busy. It makes the whole experience more relaxed, enjoyable and you get better lighting and photos in the early morning too. It doesn’t have to be anything too crazy like 5/6am but before 9am is usually good.