From the top of the hill, I look out over the city of Budapest.
Around me, I’m fortified by Buda Castle with its medieval and Baroque architecture and design. It feels safe and solid. Elevated like this, I imagine reaching out my arms and pulling the city into an embrace.
It’s the kind of place I don’t think would resist – it would come to me and nestle against my chest. But it would keep an eye open, looking around, because it’s not content to settle.
The plains of Pest radiate out from where I’m looking.
Budapest is actually a confluence of two cities – Buda (where I’m standing at the castle) and Pest (the flat lands that are home to most of the urban sprawl). The two are separated by the mighty Danube River and connected by regular and ornate bridges.
It’s in the streets of Pest that I find myself wandering and exploring for most of the days I am here.
It’s summer and life in Budapest spills out into the streets from the grand Art Nouveau buildings which seem to house most residents in the inner parts of the city.
Street restaurants and bars cover the footpaths with their tables and the crowds arrive early and leave late.
There’s a levity to the mood in the city – young couples sit in the park until well after dark, families stroll the avenues with ice creams, and friends lose hours sitting in cafes with a pack of cigarettes and a regular supply of coffee or beer.
The buildings themselves in Budapest seem to reflect the mood of casual sophistication. They neither try too hard nor fail to impress.
From the stunning House of Parliament, to the State Opera House, to Heroes Square and to the facades along the central Andrassy Avenue, there is plenty to see and be caught up in.
But it’s the cool new pubs which have popped up in the ruins of old buildings, or the dance parties in the classical baths, or the art installations in the parks, which capture my imagination.
There’s a mix of young and old that seems so natural and organic that you hardly even notice where the line between the two has blurred.
Budapest is often dubbed the ‘Paris of the East’ and you can almost see the comparison, except the Hungarian capital has none of the pretension of its French counterpart.
Let me leave you now with a few more photos from my time in Budapest – a city I tried to embrace and felt briefly loved by. We didn’t part acrimoniously, though, and I feel we’ll be in each other’s arms again one day.
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN BUDAPEST
I think the best area to stay in Budapest is in the Jewish Quarter or closer to the Danube.
There are some great hostels in Budapest but Wombats has the best combo of style and location.
The best value hotels can book out early but you can get good deals at Roombach Hotel Budapest Center.
With a cool design, Hotel Memories OldTown has thought of everything – including a pillow menu.
Some of the 5-star hotels in Budapest feel rather dated, but Aria Hotel has a fresh luxurious atmosphere.
13 thoughts on “Embracing the Hungarian capital”
Looks lovely. My dad just got back from there last week and was telling me all about it, but it’s better to see some decent photos!! 🙂
I’m sure your dad took some decent photos too. Don’t be so hard on him!! 🙂
I loved Budapest. It’s uneasy, it’s scarred, it’s dirty sometimes. I loved it even more for all that.
A great way to describe it! I think that’s the reason people fall in love with the place so easily.
Loved Budapest so much. The architecture of each building is just phenomenal. And their parliament is so gorgeous.
Unfortunately it can be a bit difficult to get a ticket to go inside and see the parliament. I was a bit too late and didn’t manage to get one. But next time I’ll make an extra effort because I would love to see the interior.
I have lived for a year in Budapest. It will always be in a special place in my heart. That’s why I loved reading your post and admiring your beautiful photos.
Oh, when were you in Budapest? I’m very jealous. It’s one of the cities I could imagine myself living in for a long period of time. It’s such a friendly and fun place.
Hi Michael! A wonderfully written post! I like the way you write, it transcends the casual and even professional travel blogger. I must confess that as beautiful as Budapest is, it didn’t quite speak to me when I was there. Maybe I should give it a second chance.
Thanks for the lovely comment, Noel.
That’s disappointing to hear you didn’t feel the same way about Budapest. I don’t know what it is that makes some people like a city and others not. I’ve had it quite a few times when I’ve been told “you’ll love this” and I end up feeling a bit ‘blah’. I hope you give Budapest another go, though – it really has a lot of awesomeness to share!
Hi Michael. I know what you mean, I’ve learned to tell people my experience with a city but encourage them to find out for themselves. I will definitely give Budapest a second chance when I return to Europe. 🙂
beautiful place Hungary,Love to visit & see the beautiful Budapest.
Beautiful Budapest, visited several times now. Love the Thermal Baths, the Beautiful and varied Architectural Buildings, the Great Hungarian meals/dishes. Been to several Thermal Baths in Budapest and in other larger Cities, very popular with the locals and overseas visitors too. It was once a Powerful Power with the Austro/Hungarian Monarchy, sorry that has gone..