29th – 31st July
We took the overnight train from Krakow which was actually quite comfortable. There was a compartment with four beds (two of them very high up which caused Becky and I to nervously giggle as we got into them), which could be locked and had a decent amount of luggage space.
We stayed at another Wombats hostel which was right in the city centre and near transport links. It was only £14.36 per person per night for a eight bed mixed dorm.
It was a large room split into two sections with four bunk beds, two on one side, two on the other and an ensuite. Again it had lockers that were operated by the room keys.There was air con which was useful as it was hot while we were there. The view looked down onto a busy shopping street – our room was on the corner. There was also a loungish area, a bar and a large, well equipped kitchen.
We arrived in the morning at the beautiful Budapest-Keleti station and made our way to the hostel to drop off our bags. Then we headed straight back out to go to the Szechenyi Spa – one of the largest spas in Europe.
The spa building was utterly stunning and the pools and saunas were absolute perfection. I had booked a massage, which was incredible after carrying my rucksack for nearly two weeks. Then I met up with the others in one of the outdoor pools. There are three: one for lane swimming, one general outdoor pool with a river rapidsy bit and one hot pool which is 38° C!
We also went to some of the indoor pools, especially enjoying the 34° C, 36° C and 38° C ones. There were also some lovely saunas and steam rooms. I especially enjoyed the 50° C saunas and plunging into the 18° C plunge pools afterwards! We spent most of the afternoon at the spa and had some lunch there, which was a little expensive, but nice.
In the late afternoon we returned to the hostel and settled in to our room and sat and chatted before heading down with out room mates, Lucy and Hannah, to the bar to get a drink before we went on our pub crawl (with Europe’s famous pub crawls) – it was happy hour so cocktails were only 900 forints! We grabbed a pizza slice from the pizza me next door to the hostel – this became a firm favourite while we were there!
The pub crawl consisted of four places – the first was called Retox a ruin pub. We were there for an hour, we were allowed as much free beer or wine as we could drink plus three free shots. I had a beer and the others had wine. The shots were made from flavoured fruit syrup and aerated vodka. The first one was maybe passion-fruit and it was disgusting, Becky was almost sick and Hayley decided that was enough for her. Emily and I had our allotted three, the second being apple which was lovely and the third being cherry which was okay. After this I was quite drunk.
The next bar was very cool, also a ruin bar called Anker’t is was very open air and industrial. There was also a really cool wall by the toilets with many many lipstick kisses on it – I added mine. The third bar was Fogaskert which was massive and had trees and a screen with strange cartoons playing on it. Hayley was tired and decided to leave at this point – she was pretty much sober and the hostel wasn’t far so we let her go. The final place was called Bar Instant which had a really cool decor with a sculpture of rabbits on the ceiling, in here we met the girls we had shared a room with in Munich. We didn’t stay long cos my legs were killing me, so we got pizza and went to bed.
We woke up pretty late after getting in at maybe 4am. As my legs still hurt from the night before we decided to do a bus tour. We had pizza again for lunch and headed out to the bus stop. The bus tour was with Big Bus Tours and it was very reasonably priced (after a lot of bargaining by the others with different tour operators) – the ticket included all day hop on hop off bus and an evening river cruise ride. We decided to take the bus the whole way round to see the sights once before doing the hop on hop off.
We got off at Heroes Square, which depicts the tribal leaders of the people who founded Budapest and walked over to Vajdahunyad Castle which, like Prague Castle, is made up of many different architectural styles.We sat on the grass there for a while and had ice creams. We then took the bus back to the Citadel on top of the hill on the Buda side of the city – there were incredible views. There is also Budapest’s statue of liberty.
Afterwards we took the bus back down to the Freedom Bridge – near to where the river cruise departed. The Freedom Bridge has wide metal sides that make it easy to walk up – so of course, I did. We then got onto the river cruise and slowly meandered along the river, with the sun going down and saw Buda Castle, the parliament building and the chain bridge all bathed in the setting sun.
After the cruise we headed back to the hostel to make dinner in the surprisingly hot kitchen, pack and go to bed.
Tips for Budapest:
– Go for at least four full days.
– Definitely visit Szechenyi Spa – it is 100% worth the money.
– The bus tour worked for us as there was so much to see in a short time, but for longer trips visit the citadel, Vajdahunyad Castle and Buda Castle on separate days or at least only one place per half day.
– The ruin pubs are amazing – for maximum enjoyment, don’t do a pub crawl, visit different ones on different nights so you aren’t too drunk to take in the atmosphere.