Travel writer Jack Levitt talks us through his explorations of three major cities in the Far EastWritten by Jack Levitt on 10th December 2017
The Best of Budapest
Travel writer, Charlotte, picks out the best locations to pay a visit to in the beautiful city of Budapest
If you’re considering booking Budapest for the summer then great choice! A beautiful city with a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere and really cheap, too – what’s not to love? Having recently visited myself, I give you my top recommendations of things to do.
St Stephen’s Basilica
A beautiful Roman Catholic church situated on the Pest side of the river. You can take a look around the exquisitely decorated church area for only 200 HUF (around 55p). I would recommend paying the 400 HUF for a student ticket (around £1.10) to go up to the 360-degree panorama viewing tower. As one of the tallest buildings in Budapest, you have wonderful views of the city below and beyond. A great thing to do on your first day to get your bearings.
Széchenyi thermal baths
An absolute must – one of Europe’s largest bath complexes with 21 pools (both indoor and outdoor), set within a bright yellow building in Vidam Park. For entry and a cabin, it is 5,400 HUF (around £14.70) during the week and 5,600 HUF (around £15.24) at weekends. Go on a weekday if possible as the baths can get very busy with tourists and natives alike. There are staff members around to lock your cabin before you go into the baths, which means that your things are kept safe. Towels can be rented (a small deposit must be paid) which is perfect if you’re sightseeing as you won’t have to lug your own towels around for the day. What’s more, the cabins mean you won’t have to uncomfortably wear your swimming clothes under your regular clothes as you can get changed there. If you really want to make a day of it, treatments are available at an extra cost.
A very pretty, long courtyard packed with all of the restaurants and bars you could imagine offering all types of cuisine. Though restaurants will differ in price, a dinner for two consisting of a large pizza and soft drink each came to around £13 altogether, so I would recommend checking Gozsdu Udvar out if you’re looking for cheap but perfectly good food and service and a relaxed atmosphere.
A very grand, domed building on the bank of the Danube next to a large, open square which is great for a rest in between all of your sightseeing. A sight to behold at sunset when it is lit up. Though I didn’t go inside myself, tours are available and highly rated.
Another beautiful church, this time set within a bright, bustling square on the Buda side of the river, just past Buda castle. It is more typically ‘touristy’ than St. Stephen’s Basilica but is still worth a visit due to its more than reasonable entry price of 1,000 HUF (around £2.72) and photo-worthy views of the Danube and Pest beyond from the top of Buda Hill.
If you want a break from the busier areas of central Budapest then Margaret Island is a very peaceful place to visit. Accessible via one of the bridges linking Buda and Pest, it has pretty walkways, beautiful flowers and even a small zoo. There are lots of green spaces and many a bench to sit on and look out at the Danube and the river boats passing by. If you’re into running then this seemed to be the place to be, but also great if you are more into a leisurely stroll and a picnic! Beautiful, relaxing and best of all, free, I wish I’d had more time to spend here.
There are many ruin bars in Budapest but Szimpla Kert will keep your eyes wandering for hours and is certainly like no other bar I’ve ever been to. There is an outdoor area and several different rooms, each one more kooky and filled with more eccentric bits and bobs than the last. Its edgy but fun vibe makes it a great stop day or night and drinks are reasonably priced, too! Anker’t is a more typical ruin bar as it is set within an abandoned building. An extensive drinks menu, great service and a very cool atmosphere. There is a sheltered, indoor area complete with quirky lighting and heaters, so don’t worry if you visit at a colder time of year. Perhaps one of the lesser known ruin bars, I would recommend going here at a busier time, such as a Saturday night, to properly get a feel for it.