29 Apr 2024

Impressions of Budapest, 2024

Submitted by blizzz

This year in March I went with my beloved ones for a week-long trip to Budapest, Hungary. It was the first time for all of us to visit this city. Here, find my impressions, things I learned, along a few tips.

We stayed at the Seven Seasons apartment hotel pretty much in the city center. In the spacious two-room apartment we had a room for us, the kids stayed in the living room, amd there was also an equipped kitchen, well suited to cook some children compatible food. The hotel also offered a good breakfast buffet, we were satisfied.

The city

Hungary's capital consists of two parts on both sides of the Danube river. The hilly part is Buda, with its castle and president's palace, while the flat part is Pest with the parliament building and Jewish quarter. Both parts are connected with bridges, especially the Széchenyi Chain Bridge being monumental and beautiful, and just recently renovated. The location was quite popular in the very old days, and so there are also some Roman remnants visible, two amphitheatres on the Buda side (unfortunately visiting them did not fit out plans).

Inside the parliament`s main foyer

Our radius in this one week was pretty much downtown. We reached all destinations from our hotel by foot, apart of the zoo to which we used the subway. One downer was that kids were not allowed in all indoor aqua parks, which resulted in complaints from the kids – hereby they are forwarded ;)

The zoo also houses an aquarium including sharks and this beauty

There are some parks and greenish places all around the city, nevertheless there is a big amount of car traffic in all the streets, and some of the drivers are taking their right of way (but my perception is that car drivers are becoming more ruthless generally). What else they have of abundance are tourists. Downtown is crowded by tourists where ever you look, and that part is clearly living off it. Happens.

I and urban places

When I look at a city, I am interested on how people lived and live, how the different parts of society behave, and especially the areas and people that are not the elite, and not the big monuments. The combination of the city's history as well as the contemporary situation.

Now, while Budapest is apparently often compared to Paris, I on the one hand am reminded of Belgrade, although on the other hand I see the a lot of differences as well, but it sticks. Also, I cannot say much about a comparison to Paris, as I have not been there yet.

Like Belgrade, Budapest is located at the Danube and throughout history it was an important location, and also with ongoing struggle and different rulers. The symbol for it is the citadel on the Buda side, which was used by the ruler to keep the population in check.

I like to wander around in the city, look at the houses, the people, the graffiti. Especially graffiti: whether it is artful, or whether they are paroles. In Belgrade (if you allow me the detour) you could see graffiti being put up and being contested night by night. There was something the society had to broker. They have astonishing murals, and you could feel the vibe (if you are interested, I recommend the Street Art Belgrade book). In central Budapest however, this was amiss. I do not recall to see any graffiti of meaning, if at all. There is a good number of murals, many commercial, and only very few of them were impressive. We used this article on Budapest Flow as starting point. Quite likely we were just in the wrong place for good graffiti.

However, another type of street art was enchanting us. It were mini statues crafted and placed by Mihály Kolodko all around the city. First we found "the diver" by chance, another day we went looking for some of them more directly. It also a lot of fun for the kids to discover the "hidden" small statues. They all have some background story, and again Budapest Flow has an article on the hidden mini statues that we used as reference.

A selection of mini statues, including "the diver"

In downtown Budapest are a lot, really lot, of old houses, full of fine ornaments. Those buildings however are in very different states. Some are well-preserved and taken care of, some seem to run down. And occasionally you spot a facade, where only some parts (belonging to apartments) are refurbished, while the rest is neglected. As a local friend told us, all the entertainment places move to this part of town, while being run by companies registered in other parts – the district is actually poor. And the people do not have the means or not the interest to maintain them, there is no subsidies or other kind of support. Besides, more and more apartments are turned into holiday apartments, and so even less locals will have a find a place in that part of the city.


The best sight is the city itself by night, when all the places at the river banks and up the hill are illuminated. That's just beautiful. At day time, there is no such magic.

View from Danube at night


Like a many half-way big cities with a hillside have a castle, so does Budapest. In order to get there, you can walk up the hill. There are ways for pedestrians that look quite nice, especially on a sunny day. We had to take the funicular however… kids today. That funicular was destroyed in the second world war by German occupation forces, but was reopened in 1986. It definitely is a shortcut with a view and goes right up to the top between the castle and the presidential palace.

At the castle it is possible to walk along the walls and have a great view on the city. Currently there are lot's of construction sites at the castle, though, and not everything is accessible. We thought about visiting the castle museum on site, but decided against it. The weather was quite lovely so instead we checked out the yards and continued towards the Fisherman's Bastion. It's beautiful building just as well, and also from there you have a great view over the city. From there is possible to walk down the hill, but with our kids of course we went back.

An ornament at the Fisherman`s Bastion

…and had the chance to see how a Japanese delegation was welcomed at the presidential palace with some military honors, if you call them like that. There were soldiers doing their salutation ritual, while quite a crowd was watching this spectacle, before the delegation was entering the palace.

We skipped the citadel, due to lack of time, but I heard there it is also full of constructions sites.


The jewel on the Pest side and also at the river bank is the magnificent parliament building. It's recommendable to book a ticket in advance as it is quite popular and so slots are rare. A guide will lead you through the building and give information about it's history from planning, to construction (opened in 1902), during the wars and until nowadays. It is one of the largest parliament buildings and used to house two chambers of the institution in both wings. Since the old aristocratic Upper House does not exist anymore this part is used for the tours, but also for conferences and meetings.

A research on Budapest will reveal that there a thousands of different kinds of museums. We decided to visit the cat museum. It is a lovely, calm place in an former two-story apartment. Also here it is best to look for tickets in advance as they are valid only for a ninety minute time slot and they make sure that not too many visitors are in the museum. A dozen cats roam there, while there is enough read and see as well. The atmosphere is really relaxed and there is possibility to just chill on a cozy spot and pet a cat. Kids are welcomed only starting the age of 8 years. A few minutes away there is also a cat cafe, but even though we wanted, we did not manage to visit it.

Collage of two cats and two pictures from the cat museum

We walked a lot in the Jewish quarter, for one because it was close by, for the other because a lot of things were there – big part of the street art, some mini statues, food places. Well, and of course the main Synagogue, for instance, but also some Jewish restaurants and institutions. What is also placed there is the most famous ruin bar of Budapest, Szimple Kert. It's definitely fun to walk through it, but it really does not have anything of its old purpose. Ruin bars used to pop up in abandoned factories, serving affordable beer, for instance. Probably unsurprisingly the audience changed, and the prices just as well – i would say it is rather another hipster place. Still, fun to go through and explore that area.

A monument to Carl Lutz who saved thousand from Nazis


Apparently everybody is taking part in a river cruise there. Different companies have different offers, including dinner and live music, but most tours happen during the day. Have one after dark. You will be able to go on deck and gaze at the marvellously illuminated city at night. It is also a great opportunity for taking some pictures.

On the river banks, on the Pest side, is also one of the memorials for the Jews being shot at the river, during German occupation in World War II by members of the fascist Arrow Cross Party, that was put in power by Nazi-Germany. The Shoes on the Danube are placed there in memory of the 20.000 people who were executed at the river bank, tumbling into Danube.

Shoes on the Danube - memorial to executed Jews

There are more memorials than this, and it is infuriating for me to travel around and find traces of fascist terror from Kaliningrad, through Budapest to Belgrade. To those who are supporting or relativizing such parties from out time – this is what they stand for, and there is no fcking excuse to be their stirrup holder. They are beasts.

Flower power?

What struck us was… that there were artificial flowers everywhere. In the apartment (OK), in the breakfast place, in the restaurants, even sometimes on the streets. We did not find an explanation for it, but it was striking. Very strange.

Food tips

To conclude, where to get what?

Find great Hungarian food with vegetarian options at Klauzál Café. It was a recommendation by a local friend, and I am happy to pass it on!

The hummusbar chain that can be found in couple of places has great oriental food and also the inconspicious Italian restaurant Mia Valentina was surprisingly good and the staff absolutely friendly. We were not so excited about the places around the castle.

For a sweet snack along the way, it is not possible not end up having a Chimney Cake in your hands. Simple, yet delicious. I swear on those with Coconut, the kids favour them with poppy seeds. I am not sure you can have bad ones, but the prices are sometimes quite proud. At a booth between Bajczsy-Zsilinszky-Utca and Andrassy utca (not far from Erszebet square) you can get hold of them for just 800 Forints (that's roughly 2 EUR)!

There also millions of choices for tasty cakes. We should have tried all, but somehow did not. We found The Sweet which also is open until 8pm and their cakes are delicious!

Further reading

As spotted on the Fediverse, there was also someone else in Budapest in that time (surpise, right), and he, too, blogged about it (in German) – check it out for another perspective and a lot more pictures.

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