Tourist Guide to Budapest – Seven cheap things to do as Travellers on your first visit
Budapest is also known as the Paris of the East. I have never been to Paris, I cannot verify the connection. I can say that Budapest is an incredibly elegant and sophisticated city in Central Europe. I am sure it is cheaper than in Paris. Here are my top 6 tips for seeing Budapest on a budget:
1. Free walking tours
There is no better way to get to know a city than to stroll the streets. Budapest is a big city (it’s two separate cities together), so if you need advice, why not take a free walking tour? These tours are given daily, last two and a half hours and the guides only work on tips. Expert guides can give you a glimpse of Budapest’s culture and long history. It’s a great way to get around the city.
2. City park
You can say a lot about a city from the public space. City Park is a well-kept green space which is also a showcase for more than 1000 years of Hungarian history.
At the entrance is the Imperial Heroes’ Square, a memorial to the founders of 9th-century Hungary and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Further down the park is Vajdahunyad Castle, bizarre but breathtaking. Not a real castle, but a facsimile built to show the different architectural styles of Hungarian history. Don’t miss the spooky statue of Anonymous, the greatest unknown historian in Hungary.
3. Metro line 1
Budapest has the oldest underground transport system on the European continent, the second oldest in the world (after London of course). The first line, line 1, is actually on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You can run the entire line, which goes above and below the ground for about $ 1.50. Don’t try to sneak in without paying, thugs in uniform asked to see my ticket twice during the 15 minutes I drove.
4. Kerepesi Cemetery
I’m a lover of cemeteries, it’s true, but Kerepesi offers an interesting glimpse into Hungarian history. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Hungary and remarkably well preserved. The highlight here is the very Soviet mausoleum of the labour movement. Ironically, the monument was built so strangely that it is already collapsing.
5. The house of terror
It sounds kitsch, but nothing could be further from the truth. This well-designed museum offers a disappointing look at the atrocities suffered by the Hungarian people during the first German and then Russian occupation in the 20th century. Formerly a secret police building, today it is a powerful monument to fascism and the victims of communism. An entrance fee will be charged, but it is worth understanding this dark period in the history of the country.
6. Fisherman’s Bastion
For a breathtaking view of the city, climb this strange neo-Gothic terrace. The fortifications are only for decoration, they were built during the craze for construction Fin de Siècle in Budapest. Located on the castle hill, you can see the fantastic Parliament building, the sparkling blue Danube and the whole centre of Pest. The neighbouring Matthias Church is also worth a visit for its medieval Gothic architecture, its colourful roof and its terrifying spiers. The interior is just as impressive, and you can check out some spooky reliquaries.
7. Visit a public bath
Budapest is known for its therapeutic spring water which can be taken from various ornate public baths in the city. I visited the Gellert, which is in a chic art nouveau hotel, but the Széchenyi medicinal bath in City Park is also very popular. With both, you can swim in the thermal baths, swim in an ice pool or relax in the sauna.