On our first day in Budapest, we woke up late and ate breakfast at our hotel. (Eggs and smoked salmon, if you were wondering).
Then we bundled up in coats and scarves before heading in to the city, in search of coffee and pretty views. (Spoiler: we found both. A LOT of both.)
The French call it flânerie, the art of going for a stroll with no particular destination or goal in mind.
And that’s EXACTLY what we did.
FUN FACT: Budapest is actually made up of two medieval cities.
Buda is on the west bank of the Danube. It’s very hilly and leafy and fancy. You’ll find Budapest castle, the Citadella and Fisherman’s Bastion on this side.
Our hotel was on the Pest side of the river. It’s home to the Jewish quarter, stunning Parliament building, and Heroes’ Square.
It only took us a few minutes to wander down to the river bank and find the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Stone lions flank the entrance to the pedestrian walkway, and you have a lovely view of the hills as you cross over.
I overheard a tour guide telling a group not to bother with the funicular up the hill, as there’s a path you can take, that leads right up to the castle, and is completely free.
But I’m a sucker for any form of vintage transport, so we ignored him and bought tickets anyway!
The funicular looks like an old-school wooden tram and sweeps up the leafy hillside in seconds, depositing you at the entrance to Budapest Castle. It’s fast and it’s pretty and the views on the way up are SPECTACULAR.
(And it only costs about £4, so hardly expensive!)
Just as we reached the top, the sky went dark and the views went misty with rain. We’d forgotten the umbrella, so ducked under a tree in the Castle courtyard for shelter.
It chucked it down for all of ten minutes, and then, just as suddenly, the clouds cleared and the sun popped its head back out again.
Just in time for us to catch the changing of the guard!
(How epic is this dude’s moustache though?)
This was one of the (admittedly few) moments on the trip where I wished we had a guide to tell us a bit more about the history of the city.
It’s very unlike me to go on a trip without any planning or researching, but we’d said we just wanted to relax, so I didn’t bother. Now I know for next time!
We wandered around the Castle grounds, dodging the drizzle and soaking up all the architecture and pretty outdoor artwork. Then, after a very average lunch, we crossed back over the Bridge and went for a walk through the streets of Pest.
We walked for several hours, stopping for coffee breaks, getting lost, and discovering beautiful street art tucked away down little alleys.
By five o’clock, the skies were darkening and the rain had started to fall again.
We looped back round to our hotel, arriving just in time for the wine and cheese…