Buda and pest are separated by the River Danube- Buda on the West side and Pest on the East. Both are very different places. Historically, Pest is the town of the commoners, whilst Buda was where the wealthy population and royalty would reside. It’s easy to see the distinction between the two: Pest has a dense population, full of shops, markets and restaurant whereas Buda is home to the Buda Castle, the Castle district and the old fortress Citadella, upon Gellért Hill. Although I loved everything about Pest, Buda is really the jewel of the city and truly sets it apart from anywhere I’ve been before.
What to See Across the Danube:
Castle District is a walled town filled with grassy courtyards, incredible statues and water features, medieval streets lined with quaint colourful houses and picturesque fairytale architecture like Fishermen’s Bastion. You can easily spend a day walking around the streets and soaking it all up, free of charge. Unfortunately, food and drink prices are a lot more expensive this side of the river, so bring a packed lunch over from Pest if you’re trying to have a low-budget outing. Go to Holy Trinity Square in the centre of the district to get some beautiful views over the suburbs of Budapest and visit the Hungarian guards. You can also visit the labyrinths underneath the castle district. We only explored these for a while before reaching a point where you had to pay to go any further, which was disappointing (though secretly a relief because they were pretty creepy). You can also have kids birthday parties under there, which is nice I guess?!
Buda Castle is within the Castle District- it is stunning from the outside and its interior gardens were surprisingly modern, with copper structures, elevators taking you to different levels and minimalistic flower arrangements.You can pay to use the funicular up Buda Hill to get into the grounds, which we did and got some beautiful views whilst going up. Inside the building you can visit the Budapest History Museum but the ticket prices were quite steep so we decided to spend the day exploring outside in the sun as there was so much to see.
Citadella is an old fortress upon Gellert Hill situated next to the Castle district. You need to climb up the hill to reach it which can be an amusing experience. We refused the tarmac paths on the way up and decided to climb the vertical mud slopes instead. I recommend this way if you’re looking for some melodrama to spice up your journey to the top (Lyd thinks she “nearly died”). The views from the top over the Danube are seriously breathtaking. The whole of Budapest in a perfect, picturesque, panoramic snapshot.
Margaret Island isn’t strictly in Buda, it’s an island in the centre of the Danube between both sides. You can access it via Margaret bridge, near Parliament. This little island is a nice escape away from the busyness of the city for a few hours break. It’s very green with trails for bike rides and options to hire cute tandem bicycles. People in our hostel recommended the nighttime fountain show on the island but we didn’t stay for that. Compared to the rest of Budapest, the island was a bit underwhelming. The ‘Japanese garden’ was about 3 metres square and the food shacks were run down and lacking in options. We walked to the very end of the island and had a sit on some grass but the noise of the nearby motorway didn’t make it a very peaceful experience. Overall, worth a visit but only if you have a lot of time to spare in the city- you wouldn’t want to miss out on some other sights for it!
- Prices: 8/10
- Accommodation: 10/10
- Veggie options: 6/10
- Food: 8/10
- Favourite spot: Castle District
Overall, Budapest is up there in one of my favourite places in the world- so far! One of the highlights for me was the beautiful mix of architecture all over the place. Budapest has it all: Baroque, Gothic, Art Nouveau- you don’t have to walk long outside your door to be stunned by one building or other. You must see both Buda and Pest in your Budapest itinerary to make sure you’re getting the full experience!
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Much love <3