I’m going to diverge a bit from the main subjects of this blog because I want to talk about my recent trip to Budapest. I’m going to share my experience along with some tips and tricks for going there.
Let me start by saying that this was an awesome trip: we had a lot of fun and met some interesting people to share our time with.
We were a group of 6 people: me plus 5 of my high-school friends. We booked a flight with WizzAir from Milan Malpensa (MXP) to Budapest (BUD) about a month in advance. By joining the WizzAir discount club, we were able to get a little discount on the flights (10€ if I recall correctly).
The bad thing about WizzAir is that standard hand luggage (56x45x25cm) comes at an added price. You can only bring a small cabin bag (42x32x25cm, trust me it’s very small) for free.
Since we didn’t want to pay ~20€ extra, we decided to share a checked-in baggage between 5 of us. This worked and we paid only 9€ per person (round trip).
Both planes arrived timely and they didn’t check our hand luggage dimensions at the Malpensa airport – they did in Budapest, though.
We had a smooth experience flying with WizzAir, but keep these things in mind:
- Grab your calculator and do the maths: joining the discount club might save you quite a bit of money.
- It is very likely that the included hand luggage won’t be enough for you. If you are travelling with a group of friends, sharing a checked-in bag might be more convenient than upgrading your maximum bag dimensions.
- They DO check baggage dimensions in Budapest and they are very strict on that, but they might not do that in your home country airport.
- There is very little legroom, but you’re not going to complain about that on a 1-hour flight.
The cheapest and best way to go to and from the airport is by using public transport, even at night. You can get to the city center in about an hour with a couple of bucks.
We stayed for five nights at David Hasselhostel. It was a friendly and vibrant place, run by young people with fun in mind. We had a wonderful time there.
Keep this in mind, it’s a place for young people who want to have fun. If you’re 18-30 years old, you will meet a lot of nice people there. If you are older or have children, it might not be the best place to stay in.
Also, it’s cheap and you get what you pay for, but on the only night we had problems the staff solved them quickly for us.
They organize daily drinking games and pub crawls (beer is insanely cheap!), and they have a Beagle and a cute rabbit.
A few things you can’t miss.
1. Budapest walking tours.
This was a nice surprise. There are free walking tours every day (yet you really should tip!), organized by local and young tour guides who show you the best places in the city along with interesting facts and stories.
Our guide was super-friendly and spoke perfect English. He taught us how to say “cheers” in Hungarian (and how to remember it – sounds a bit like “I guess you can drive”) and warned us not to say it while drinking beer, as it’s a reminder of the Austrian domination.
We also learned that if you stand on the left side of the policeman’s statue (near to the St. Stephen basilica) it means that you’ve been a bad girl. Basing on our 5-minute stay there, not many people were aware of this!
We joined the morning tour and it was awesome!
2. A night trip.
Do yourself a favor: one night that you aren’t particularly tired, grab your camera and go from the Chain Bridge…
…to the Fisherman’s Bastion, by foot.
It’s cold, very windy and might seem sketchy at times, but the view is definitely worth it. Judge for yourself:
If you don’t feel like walking, I’ve been told that there are beautiful night cruises as well.
There is one thing you have to remember, though. At 1am, all the lights go off.
Like, they shut down the Parliament and the Chain Bridge. No more lights, no more pictures, no more fun. We learned this the hard way and were pretty baffled by it.
Energy saving, I guess.
3. Hungarian cuisine.
If you’ve never tried Hungarian cuisine, you should go to one of the many “bistros” which have tourist menus which are cheap and good enough. They usually include goulash, paprika chicken and some kind of dessert.
Unless you are on a very strict budget, avoid those all-you-can-eat-for-next-to-no-money because they are of bad quality.
You should definitely try lángos, delicious fried bread dough usually served with cheese and sour cream.
Beware: if you go to the Grand Central Market, don’t put too many toppings on it because they are actively trying to scam tourists (“Hey, do you want salami too? And what about shrooms?” – and every topping adds 1€ to the bill).
4. Thermal baths.
We went to Széchenyi baths and it was a good experience. You can relax in huge, hot pools and saunas.
Maybe a bit too crowded, but cheap enough and definitely worth a visit.
There are also other well-known spas such as the Gellerts.
5. The Parliament.
In my opinion, the Parliament is by far the best piece of architecture in Budapest.
It’s majestic, inside and outside, even more so at night.
We also took a guided tour of the inside which was quite short in my opinion, yet still worth it.
Hungarians felt like calm and relaxed people (a little grumpy at times?) and Budapest is a beautiful city: quiet, yet vibrant. You can party like there’s no tomorrow in Pest, and enjoy a romantic walk in Castle Hill.
Go there, you won’t be disappointed!