I’ve always wanted to go to Budapest because my grandfather was from Hungary. My friends and I thought it would be a beautiful place to spend Christmas. We spent two nights and had about a day and a half to see the city.
We rented an apartment with four beds at The Unity Hostel. It was huge and comfy. We had our own kitchen and we had the place all to ourselves. It was about 12 euros a night per person. The food in Hungary was cheap too, I never paid over 5 euros except when we went out to a nice restaurant. We were walking distance from all the major sites so we didn’t take any public transportation.
The architecture in Budapest is incredible. Everything looks like it’s old and Victorian. Sightseeing was great because everything is walking distance from our hostel. It was incredibly easy to get around. I only had to take the metro once and that was to the airport.
We got in a little late to Budapest on Christmas Eve. For our dinner we had kebab and hookah. It was the only place open to sit down and eat. It didn’t feel like Christmas but we all knew the holidays couldn’t be the same without our family.
For Christmas day, we walked to the Szechenyi Bathes. It was named as one of the few things to do on Christmas day. The walk was amazing. We ran a lot of museums and saw a large monument then a castle. A friend and I went sightseeing while the other two indulged in massages and long soaks.
Vjdahunyad Castle: On our way to the bathes we saw this castle. It was not open for viewing but we got some lovely photos. There was an ice skating rink near the castle.
Vjdahunyad is an incredible piece of architecture because of its blend of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque styles combined to create this romantic building. This building is not as old as it seems. It was built in 1896 for the Millennial Exhibition along with Heroes’ Square and Fisherman’s Bastion. It was created to be temporary but the public fell in love with it. The government decided to make it permanent by reconstructing it from 1904-1908 with more durable material.
Szechenyi Bathes: It was about 17.71 euros for access to the steam rooms and bathes, it’s 33.21 euros for bath access and a 30 minutes massage. Many of the steam rooms were closed on Christmas day but there was still quite a crowd. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it but my other friends spent their whole day there. I was glad to get in some sightseeing before sunset.
Szechenyi Bridge: One of the most famous sights in Budapest is the Chain Bridge. It goes over the Danube River to connect the two cities of Buda and Pest. We walked to the bridge and went up a tram. It was about 3 euro to go up. You get an amazing view and go up to Buda Castle which is massive. It wasn’t open but walking the grounds was lovely: there were fantastic sculptures, an amazing view and kiosks of mulled wine. We caught it right at sunset so it was breathtaking.
Dohany Street Synagouge: Budapest has the largest Synagogue in Europe. I made it a priority to visit. Sadly, it was very crowded and I had limited time so I couldn’t go inside. I walked around it, to get an idea of the architecture of and see the famous tree of life sculpture. I wasn’t disappointed.
Christmas Market: What was left of the Christmas market on Boxing Day was near the Synagogue. There were cheap gifts, good food, lots of mulled wine. My friends and I split a Sima, (haha it’s my name too). It’s a deep fried piece of dough with garlic butter, cheese, sauerkraut and cream cheese. You can change up what you want on it. Then they had different flavors of mulled wine and lots of pastries.
Ruins Pubs: There’s a few different ruins pubs. They are large, old buildings that they converted into clubs with wild decorations and loud music. During the year they have different events. It’s free to get in and it was really fun. Of course, clubbing on Christmas night, there was a strange crowd of expats and lonely locals. We left early but it was a good experience.
I wish I spent more time in Budapest. It was beautiful and I feel like I didn’t even scratch the surface of what Budapest had to offer. It was an enchanting Christmas.