Budapest – A few days on the Danube

Last week, I went to Budapest with rest of my family. I had never visited before, but I loved my time there. Budapest is an old city, but also a very open city. Unlike somewhere like London, Budapest lacks the high-rise office blocks and other skyscrapers. Even the backstreets feel open to the sky, as few buildings are much taller than around five storeys. Here are some of my favourite things from Budapest.

The view on the Danube – The view of the Danube at night was spectacular. From the bridges, you can see various landmarks, such as the castle and the citadel, as illuminated so that they light up the entire river. Even though I hate heights (and bridges over water too), the view more than made up for this.

The Castle at night
The Castle at night

The Hungarian National Museum – Going on holiday with my family means lots of museums! This one is dedicated to Hungarian history and archaeology. The way the museum was laid meant you tracked all of Hungarian history, starting in the Stone Age and ending with the fall of the communism. Most of the museum was in English and Hungarian, which is great for tourists as Hungarian is completely different from most other European languages. Tracking the history of a country was very interesting and reminded me why I took history all the way to A2.

The Museum of Music History – Apart from Bartok and Liszt, my knowledge of Hungarian music is painfully lacking. As both my sister and I are musicians, we relished the chance to see this particular museum. The Museum of Music History spanned all of Hungarian musical history, with medieval manuscripts alongside Bartok’s early sketches. There was also a collection of early instruments (similar to The Bate Collection in Oxford), with recordings of the actual instruments being played. Something I had never seen before was a sextet desk, with six music stands around a circular table. I’m shocked that this concept hasn’t taken off!

The Gellért Baths – My sister really wanted to visit one of the many thermal baths in Budapest. We went to the Gellért baths, on the west side of the river. These had a sauna, an outdoor heated pool and many heated pools inside. However, the best thing was the wave machine in the large outdoor pool. It was so powerful I was almost knocked over immediately! What made the experience even better was that it was a gorgeously sunny morning and relaxing in the outdoor pools was nice after walking around for most of the day before.

The Great Market Hall – This market is massive. There were two levels: the first entirely dedicated to food and the second with loads of tourist stalls. The smell of paprika as you walked in was incredible. The variety of salamis, dried fruit, cakes, cheese and fruit and vegetables was far beyond any market I have been to in the UK.

Inside the Market
Inside the Market

Food – The food in Budapest was amazing. We sometimes ate in cafes, but often we had street food. Many stalls and shops have been set up in the bomb sites between various buildings in Budapest. (The bomb sites are from WW2 and the communist era). One of my favourite things was

, Hungarian deep fried bread. It could also get it covered in toppings like sour cream, grilled paprika, rocket and red onions. The great thing was that it didn’t feel fatty or stodgy like I was expecting.

Lángos with rocket and red onions
Lángos with rocket and red onions

Cake – I know that cake is technically food, but I have to give it a special mention here. Hungarian cakes are excellent. Often they are both quite cheap, and massive. I had one called a castle torte, which was layers of thin sponge cake sandwiched with a caramel and hazelnut icing. It was amazing. There was another one which was four layers: the first shortbread, then chocolate cake, then almond sponge and topped with Italian meringue. All the cakes we had were incredible and I am going to try and make some this year!

Quadruple decker cake
Quadruple decker cake
So much cake...
So much cake…

I highly recommend Budapest to anyone who has the chance to visit. It is a beautiful city with lots to offer and lots to discover. Excellent cake should also be a major selling point as well.

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