As I’m off to Budapest on Saturday, I thought I’d compose a list of a few things I’m most looking to forward to experiencing. Four friends and I are spending 4 days, 3 nights in the heart of the city, having managed to snag our own apartment for only £82 each (including flights) – bargain!
1. The House of Terror
Hungary was once home to the majority of Jews in Eastern Europe. However, after two terror regimes, this has drastically diminished. In 2000, ‘The Public Foundation for the Research of Central and East European History and Society’, purchased the building and turned it in a museum to pay tribute to the many victims who suffered through these campaigns.
It is said to give a chilling insight as to what life in Hungary was like, for people during these times. The museum website claims it ‘is a monument to the memory of those held captive tortured and killed in this building. […] also intends to make people understand that the sacrifice for freedom was not in vain.’
Having a keen interest in the Holocaust, I’m hoping that a visit to The House of Terror will expand my knowledge and also give a clearer view about the difficulties Jews in Hungary faced.
2. The Gellért Bath
Budapest is obviously famed for its many baths. However, when I saw the word ‘thermal’ in the description of the Gellért Bath, I knew it was the one I need to visit. It is also handily located near our apartment!
Opened in 1918, the spa/bath helped towards Budapest being aptly named the ‘Spa City’ in 1934. From 4,900 Ft (about £11.50), visitors can spend a full day in the baths with locker usage. Very tempting during the cold weather and to nurse our delicate heads after one too many cheap cocktails. They also offer various kinds of massages (it is a spa after all) and for much less than you’d be expected to pay in the U.K. Who says budget travelling can’t also be glamorous?
János-Hegy is the highest point of Budapest, and so obviously promises spectacular views of the city once you reach the summit. For those not keen on tackling the long walk up the hill, (guilty as charged) a very vintage-looking chairlift is on hand to carry visitors up to the top. Once there, ‘you can enjoy a breath-taking panorama of the city’, with views of up to 80km away. Some even claim that in certain conditions, you can see the peaks of the High Tatra Mountains!
I thought this would be a nice ‘non-city’ thing to do. Whilst it’s still touristy, it offers a different view of Budapest and beyond, and will definitely be more relaxing than the bustle of the city centre.
4. Margaret Island
Sticking with the green open spaces, Margaret Island is a park literally right in the centre of Budapest, on the Danube river. There are walkways, a zoo, a musical fountain, medieval ruins and even an open air cinema/theatre packed on this tiny island.
Much like János-Hegy, I’m hoping the island will offer a peaceful recluse, whilst giving us a chance to observe typical Budapesti behaviour.
5. Szimpla Kert
After scouring reviews on Trip Advisor, I discovered that this open air cinema and pub was located literally round the corner from our accommodation! According to the website, ‘Szimpla defines itself as a ‘cultural reception space’’, offering concert, theatre shows and many other cultural events. It’s an old factory, which was rescued and renovated into a place where the people of Budapest could come together, have fun and bask in their leisure-filled glory. It offers a bakery, famers market and shop, vitamin bar, kitchen, grill, and much more. It seems like it could be a haven for local living and offer a quirky contrast to the historical side of Budapest. I can’t wait to go and explore what is on our doorstep!
Obviously, there is much more in Budapest that I am hoping to see and do. The city offers museums that are (mostly) free to students, so we’ll definitely be taking advantage of that. I also hope to visit some interesting restaurants and get my first taste of Hungarian cuisine! I’ll be sure to keep you updated with another post upon my return, informing you all of what we got up to on our little adventure in Budapest!