The final stop on my two-week solo European trip was Budapest. I was especially excited about this stop for two reasons: I am Austrian-Hungarian and I had a good friend from college study abroad there.
On the way in to Budapest, I was able to make a pit stop in Slovakia for lunch - crossing off three countries in one day! We were in Bratislava, which was a quaint town that I wish I could have explored more. As soon as I got into Budapest I was shuffled immediately to the House of Terror for a tour, which was interesting but didn’t have many explanations in the exhibits, so if you go definitely do a guided tour. Following that I rode on Line 1, the oldest operating metro line on European mainland, operating since 1896. We then did a walking tour of the city, which was very extensive - there was a lot to see! We hit a lot of the highlights of the area, including St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Soviet War Memorial, the Parliament building, shoes on the Danube, and more.
That night, a small group of us went out to Szimpla Kert, one of the popular ruins bars in town. A description can’t do this place justice, but let me try and set the scene a bit. It was massive - multiple stories, a plethora of rooms, and a maze-like environment. There were places to sit and talk quietly, rooms to dance with strangers, and a room for everything in between. Checking out a ruins bar is a MUST if you stop in Budapest!
The next morning was a rough one, since I don’t do well on a lack of sleep. Touring all day after 4 hours of sleep was the last thing I wanted to do, but since it was my last full day in Europe I charged on. First up was a bus tour of the city, which stopped at awesome look out points on the Buda side, the side of town where the wealthy live. This included Fisherman’s Bastion, which is a fortress from the 19th century, and Buda castle. We finished the tour at Hősök tere, one of the major squares.
I had the afternoon free, so I grabbed lunch then spent the afternoon at Széchenyi Thermal Bath. This is the big yellow outdoor/indoor bath always seen in images about Budapest and baths. There were 20+ baths all at different temperatures which was nice to be able to switch around. However, it did feel a bit grimy in the locker room areas and was insanely crowded. I wish I had more time to check out the other baths because I hear they are more low-key and luxurious. To cap off my last night in Europe, I took a river cruise down the Danube. We were able to see the parliament building all lit up, and as soon as got past the building it started torrential down pouring - great timing on our part!
Budapest is a city filled with beautiful buildings, an enriching history, and a laissez-faire lifestyle. I did find it difficult to communicate as English wasn’t as common there as it was in other countries I visited. It was also about 100 degrees every day, and our hotel didn’t have AC, so if you’re planning on going in the summer definitely splurge for a place with AC. Overall, Budapest was a unique city and I enjoyed the ruins bars and the baths the most!
Thanks for reading my solo post-grad trip recap! Soon I’ll do a highlight post about my time in Iceland in August, covering more of the tips, tricks, and sights of it rather than in in-depth post like this one. Happy Labor Day everyone!