This morning, after breakfast in the hotel, and a final farewell to the group, I set out to explore as much of Budapest as I could in 6 hours – I left the hotel at 9.30, and my transfer to the airport was picking me at 3.30, giving me exactly 6 hours.
This was obviously not enough to do anything in depth – I didn’t go in any museums, or explore the churches I saw. But, it was enough to get a feel for Budapest, and to decide I will definitely go back one day.
My walk down to the Danube (I went the right way today!) took me first passed the State Opera House, which was impressive, and then onto the stunning St Stephen’s Basilica, built from 1851-1905. I didn’t go in, but had a good walk around the exterior, admiring the stone work and carvings.
From there I headed to the river, and crossed over the chain bridge, and then rode the funicular up to the castle area. From there, the views across the Danube to the Hungarian Parliament are spectacular.
The castle area is where the Hungarian National Gallery, Matyas Church and Fisherman’s Bastion are all located. The Hungarian National Gallery is housed in the Royal Palace, another stunning and huge building. Again, I didn’t go in, but again the facade is impressive. Matyas Church is smaller than St Stephen’s Basilica, with a less impressive facade. However, the building’s beauty lies in the multi-coloured tiled roof, which was only added after WW2 between 1950 and 1970.
Fisherman’s Bastion is a series of towers, turrets and walkways offering lovely views of the river, and Pest across the river.
After that, I headed back across the river to Vaci Utca, Budapest’s main shopping street. Mainly pedestrianised, the stunning architecture makes it a lovely street for a stroll. It also felt like the real Budapest, like this is where the locals would shop – Dubrovnik’s old town feels very touristy and I did wonder where the locals were. Vaci Utca feels “real”, with plenty of high street shops and names, mixed in with the tourist shops.
By this point, my feet were hurting from all the walking, and it was nearly time to head back to the hotel, so that’s what I did. I had only scratched the surface of what Budapest has to offer – but didn’t do too badly in only 6 hours.
That was the end of my trip to the Balkans – an amzing trip in which I saw some places I’d long wanted to see, and some places I had never heard of before. And some places I will definitely return to.