Our second day in Budapest started with a walking tour of the Buda Castle district. We booked it through Airbnb (Linked Here) for $39 and it was easily one of the highlights of our Budapest experience. We took the bus n° 16 from our Airbnb area and walked up a steep incline and stairs to get to Szentháromság tér / Holy Trinity Square.
With a tour guide, we explored and listened to the unfiltered history of Budapest from a local while walking around the district. The tour was three hours and we covered:
– the Matthias Church, arguably the most beautiful church in Budapest
– the off-the-beaten-path part of the Castle District
– Alexander Palace, the Hungarian Presidential Palace
– Panoramic views of the Parliament & the Pest side
– Fisherman’s Bastion, the most romantic place in town
– The Royal Palace and the Savoy terrace
The Matthias Church was intricately decorated with historical Gothic style architecture and filled with beautiful frescoes adorning the walls. Our admission tickets were included as part of our walking tour and we had leisurely time to walk around the church and appreciate its beauty.
Fisherman’s Bastion along with the Panoramic views of the Parliament & the Pest side was one of the most popular spots of the tour with many tour groups flocking the area to get the perfect picture. It’s also one of the most recognizable photo spots in Budapest and offered a beautiful view of Parliament and the bridge.
It was terribly cold that day with blustery winds on top of the hill, and we did not take that into account so bring extra layers if you go during winter time!
After enjoying our time in the Buda Castle district, we decided to head over to the infamous medicinal thermal baths that Budapest was also known for. We chose Széchenyi Thermal Bath for our night and had seen many pictures of the location. We made reservations online for a bath cabin and headed over there on the bus.
We got in and checked in pretty easily, but found it to be one of the most chaotic experiences we had ever been through. We had bought an aroma relax massage to enjoy the night at the front desk after the receptionist let us know and were excited about the whole experience. However, we quickly realized that nothing was properly explained or labeled and we had to exit the area in order to go buy towels at the gift shop in order to be able to use the spa. We did not know we had to bring towels, so that was an extra expense we didn’t account for. Once we found the cabins, we found it to be quite dirty and crowded still.
We changed and made our way to the spas which were beyond crowded and everyone was corralled to very specific areas. The outdoors was picturesque with the steam wafting from the baths against the yellow walls of the beautiful buildings. However, due to the amount of people, it was quite an unpleasant experience with the baths being over crowded. From there, we made our way indoors to find the massage experience. No matter how hard we tried to look or ask, we could not find the massage experience. We asked everyone from the workers to the actual masseuse, and no one could give us a proper answer of where or when it would be. We ended up wasting that experience as well and it left us quite disgruntled. The indoors were also crowded and a fire hazard as everyone was shoving each other on the slippery tiles. Overall, I would not recommend this location despite the beautiful architecture of the location.
We went from the baths to a night time Danube river cruise to really pack in the night. Also a little too overcrowded in the warm downstairs enclosed seating area, but the upstairs outdoor deck was empty and provided some beautiful views of the city. We loved seeing the buildings lit up and had a great time seeing the views from the river. I don’t know if I would recommend the river cruise tour we went on, but it was an affordable option to enjoy the experience.
We were starving after all of our excursions, so we made our way back to the Christmas market on Vörösmarty Square. With more stalls open at peak time, the market was bustling with people and delicious smells. We shared a delicious bratwurst and watched a Christmas projection against St. Stephen’s Basilica. I was able to pickup the most beautiful Christmas presents in the market for my family including glass flowers and ornaments.
On the way home, we stopped by a ruin bar that we heard about from the local that I had met in the airport the night before. If you had not heard about ruin bars in Budapest, I highly recommend checking them out! They are unusual join bars tucked inside neglected pre war buildings of the old Jewish quarter. The most popular one we went to was Szimpla Kert with eclectic artwork, colorful lights, and graffitied walls everywhere. It was truly a vibe with the fun clientele and the loud thumping music that showed a different side of Budapest that I truly enjoyed. I will say it was filled with what seemed like college students and tourists mixed with locals here and there and the whole interior felt like one giant circus. There were more than 8 bars that we saw with a huge outdoor area and two floors to enjoy. I think we could have spent multiple nights here enjoying the place. I tried a non alcoholic drink because I was intrigued by the packaging, and my boyfriend had a pint while we enjoyed our night in Budapest.