Four days in Budapest awoke something in me. I find myself thinking about this city way too often. I come back to it in my thoughts, reliving memories of my solo trip and imagining returning here. It feels as if I left a piece of my heart in this city. I have many favorite cities in Europe but there’s something about Budapest that makes it stand out.

sunset over the budapest parliament

A city bursting with extraordinary buildings, it deserved a first post featuring the most magical places in Budapest. I had to separate this visit into a few blog posts, otherwise, this one would’ve been endless! There were so many places I liked in this city that I could write for days. And let’s be realistic, I had way too many photos to share. In fact, I had never taken so many photos of just one city!

unique architecture in budapest

You might think that four days was a lot of time to spend in a city that most people only dedicate a weekend to. But if anything, it felt too short. I mean, I still have to visit what most people come here for, the thermal baths! Since I was alone in Budapest, I had an endless list of places to see and I skipped out on many indoor places, including baths. Meaning there will also be plenty of museum visits next time I’m in Budapest!

I just had a feeling life would somehow lead me back to Budapest in the future so there was no reason to hurry. Also, the early June weather utterly spoiled me during my visit. It felt a shame to spend any of my time indoors during those sunny days. I did make an exception when a friend of mine who lives there showed me the interior of one of the many beautiful buildings in Budapest. This short visit convinced me that the Budapest facades hide even more magical sights behind their walls. It left me craving more interior escapades!

The very first place I visited upon arriving in Budapest was Massolit Books & Café. This charming bookstore café was the perfect respite from the summer heat. A little labyrinth of tiny rooms lined with bookshelves and an adorable garden, I immediately fell in love with it. And not just because I had a poppyseed pastry, something that reminds me of my childhood in Croatia. I’ll probably write about it in more detail in a blog post about the most beautiful cafés in Budapest so keep an eye out for that!

Following aimless walks through Budapest and trying out the famous Kürtőskalács, also known as chimney cake, I headed out to Fisherman’s Bastion. A popular sunset spot, it was a bit crowded considering it was a public holiday. Without a doubt, Fisherman’s Bastion is a spot everyone must visit when in Budapest. I have a slight preference for sunrises here but the sunset was equally lovely. It goes without saying that it’s a lot less crowded early in the morning!

budapest parliament building

I wish I had some proper restaurant recommendations for Budapest but I have nothing. Partially because I discovered pistachio croissants which meant I got distracted! But also because it was early summer and I was sooner in the mood for ice creams and lighter meals rather than sitting down. And I won’t lie, I wanted to waste as little time as possible while in Budapest. Those neverending walks through the city were a perfect way to discover it.

What to visit in Budapest

Aside from Fisherman’s Bastion, there are a couple of other places you shouldn’t miss when in Budapest. Vajdahunyad Castle is one of them. Rather than taking the tram, I opted for a long walk instead. It was a warm summer day and there were lots of people on the castle grounds. Visiting the castle or just enjoying the sunshine on the lake, summer was in the air!

Next up on the list is the Buda castle, a palace and castle complex not far from the Fisherman’s Bastion. When there, you’ll find two museums and a library, as well as lots of charming corners and stunning viewpoints. The road leading to the castle was undergoing restoration when I visited so I found the whole area more complicated than it really is. I’m still unsure if I saw everything in that one morning of wandering up and down the complex. It seemed intricate and like it required more time than I devoted to it. Either way, I know where I’m returning next time I’m in Budapest!

Another necessary stop when in Budapest is the incomparable Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library. I already wrote a detailed blog post about it because I found it so inspiring. In a nutshell, it’s a library inside a palace and it’s nothing short of magnificent. Equally so, the Parisi Passage Cafe will transport you into the past with its impressive interior. Having cake for breakfast there meant enjoying it with only a handful of other people. Situated inside the imposing Parisi Udvar Hotel, it’s accessible even if you’re not staying at the hotel. Frankly, the splendor of bygone days is still palpable nowadays!

My last sunset in Budapest was one facing the city’s most popular place, the Hungarian Parliament Building. I found out too late that you can visit it and see the library inside. I guess that’s another thing to do when I return but at least I saw the House of Parliament both at sunrise and sunset.

parliament building in budapest at night

In addition, the Great Market Hall is another place you should visit when in Budapest. Even if like me, you might not be planning on purchasing anything. Going in there was worth it just to experience the bustling atmosphere such big markets always have. On the opposite side of the bridge, you’ll find something quite unique. The Gellert Hill Cave hides a little church inside its walls. Also known as the Rock Chapel, it’s quite the original sight! And lastly, we come to the Shoes on the Danube Bank, a touching memorial not far from the Parliament Building. Forced to leave their shoes behind, thousands of Jewish victims were shot on the bank, with the river carrying them away. It’s a haunting but moving tribute to a harrowing time in Hungarian history.

Art Nouveau in the city

While I expected impressive examples of Art Nouveau in Budapest, it still took me by surprise. It honestly swept me off my feet. I already know that I will have to make a detailed guide on Art Nouveau in Budapest! Some buildings look as if their facades were embroidered. The attention to detail is astounding and I couldn’t stop looking up and turning around, looking for new perspectives.

There’s something undeniably romantic about Budapest. And I don’t think it’s just my tendency to romanticize everything! A city so steeped in history, every fifth building in the city leaves me daydreaming. If I’m completely honest, I can see myself living in this city one day. Purely because its unique architecture indulges my daily escapism. My day-to-day daydreams would thrive in this Art Nouveau paradise!

Similarly, anything book related in this city is straight out of a dream. I included some of these places in the blog post I mentioned earlier. It took me a long time to write this blog post. Partially because I had been too busy but also because it felt personal to write about a city I loved so much. I knew the article would be long and I knew that I would always be searching for ways to improve it. However, considering the fact that I am probably returning to Budapest this year, I figured I should just go ahead with it. Because let’s face it, there will probably be new blog posts about Budapest waiting to be written!

For my last day in Budapest, I treated myself to another unforgettable place. The renowned New York Café Budapest was the best way to end this magical stay. However, there was another surprise in store for me. As I packed up my suitcase, I heard some commotion under my window. My Airbnb in the center of the city had been the quietest place ever so far and guess what I saw as I looked out the window? A film set around the café on the corner, in the midst of shooting a film clearly set in the early 1940s! Walking past the crew, wide-eyed and in awe of it all, I reluctantly walked to the train station. It was time to board the train to Bratislava but I had trouble leaving Budapest behind.

On the whole, the beginning of my solo trip was everything I thought it would be and more. Budapest stole my heart away and I think about it almost daily. I can still recall those long walks under the lush green avenues, with Andrew Bird playing through my headphones and the biggest smile on my face. In fact, hearing those songs today brings me even closer to that memory! I spent four days in Budapest and I could’ve easily spent four more. I’m certain it still wouldn’t have been enough to satisfy my love for this city.

Budapest, the city of my dreams, my Art Nouveau dreams. I reflect on it much too often. Seeing photos of it instantly brings me back. I feel the same sense of awe and wonder that I felt as I walked down those streets. Mostly, I daydream about going back in October. Budapest enveloped in a warm coat of autumn leaves sounds divine. It’s a pretty safe bet to say that this dream will come true later in the year. And I simply can’t wait to fall in love with Budapest anew!

sunset in budapest
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Brigita Soldo

Travel Photographer · Creative Content Creator · Vintage & Sustainable Fashion Advocate

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