July 29, 2013
Travel Journal (Day 12)
Whoa! What a great day today was. Budapest is such an incredible city. I thought a moment to discuss some things to do in this fine and fun city would be helpful.
Free Walking Tours
Free Walking Tours are a great way to see certain parts of the city and learn about the city’s history. Most major cities have these, and I highly recommend them. The tour guides work on tips, so it is incredibly important that they are fun and knowledgeable. Some of the best tours I have ever had have been on Free Walking Tours. In Budapest, they offer a general tour of both the Buda and Pest sides, a Communism tour, and a Jewish tour. Each is great and helps to acquaint one to the city, as well as learn about the “history, society, architecture and what Hungarians are actually like.” Plus, they give ideas of what to do later on. Just do not forget to tip these great guides at the end of the tour!
St. Steven’s Basilica
In Hungarian, the name of this awesome (in the true sense of the word) church is Szent Istvan Bazilika or St. Steven’s Basilica. The namesake is King Steven, Hungary’s beloved king. This is truly one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot. It rivals St. Paul’s in London. It is one of the largest Catholic churches in Hungary. Our tour guide told us there is only one larger in the country. But no matter, it is awe inspiring. The architecture is stunning, the mural of Jesus incredible, and the size simply sublime. Plus, it has a relic in it of St. Steven’s mummified fist. It truly is worth visiting.
The Dohany Street Central Synagogue
Once you finish up at St. Steven’s, you should take a 15-minute stroll to the Dohany Street Central Synagogue. It is the second largest synagogue in the whole world. I believe it seats something like 30,000 people or so. At least, that is what our guide told us. Like St. Steven’s, it is a beautiful place of worship. The architecture will touch your soul just like that of St. Steven’s. Between these two houses of worship, you will feel something special.
A really enjoyable activity is to rent a bike and ride around the city. Not only will you see some of the areas that free walking tours do not cover, but you can do it all with the fun of a bike ride. We grabbed a bottle of delicious (and affordable) Hungarian wine and rode to Margaret’s Island, one of the islands in the Danube. It was so much fun. For about 3,000 Hungarian (or roughly $15 USD), you can rent the bike for the day and just have fun!
Another really fun activity is to stroll by the Danube, or even take a boat tour of the Danube. Not only will you see much of the city, but you feel the romance that Budapest inspires. Grab a soda or bottle of wine and enjoy the walk.
Szechenyi Bath and Spa Budapest
After all that biking and walking, a nice day at the thermal baths might be in order so check out Szechenyi Bath and Spa Budapest. Experience the baths, get a massage, and enjoy the relaxation. With indoor and outdoor spa pools, this is a great event for any day, any weather.
Obviously, Budapest has much more to offer from shopping to museums to tours to eating and drinking. Though I did not highlight everything, this is a pretty great start to a trip to Budapest.
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com