Best View: Buda Castle
The best view of the city can be seen from Buda Castle – and you don’t even have to get all the way up to the castle itself to see it. If you stop about halfway up the hillside there’s a small, flat space where you can step off the trail to take photos. It just so happens to be between tree branches, but you do have to lean a bit to get branch-less photo.
If you’re looking for an easier place to take photos – or you took the funicular – then you can follow the barrier walls to a landing that looks out over the Danube. From this point you can see Chain Bridge and the Parliament building.
Best Experience: Thermal Baths
I talked a lot about this already, but it truly was the highlight of our trip to Budapest. The baths were not something I *knew* I’d love; in fact, I was a little wary of them at first even though I was also excited. That said, all of my fears were put to rest and the experience itself was the most relaxing thing we’ve done on a trip in a while. It may have just been the massage or maybe there really was something medicinal about the waters, but this experience cannot be overestimated if you choose your locations wisely.
Best Food: Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cake)
We each got one of these on the walk to the castle and quickly realized we should have shared (which we did when we got another one a couple days later at the Easter Festival). These are at least twice the size of the Czech trdelníks and come in four flavorings rather than one. We got the cinnamon and vanilla flavors because, well, I love everything cinnamon and J can be a little boring – though I think it had more to do with cinnamon roll cravings than anything else.
Best Walk: Along the Danube at Night
Budapest is known as a romantic city because of its good dining options, great atmosphere, and beauty. Some of this beauty is natural – not every city splits itself in half by way of a great blue river – but much of it is manmade. The neoclassical, baroque, and Art Nouveau buildings painted in pastels and brilliant soft colorways as well as the bridges that connect the city to itself only add to the city’s over-the-top beauty. Still, at its heart is a city of simple pleasures. There’s so much ugly history that the city finds beauty wherever it can, celebrating the tiniest details in the most humble ways. I loved this city and there’s no better time to see it than at night. Stroll the Danube by lamppost, each glowing amber like a line of fireflies, while the lights from Buda side dance in the water below.
– M. Ray Hall