I’ve had the chance to visit Budapest during summer, winter and spring. I have yet to make it there during autumn (so that’s something I want to do in the following years). The shoulder season – spring and autumn – is the best choice to visit any European city.
Here are some reasons for that:
- the weather is just perfect: not cold anymore but not hot yet
- spending time outdoors means you get a chance to see the nature come back to life
- there aren’t so many tourists yet
- some attractions can still be visited for free
- the prices are lower than during summer
Advice: unless you want to celebrate Easter somewhere else than home, it’s better to avoid traveling during that weekend (in 2014, Easter falls on April 20) in order to avoid higher prices and crowds.
Things to do
Take a DIY walking tour of the city
I always like to choose accommodation either in the Vaci utca area or within walking distance of a metro/ bus station. All walking tours that I personally do start on Vaci utca (as you can exit the metro at Deak ter stop). From here, make your way to the Danube Embankment and stop for a photo with the Princess (Sissi). Walk towards Chain Bridge, cross it and then walk to Castle Hill.
You can easily spend an hour or two just checking out Castle Hill with is Fishermen Bastion, Mattiash Church and amazing views of the Danube. Then either make your way to the Citadella – for another walk uphill and amazing views – or towards Margitsziget , walking past the Parliament on the way back to Vaci utca. Although Gellert Hill and Citadella can be easily done on another day.
Another awesome walk is along Andrassy ut, all the way to Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle and City Park.
Needless to say, very good walking shoes, a map and a water bottle are a must.
Elisabeth Tower – the highest vantage point in Budapest
Once I discovered this place – thanks to my husband – it soon became my favorite place in Budapest. Technically still within the city limits, the tower stands on the hills surrounding the city and can be reached by using a combination of public transportation options including the cogwheel.
The scenic ride is worth a day of your vacation. Since you can use it to get to Elisabeth Tower, you can combine these two into a perfect day on the hills. If you want to start early, you can even toss in some hiking in the mix.
The Railway starts from Széchenyi-hegy, where the cogwheel stops (you have to walk uphill a bit between the two stations). Take the train to Janos hegy and then follow the sign to walk in the woods until you’ll easily spot Elisabeth Tower.
If you get a day ticket on the Railway, you can take it all the way to the last station, and then on the way back stop at Janos hegy and then follow your steps back to the cogwheel station.
The Great Market Hall
Easily reached from Vaci utca (it literally stands at the end of it) , the market is where you can grab souvenirs – such as yummy paprika – and also enjoy some amazing sweets Hungary is known for. Of course, you can find plenty other things to eat so try not to come on an empty stomach or you’d be tempted to buy everything.
All photos by Traveling Cricket and may not be used without permission.