Traveling with work has its benefits. It gets you to visit beautiful cities like Budapest. Last month I got to visit this beautiful city in central Europe. Initially getting there I was expecting something like Prague. I was expecting a fairly small city with a well defined city center that you can walk around. I was wrong, Budapest is not like that.
Budapest is a very big city of almost 1,7 million people, with a very nice network of public transport and nice streets that you can either walk or run. The best way to get around it really depends on you. I ended up using the excellent taxify app a lot to get between Buda and Pest. Be aware though that sometimes the traffic can be impossible. Especially around rush hour (8-10 in the morning and 5-7 in the afternoon). The other way to move around, and see the city, is to walk. Budapest is a very safe city, with large pavements, beautiful buildings and lots of other people. One other thing worth doing is going around with one of the numerous trams. They look fantastic, as you can see in the picture on the right.
Paying for things
Hungary has its own currency, Hungarian Forint. The exchange rate is pretty good versus most major currencies and as a result a lot of things turn out to be fairly cheap. The best way to pay for your expenses is via TransferWise card or Revolut. As a rule of thumb avoid exchanging money on airports or random exchanges in the cities where you are traveling. These days there are better products for you out there.
Most restaurants accept cards so I really didn’t find myself needing any cash at any point. It’s a rare occasion that you’ll need to withdraw cash.
Things to do
One of the first things I got to do was to try some of the amazing local cuisine. I wasn’t disappointed. I found an awesome coffee shop called Sonkapult. Finding a nice place for coffee is really essential for me. It grounds me and it helps me start the day really nice. It’s one of those luxuries that I like to indulge into. On top of the nice food there is excellent breakfast too.
But this wasn’t the only breakfast joint I found. Szimply Breakfast is another excellent, cosy, place I did visit quite a bit. Other local delicacies that you want to try is the beef stew/soup that they do, Gulash. I will be really cooking it for the years to come. Really hearty taste, I can see it being a great thing to eat during the heavy winters.
While in Budapest I did visit one of the biggest spa places that they have to offer. Let me tell you, it was a horrible experience. The pool was crowded and dirty (and it was only in the middle of the week). A lot of indoor pools where smelling like urine and generally speaking the conditions were horrible. It was very cheap though. If you are planning to go make sure you have flip-flops or something. I wouldn’t want to walk barefoot there. It was quite the experience, not it the best possible way.
Another common thing to do is visit one of the numerous museums in the city, even though I didn’t do any of that. Finally if you are a runner, like me, Budapest is an excellent place for that. You can see a lot of people running in the streets and in the beautiful Margaret island in the middle of the Danube river. Totally recommend it.
As far as photography goes, Budapest doesn’t disappoint. I would recommend having a tripod with you as the city transforms over the evening. The light and the reflections on the river are awesome. The lights on the buildings are marvelous and the streets have their own special vibe. I really comment the funicular that takes you to the castle, and the castle itself. Especially during dawn, it’s great and the views don’t disappoint. A think that it’s worth doing is going on a cruise on the Danube. I went on a wine testing cruise (the wine wasn’t that good) and the views didn’t disappoint. So worth checking it out.