Central Europe: Hungary - Things to See/Do in Budapest Part 1

By Cubie - December 16, 2014

As I mentioned in my previous post, we started our sight-seeing in Budapest by joining the Budapest Free Walking Tour. The meeting point was at Vorosmarty Square. We walked a little around Pest, then crossed the Chain Bridge towards the Buda side of the city.

So I shall start with things to do or see in the Buda side, which technically most of the sights are found on Castle Hill.

Castle Hill

1. Royal Palace (aka Buda Castle)
We walked up the hill but there's also another option - a funicular. According to our tour guide from the walking tour, locals usually just walk. Maybe that's why they are all fit and slim.

The Buda Castle is now the home to the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Library. This place is massive, it took us awhile to walkabout. If you took the walking option, a sculpture of Turul is at the front to greet you on your way up.

Turul is the most important bird in the origin myth of Magyars (Hungarians), described as a giant eagle or falcon with a sword in it's talon. In the gist, both legends symbolises birth to a line of great ruler and the finding of the land that became Hungary. It is a symbol of Magyar and can be found on the coat of arms of the Hungarian Army and the Office of National Security.

Matthias Fountain (Mátyás kútja)
If you are interested, the changing of guards is held in front of the Hungarian Presidential Palace at the Buda Castle. It takes a few minuties and repeat by the hour from 8.30 - 5 pm (e.g. 10 am, 11 am, etc. We were there at 10 am on a Saturday and was informed that there's a longer one at 12 pm. We didn't return to check it. The website however mentioned there's only one Special Saturday Changing of the Guards at midday but only on the last Saturday of the given month.

2. Matthias Church (Mátyás templom)
The opening hours for Saturday was listed as 9-1 pm but we missed it for a Church service I think or maybe it was because of a wedding. Anyway, we did not enter the church, but only wandered around it.

This is a Roman Catholic church, just in front of the Fisherman's Bastion at the heart of the Buda's Castle District. We were initially told by our tour guide that the tiles on the church were superior tiles that can self-cleaned. (Har har). The truth was, the church has just gotten new tiles roof. Of course it is not very traditional looking but I think the contrast does complement the look of the church though.

This building is not very forgiving for short cameraperson

3. Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya)
In the Middle Ages, this part of the rampart was guarded by fishermen and there was a fish market just below here. Hence, the name of Fishermen's Bastion.

I actually though the towers make it very Disney feel but from what I read, there are seven pointy towers and it represent the seven Magyar tribes. I didn't count how many there were though. We were cheapskate, so we did not pay the fee to climb up the bastion. The views over Danube overlooking Pest are beautiful even from fee free area.

View from one of the windows at the bastion.

It was cloudy that day but still superb view
4. Cafe Ruszwurm (Ruszwurm Cukrászda)
This is not sight related but we decided to have morning tea. Zoltan (tour guide) recommended some eating places and this was one of the venue. Pastries are a big deal in Hungary and there are some cakes recommended in Rick Steve's book. So our picks were - tiroli meggyes retes (sour cherry strudel) and dobos torta (layered chocolate and caramel cream cake), and a coffee each.

Coffee each at 1100 HUF / AUD 5.50 / € 3.60

The one in front is Tiroli meggyes retes (400 HUF / AUD 2 / € 1.30), dobos torta (500 HUF / AUD 2.50 / € 1.70)
Gellért Hill

5. Citadel Fortress
Also on the Buda side is the Gellért Hill, named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill due to reaction to Christianity following the death of King St Stephen. At the top of the hill is the Citadel. We visited this on a different day after Central Market Hall (I'll write about this in another post). From Central Market Hall, we walked across Szabadság Bridge or Liberty Bridge (Green Bridge).
The famous Hotel Gellert and Gellert Baths are at the foot of the hill.

Szabadság Bridge

At the bottom of the hill
6. Cave Church
Half way up the hill, one can also visit the Cave Church. This church is actually located inside Gellért Hill. Needless to say much, we didn't go in :|
If you need to read a bit further on the church, here's the link.

Outside of where Cave Church is
7. Liberation Monument
A Statue of Liberty (Szabadság Szobor) in Budapest, this statue was erected in 1947 after second world war. The main figure is a woman, holding an olive branch, the symbol of peace in her hands. From afar, when I first heard about this statue of liberty, I thought it seem quite fit if she holds a paprika leave since paprika is a big thing in Hungary.

Statue of liberty - the one in the middle

This is not the statue of liberty
As this is up the hill, we were also rewarded with panorama view of the city.

8. Others
If you decided to try the funicular instead of making your way up the hill by foot, here's a photo if it.

Thermal bath - Gellért Bath and Rudas Bath.
Both of these bath houses are on the Buda side, we only have time for one and went to Széchenyi thermal bath instead.

Side note: Have you had egg nog before?

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  1. Lovely Budapest. That photo of the little yellow tram brings back fond memories for me. Did you enjoy the Gulyas?