It All Started With a Tradition . . .
From my earliest memories, I always wanted to travel. The boarding passes, window seats and foreign languages made me feel at home while being far away from my actual home. It was from this insatiable desire to see the world that I promised myself every birthday I would be in a different city around the world.
Spoiler alert—2018 was Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. I give you a look at why you need to add it to every list you have. Travel list, bucket list, grocery list. Okay, maybe not the last one . . .
Hungary's Best Kept Secret
In 2018, I was abroad in The Netherlands, which allowed me to have more than enough options for my birthday tradition. I considered the more commercial destinations like Spain or Paris, but decided I wanted to explore and take a risk. A city and country that was known, but had not become a tourist mainstream just yet.
George Ezra was right to write a whole song about Budapest. From breathtaking views and friendly people to vast history, this city has everything you would need. In a word, it's simply magical. Traveling here from any major European city is a dream, as it should only take around 1–2 hours. Across oceans will be a bit longer, but make no mistake—it is worth the flight. I am already thinking about my next trip back.
Sights and Attractions
For the duration of my birthday weekend, I stayed in the Aria Hotel Budapest by Library Hotel Collection, most notable for winning The Best Hotel of 2017 awarded by TripAdvisor. This hotel is located in the city centre and therefore allowed me to be in walking distance of all the attractions.
What is amazing about Budapest is that it has amazing views, but also attractions that help you get the best shots of these views. If we are being honest, nothing compares to the view from the Budapest Eye, a 65-metre ferries wheel on the Erzsébet Square. It gives you a 360-degree view of the city and the vast surrounding landscape. There are endless Instagram opportunities.
A sight that is an absolute must is the Danube River. Whether it is by day or night, it is truly something to behold. It belongs to 10 countries in Europe, one being Hungary, and spans 2850 kilometres. I wanted the best view possible, which involved me walking the length of the bridge above the river to the highest point of Buda Castle (which I will cover shortly below).
These efforts allowed me to snap the photo I included below so that you, my valued readers, don't have to make the hike yourself! If you have enough time in the beautiful city, you must do a night cruise along the river. The lights along the water are something out of a fairytale, and it will score you endless points with your girlfriend, or if you propose on the cruise, your now wife. Congratulations!
History and Culture
Apart from the fairytale spectacles we spoke about earlier, Budapest is rich in history and culture. A hub of both can be found in the form of Buda Castle. Once a palace and complex for the Hungarian Kings, it now serves as a remnant of the times and evolution of the Budapest community and people. If you can make it to the top of the castle, the view is breathtaking, figuratively and literally.
The history of Buda Castle is captivating. The site has been preserved and maintained without changing too much about it. This allows the Baroque style of architecture to be enjoyed along with other tourists and locals alike. If time permits, you can have your pick of walking historical tours or self-conducted tours in and around the castle for those history buffs who want to have some Budapest bragging rights.
What I personally enjoyed was the friendly atmosphere that people created. From hotel staff and waiters to regular citizens, they were all willing to assist in any way possible and also spoke to me in English! Every corner has a bistro and every other, a restaurant to try local delicacies and all sorts of different coffee brews. Something for everyone, even the picky travellers!
You Haven't Booked Your Flight Yet?
In case I was not clear, this city is magical and you need to experience it! My only regret is that I had only a weekend and one birthday cake to celebrate. From the sights to the people, the overall energy of Budapest will take hold of you and soon, you will never want to leave. On that note, I am off. Where, you ask? I mean, if you still have to ask?
© 2018 Lord Alucard
Liz Westwood from UK on December 23, 2018:
Budapest is on my list of places to visit. If you haven't already been, I can recommend Prague.
George Johnson from San Antonio, TX on December 23, 2018:
Great article. I've heard nothing but good things about Budapest and definitely plan on going there.