There are many cures for a hangover, and after a late finish a combination of good weather and Budapest’s stunning buildings are a sight for sore eyes. They know how to do design here, and the winding Danube provides the perfect canvass for the Parliament.
When it was created in 1896 – at a time when Budpest was the joint capital of Austro-Hungary, it was the world’s biggest parliament building. The banks of the Danube are graced with many fine buildings, coupled with moe modern hotels an frankly a couple of eyesores. This is the Pest side of the city, and on the Buda side, they don’t like to be out-done. The Grand Palace (also known as Buda Castle) is home to two of the city’s main museums. And just up the hill, in a country known for it’s fine cakes – a gingerbread-roofed church that would have Paul Hollywood aghast.
Matthias Church has been the victim of several power struggles downs the centuries. During the Ottoman era it was turned into a mosque. Today the tourists wander around aimlessly into the “shared space” of the nearby square. These are becoming ever more common -where traffic and pedestrians mix with few official crossings or traffic lights. In some places, they’re a recipe for disaster, but around Buda Castle the vehicles care carefully regulated by barriers – so unless you have a reason to be here, you can’t bring the car.
Just around the corner is Hungary’s oldest Cukradszda – a traditional cafe and pastry shop. And just as the buildings are beautifully decorated, so are the cakes.
Even in the heart of a tourist trap, the menu here is good value – with many of the cakes costing less than £2 a slice. That said, they pile on the extras with coffees and sift drinks at almost twice that.
What counts as value for money is always going to be subjective. Eastern Europe isn’t nearly as a heap as it used to be, but for a capital city you’re still paying a little over £3 for a house beer, and often cheaper than that. If you’re doing a lot of public ran sport and sightseeing the Budapest Card is well worth it, although there are plenty of places like museums where you’ll end up paying at least some admission fee.
Equally though there are plenty of places you can enjoy for free, like the Fisherman’s Bastion.
The tower itself carries and entrance fee, and annoyingly the archways contain a restaurant, meaning the best views are reserved for those who pay. But around the edges, you can still get a decent peek down to that boring old Parliament building.