Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a huge city with a mix of Western & Eastern culture. In reality it’s two sides: Buda & Pest divided by river Danube with a small Margaret Island in the middle towards North which constitutes the city of Budapest. There are 8 bridges connecting these two sides with totally different character and style – oldest & most famous being Chain Bridge, built between 1856-1863; other being Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) – not much far from Chain Bridge but yet not too popular. The city views from any point is really great and the night view of the city is just incredible! And it’s true that to get an amazing view of one side, one has to be on the other side of the city 🙂
The Buda side is hilly and has two hills – Buda hill and the Gellert hill. On the Buda Hill/Castle District, the places to see and visit are:
Buda Castle (previously known as Royal Palace/Royal Castle) – a World UNESCO heritage site. The national historical museum and National Gallery are besides the palace. There is an entrance fees to visit both of these, however, with the Budapest Card the entries are free. A comprehensive guide on how to explore each part of the castle is described here. Watch Change of Guards in front of Presidential Palace, which happens every hour from 9 till 5.
Views of Parliament & Chain Bridge from the castle:
Few meters up from Buda Castle, in the heart of Castle District lies the St Matthias Church – also known as Church of Our Lady – A beautiful Roman Catholic church whose main tower can be seen from different parts of the city. The interior of the church has great architecture and is magnificently decorated with colorful patterns and motifs. There is an entrance fees of 1500 HUF per head to visit the church (as of March’16). Budapest Card is not applicable here.
Besides St. Matthias Church lies Fisherman Bastion – a viewing terrace with seven towers, representing tents of the seven Magyar tribe leaders that lead the Hungarians into their nation by the end of the 9th century. One can have absolutely incredible panoramic views of Margaret Island and the Parliament. There is no cost to enter the viewing platform.
Besides Buda Hill, to the south is Gellert Hill with remarkable views of Eastern side of the city . And the best place to get them is from Citadel which is at the top of the hill with Liberty statue. There is no entry fees to this place.
At the foot of the Gellert Hill, is the famous Gellert Spa for thermal baths.
TIP: Since most of the Budapest’s beauty is at night, don’t forget to pay a visit up to hill after sunset and get some incredible views of the Pest side of the city.
Below is a video compiled with all the ‘Buda’ sights:
Public Transport Info:
The public transport in Budapest is pretty reliable and with good connections between the two sides, it’s really a breeze to use – with options to choose between Metro, Tram or Bus. As most of the things to see/do is pretty close, the recommended way is to walk around. There are different types of tickets/passes one can buy – with Budapest Card the public transportation is free.
City bus no. 16 takes one from city center (Deák Ferenc tér – Pest side) to the Buda Hill. There is also a funicular from the front of the Chain Bridge (on the Buda side (Bus stop name: Clark Ádám tér)) up to Buda Castle. Another way of reaching Buda hill is to take tram line 4 or 6 upto it’s last stop Széll Kálmán tér and take bus# 16/16A uphill.
To go up the Gellert Hill, one has to take bus 27 from Móricz Zsigmond körtér. You can reach here either by Metro line 4 or Tram#6.
And other option beyond walking and public transport is to take a Taxi – which is quite cheap when compared to Western European countries.
These places on two hills can be visited at one’s own pace. However, the suggested time frame is of at least 1 full day.