Top things to do in Budapest (Part 2)
5. Buda Castle – Buda Castle is massive and encompasses several exhibits you might want to check out, including the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Matthias Fountain. The Museum of Fine Art is under renovation right now, so the art in the National Gallery is a combination of the most popular pieces from the Museum of Fine Art and the Hungarian National Gallery (until Spring of 2018, the last time I checked).
How do you get there? You can take the same Funicular that leads up to the Fisherman’s Bastion, or you can just walk straight up the hill beside the Chain Bridge. The stairs are beside the funicular.
How to buy tickets? At the front desk. I don’t know of any way to buy ahead of time.
Cost? You can wander the Castle Courtyard for free, but seeing the Hungarian National Gallery costs approximately 1800 HUF per adult. The audio guide is about 800 HUF and well worth it as most of the exhibits are in Hungarian.
6. The Bridges of Budapest- The bridges in Budapest are pretty spectacular (and of course, historical). Two bridges you should see, regardless of your feelings on architecture:
-Chain Bridge: See the Chain Bridge at night- when it’s lit up, it’s by far the most beautiful bridge in Budapest. The Chain Bridge lines up with the Castle Hill tunnel and the funicular that takes you up to Buda Castle. The pedestrian crossing on the Chain Bridge is always busy and crowded but its still worth it to walk over it at least once (if nothing else, just to see the magnificent lion statues).
-Liberty Bridge: Originally named the Franz Joseph Bridge, it was opened in 1896 when Emperor Franz Joseph drove the last silver rivet into the bridge. During WWII, the bridge was blown up as the German army retreated and by 1946 the bridge had been reconstructed to its original design. Again, as someone who doesn’t even understand (let alone properly appreciate) architecture, I can honestly say these bridges are worth a look no matter your background.
7. Great Market Hall- This hall is 3 stories tall and will take you about 2 hours to work through. There is an entire floor of souvenir stalls if you want to pick something up for friends or family and several vendors offering food, coffee, Hungarian paprika, and chocolate. Just walk through and see all of the amazing stalls with everything from traditional Hungarian food to your normal, everyday groceries.
Hours–>Monday: 06.00- 17.00,
Tuesday – Friday: 06.00 – 18.00,
Saturday: 06.00 – 15.00,
Sunday & National Public Holidays: closed.
Address–> Vámház krt. 1-3
How to Get There–> M3 Blue Line or just walk across the Liberty Bridge to the Pest Side
8. Hősök tere- As you walk through the square, your attention is arrested by the Millennium Monument (a statue of Gabriel the Archangel) centered around the 7 chieftans that conquered the Carpathian Basin to eventually form Hungary. Literally translated to ‘The Heroes Square,’ Hősök tere warrants a walk-through. No one can really agree on who the chieftans are- although some are named in the Square itself, there is a great deal of debate (with the exception of Árpád, the leader) about who the 7 actually were.
A quick word on how the Hungarian tribes came to take over the Carpathian Basin and form Hungary. The various tribes had just united under Árpád and knowing that they were likely to be attacked again by the Turks, decided to move. There is evidence to suggest that they had been to the Carpathian Basin before and knew that there wasn’t much of a military presence in the area. Combine that with a variety of different, divided nationalities scattered within the Basin- Slavs, Moravians, Bulgarians, Franks, and more- the Hungarian tribes knew they would be likely to take over the area. So these people who had previously lived on the plains with their horses, who had no experience with mountaineering or forests or the mountain weather patterns, crossed over the Carpathian Mountain range with close to half a million people successfully. The fact that they were able to cross that range and subsequently take over the Carpathian Basin is actually incredible. The history of these people warants a read.
How to get there? Follow the M1 Metro Line (it’s a really cool metro line- it’s one of the oldest in the world) to the Hősök tere (Hero’s Square) stop.
Cost? Only the cost of the Metro line (see article on public transportation in Budapest).