I had a wonderful time spending the start of my vacation in Paris with friends, but once that was over, it was time for some travel!
About a month ago, I looked at a map and noticed the many destinations in Eastern Europe that I have yet to visit. I planned a solo backpacking trip through them all: Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana/Bled, and Dubrovnik.
Part 1 was Budapest!
While this was all planned as a giant solo trip, I actually did overlap trips to Budapest with some of my Paris au pair friends. Additionally, my friend Brooke decided to jump on the bandwagon and coordinated her Budapest trip to match up to mine.
When Hannah flew back to the U.S. last Tuesday morning, I headed to the airport with her and jumped onto a flight to Budapest. Brooke and I met at the airport, then we checked into our hostel.
We stayed at The Hive Party Hostel, and for just 8 euros per night, I would say this was a fabulous choice. Yes the music from the club in the building continued until about 4 AM each night, but earplugs and an eye mask work wonders. We stayed in a room of 6 and were impressed by not only the facilities and activities available, but also the variety of people we met throughout the experience. Just in our room, we guys from Ireland, North Carolina, and France, as well as a girl living in Germany.
After checking into The Hive, Brooke and I met up with friends for dinner at Drum Cafe. I was skeptical about combining Hungarian-style beef goulash and sangria at first, but it was pretty good overall. We also enjoyed some garlic herb langos bread before heading out for another drink.
Budapest’s nightlife is likely most famous due to the ruin bars. These eclectic bars were built in old buildings damaged during Soviet Hungary and never repaired, and today, they’re hubs of drinking and socializing. We checked out one of the largest ruin bars, Szimpla, before stopping by a karaoke bar and then going home for some rest.
There’s no better way to start the first morning of a vacation than a nice brunch! Brooke and I met up with Daphne, Braedon, and Samara for brunch at Stika Gastropub to plan out our day. We enjoyed a variety of eggs benedicts, juices, and coffees before walking over to the main market to do some shopping.
The Central Market Hall in Budapest sells everything from groceries to handmade souvenirs, so it was a great place to check out as we were hoping to learn more about Hungary’s culture. While we didn’t buy much, it was fun to look around and spend some time with our friends before they headed back to Paris.
Brooke and I continued the day by visiting the Gellert thermal bath. I highly recommend visiting this gorgeous indoor bath and spa with multiple pools and saunas during any Budapest trip… Just make sure you remember to bring sandals!
It’s true that swimming makes you hungry (or should I say Hungary), and I was absolutely ravenous. We grabbed chimney cones, essentially a sugary bread cone filled with ice cream, nutella, and toppings on the way home. Yum!
Next up was a boat cruise down the Danube River. Brooke, Braedon and I rushed over to the dock, and when we finally made it onto the boat, we were greeted by champagne and beautiful, glowing views of the city.
For dinner, we stopped by Hoff House, an international bar, for some food and beers. After, we went to a nearby wine bar to taste some authentic Hungarian wines!
For the second night in a row, we were the first ones back at our hostel room, but that didn’t stop us from getting a great night’s sleep in preparation for the next day.
On to our last full day in Budapest… Brooke and I grabbed breakfast to go and met up with a free walking tour group. We loved the tour, which visited St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Jewish quarter, the Danube Promanade, and more, but we split off from the group to see more of the city on our own.
Did you know that Budapest actually used to be two individual cities, Buda and Pest? I definitely had no idea before visiting! Brooke and I headed over to the Buda side of the city to visit Fisherman’s Bastion and take in some views of the city down below.
Once we had throughly enjoyed the view, we met with Braedon for some delicious Israeli food at Mazel Tov. Shoutout to Eva for the recommendation – It was definitely one of the best meals of my entire trip!
Apparently one bath was not enough, so Brooke and I got our swimsuits and towels (and flip flops!) from the hostel and hopped on some scooters to get to the Szechenyi thermal bath and spa. It has a gorgeous outdoor thermal bath, as well as numerous other pools and saunas indoors.
After our relaxing spa session number two, Brooke and I got cleaned up and prepared for a long night out. We found a quick dinner in the area, and then it was time for the pub crawl!
The Hive Party Hostel’s “Ultimate Pub Crawl” definitely lived up to its name. We began with unlimited drinks at the hostel’s bar in a special back-room just for the group. Then, we hopped between three different bars, and finally, we made it to the club, Instant-Fogas. It was such a great way to explore the city’s nightlife a bit more while also getting to know the other guests!
In fact, it was such a great time that we didn’t get back home until about 4 or 5 AM. Thankfully, Day 4 of Budapest consisted of a quick breakfast, getting lost at the bus station, and finally, boarding my bus to Vienna.
Stay tuned to hear about the other stops on my Eastern European adventure!
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