Buda is on the west bank of the Danube River and together with Pest on the east bank makes up Budapest, Hungary’s capital. On a recent visit I had the opportunity to explore Buda and its beautiful buildings. Even though our hotel was on the Pest side of the city we still had the opportunity to cross the river and see what the ‘other’ side had to offer. The bulk of the attractions and things to see are on the Pest side of the city however that doesn’t mean you should neglect Buda. Unfortunately, Mr ESLT and I didn’t have that much time in Budapest therefore our tour of the Buda side was quite a whistle-stop one.
Getting to Buda couldn’t be easier. From our hotel in Southern Pest to Buda Castle is around a 45 minute walk. We however had a 48 hour ticket for the Giraffe Hop On, Hop Off bus which travels throughout the city including making the journey over the Chain Bridge and to the Buda side. On this side there is a very handy bus stop between Budapest Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastian and as the buses run very regularly you will never be waiting there that long.
Top 5 things to see/do in Buda:-
1. Buda Castle – it’s hard to miss Buda Castle when visiting Budapest. It stands proudly on the west bank of the Danube and dominates the skyline at night when it is lit up beautifully. The castle is part of the Budapest World Heritage Site which was listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1987. It was completed in 1265 and has and is Palace to the Kings of Budapest. It is a breath-taking castle and wouldn’t be lost in a Disney film. We were lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard when we visited which although is not as impressive as when it is done at Buckingham Palace; London was still impressive in its own right. The castle is located in large grounds so allocate yourself plenty of time to explore to your heart’s content. Not only is the castle awesome to wonder round but the panoramic view over the Danube across to Pest is phenomenal and well worth the trek up there alone.
2. Fisherman’s Bastion – This is my favourite structure in Budapest. It is simply stunning. This may be a controversial choice but for me I was just blown away by it. It is a neo-gothic and neo-Romanesque style terrace within walking distance of Buda Castle. It is on the banks of the Danube River build around the Matthias Church which is awesome itself – the roof of the church is the funkiest I have ever seen, the colours are amazing and on a sunny summer’s afternoon shine and glimmer so brightly. The Bastion was built between 1895 and 1902 but to look at it, it looks like it could have been built yesterday – it’s so clean. As from Buda Castle the panoramic views over the Danube River and Pest are second to none.
3. Liberty (or Freedom) Statue – I’ve done quite a bit of research and it seems opinion are divided as to whether the Liberty/Freedom Statue depicts a man or a woman. Regardless, it stands at 14m proudly on Gellert Hill on the Buda side of Budapest. The statue was erected in 1947 and it commemorates everyone who lost their lives fighting for Hungary’s independence from Nazi rule. Again, there is a hop on, hop off bus stop here (followed by a short walk uphill to the base). Here you will get uninterrupted views of the Liberty Bridge and Southern Pest and allows you perfect photo opportunities.
4. Buda Castle Tunnel –not much to say about this tunnel apart from it is awesome as far as tunnels go. It was completed four years after the Chain Bridge in 1853 and the entrance to the tunnel was designed in the same classical style. It was designed by the British engineer Adam Clark (who now has a square in Budapest named after him, on the Buda side). The tunnel links the Chain Bridge to Buda Castle through the hill. It is approximately the same length as the Chain Bridge and on a number of occasions we were told that the tunnel had been built so the bridge could be pushed into it in bad weather!
5. Gellért Baths –one of Budapest’s nicknames is the ‘City of Spas’ and on the Pest side of the Danube river you will find the Gellért Baths which is one of the most famous in Europe. The baths are located in the large Art-Nouveau Gellért Hotel at the foot of the Gellert Hill. Here you can spend a day relaxing in one of the several pools, saunas and steam rooms. The Baths are child friendly if you are travelling with kids. You can also book treatments i.e. massages at an additional cost. This is somewhere where the weather cannot spoil, great on a summer’s day but in my opinion probably better on a winter’s day when its freezing. A day ticket costs approx. $18.50 which is totally worth it. I would love to return to Budapest and visit all the Baths given half the chance.
There are of course loads of other buildings to marvel at and things to do but unfortunately we simply did not have the time. I really wish we had, had time to visit Margaret Island which is as the name suggests an island located between the Margaret Bridge and the Árpád Bridge. The island is mostly covered by landscape parks, and is a popular recreational area. Other main sites on the island include:-
- Japanese Garden
- Centennial Memorial of 1973
- Music Well
- Music Fountain (protected UNESCO site)
- Water Tower (protected UNESCO site)
Can you recommend anything I have missed on the Buda side of the city because hopefully one day I will return?