Several years ago we traveled to Europe with our children and found out that they were outstanding travelers. We were eager to do it again, and we were looking for an “adventure”. Dad (me) is an experienced business traveler, but I have never traveled to Eastern Europe. We decided our next adventure would be Budapest, Vienna, and Prague as our travel itinerary. Our first stop, and the one we knew the least about, was Budapest. We had no idea what to expect from Budapest. We were blown away by this city!
Budapest is a beautiful city. The airport is fairly small, which means getting through immigration was a breeze. We were able to find a hotel that had a suite for four people, in two separate sleeping rooms. This was ideal for traveling with our teenage children. Breakfast was included, and the large breakfast buffet was popular with everyone in our party. Being able to get a good breakfast made a day of walking much easier.
Travel throughout the city was easy, and accomplished using a multi-day pass for the public transportation system. This can be purchased right at the airport before you leave at an office of the Budapest public transportation system. Of course, we failed to do this. Passes can also be purchased at staffed or automated kiosks near each subway station. With tickets in hand, we could now travel by subway, tram, or bus anywhere in Budapest with no additional charge as many times as we wanted.
The lights in Budapest at night is not a sight to be missed. Although pretty in the daytime, it was only when the sun went down that Budapest really opened up. Every single building seems to be lit up. We took a Danube river cruise at night to get great views of the city. The city does not stop when the sun goes down.
Now, where do you go in Budapest? There were so many interesting places. We went to Buda Castle, Hero’s Square, Matthias Church, Vajdahunyad Castle, the Hospital in the Rock, Memento Park, the Hungarian National Museum, a Danube River Cruise, and many outstanding restaurants. Since we were fortunate enough to be here at Christmas time, we also spent a significant amount of time in several Christmas Markets. Our children enjoyed trying the various forms of Hungarian street and comfort food. My wife and I enjoyed the mulled wine!
The people of Budapest are very, very friendly. I don’t just mean they were friendly to us individually (they were), they were also kind and polite in general. The subway was calm and orderly. The trams, even when crowded, were never pushy or fast paced. If the language intimidates you, do not worry. Most people either spoke English or spoke enough to get you pointed in the right direction. I’ve traveled many places, and was very impressed with the welcoming nature of the Hungarian people. I do not think you need to be an experienced traveler to enjoy Budapest.
The next stops on our trip are Vienna and Prague, which I will write about in separate blog posts. Budapest, the city we knew the least about before coming on the trip and perhaps held a small thought of assuming it would be the 3rd best city on a 3 city trip, has set a very high bar indeed. A common question we get asked is “Which city was your favorite”. That is a very hard question to answer, as we enjoyed all three. However, if forced to answer, for most of our family the answer is Budapest.
Matt Appler- is a husband and father who loves going on adventures with his family.