Posted August 24th, 2012, 02:42 PM
Last edited by KCcruisin07; August 24th, 2012 at 02:54 PM
We are spending one or more days before our October cruise begins. We'll have some kind of bus tour of town (Viking) but what else? Are there things we shouldn't miss? We have to decide how early to go (1-3 nights?) before the cruise. We are thinking of staying on the Pest side.
I second shopping on Vaci Utca and at the Central Market. I found souvenirs and gifts (Pashmina scarves) there.
I would add walking along the Danube day and night. (Don't miss the pixie statue between the Intercontinental and the Central Market.)
If you are in good shape, take the Free* Walking tour all over the Pest side, then across the Chain Bridge and up the hill (strenuous) to see Castle Hill and Fisherman's Bastion. (*The guides are excellent, but rely on tips.) After the walk, we had the optional lunch at a homey cafeteria that looked like a school from the 50's. Everything on the menu is in Magyar, so our guides helped with orders. This was probably our most authentic meal, although the setting was the least pretentious.
At the end of the walking tour the guides spoke with us as a group and individually about our other interests, and this was really helpful. They told us so much about the history of Budapest, including being under Nzi and Communist regimes and later obtaining their independence.
If you don't do that tour, you can take the #2 tram over to the Buda side to see Fisherman's Bastion, St. Matthias Church, and the Hilton, literally built on a historic sight. We were there a few days, so we took the tram all the way to a mall, which was on the right side of the road in Buda. Or if your riverboat leaves from the Buda side and time permits, you may be able to leave your luggage onboard and look around the Buda side before you leave.
One place I did not want to miss was the "Shoes." It is a monument to the Jewish people who were told to remove their shoes, then were shot at the edge of the river just before the end of the war. It was heavy to see it, and it seemed appropriate that it started to rain just as we found it.
One last highlight was our evening departure. It was incredibly beautiful, and as we cruised around Budapest, our captain pointed out major sights before we left. Photographers, get ready!
Budapest was a favorite for us in terms of beauty, history, and friendliness of the people. Even though we saw a lot, there is much more to see and do, and we hope to return.