Budapest was not on my bucket list of places to visit (it should have), but I am always eager to experience new places. It was the trip of a lifetime to be able to spend time with youngestC when she wasn't in class and explore this safe, historic, beautiful and friendly city at the same time.
Here's a look at how we spent days 1 & 2 in Budapest (I've added links where I think they will be helpful to others who may be looking to visit Budapest. Some of them are affiliate links):
Day 1 - We arrived around 10 in the morning and after quickly clearing immigration arranged our transport to the hotel using an airport shuttle service. It was easy and efficient, plus we pre-arranged our return trip all for under $40USD. We were super early for check-in, so we dropped our bags and took a walk to get our first views of the city.
We booked our hotel because of its location in the city center and proximity to youngestC. Located right on the Danube River, from the hotel we could walk to the University, numerous historical and tourist landmarks and access public transportation if necessary.
Even though I was super tired (it's hard changing time zones even when you can sleep part of the way), I was immediately struck by how beautiful everything was. The gray skies and slight drizzle couldn't dampen my excitement as we explored a few blocks north of the hotel.
We had plenty of time to kill since youngestC was in Brussels and we wouldn't meet up with her until the next day. On that first afternoon we were able to see some famous landmarks like the Chain Bridge, the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial and the Hungarian Parliament Buildings.
We had dinner at a wine bistro that we spotted on our walk and couldn't have been happier with our choice. Great food and excellent service. We knew right away that we would be back to visit them. Back in our hotel room, we enjoyed our first night of spectacular views.
Day 2 - We woke to a beautiful day and after some breakfast at the hotel we headed out to explore until we met up with youngestC. In the sunlight, the city was even more beautiful and we could not stop taking pictures while we walked. I loved the countess outdoor dining options lining the streets. (PS - I highly recommend these Keds for sightseeing. I picked them up at an outlet mall in Ohio and they were a lifesaver!)
We visited the historic Cave Church which is right across the Liberty Bridge near campus, our meet-up spot. The grotto church was small but amazing to see. Before crossing the bridge back to the Pest Side, we sat on the bank of the Danube and marveled at how lucky we were to be in Budapest and about to see youngestC for the first time since July.
At a nice restaurant with outdoor seating and views of the Liberty Bridge, we spent as much time as we could catching up until she had to leave for her afternoon classes. Watching her jump on the trolley, it hit us that she is not our "little bug" anymore!
We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the neighborhood and taking in all that we could before walking back toward our hotel. We briefly visited the Central Market, learned about Hungarian attire, bought some (expensive) stamps at the post office and strolled Váci Street - the popular shopping and dining street.
We ended the afternoon with a great hike up Gellèrt Hill to see the best panoramic views of the city. At the top there are historical landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the Citadella. If you walk around the Citadella, you'll find stalls selling souvenirs and links to the Castle Hill area.
youngestC came to stay with us at the hotel and we went for dinner on Váci Street before calling it a night.
Stay tuned. More to come in 5 Days in Budapest - Part 2!