Updated: Jul 26, 2018
If I had to choose a destination that I just didn't get to spend enough time in, it would be Budapest. On my first trip to Europe, I planned 4 countries in 10 days. Naturally I had to pick and choose where I spent my time. Budapest became a day trip out of Vienna.
I am all about doing a la carte planning where it makes sense, but when I am in Europe, I have found that it is much easier and a "no brainer" to use a tour site. Viator has become my go to site for booking tours, day trips, and ground transportation. I have used them for other vacations besides Europe and have had no issues.
Budapest is about 2.5 hours from Vienna. We booked THIS day trip and paid about $130 a person. This included transportation on an air conditioned bus, and tours of the top sites in Budapest. The tour group was less than 25, which made it easier to get around. Our first stop once we arrived in Budapest was Heroes' Square which is amazing. It is also amazing how busy this intersection is with cars and tourists. I managed to find a good spot with no tourists to take a few photos.
Tiny bit of history behind Heroe's Square: this was created in 1896 to mark the 1,000th anniversary of Hungary. This is the largest square in the city!
We were given a bit of free time in this area before we met the group for lunch at a designated restaurant. The other site that stood out to me as we drove up to Heroes' Square was Vajdahunyad Castle. This castle was built in 1896 also as a part of the 1,000th anniversary of Hungary. This castle contains parts of buildings from different time periods including: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Today, it is the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture. If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE castles. There is something so magical and unreal about them. We spent a bit of time exploring this castle and then had a great local lunch.
One of the coolest areas we explored after lunch was the Fisherman's Bastion area. The Fisherman's Bastion is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style situated on the Buda bank of the Danube on the Castle hill in Budapest around Matthias Church. Our tour guide walked us around this area and gave us the history of this area. I can't get over how everything seems to look like a castle! There are some great views of the Danube river and great shots of the Parliament building.
On our way out of town, the tour stopped on the other side of the river by the Danube and gave us about 1.5 hours to walk and explore. This portion of the trip really gave us time to interact with some of the locals and discover some sites on our own. We ended up resting our feet in a public pool of water we found near the Budapest eye and then discovered the St Stephens Basilica Church. This is an amazing picturesque church at the end of one of the streets of Budapest. We stumbled on it on accident but I am glad we got to check it out. It is beautiful. This church was dedicated to the holy king St Stephen who was also the founder of the Hungarian State. This church was completed in 1905.
Overall, I loved this tour, it gave me an overview of Budapest and I now have a list of places I would like to go back and explore more:
Szechenyi Baths and Pool - these are thermal hot springs
The Royal Palace
Take a river cruise
Have you been to Budapest? What places were must sees for you