After arriving on a late afternoon in Budapest, we were welcomed with a stunning sunset over the Danube. We dined at a neighborhood restaurant and called it an early night at our wonderful apartment so that we were well rested and ready to take on the following day which was our official 1st day in terms of sight-seeing and getting the vibes of the Hungarian capital. Read below to find out our Budapest itinerary for Day 1.
Budapest Day 1 Highlights
Saying hello to President Ronald Reagan–>Red Army Monument–>Széchenyi Chain Bridge –> Buda Castle via the Castle Hill funicular –> Matthias Church –> Ruszwurm Confectionery –> Fisherman’s Bastion–> Evening cocktails at Panoramia Cafe & Bar–> Dinner at Spiler BistroPub at the Jewish district.
Here we go!
Just a stone’s throw away from our apartment was the famous Liberty Square and the time was right to start our day 1 in Budapest by saying ‘Hello Mr. President’ to Ronald Reagan! Yes quite interesting it is indeed that the Hungarian capital has put up a statue of an American president. Actually it was done to appreciate his efforts to end the Cold War and hence reduce the Soviet influence on Hungary. Irony is that the statue of Ronald Reagan looks directly towards the Red Army monument and also faces the American Embassy and one could easily see the beautiful tomb of the Hungarian National Parliament behind him.
Right in the middle of the Liberty Square was the beautiful Monument for Soviet liberation of Hungary in World War II from Nazi German occupation (also called the Red Army Monument). An early morning visit to this location was a perfect homage paid to the eventful episodes in Hungarian history. From here we walked towards the Széchenyi Chain Bridge with the aim to climb up the Buda Castle district as part of our plan for the day.
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge, popularly known as the Chain Bridge, was opened in 1849 after the Hungarian revolution, connecting the Buda and Pest sides of the Hungarian capital. Signifying national awakening, advancement and the link between East and West, the bridge over the river Danube plays an important role in the development of Budapest over centuries. Certainly walking over this bridge from Pest to Buda and taking frequent looks at the National Parliament was a great experience to hold on to.
The Castle Hill funicular station was just on the other end of the Chain Bridge and we had to join a small queue. There was an option to buy single and return tickets to the Buda Castle and we bought the return tickets. We suggest however, only to buy a single ticket to go up and take the metro from another end of the Buda Castle District to return to the City center. That way, you will not need to return via the same route and can see more sights en route. The Buda Castle is the historic palace and castle of the Hungarian kings in Budapest which was first built in 1265. Given the enormous area of the castle district and the sights of interest within the district, it is recommended to dedicate atleast half a day to make the best use of time.
Once inside the Buda Castle district, we took a shuttle bus to arrive at the beautiful Matthias Church. This monumental building was used as a coronation church by Hungarian kings for centuries and it was also used as a mosque for over 150 years by the Ottoman Turks. The strikingly beautiful exterior of the church tower makes Matthias Church a very unique piece of medieval architectural establishment.
Just 3 minute walk from the Matthias Church was the historic Ruszwurm Confectionery, the family-run café with 200 year old cherry wood counter. Serving homemade cakes, strudel and coffee, this confectionery was the compulsory location for a much-needed culinary pause during the exploration inside Buda Castle district.
Just next to the Matthias Church was the iconic Fisherman’s Bastion. The neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style terrace comprised of seven towers representing the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin 895. It turned out to be a perfect location to absorb the view of the Pest side across the river Danube especially during sunset. Worth noting that the entry to the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion was ticketed.
In a quest to quench our thirst, we took a small break sipping some cocktails at the Panoramia Cafe & Bar – right under the Fisherman’s Bastion itself, overlooking the beautiful Danube and ofcourse the jewel of Budapest – the Parliament Building. As mentioned enthusiastically before, one can never be tired of looking at the Hungarian National Parliament – during day and during night, from near and from far – the sheer magnitude and grandeur of this historic and architectural feat will never cease to impress everyone.
Not leaving everything upto chance, we knew precisely where we wanted to have dinner on our day 1. From the Buda Castle district, we took the metro to arrive after a short ride at the Jewish district. Packed with restaurants and bars, this neighbourhood of Budapest hosts the famous Dohany Street Synagogue, the largest in Europe and the 2nd largest in the world. We planned to visit this later in our tour as we were eager to address our hunger first by settling for dinner at the famous Spiler BistroPub.
As it turned out, the Chain Bridge and the Buda Castle and everything within that district kept us immersed all day long. Hope you found our day 1 Budapest itinerary useful for your planning. While you plan, we returned to our nest in Budapest to rest, recharge and be ready for the next day. Join us soon!0