I could feel an instant change in surroundings as I crossed over to Buda from Pest. Buda side is decidedly greener, quieter and more laid back. It has more of a historic feel to it and most importantly, gives brilliant views of the city (Pest side) that I crave for when in any European city.
Exploring Buda side
Spending a day in Buda actually makes for a great walk starting with crossing over Chain bridge, then on to Castle Hill, continuing along the Danube to Gellért hill and back to centre of Pest. At the end of the day the pedometer told us that we had walked close to 20 km automatically justifying all the beer that was had in Pest.
Whereas Pest is flat, Buda sits at an elevation with two important hills – Castle Hill and Gellért hill. Castle hill is where most buildings of historic significance are located and some of the main ones are Buda castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias church.
On crossing Chain bridge, there are two ways to reach Castle hill, via a funicular or a walk. Surprisingly there was a long queue for the 5 min funicular ride when a mere 15 min walk takes you to the top, so just use your two feet.
– where the Hungarian kings lived long ago. Today it houses a few museums.
– A Gothic style terrace which gives views of the Hungarian Parliament. There is a fee to access a part of the terrace which is quite silly as the other part is free and the views are equally good.
– A Gothic style church with a beautiful ceramic tiled roof.
There are some amazing views of Hungarian Parliament and Chain bridge from Fisherman’s bastion. Also, from the back side of the Buda castle, Buda can be seen sprawling for miles. Castle hill has many cobbled streets and alleys, and walking along it felt like it is a city unto itself. There are boutique stores, art galleries, plenty of museums, restaurants, cafes, a hotel and even a post office.
All that walking for four hours was the perfect excuse for a coffee break at Cafe Ruszwurm and their melt-in-your-mouth cream cake and dobos torta.
With all that sugar in our system, we made our way down the staircase at Fisherman’s bastion to Chain bridge and further on to Gellért Hill, the other hill of Budapest.
Gellért Hill lies along the Danube to the south of Castle Hill and is worth hiking to its top for the best panoramic views of Pest from this side of the city. Gellért hill takes its name from Bishop Gellért who was thrown from this hill. The hill has historically been strategic as it is a vantage point to control both Buda and Pest.
There is always the option of taking the tram or bus to Gellért Hill from Chain bridge, but I’d say skip that and do the 35 min walk to the base of Gellèrt Hill as the Danube promenade is lovely. From the base it takes another 25 min to the top mostly because you’d be stopping to take in the views along the way. There are two ways to get to the top, we just took the one which kept us to the left of the hill which allowed us to view Pest side along most of the way
Do add a day in Buda to your Budapest itinerary. As much as I enjoyed every minute of my stay in Pest, Buda did give a very different perspective of the city and showed how a city can retain two very distinct characters.
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