Travel Review: Budapest, Hungary

By: Michelle Roach, Communications Specialist

Commonly confused for Istanbul or a city in India, Budapest actually sits in the north central region of the eastern European country of Hungary. When I visited this August, I experienced both sides of the city (Buda and Pest) as well as stayed on an island right in the middle!

The Buda side, which is west of the Danube River, is a cozy, residential area with plenty of hiking and sightseeing. I really enjoyed hiking up to the Citadella, the Hungarian word for citadel, a kind of fortress. We hiked up the steep hillside that it sits on for almost a mile to reach the very top where you can see the whole city sitting hundreds of feet beneath you. Aside from the breathtaking view, a number of statues sit atop the Citadella and some restaurants where you can enjoy a cocktail or a bite to eat.

When we weren’t taking relaxing hikes, we were at one of the largest music festivals in Europe called Sziget. It attracts around 400,000 people each year and is seven days long. We opted to camp on the island where it takes place for six nights! The music ranged from popular bands of today like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, to world music from Spain, Africa and Russia, to old punk bands like Anti-Flag and NOFX, to electronic music with an enormous amount of bass. We discovered many new artists which we enjoyed dancing to and listened to some bands we already loved, like one of my favorites-The Kooks.

If you travel to Budapest, I would recommend not missing their Exit Games, which are games where your team is trapped in a cave until you solve a mystery! Their thermal baths and spas are a perfect place to relax for a day and pamper yourself with steam rooms, hot tubs, and swimming pools. Vaci Street, a large walking street (like State Street in Madison, but much fancier), is the perfect place to do some shopping or sit down and have lunch. Of course, the trip would not be complete without a climb up to the Citadella.