Having visited Prague – I expected Budapest to be similar. But both these cities are as different as chalk and cheese. Budapest is a sprawling urban city without a usual old town that i so typical in Europe . Though most of the sites in Budapest are walking distance from each other, to experience the real natural beauty of the city, you have to go outside the city limits and away from the top must visit sites.
I usually try to do a walk/cycling trail on the outskirts of a city if I am staying there for more than 3 days. And that’s how I ended up going to the Buda hills. These hills are on the outskirts of Budapest and there are many well marked walking trails on the hills. On my walk to the Elizabeth lookout tower – which gave a beautiful view of the lush green surroundings of Budapest district ,I had a group of teenagers for company who seemed to have come on a school trip. They seemed quite intrigued to see a non local around. The beauty of going to not so touristy places is that you see the real essence of the city/country. You get to see the way the locals live and their usual hang out spots. On the way to the lookout tower.
Budapest is split into two – Buda and Pest by the Danube river. Along the river, there are some beautiful old towns- I visited Szentendre which is about half and hour from Budapest. A pretty little cobble stoned town (quintessentially a very colorful old town) right on the Danube river. Pretty cottages sit quaintly on a hill overlooking the river with fabulous views of the countryside.
While walking around the city I stumbled upon the memorial behind St. Stephans Church to the victims of WW2. The memorial was bang in the middle of the street with what looked like a commercial area with fountains and photos of Jewish children. Poignant and heart wrenching.
Another gem of a place which I stumbled upon in Budapest city was the City Park behind Heroes Square. With a beautiful castle on a lake , the setting sun for company, the scene could not have been more picturesque on my last evening in Budapest.