Budapest was a city of surprises for me. Not only was it very picturesque and clean, it was also quite modern and cool.
The place where we stayed was very hard to call a hostel, or a hotel, or even a B&B, because it was so unique. I highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting Budapest! We stayed at the Lavender Hostel. It was established by an artist named Adam (unfortunately we were not able to meet him in person), whose vision for the hostel included wall murals, strange sculptures, and interesting artifacts positioned on the walls instead of the floor. Lavender hostel consists of several renovated apartments in an old building located in the center of the city and close to public transit.
Budapest is separated by the Danube river into two separate cities: Buda and Pest, which were united into one city in the early 19th century. There are many beautiful bridges that connect the two sides, and Elizabeth Bridge was built by an architect who also built the Tower Bridge in London. For 23 years, until 1926, Elizabeth Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
Pictured above is the famous Parliament Palace located on the Pest side, which closely reflects the style of the Parliament House in London, as the two were also built by the same architect. There are many beautiful buildings in Budapest that feature many different architectural styles. However, the Pest side of the city is much younger and most buildings on the Pest side are only replicas to reflect a certain style and to tie in with the Buda side which is truly much older and where the buildings are authentic.
Budapest has a very interesting and tragic history associated with WW2. At first Hungary was an ally of Germany, but then the Nazis occupied Hungary for a little less than a year at the end of the war. Soviet troops liberated Hungary from Nazi occupation, but they in turn also began to occupy Hungary, making it part of the Soviet Regime for many decades.
There is a very interesting and interactive museum called “The House of Terror” which is dedicated to the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Budapest. It’s a very graphic and dark place. There is an “oil tank fountain” installation in the lobby of the building. See picture below.
Budapest is also a very cool and modern place. There are many art galleries, museums and exhibitions there. The night life is very vibrant and uplifting. People are very friendly and nice and are very receptive of foreign tourists. One of the coolest places I’ve been to was a “Ruin Bar” in Budapest.
“Ruin Bars” are located in formerly abandoned buildings in the city and are very popular hot spots. Live music with the best Hungarian bands, charming retro décor, unique atmosphere and late opening hours make these places perfect for partying. The concept is simple: find an abandoned building, do not renovate it, invite some artists and designers to add a ‘special touch’, play interesting and out-of-the-box music – and now you have a very cool and unique place. I highly recommend it to anyone!
Overall, I loved Budapest. If I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll definitely stop by!