I always wanted to visit Budapest, Hungary but never got around to it, until now. I booked a flight and just took my backpack with me. What a wonderful adventure Budapest was!

I flew from Helsinki, Finland to Budapest early in the morning and it only took little over 2 hours to reach my destination. I was going to explore this city all by myself for a whole 3 days. On my first day in Budapest it was going to be all about Hungarian food, but first I had to find my way in to the city center. If possible I always use local public transportation. I want to blend in with the locals straight away and get a feeling of how locals live. It’s also a cheaper way to travel if you are on a tight budget. Budapest is one of the least expensive places to visit in Europe, so you can splurge on your accommodation. Welcome to Budapest!

Budapest sign

How to get to Budapest city center by using public transportation?

It’s super easy! Just outside the airport terminal is a ticket vending machine. You need at least 2 single tickets (350 HUF/ticket) to reach the city center, one for the 200E bus and another one for the metro. Hop on the 200E bus to Kőbánya-Kispest metro station and validate your ticket. Stay in the bus until the last stop. Then walk up the stairs to the metro platform, validate your second ticket and take the blue line (M3) to your destination. You can also buy block of 10 tickets from the vending machine, but no need for that, because you can reach all the places you want in the city center just by walking.

Where to stay?

Budapest is divided in to two areas by the Danube River, Buda and Pest. What’s the difference between these two areas? Buda is quieter and hilly area with some nice sights, but for tourist perspective I would stay on the Pest side. Pest is busier, but all you need is here for example shops, restaurants, pubs and so on. I chose the four star hotel Eurostars Budapest Center, because of its great location right next to Ferenciek tere metro station (blue line). There were several grocery stores (Aldi, Spar) nearby and a short walk to the sights.

Danube river panorama

What did I see on my first day in Budapest?

After checking in to my hotel it was time to explore the Hungarian food culture. Central Market Hall was the perfect place! Where do I begin? This place is a huge three-story hall of great food and other products. As we all know, Hungary is well known for its paprika dishes like beef stew goulash (gulyás means Shepard). Locals add paprika to everything! I highly recommend buying all of your paprika souvenirs here for best quality and price. All the expensive sellers are right in the middle of the market hall (ground floor), so explore the paprika products in the sides of the hall to get the best price. There are 3 different paprika spice versions: mild, hot and smoked.

Some sellers also sell Hungarian saffron, but it actually contains safflower, which is very mild in flavor and used usually just to add some colour to dishes. In the basement there are lovely local ladies who sell all sorts of pickles and paprika stuffed with cabbage. I tried the garlic stuffed pickle and it was yummy. On the ground floor you can buy fresh vegetables, fruits, salami, dried mushrooms, sweets, pastries, local Tokaji wine and everything else. On the upper level there are some restaurants where you can eat and also shop some embroidery textiles and other crafts.

Click pictures below!

After exploring the Central Market Hall, I walked across the green Liberty Bridge and climbed up the Gellert Hill for some panoramic views of Budapest. This is a must when you visit Budapest for the first time. There are some great walking tracks and lots of spots where you can relax and enjoy the view. You can also visit Gellért Baths after crossing the bridge if you don’t feel like exercise. At the top of the Gellert hill you will see the fortress Citadella and the Statue of Liberty.

Liberty bridge

There are several bridges in Budapest. After climbing down the Gellert Hill, I walked across the Elizabeth Bridge back from the Buda to the Pest side. If you’re tired, you can take the tram 2 which takes you to all the major sights in the city or just walk the Danube promenade like I did. Before I went to dinner to a restaurant, I saw the famous Little Princess statue (Kiskirálylány) which is made by Hungarian sculptor Marton László . At first I thought that the statue looked like Peter Pan but it’s actually a girl who wears a modern princess outfit with crown on her head. Another well-known sight is the shoes on the Danube Bank. It’s monument for the Jewish victims who were shot in the World War 2 and thrown in the river. Before that they were forced to take their shoes off. I guess shoes were valuable back then.

Little Princess statue

shoes on the Danube Bank

What do you think about my first day in Budapest? Have you been to the city before?