Planning for 36 Hours in Budapest

By Pierce Holloway

About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series. These are all posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Views, Dessert, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!  

About the visit: While traveling in Europe In late 2017 I happened upon an unlikely connection during my time in Vienna, Austria. I ran into an American, who happened to be my stateside roommate’s childhood best friend. Not wanting to waste such a small-world moment, we decided to take a bus to Budapest and have a whirlwind of 36 hours. 

Views: While walking, the city streets offer beauty in architecture, rich history, and ample opportunities to delight the senses. The city is best seen from above. To reach these new heights, visit St. Stephen’s Basilica. While entering and viewing the interior is a joy in and of itself, for a small fee and conquering 302 steps, you can climb to the very top of the tower. From the top, you can have a 360 degree view of the entire city! If climbing a church spire is not in the cards for you, consider walking to the Liberty Statue (Szabadság szobor) located on the Buda side of Budapest. 

Looking out from St. Stephen’s Basilica . Photo Credit: Pierce Holloway

Budget: As an alternative to indulging in the many fantastic restaurants in the city, consider visiting the Central Market Hall. Located next to the grand Danube river, the Market Hall was first opened in 1897 and survives as the oldest and largest indoor market in Budapest. The market offers a wide range of fresh fruits, produce, treats, meats, and souvenirs that are sure to match any craving or pocket book. 

The Great Market Hall. Photo Credit: Pierce Holloway

Dessert: When I first was told of Rengeteg RomKafé, it was described to me as the home of a “Chocolate Wizard.” After an evening there, I can confirm that the description is nothing less than spot on. The kafé is located in the basement of a nondescript building southeast of downtown. However, as you descend from the street you realize very quickly that you are surrounded by childhood toys and have stumbled into a dream. In lieu of ordering off of the menu, you can ask for a custom drinking chocolate. To determine what your custom drink will be, your waiter asks you a wave of questions ranging from: sweet or savory, light or dark, fruity or more subdued? After 10 minutes or so, you are presented with a truly one-of-a-kind dessert. 

The best dessert I’ve ever had? Photo Credit: Pierce Holloway

Fun Planning Fact: As is common with many cities in Europe, public transportation is heavily utilized in the city and a great way to get around. On an average weekday, 3.9 million riders utilize the Budapest Transportation network. This translates to around 1.4 million fewer riders than an average weekday in New York City. As part of Budapest’s prolific metro network, the Millennium Underground Railway- more commonly referred to as Line 1- is the oldest line on the Metro. Having been in near constant operation since 1896, Line 1 also holds the status of third oldest underground metro line in the world! Only the London Underground and the Mersey Railway are older. 

Cover Image: A man and his horse overlooking the Danube River. Photo Credit: Pierce Holloway

Pierce Holloway is a first-year master’s student at the Department of City and Regional Planning with a focus on Climate Change Adaptation. Before coming to Chapel Hill he worked as a geospatial analyst for Urban3, working on visualizing economic productivity of communities and states. Through his coursework he hopes to explore the nexus between adaptation for climate change and community equitability. In his free time, he enjoys long bike rides, trail running, and any excuse to play outside.