We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Rachel, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Rachel is from the United Kingdom and submitted the following report about Budapest. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Hungarian, English
Reasons to go: Budapest is a beautiful, vibrant city with loads to see and do. The Danube river divides the two sections of the city, Buda and Pest. On the Buda side, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Castle District where you can see the Royal Palace and Matyas (St Matthias) Church, and enjoy the spectacular views of Budapest from Castle Hill and the pretty Fishermen's Bastion.
I recommend the free “original walk” from the Free Walking Tours Budapest company for seeing this part of the city; the brilliant tour guide told us all about the history of what we were seeing. I also recommend climbing Gellert Hill for even more amazing views of the city – you can catch the hop-on-hop-off tour bus or take a taxi if you don't fancy the steep climb!
Andrassy ut (avenue) is also a World Heritage Site and should be strolled along. It's considered to be the “Champs-Elysees of Budapest” and certainly has that kind of feel. Here you'll find the Hungarian National Opera House and the wonderful Alexandra bookstore cafe. At the top of the avenue is Heroes' Square where you'll find the impressive Millennium monument which details the history of Hungary until 1896, when it was built.
There are lots of places to eat and I found it easy to find Hungarian fare. The highlight for me was eating sausage and potatoes from a paper plate in the Central Market Hall, where you'll find lots of cheap, authentic food stalls on the mezzanine level. I also recommend Kiskakukk Etterem on Pozsonyi ut (street) and Cafe Vian in Lizst Ferenc Ter (Square) as restaurants which serve inexpensive, delicious Hungarian food and where I felt very welcome as a solo traveller.
An absolute must-do is seeing the city by night. It is perfectly safe to travel after dark by yourself in the city centre, and there will be lots of other people enjoying the city after dark too. The Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Royal Palace and Matyas Church are all lit up, with the lights from the boats on the evening river cruises twinkling below; it's a beautiful sight.
I only had two full days in Budapest so there is lots I couldn't fit in. There are many museums and several parks to visit, and I didn't manage to visit any of the thermal baths which is a popular thing to do on a visit to the city.
I found Budapest to be a really welcoming destination for a solo traveler; I felt comfortable in the restaurants I visited, the city felt very safe, and the public transport system was brilliant and efficient. There are three metro lines, plus trams and buses. You can buy 24-hour or 72-hour travel cards which are valid for all public transport in the city. A top tip from me is to look out for the public ferry if you fancy a river trip but don't want to pay for a tourist cruise – you can use your travel card, and some of the ferries have an open top deck so it's pretty much the same thing! I also met lots of other solo travelers – usually when we were offering to take photos for each other!
I found that English was spoken at least a little everywhere I went, but I was glad that I had managed to learn a few basic phrases in Hungarian such as “thank you” and “good morning”, in order to be polite. If you're looking to visit a welcoming European city with history, culture and water, then I highly recommend Budapest.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)