Thermal baths and hungarian delicacies in budapest

A Budapest Travel Guide from a Seasoned Solo Traveller

Homestay guest Denae has been travelling the world during the last three months after winning the trip of a lifetime in our Snap Gap competition. The 22-year-old from Seattle has been sharing her solo adventure with us, one destination at a time.

Denae's latest pit-stop was Budapest in Hungary where she sampled Hungarian goulash, performed for locals at an open mic night and hung out with her host Dya in the famous Széchenyi thermal baths.

Denae arrives to a welcome pack from host Dya

After travelling through four continents and countless time zones, Denae landed in the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Although she had been a little apprehensive about arriving in a country where she didn't speak the language, Denae's fears were quickly put to rest when she was welcomed by her homestay host Dya. Denae's host had gone out of her way to make sure that she felt at home even though she was thousands of miles from her native United States.

"I felt I was cared for as soon as I walked into my bedroom and saw the welcome pack that Dya had put together. She pointed out that she bought the Coca-Cola to remind me of home and I think I teared up a little (homesickness is no joke).

I was intimidated at the thought of finding my way around a city in which I was unfamiliar with the language, but Dya helped put those fears to rest. She would always take time to write down directions to wherever I wanted to go. And with the 7-day transportation pass I bought for about $15, which she clued me in on, I had unlimited access to all of the trams, subways and buses!"

Settled into her new home, Denae's attention turned to the long list of sights and experiences she had been looking forward to seeing for herself.

Located on the banks of the River Danube, Budapest is a city with a rich history and stunning Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture so Denae didn't want to waste a minute of her time there. Transport ticket and hand-written directions in hand, she hit the streets to take in the city for herself.

I felt inspired at Parliament,enchanted at the Fisherman's Bastion,and mysterious at the ruin pubs.

The famous Halászbástya, also known as the Fisherman's Bastion

"The ruin pubs are a very popular spot with those visiting Budapest, so it was quite easy to meet other travellers while taking in their unique charm. And since many of the pubs hosted open mics, I was able to meet a sweet community of musicians as well!

My host Dya would always ask about my day when I got home each evening. Especially wondering if I had tried any traditional Hungarian food. I tried my darndest not to disappoint!"

Denae seized every opportunity to try the Hungarian delicacies and to expand the horizons of her palette. And the dishes that she had heard so much about certainly lived up to her expectations.

"Dya would make a different kind of typical Hungarian breakfast in the mornings, and then I enjoyed stews for hearty lunches and dinners. I finally got to try the goulash I've heard about for ages as well.

I still dream about that fried, heavy, ultimately altogether satisfying food that is lángos! I stuck with the classic, which has sour cream and shredded cheese, but there are all sorts of variations!. And it tastes extra delicious when eaten walking along Margaret Island at sunset."

Lángos is a deep fried flatbread often served with sour cream and grated cheese

Food aside, there were many other cherished memories that Denae took from her time in Budapest. They say to discover the best of any city, do what the locals do and that's exactly what Denae did, taking guidance from Dya's on the best of her hometown.

"My full days were exciting, but some of my fondest memories of Budapest are from my last day there, when Dya and I got to spend some time together. Keeping one of the best things for last, Dya offered to show me around one of the most popular attractions - the Széchnyi Baths.

It was quite a relaxing afternoon, going between hot pools of water from thermal springs and healing waters, soaking and sauna-ing. I couldn't believe how picturesque the setting was. Every once in a while, I would look up, shocked to find that we were soaking and chatting about our lives in the middle of a historical, Turkish-style bath."

The Széchenyi Thermal Baths are the largest medicinal baths in Europe

Denae and homestay host Dya enjoy a moment out from their visit to the Szechenyi Baths

Staying with Dya gave Denae a unique insight into Hungarian culture but also invaluable access to advice about Budapest from someone who knew it best. It was a chance to really connect with the city and maybe even more importantly, its people.

"After we were thoroughly rejuvenated, I was touched to hear that Dya wanted to come and hear me sing at my last open mic night in Budapest. As we sat in the back room of the cozy venue and listened to the music unfold around us, I realised I've rarely stepped into an atmosphere that was so supportive. All the performers were so talented! Dya and I had a lot to talk about on the night bus ride home. It was the perfect way to end my week in Hungary."

Denae performing at a local open mic night in Budapest

As popular as Budapest is (once people start raving about it, they don't stop!), I never felt overwhelmed by other tourists, even in some of the most iconic areas.

"I wasn't sure what to expect from Hungarian culture before visiting Budapest, but thanks to Dya's guidance on how to get around, the abundance of food, and plenty of friendly musicians, I found my way to friends, experiences, and sweet memories in the heart of Europe."

The next stop on Denae's European tour is Paris, France. See where else she has travelled on her Snap Gap adventure to find out more about her adventures.

Inspired by Denae's time in Budapest?

Plan your own Hungarian adventure with one of our Homestay hosts.

Homestays in Budapest

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