Six months ago I hopped on a plane with a one-way ticket and never looked back. Just kidding, I went back three times already. Anyway, I moved to Budapest, the city I fell in love with a year earlier. The plan was to stay a minimum of six months in Budapest, but I secretly just wanted to stay as long as I liked it. Not such a secret anymore, as six months in Budapest have passed, and I have no plans of moving back home.
In these six months in Budapest, I’ve seen, done, and learned a lot. About myself, about my goals, about business, about people, and about cultures. I traveled through Hungary a bit: I hiked at Mátra, Balaton, and Pilis. Visited Tihany, Esztergom, and Nagykőrös. Went to the Redbull Air Races, music festival Balaton Sound, and several markets, events, and festivals in the city. I made new friends, and had to say goodbye to some of them, made plans for new trips, and took a course Hungarian. Those six months in Budapest have definitely not been boring and I’m excited for the next six months in Budapest!
Six favorite moments from my six months in Budapest
It’s hard to pick specific moments. I’ve done such great things! For this list, I’m trying to remember how I felt at these moments, and they’re more general activities or places, than moments. But I’m trying!
This is definitely my favorite moment of the six months in Budapest. I turned 25 on the 26th of July and went out for dinner with some of my friends in Budapest. Three days later, I celebrated a little bigger. We went out for dinner at my favorite restaurant and then went dancing. I was so, so, so happy that night.
These people, that I’d only known four months or less, all came out to celebrate my birthday. Some of them even brought gifts that were perfect for me: a Harry Potter book in Hungarian, and a book about Hungarian culture and history. They’d only known me for such a short time but knew me so well already. Definitely the best night of the past six months (and that means something).
2. Picnic with the Wombats
The rest of these lists are in random order because I really can’t choose the best of everything!
The Wombat meetups are always fun, but one of my favorites is the picnic in the beginning of September. The weather had cooled down a bit, but we got a beautiful day with about 26 °C. There were some new Wombats, old friends, and one of my best friends from the Netherlands. This unexpected beautiful day, with the great company, and the beautiful surroundings: perfect.
3. Hiking with Budapest Hikers
I’ve been hiking three times with Budapest Hikers by now and every time it’s a big success. During our first hike to Mátra I hiked with a little group and we laughed so much during that hike. The second hike to Tihany and Lake Balaton was great: a short hike and then enjoy the weather at the beach. The group was great and I made some friends that I still regularly hang out with. During the last hike to Pilis it rained, but it made it extra fun and challenging.
4. Balaton Sound
I really wanted to visit the music festival Balaton Sound, because Kygo was performing. Up until the last week I was looking for people who wanted to come with me. I found them three days before the festival, bought my ticket, and had a great time at Balaton Sound. Now I’m trying to get my festival friends to join me next year.
5. Show around family and friends
I love when my friends and family come visit! Two of my best friends have been by already (the third is planning her trip later this month), my mom came over, just like my younger sister and another friend. It can be pretty tiring, as they’re celebrating holidays and I still have to work and everything, but I love showing them around the city.
6. Spontaneously walk to Buda for the view at midnight
One of my favorite memories: I was having dinner with friends and we decided at 11 pm that we were gonna walk to Buda after dinner. Just because, to enjoy the view. There was no one there besides us, while normally the place is crawling with tourists. I’m putting this on my list to do again right now.
Six of my favorite places in Budapest
1. My new apartment
Of course, this one can’t miss: our new apartment in District IX. It’s such a nice apartment, and the neighborhood is also great. It’s a lot quieter than District VII, where we lived before. When I walk the streets here I don’t run into drunk tourists, but moms with kids, old men with coffee and a newspaper, and people walking their dogs.
2. Starbucks at Király utca
I know, it’s really bad: who names Starbucks as their favorite place in Budapest?! But this is a nice Starbucks. Stacey and I often go there to work. I’m just a little more productive here than at home.
3. Jewish Quarter
Okay, I may be a little happy I don’t live here anymore, the area is still one of my favorites. This is where most events and meetups are held, there’s always something to do. And I’ve loved living here for 5,5 months!
4. In front of the Parliament
My favorite building! Of course it’s in this list. The best spot? Right in front of the building, just of the street. From here you can see a big part of the Parliament, the birds who seem to light up, and the reflection in the water in front of the building (during summer).
5. Deák Ferenc tér during summer nights
Little secret: locals often go to Deák Ferenc tér to have drinks during summer. Not at a terrace, they just take their own drinks (and sometimes food). It’s great for people watching! Oh, and not just on the weekends: every night! Well, the students are on summer break of course.
6. Margit sziget
I ran most of my training on Margit sziget, but also when you’re not a runner the island is great. I visited Palatinus Strand most of all baths, there’s a lot of green space where you can picnic, and resting at the fountain after running is always nice.
Six things I dislike about Budapest
I absolutely love Budapest, and in general, I’m really happy living in this city. But of course, there are less good things in Budapest, and there are things I’m annoyed by in the week before I go back to the Netherlands. This also depends on what you’re used to, but these are six things I dislike about Budapest.
1. The amount of homelessness in the city
The first time I was in Budapest, I barely noticed it, because I didn’t use the metro. During my second visit, I was shocked. Especially if the weather is a little cooler, the metro stations are like hotels, and during summer there are people sleeping in front of windows and doors of empty buildings. A big problem in Budapest, but they don’t have facilities for homeless people like we have in the Netherlands (a place to sleep during the night, for example).
Many homeless people try to make some money by helping tourists with their tickets in the metro stations, or by making ‘art’ from cans they find in the trash. One guy at Oktogon sells books he gets from stores or tourists.
2. The non-service in stores and restaurants
Hungarians are known to be a depressed looking bunch. And not just on the street, also in stores and restaurants. They don’t smile at you behind the register and don’t try extra in restaurants. You get used to it after a while, but it doesn’t feel very welcoming. On the other side: I also don’t have to smile and be nice when I don’t feel good.
3. So little fresh fruits and vegetables
One of my biggest annoyances: there’s barely any fresh fruits and vegetables in the supermarkets. If they have something, it’s often already bruised or there are flies. You don’t want to know how often I find rotting fruit… For fresh fruit and vegetables, it’s better to visit one of the market halls in the city. There are several of them, but not as many as supermarkets.
4. The awful promotors
You’ll find promotors mostly in the touristic parts of Budapest. Mainly for bus tours through the city, since there are four companies doing these in Budapest. The worst (for me) are the promotors for Seacret: they are at several malls and in Váci utca. They’re super pushy and put their soaps right in your face. When I once pushed away an arm that practically stuck the soap in my nose, he started cursing at me.
5. They don’t seem to know how the AC in the tram works
Airco would be nice when it’s 37 °C, right? They have AC in the tram, but it’s not on half the time. When it’s on? Now that it has cooled down to 15 °C to 20 °C.
6. The huge load of Dutch tourists during Sziget
It’s obvious Sziget a big part of Sziget visitors are Dutch. In those two weeks, you’ll hear more Dutch in the tourist areas than any other language together. You’ll definitely find out what the bad habits are for Dutch tourists: throwing trash on the streets, being loud on the streets as well as in restaurants and bars, and cursing every other word. The perfect two weeks to take a holiday and avoid Budapest next year.
Six favorite posts on To do in Budapest.com
I have written quite a lot during my six months in Budapest. Both on To do in Budapest.com as well as Doen in Boedapest.nl and other blogs. I’m more proud of some posts than others, but these are my six favorite posts on To do in Budapest.com. Funny: five out of six of these blogs are in the top 10 best read blogs on To do in Budapest.com!
I explain how I fell in love with Budapest. It’s my favorite blog because it makes me happy, and I’m still in love with the city.
This blog took quite some of hours of work, maybe that’s why I’m so proud of it. I think it’s pretty useful and I’m sure travelers can use this.
This is a nice post if you’re traveling to Budapest by yourself, or if you’re moving here and need a bigger social life. I share some of my favorite groups and meetups, and this post quickly became the most read post on To do in Budapest.com!
I love writing helpful posts like these. How great is it to find everything in one place, instead of having to Google for hours and think of everything yourself? Also, I feel like I really wrote something helpful after hours of writing and research.
This is what I look up first when planning a city trip: from where do I have the best view over the city? I love beautiful views, and that’s why this is one of my favorite posts.
Another useful blog. And not just any useful blog: the first useful blog on To do in Budapest.com and the second blog on the website!
Six hopes and wishes for the next six months in Budapest
1. That winter won’t be as cold this year as last year
When I was visiting Budapest in January, it was -20 °C. I love winter and cold (don’t get me wrong), but -20 °C is a little overdone. Brr. This year, I’d be fine with -5 °C, so we can enjoy snow in the parks and ice skating on the ice skating rinks.
2. Visit more sights and attractions to write about
I barely visited any sights in the past six months in Budapest. Even though Budapest has so many! I have made a list of attractions, sights, and museums that I want to visit and write about, so I can do that more often in the coming six months in Budapest.
3. Grow my blog and introduce more people to Budapest
I absolutely love writing for To do in Budapest.com and I love seeing that so many people are reading along. In the next six months, I’d love to grow this blog and help more people plan their trip. Maybe I can even give a tour?
4. Plan some fun Wombat meetups
I took over the Digital Wombats Budapest group in September. This is a social meetup group that I plan meetups for. We have internationals as well as Hungarians, and digital nomads as well as office workers. I asked for some feedback, so I know better what people want. Turns out Wednesday isn’t always the best night, and people want to do more than just meet at a bar. By now we’ve had a meetup at a gamebar, on a Thursday evening, and we’ll be going out to party soon on a weekend.
5. Travel more, both inside and outside of Hungary
I’ve barely seen anything of this part of Europe. Even worse: I’ve only visited one neighboring country (if you don’t count that hour I spent in Slovakia during the summer). Luckily I have friends that want to see more and we’re busy planning some trips for the future. Woohoo!
6. That the next six months in Budapest are as filled with happiness, (new) friends, and adventure as the past six months
Yes, I’m still loving Budapest. Of course, I miss my friends and family back home every now and then, but luckily it’s only a two-hour flight, they come to visit regularly, and it’s a lot easier to keep in touch (that was very different when I lived in the US six years ago).
The past six months in Budapest were filled with meeting new people and making friends, try out new things, and stepping outside of my comfort zone. And it all made me very happy, and that’s the purpose. There are some changes coming (I started a new job this week!), so we’ll see!
I’m so thankful for the past six months in Budapest, and I can’t wait for the next six. Bring it on!