Here’s what happened on my second day in Budapest…
I left my hotel early in the morning and walked to the nearest tube station to get the yellow M1 line from the Jewish Quarter to Szechenyi furdo – the closest stop to Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden.
Budapest has a good transport system, featuring trams, suburban railways, rickety trolleybuses and a funicular, among more. I didn’t use any of those so I can’t comment on how easy they are to navigate but the metro at least was cheap and easy to use.
The Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden opened its gates in 1866, which makes it the older zoo park in Hungary and one of the oldest in the world. It boasts 1,072 animal species, many of which we don’t have in British zoos.
I was particularly excited to see a sloth, having had a slight infatuation with them for many years now. I also always love having the opportunity to get up close and personal with giraffes – not forgetting penguins are always fun to watch!
I managed to see all these animals, plus more, at the zoo. I also enjoyed the petting area the zoo has, in which you can interact with a large family of goats, and the opportunities to walk through some of the animal enclosures.
If you’re ever in Budapest and have a few hours to spare, I’d definitely suggest visiting the zoo. There’s plenty to see, more than a few places to eat and it costs next to nothing. Really, an adult ticket cost me 2500 HUF which is less than £7!
It was lunchtime when I left the zoo so I walked the short distance to Heroes’ Square and ended up eating in a place called Grancaffe Italian Corner, which serves hearty, reasonably priced Italian food. I ordered the vegetarian lasagne and a glass of prosecco; it did the job but it wasn’t anything to write home about – or blog about any more than I already have.
I returned to my hotel after lunch using the metro and changed into something a little bit more fancy for evening. I had tickets to watch a ballet performance of The Nutcracker at the Hungarian State Opera House and wanted to make an effort.
The Hungarian State Opera House is such an impressive building in the daylight. At night, however, it it’s absolutely stunning. As I walked towards it I noticed that not only was it beautifully lit, but a wonderfully decorated Christmas tree also stood at the bottom of the steps leading to the entrance as well as two traditional market stalls.
The architecture inside is (somehow) all the more impressive, with grand staircases, beautiful archways, and marble and frescos by some of the best artisans of the neo-Renaissance era. The auditorium also features row after row of plush, red seats, tiers of golden balconies and a vaulted ceiling covered in murals.
The ballet itself was a lovely treat for myself. From the costumes and set design to the music and choreography, you could really tell how much work the dance company had put into the performance and it definitely paid off.
I was glad that I bought in to the whole experience and dressed up, even more because almost all the other guests were in evening wear.
It was a truly special outing and I’d recommend trying to buy tickets to a performance if there’s one on while you’re in Budapest. If you can’t see a performance there, tours are given once a day in the afternoon.
Did you miss my first day in Budapest? Don’t worry, you can read it here.
You can see more pictures of Budapest on my Instagram page @itslarashingles.
Have you visited Budapest? I’d love to hear about your own adventures there!