This is a guest post by Eva Green
Budapest will simply leave you spellbound, especially if it’s your first visit. Even if you are going to the favorite city on the European continent for the nth time, you will always come across a new adventure and new things to see and do in Budapest. The famous place offers one the choice and freedom of enjoying their vacation the way they want. There are island parks, funky shops to explore or dig at the delicious local cuisine as well as countless other ways to spend some memorable time. You can hang out with the local Hungarians in the afternoon sipping coffee to save your energy for the nightlife. What do your fancy? Well, if you are still confused, here are some of the top and awesome things to do while in Budapest.
01 | Cruise on the Danube River
Budapest simply looks stunning by night as you stand on the banks of the Danube and watch the city lights reflect on the dark waters. Do not miss the chance to take a sightseeing cruise at night. Enjoy the long ride made even more special with the buffet-style dinner. There are one hour sightseeing cruises available for just the evening and those are highly recommended. As you cruise along the river, you come across lush vineyards and ancient castles. Embark on fascinating journeys through sleepy river towns and cities. Look for convenience, comfort and exquisite cuisine on your cruise.
02 | Thermal bath
Budapest has made a reputation of sorts as the “City of Spas” and for some good reasons. Get the quintessential Budapest experience at those baths, which are known as “fürdok” and are warmed by natural springs. Ask for the steam rooms and massage services. Different baths around the city supply to different preferences and one can look forward to complete relaxation or look for cures for illness. Széchenyi Baths in City Park and Gellért Baths are amongst the most popular baths. Most of the thermal baths remain open at night during the weekend but there are fewer baths for male- and female-only days. The temperatures can range from warm to hot and carry steam rooms and saunas as well as and rooms for massage.
03 | Dohány Street Synagogue
This is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. Referred to as Dohány Street Synagogue, the synagogue opened in 1859 and carries historical significance. The place of worship features Moorish Revival architecture and has a connection to the Holocaust. A pro-Nazi party between 1944 and 1945 bombed it. Do not forget to visit the connecting Hungarian Jewish Museum to learn more about the Hungarian Judaism as well as pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial Temple in the courtyard.
04 | Wine Tasting in Hungary
Tourists and travelers never get tired of exploring the 22 wine regions of Hungary. Just beneath Buda Castle is the Faust Wine Cellar, which is part of the extensive labyrinth system. The cellar supplies only the very best wines in the region. Moreover, the very romantic setting of the cellar will leave you relaxed, and this is the right way to understand and sour the rich Hungarian wine.
05 | Hungarian State Opera House
Miklós Ybl designed the Location of Hungarian State Opera House in 1884, and this historic building is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest. Decorated with statues of muses and adorned with opera greats such as Mozart, Liszt, Puccini and Verdi, the interiors will leave you dazzled with marble columns, chandeliers, and gilded vaulted ceilings. The near-perfect acoustics make for an astounding performance and make you keep coming back for more.
06 | Fisherman’s Bastion
Located on the Castle Hill, the Fisherman’s Bastion offers a panoramic views of the city. You are sure to get blown away by those views as you explore the fairytale-like structure and the seven ornate turrets. The seven turrents represent the tents of the seven Magyar tribe leaders and their settlement on the Carpathian Basin, which ultimately led to the development of modern-day Hungary.
07 | Parliament Building
Hungarian Parliament Building was completed in 1904, and it remains one of the most famous landmarks in Budapest. The building’s architecture reminds one of the Gothic Revival styles and carries a national significance. Travelers come mainly to have a look at the beautiful statues and paintings. This is a prominent symbol of independence and democracy of the nation.
08 | Shopping at the Central Market Hall
The Central Market Hall is the biggest indoor market in Budapest. It was constructed in the 19th century and its focus is chiefly on Hungarian products. You will find the popular Hungarian sausages and Hungarian paprika selling on the first floor along with fresh vegetables and fruits. If you are looking forward to enjoy some inexpensive and traditional Hungarian lunch, than you are sure to find it here at Central Market Hall. Look for traditional Hungarian embroidery and souvenirs on the second floor.
09 | Matthias Church
Matthias Church has been around for centuries and portrays the Romanesque-style architecture. The Church was built in the 13th century and is the first parish church. However, during the 1541 occupation by the Turkish rulers, it was changed into a mosque and remained an Islamic place of worship for the following 150 years, until Turkish expulsion. Tourists admire its imposing architecture and marvel at the historical symbolism as well as the impressive artwork.
10 | Caving under Budapest
The rushing and soothing thermal waters of the famous baths of Budapest have created a huge cave system that is believed to be more than100 kilometers long. Get ready to go under and dirty and don on your overalls, helmets, and headlamps to worm your way through tight crevices as you cross some of the longest cave of Hungary. Mátyás-hegyi cave tour can easily last for about three hours. Do enjoy the adventurous activity through natural parts of the cave.
The above-listed sites and locations are a must-see for any visitor’s first trip to Budapest. Have you visited Budapest already and have some of your own tips to share? Let us know in the comments.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Goa? I bet it’s the beaches or palm trees. Same with me, because in my many visits to Goa and even living here, I usually stuck to the coastline.
If you look at the map of Goa, you will notice there is a lot more to Goa than just the coastline. No doubt the coastline is spectacular but after many visits, San and I decided to visit the Eastern part of Goa… or you may call it “the other side of Goa”.
Goa is massive, so in order to explore the other side, we decided to stay at a place from where we could easily access the places that we wanted to see. We didn’t have a specific plan, but had a general idea that we wanted to see a few waterfalls, visit a spice plantation and Goa’s forest area. Just for this purpose, we decided to stay at a centrally located place called Dudhsagar Plantation.
With hardly any research about the place or the surrounding area, San and I hopped on to our scooter and drove to Dudhsagar Plantation in Anjuna. In just about two hours, Google Maps announced that we had reached our destination, which felt like middle of nowhere.
Inside Dudhsagar Plantation
We saw a little board that confirmed that we were at the right spot. As we entered, we saw a little cow shed on our right and a few chickens walking around on our left. As we followed the path, we saw palm trees, banana plantation and many other tall trees. We were inside a tropical garden!
Exploring the other side of Goa with Dudhsagar Plantation
A man who introduced himself as Ashok greeted us and took us to a gazebo. We sat here with him and found out that Dudhsagar Plantation is aa family run place, which was started by Ashok’s parents Doris and Ajit Malkarnekar. Inside the gazebo, I saw many other people sitting who appeared to be from different nationalities. We couldn’t help but wonder if they were all one family. We got our answer within the next few minutes
Adorable Family at Dudhsagar Plantation Farmstay
Ashok’s father is a Goan and his mother is from Germany. Ashok himself lived in Goa, Germany and Indonesia, and his wife is from Indonesia. Ashok’s sister lives in Mandrem and is married to a Goan. Ashok’s brother, who looks a lot like Ashok is married to a girl from Russia. Quite an international family, no?
Free Spice Plantation Tour
Free spice plantation tour at Dudhsagar Plantation Goa
After the introduction, we put our luggage in our large airy room and were ready for a tour. As we walked further, I realized how massive this place was! Ashok informed us that there were more than 150 kinds of different plants and trees in this plantation. The first thing we saw was pepper, which was easy to recognize. We saw yellow turmeric, white turmeric, cardamom, bimla, cashew, gooseberry, cinnamon, lemongrass, mace, chilies and many more things. Of course I don’t remember everything but I do remember that cinnamon leaves were very sweet to chew and the taste kind of reminded me of Christmas.
Pepper at Dudhsagar Plantation, Goa
The most interesting thing for me was the lipstick flower. It is a natural coloring agent, which is used in food and cosmetics. The tour of the spice plantation must have lasted 45 – 60 minites, during which Ashok educated us about the fauna and entertained us with his jokes.
Fenni and Urak Distillery
Fenni Shots after the spice plantation tour at Dudhsagar Plantation, Goa
At the end of the tour, Ashok informed us that they even have a Fenni distillery in the farm. Fenni is a local alcoholic brew of Goa, which is made with cashews. He took us to the distillery and told us about the process. Honestly, I have had really bad experiences with Fenni before so I wasn’t so interested, but Ashok made us try a shot with Bimla (citrus fruit) and I had to change my mind. He also made us try “Jungle Juice” which is made from Urak. Urak is the first distil of cashews before Fenni. I fell in love with Jungle Juice and drank a lot of it. You’ll be surprised to know that I had no hangover the next day and woke up clearheaded, despite multiple late night Fenni shots. If you also hate Fenni like I did, you need to try a glass here and you’re gonna change your mind.
This may make you laugh but I have never drawn water from a well and I got very excited when I saw one here. I played around with it for a long time but finally managed to draw just a liter of it.
Variety of Animals
Guess what – on our little exploration walk with Ashok, we saw a deer inside his farm! A little while later, I saw a bison at a distance. When I thought things coulnd’t get more interesting, I saw a wild hedgehog here. No, these are not Ashok’s pet animals but the farmhouse is near Bhagwan Mahavir Forest Sanctuary so some of them come here for a little stroll.
Farm animals at Dudhsagar plantation, Goa
Too bad the deer was so fast and shy that I couldn’t make a picture. By the time the other animals were there, I didn’t have any camera battery.
Natural Swimming Pool
Organic Natural Pool at Dudhsagar Plantation Goa
If things couldn’t get better, Dudhsagar Plantation also has a natural swimming pool inside the farm. No chemicals or bleach is used here to clean the water but a few plans are grown in the corners to purify the water.
Organic Farm Food -Yummy
Delicious Organic food – Dudhsagar plantation, Goa
Did I mention that everything that grows in Dudhsagar Plantation is organic? Moreover, there are no pesticides used, so everything can be handpicked and eaten directly from the trees. During our time here, we got to eat freshly made home food from organic farm produce. I love Goan seafood and I don’t remember ever eating vegetarian food in Goa. However here, I couldn’t help but taking three helpings of every meal because it was so darn good! Chapatis, rice, Konkani daal, two kinds of veggies, buttermilk, salad and dessert – the food here was perhaps the best food I have had in Goa. It felt healthy; it was not oily and was light. Seriously, I can eat this food my whole life without getting bored.
Self-Sustainable Fuel and Biogas
I have seen this at music festivals, but I was very happy to see that almost everything gets recycled here. At Dudhsagar Plantation, they care for the environment and recycle everything.
Swimming in a Clean River
Amazing river swim outside Dudhsagar Plantation, Goa
Right behind the farmhouse is a little river, which comes from Dudhsagar waterfall. If follow our blog, I’m sure you know by now how much we love jumping inside rivers, waterfalls and natural swimming holes. It was a good way to end our day here and cool off inside this river’s cold water.
Little river behind Dudhsagar Plantation, Goa
Our Exploration Outside Dudhsagar Plantation
Honestly, we had so much fun inside Dudhsagar Plantation that we forgot we wanted to explore the nearby areas. Ashosk literally had to kick us out so that we wouldn’t miss out what’s outside
San and I enjoying our cold dip at Dudhsagar Waterfall
Visiting the famous Dudhsagar Waterfal was the most obvious choice, because it is very close to where we were. This is India’s tallest waterfall and I had only seen it from the train while crossing Goa. To avoid the crowds, we arrived here at 9 am on our scooter. Since the waterfall is inside Bhagwan Mahavir Forest Reserve, we were not allowed to take our scooters inside, so had to buy jeep tickets. A single jeep holds 6 people and costs around INR 300 per person, including the life west. And no, you can’t enter without a life vest. Even though the waterfall attracted quite a lot of tourists, we found our personal swimming area and had a lot of fun swimming in the cold water here.
Bhagwan Mahavir Forest Reserve
Even though we had entered the forest reserve when we visited the waterfall, we were not really allowed to explore on our own because of the jeep restriction. Just for this, we decided to enter this forest reserve from Surla. We couldn’t; help but stop after every few minutes to make a few photos because everything was very beautiful and green inside. We also met a lot of monkeys here.
Tambdi Surla Temple and Waterfall
Tambdi Surla Temple, Goa
If you enter the forest reserve from Surla, you can also visit an ancient Hindu temple that’s inside. What’s unique about this temple is that it is made with black stone where as most of the temples are usually white or multi colored. There is a nice garden outside, which looked a little too well kept for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, but the forest and the temple had a very wild look, so the excessively well kept garden looked out of place. Oh and there is a hike to Tamdu Sural waterfall from here, which you should seriously consider if you’re wearing comfortable shoes.
Walking Route and Village Exploration
Village Exploration outside Dudhsagar Plantation, Goa
If you like walking, you are going to love a little map that Ashok has made. This map depicts a route that he has made which you can follow to visit the nearby village and see some interesting sights. It is total 8 KMs, so do this only in the morning when the weather is cooler.
Anyway, if you’re heading to Goa, I urge you to try something different and explore the other side of Goa. Stay in Dudhsagar Plantation Homestay and experience the simple life. Cleanse your system by eating organic food here and chill in the natural pool. If you’re really adventurous, then don’t miss the forest area that only a few people visit. Oh and you can book Dudhsagar Plantation on AirBnB. Use this link to book and get a $15 discount.
Visiting Goa soon and need more info? Feel free to ask me anything! Post your questions as comments below and I’ll answer as soon as I can.