Spending New Year’s Eve in Budapest, Hungary

Text & photos Copyright © Estrella Azul

I FIRST TOOK my boyfriend to Budapest, Hungary on New Year’s Eve in December 2015, as part of our short trip to Miskolc during the winter holidays.  We wanted to see the fireworks in Hungary’s capital. We woke up early and drove there, reaching the city in about two hours.

Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion

In total, I have visited Budapest five times. The first time I was about four years old, so I don’t recall anything else about that trip except for sitting on my uncle’s shoulders, waiting for the St. Stephen’s Day fireworks to start. Even though I’ve visited the city so many times before, there were still many things I hadn’t seen.

The Chain Bridge with Castle Hill as backdrop

One of them is the Hungarian Parliament building—I’ve always only seen it from afar. Having the freedom of traveling with our own car, and also taking full advantage of the capital’s free public parking on holidays, we parked the car really close and walked all around the parliament building.

Kossuth Lajos Square, the side of Budapest Parliament Building I’d never seen before

Something else I hadn’t seen before was the Jewish memorial, Shoes on the Danube Promenade, a bit further south from the Parliament building towards the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. It was nice to get to walk to it, but also very emotionally packed to see. Placed along the memorial are cast-iron signs that you can read in Hungarian, English and Hebrew:

“To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. Erected 16 April 2005.”

Shoes on the Danube Promenade

A haunting memorial to the victims of the Arrow Cross

We drove up the Castle Hill (or Castle District), found a good parking space and walked around taking in the scenery. The views of Budapest are truly breathtaking, especially in the evening. We had dinner in a little pizza place nearby Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Matthias Church, 14th-century church named after King Matthias

It was really cold the whole trip. We had several sessions of getting coffee, or going back to the car to warm up. On the last trip back to the car, we decided to just hang out there and go back out at around 11:30 PM to see the fireworks. Except when we got to the castle, we realized we hadn’t changed the time in the car back one hour to the new time zone, only on our phones, so we were there at 10:30. It was funny as neither of us had looked at our phones to check the time, even though it was the countdown to the New Year.

Walking around Buda Castle

We made the best of it though and walked all around the Buda Castle courtyard, since on every trip I’ve taken to Budapest before, the courtyard was in renovations. It was so great to finally get to see it up close.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge shines bright

We figured the view of the bridges over the Danube would be best from Castle Hill, and it is, but it was disappointing at midnight to find out there wouldn’t be fireworks off the bridges over the Danube. Turns out they only shoot fireworks off the bridges on the national holiday, St. Stephen’s Day (Aug 20).

It was still pretty—we saw fireworks shooting up from different squares throughout the city—but if we’d known, we would’ve waited in Vörösmarty Square to watch the main fireworks closer.

Budapest Parliament at night, from afar, my usual view

As we drove down Castle Hill we said goodbye to Budapest, seeing my usual view of the Parliament Building, and decided right then we’d go back for our summer holiday to spend more time in this beautiful city.


Estrella in the Greek Amphitheatre ruins, Taormina, Sicily

Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, she currently serves as the photo editor here at Milliver’s Travels, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©. Read more of her stories on Milliver’s Travels by visiting Estrella’s story index.

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  1. Lynn Obermoeller says:

    Nice photos and info about them.

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