The past week I traveled to Venice and Budapest with my friends! We are given two weeks of ‘travel’ at DIS. During one of the travel weeks, you travel with your core course and the other you can choose to do with it what you want! Some people stay in Copenhagen, some travel for half the week, and some (like me) travel the full week to other countries! So here’s a few highlights from my trip to Italy and Hungary:
We started off our trip on Saturday night in the shadiest part of the Copenhagen airport, the EasyJet and Ryanair terminal…. Copenhagen airport is supposed to be extremely nice, but once you get to the really cheap airlines, the terminals don’t even have chairs! We arrived at our Airbnb late that night and walked our way through the canals to get the heart of Venice! Our Airbnb was in the perfect location, although it had pretty low ceilings, so the two guys I went on the trip with kept having to duck their head when they walked through. We ended our first night with a game of cards and listened to some Italian music that was left in the CD player by the hosts.
The next day we set off to see some sights and, most importantly, get some gelato! It was so great to walk through the city. It’s quite beautiful, but it is pretty geared towards tourists–there are gondola rides at every canal, so many small shops to buy souvenirs, and the prices are quite high. We made our way to St. Mark’s Cathedral and the square was extremely crowded. Maybe it is always this way, but there was also a run going through the square. The cathedral was so beautiful, but I think the gelato we got on the way to the cathedral was honestly just as good, if not better. BEST gelato ever! After our visit, we stopped and got some wine and pizza at a little restaurant away from the canal so it wouldn’t be too expensive, and honestly I was pretty impressed. We had been told beforehand that Venice food wasn’t that amazing (which we got proved to us at breakfast that morning, which was not very good, so I won’t even mention it) but this meal was actually pretty yummy and nice.
We then decided we would head to Murano island, where they make Venetian glass, after lunch. On our way to the water taxi we saw the Bridge of Sighs, which was also extremely crowded because half of it was blocked off due to the run. But still a great view. As we rode the taxi across the waters, we passed the Isola di San Michele, a cemetery that is on an island. It looked very interesting on the outside and unfortunately we weren’t able to visit it while in Venice… it would have been nice to compare it to the cemetery I visited in Copenhagen.
Once we got to Murano, we walked around and went into some shops. It was so cool to see all the different types of glass that could be made in Murano. Some were a bit touristy, but others were very genuine and had such unique. I also got gelato in Murano…. I think I have a problem, but it was just so good! We then headed back to our Airbnb because all of us were pretty slumped. We ended the night with a little movie night, we watched Call Me By Your Name, which is based in Italy, so it seemed like the perfect choice.
On Monday, we had decided beforehand to rent a car (which was super cheap, all for of us paid ~$7 each) for the day and head to Cortina to hike one of the mountains in the Dolomites, the southern part of the Alps. We knew that you don’t really need to spend more than a day or two in Venice, so that’s why we decided to take this day trip and even though Cortina was two hours away, the hike/views were absolutely worth it. The Dolomites are known for their unique mountain structures, they have huge rigid structures sticking out of their mountains. Cortina is also known for skiing in the winter, they might even hold the Winter Olympics in 2026–we saw a huge amount of advertising for it.
While driving up to the city, it was so refreshing to see all the beautiful fall colors on the trees and honestly just see some nature. Living in Maine, I feel like I am surrounded by nature a lot, so this was a really great experience and reminded me of Maine. We somehow managed to drive almost the entire way up the mountain in our little Smart car (who knew!) and set off on our hike! Although it was pretty foggy, there were moments when the clouds would go away and the most beautiful scenery would be revealed to us. Breathtaking.
After our hike, we headed back to Cortina for dinner and there weren’t many options. We finally found a restaurant and had a lovely meal. I had prawns and purple gnocchi with bacon. What a fantastic meal to end our hike and our day. We then drove back to Venice, singing songs almost the entire way, and then immediately fell asleep when we got back home.
We didn’t really do much on our last day in Venice, but I think it’s worthy to note I got gelato once again! We slept pretty late and made breakfast at home. We then just explore some of the city again and then headed to the airport to go to Budapest! This time we were flying Lufthansa, so we didn’t have to worry about any sketchy terminals.
It was immediately different once we landed in Budapest. We took a Bolt from the hotel to our airbnb and it was such a relief to finally be in such a cheap place. Bolt is the Hungarian version of Uber and if you ever visit Budapest never take a taxi, only take a Bolt. The Bolt from the hotel was only $25 for all four of us and taxis overcharge.
Once we got to our airbnb, we met up with a few more friends, seven of us would be staying in the airbnb. We decided to get a late snack from a local Falafel place and it was so good and only $3, yay!
Our first full day in Budapest, was very cold, gloomy, and rainy. It wasn’t very pleasant, but we didn’t let that stop us from exploring the city! After a breakfast of ‘bacon stairs’ and a lunch of chicken and waffles, we met up with Nikko’s friend from Hungary. He showed us around his university and brought us on a hike to see the Liberty Statue on Gellért Hall. It wasn’t the most pleasant of hikes because of the rain, but it did give us a great view of the city! After our cold hike we all decided to call it a day and head back to our airbnb for warmth. For dinner, we went out to a local Hungarian restaurant where almost all of us got Paprika chicken with dumplings, which was super tasty.
We ended our night by exploring some of the ruin bars in our area, which is where the Jewish ghetto used to be. It’s so interesting how the space is used now–it’s quirky and full of life!
Today we spent most of our times at the Thermal Baths! These are pretty well known in Budapest, you can find them all over the city. They are heated natural hot springs that you can swim in (even when its 30 degrees outside) and they have natural minerals that are good for you–it does make it smell pretty bad though. Definitely do this at some point! We spent a couple of hours here and then headed back to the airbnb for some rest and showers.
After our naps we headed out for a night boat tour on the Danube River. Budapest is absolutely beautiful at night and there’s no better way to see the sights than on the boat tour, which goes by everything. They light up all the building up at light and it makes the city look amazing. We saw Buda Castle, Parliament, Gellert Hall, and a bunch of other cool sites! Something interesting that I found out while on this trip is that Budapest is split into two sections: Buda and Pest–interesting tidbit to know if you go!
For dinner, we went to a cool food stand place called Karavan, it has a bunch of different and unique food options. They have chimneys (fried dough with cinnamon), burritos, pasta, pizza, vegan burgers, and more. They also had a really interesting food that I don’t think I will ever understand but everyone in Hungary loves it: Hungarian Lángos, which is fried dough with sour cream and cheese! This just sounds very unappetizing to me, but some of my friends tried it later on in the trip and they loved it.
Today, my friend Josh and I got up early to explore the city! We went and visited Buda castle and Parliament in person. We even got to what I assumed to be the changing of the guards, consisted of a Hungarian song playing over speakers while the guards performed their routine. After exploring, we met up with our friends and got lunch. We then headed up to a chairlift to see the another great view of the city–highly recommend!
For dinner, we had reservations at a restaurant recommended to me by a friend studying abroad in Budapest. The restaurant was named Dobrumba and was Mediterranean styled. It was more expensive for Budapest, but after ordering cauliflower with tahini sauce, prawns, and a drink I only spent around $10! My friends also loved it for their amazing hummus and gluten-free options–hard to find most places. If you are wanting to go here, I recommend booking at least a week in advance, because they are always booked. We ended the night by playing some fun card games back at our airbnb!
A lot of our friends left pretty early this morning, but the four of us from Venice didn’t have to leave until later in the afternoon. We took the opportunity to relax in our airbnb for the last few hours, go get brunch, shop around, and go the the Central Market Hall! The Central Market is a huge market with a bunch of different types of stands: Paprika, souvenirs, meat, and all kinds of produce. It was pretty jam packed, but Budapest has these all over the place, so I wish we could have seen more of them.
After a week of busy traveling, I think we all felt we needed to be home and in our own beds, so we were all pretty excited to head back to the airport. We had such a fun time this week and I really appreciated the opportunity to explore more countries. I think this might be my last travel adventure while in Copenhagen, but now that I’ve been given a little bit of a glimpse into other countries I know I need to see more at some point in my life!
Look out for another post this week reflecting about my time in Copenhagen 🙂