Before my first visit to Budapest, I had never really heard much about it nor had I a lot of interest in visiting the capital city of Hungary.
It’s not that I had anything against visiting Hungary, it just wasn’t at the very top of my travel list! However, things very quickly changed as we made plans to spend three nights here on a short break.
Prior to leaving, Lewis and I were told a million daunting and rather off putting stories about Budapest and Hungarian people from various friends and family members; “things get stolen from left, right and centre”, “Hungarian people are so unfriendly and unwelcoming…HAVE FUN!”. I still went with an open mind and the same growing excitement that I feel before exploring any new place.
Lewis and I took to Air Bnb to book us an apartment and during our hunt, we found lots of adorable little rentals and were pleasantly surprised to find that the prices in Budapest were extremely affordable and the type of accommodation you were getting here, would be double the price in most other cities – great start!
On arrival at Budapest Grand central station, the first thing that I noticed was how friendly people were, from the staff at the train station to the local newsagent owner.
We had plenty of fun things planned for our 4-day trip (by plenty, I mean we literally had lists full and we were determined to tick off each thing!) but first off, out came the maps and we went in hunt of our apartment booked near the Jewish Quarter of Budapest.
Now prior to leaving I had
thought I was being super helpful for once printed off a map provided on the Air Bnb website for the location of our apartment… 3 hours later and we eventually found out that we had walked in the opposite direction of our wanted location and I had in actual fact printed off a map for a completely different Air Bnb apartment… lets not discuss any further..
Anyway once we had FINALLY arrived at our correct location after a lot of help from some lovely locals in a supermarket, we arrived at our adorable little flat – very embarrassed to be 3 hours late. Our hostess Kitty was extremely open and friendly girl who didn’t utter one word of our being late in a negative way.
The apartment itself was central and extremely handy for reaching all of the popular sights quickly and nearby many small supermarkets, coffee shops and restaurants within. Inside the apartment, the bed was on a mezzanine area – what we liked to call, “an adult bunk bed”. The interior was fresh, fashionable and everything was very clean. On top of this, Kitty left us with everything we could ever need, including an umbrella and plenty of useful guidebooks and maps!
Onto the sightseeing and adventures and once they began, all of the negative things that we had heard about this stunning, historic city very quickly disappeared into thin air! We were hooked on the Budapest vibe and all that the city had to offer from day one.
In my opinion, Budapest is the perfect place for a family holiday, with plenty to see, do and eat and of course the extremely affordable prices – As I kept saying “this is just like Paris, but cheaper and with friendlier people!” If anyone ever asks me for a short holiday break recommendation, I always mention Budapest.
Top Five Things To Do On a Short Break to Budapest!
- Discover the historic Castle Hill and enjoy the breathtaking views of Budapest – make sure you wear comfy shoes.
- Take a Danube cruise after dinner to see the city light up – very romantic!
- Shop with locals or try some Hungarian cuisine in the Central Market Hall – great place to pick up lunch, so go on an empty stomach! Also, a good place to buy gifts for loved ones.
- Take a dip and relax after all of the walking in one of Budapest’s famous baths – I would recommend the Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
- Take a stroll along Andrassy Avenue to Heroes Square and you will very quickly understand why Budapest is often called the Paris of the East!
The food in Budapest was definitely one of the major highlights of our visit, on our first night we ate in an amazing buffet style restaurant, with all you can eat prices from 15 euros, including alcohol – you can’t get much better than that! The quality of food in this eatery didn’t reflect badly on the cheap price either, we were offered plenty of fresh seafood from shark meat to lobsters and crabs as well as steak, ribs and champagne! Like royalty!
Another favourite of ours was a little lunch spot that we found nearby our apartment, this was definitely a big favourite of mine with it being the most beautiful, girly, flowery, pink and pretty place I had ever seen… Lewis, however, was the only male to be seen inside the place! Maybe next time I return, I will go in the company of other females! However, he never complained and agreed that this lunch spot would be perfect for a girly day with some of my gal pals!
Aside from food, we were sure to walk off all our indulgences with A LOT of sightseeing – some our favourites included Central Market Hall, this was one of the best markets I had ever been to. Large in size and filled with delicious Hungarian food and plenty of souvenirs and traditional bric a brac. This market was the perfect place to spend a few hours shading from the hot Budapest sun. I would definitely recommend going with an empty stomach as with the vast stalls of yummy goulash and other traditional delicacies, you won’t want to leave without indulging in something delicious!
Yes, so as I was saying aside from food, as you can tell we really enjoy eating! There was plenty to do and to love about this cultured and historic city and one of our favourite places that we spent a few hours exploring was Fisherman’s Bastion. We kept calling it “Hogwarts” with its large turrets and stunning architecture it was difficult not to be in complete awe.
We absolutely loved the gothic feel to the buildings and of course, the amazing views and scenery were second to none. You can pay 4 euros per person to walk on the wall but if you walk further along there are steps you can climb on the wall for free! Hey hey!
If you’re visiting Budapest then this is an absolute must see, it’s fantastic for photo opportunities of the Danube River and the grand Parliament Building.
Budapest is packed with things to do and see for every budget and background, but another two things on the top of my list would be to take a trip to a local spring thermal bath, we chose to spend a day at Szenchenyi Baths and we didn’t regret a second of it. Easily located, affordable and so beautiful inside, we loved every second of our relaxing time here.
The historical site is located within a giant park, and right next to the metro station; making it both scenic and extremely accessible. On arrival, the staff members try very hard to convince you of buying a package deal with massages etc, however with it being a beautiful hot summers day we opted to spend our time in the many different pools and sunbathing.
Inside, there are three large swimming pools, 2 heated and for leisure whilst the centre one is for keen swimmers – please remember to bring a swimming cap with you, however, as they’re super uptight about that…
Further along, there are more than 10 spa pools with temperatures ranging from 16-38 and multiple steam and sauna rooms.
All in all the thermal baths were a little slice of heaven and definitely too good to be missed! Do bring your own swimming cozzies, towels and flip-flops to avoid higher costs though! It can also get pretty busy during the summer months but don’t let this put you off as there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy!
Next on our “must do when in Budapest” list would have to be a midnight canal tour – hop on a boat tour at 11 pm, sit back and enjoy an audio tour down the Danube.
At night time, this city lights up and it’s just breathtaking. The boat tour that we picked also provided us with champagne and other soft drinks and snacks to enjoy. For me, the best thing about the tour had to be the fact that you were able to get up close to the Parliament building, which when lit up at night time is unlike anything I have ever seen.
For Lewis and I, this was a really romantic few hours, where we also learnt a lot of fantastic information about the history and landscape of Budapest. We shared the tour with many other couples of all ages and families as well. You can book online to ensure that you get a seat but we headed over after dinner to the Danube where you could choose from plenty of different tours and buy your ticket on the spot. Tours last around 1.5 hours and leave the dock daily.
To end our unforgettable first trip to Budapest we booked a restaurant back at Fisherman’s Bastion called Halaszbastya (try pronouncing that). The restaurant is actually located within the “Hogwart’s style turrets”!
We booked this on our visit the day before and were both absolutely stunned as soon as we step foot into this ridiculous restaurant. We were taken on a tour of the restaurant by the kind receptionist and given the choice of 2 different tables to eat at the next day. We were originally looking for a casual restaurant to eat in that evening with a nice view, but after our “restaurant tour,” we decided that we were underdressed and booked to come back the following evening in our finery!
On arrival, we were introduced to our TWO private waiters and we were given the best table in the whole restaurant, with our own private balcony overlooking the beautiful parliament building. I could cry right now just thinking about it.
From start to finish our experience at the restaurant was beyond our expectations. Lewis and I have had the good fortune of eating in many high-end and Michelin star restaurants around the world but for me, this will always be on the top of my list. As I kept saying to Lewis “I wish I could be proposed to here!”… I think he’s now regretting that we visited this restaurant when we did!
From the service to the food, interior and private string quartet (yes, they would play any song that you requested at your table, I chose La Vien Rose and almost cried into my pudding). Everything about this restaurant was perfection and we couldn’t have chosen a better place or way to end our trip in Budapest. The fireworks from our balcony made the evening more magical than I can even try to explain.
In my opinion, Budapest is everything that I could ever ask for in a short city break. It’s exciting, filled with history, culture, delicious food and some of the friendliest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. As I previously mentioned, the city is just like Paris but with a more gothic edge and down to earth prices. What more could you ask for? XO