By Chloe-May Hornbuckle
Nothing beats getting to know the culture, history, politics, and (of course) the food of each new place you visit, and it’s safe to say that Budapest isn’t lacking in any of these areas! From enjoying the panoramic views of Budapest while cruising along the River Danube to letting your hair down in one of the many thermal spas, this city is the perfect destination for those looking for a chill weekend away with a hint of luxury.
Start your trip off in the right way with a cruise along the River Danube. These one-hour boat tours are a great introduction to the history of the city and its main sights, and with many offering a glass of prosecco and a homemade lemonade included in the price of a ticket, what could be more relaxing?! Whilst you’re nearby, head to the Castle District. Here you can admire the amazing architecture of Matthias Church, snap some selfies from the Fisherman’s Bastian which boasts a gorgeous view over Pest and check out Buda Castle to experience the ceremonial Changing of the Guards. For a spot of lunch, head to St. Stephen’s Square where you’ll find a load of trendy cafes and bistros – 0,75 Bistro and Bar is a good shout if you want to try a modern take on a traditional Hungarian dish, and their homemade flavoured lemonades are to die for! After all that walking, you’ll want a nice and chill afternoon – why not soak up the sun in one of Budapest’s largest green spaces, Elizabeth Square?! For dinner, there is no better place for an authentic Hungarian meal than Pörc & Prézli Étterem: with traditional Gypsy music in the background to set the scene, their Hungarian Trifle will be the best thing to ever grace your taste buds! For a late-night tipple, Mazel Tov and Racskert – two of Buda’s most trendy bars – are just around the corner and calling your name!
Today is all about taking it easy! Make your way to City Park to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and indulge in a morning of pampering and self-care at Széchenyi Thermal Baths, Europe’s largest bath complex. Get those swimming costumes out and dive into one of the 21 pools on offer or, if you fancy really treating yourself (you are on holiday after all…), pay a little extra to have a spa treatment. Afterwards, have a wander around the park where you can also find Heroes’ Square and Budapest Zoo & Botanical Gardens before grabbing a bite to eat at Retró Lángos Büfé. Here you will discover one of Budapest’s most iconic street food dishes, lángos: a deep-fried dough traditionally topped with sour cream, garlic butter and cheese. Go for the traditional option or try something different (my personal favourite was the Bolognese lángos) but one thing’s for sure – if you love big portions of tasty food without breaking the bank, this is going to be a big hit!! From here, head over to the Hungarian Parliament to take some pictures worthy of sharing on the gram or, if you’re a fan of politics, join a guided tour. For a nice romantic dinner, reserve a table at the Michelin star Borkonyha Winekitchen Restaurant which serves over 200 Hungarian wines (the Tokaji is a must-try!). Alternatively, if you’d rather chill out with a burger in one hand and a beer in the other, Most Bisztro is the perfect place for you! Wherever you end up, make sure you head over to the infamous Szimpla Kert ruin bar for one (or five) alcoholic beverages!
A trip to Budapest wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the colourful Jewish Quarter. Though it’s famous for its numerous ruin bars, there’s so much more to it than just the buzzing nightlife! Join a free walking tour to explore the significance of the area’s murals and street art as well as the history of Jews in Hungary. All that walking is sure to make you hungry, and where better to satisfy your hunger than Karaván, a street food venue offering a variety of both Hungarian and international delicacies. The lángos burger and goulash here are top notch! To end your trip on a high note, head around the corner to Frohlich Bakery and Café to pick up a traditional Jewish sweet treat such as the delicious flódni, an apple, walnut and poppy seed cake – yummy!
Top travel tips:
- Whilst euros are accepted in some places in Budapest, your best bet would be to take Hungarian forints with you as this is the official currency.
- I would 100% recommend buying a 72-hour travelcard on the first day of your trip. Ut won’t set you back by much at all and you’ll save a load of time travelling between places. Just remember to carry your passport around with you at all times as ticket inspectors may ask you for some identification.
- If you’re on a budget, avoid eating in restaurants on the Buda side as these tend to be quite expensive!
- Book your tickets in advance for all of Budapest’s top sights in order to avoid long queues and to get reduced ticket prices. Remember to take your student ID if you’ve bought a student ticket!
- It’s quite a trek up to Matthias’ Church and the Fisherman’s Bastian – if walking really isn’t your thing, the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular is a good shout as these monuments are just a short walk from it!
- Most importantly, be safe and enjoy yourself!