Updated: Jan 19, 2022
I know I don't only speak for myself when I say I was dying for a weekend getaway this December and when this email with unbelievably cheap flights to the Hungarian capital popped up in my inbox, I couldn't resist!
Fortunately the name Omicron was still virtually unknown when my hubby and I boarded our plane, but masks were worn and hand sanitiser was constantly at the ready. 😀
I was on this weekend trip with an open mind. Having visited Budapest before, I admit I hadn't been overly impressed with the capital but wanted to give it another chance.
One thing that's guaranteed when visiting Hungary is that your money will go a long way. Everything costs about ⅔ of what it costs in other European capitals, including your hotel.
We had booked 4 nights at a trendy boutique hotel called T62 in District 6. Off a bustling road lined with eateries and across the road from Budapest-Nyugati train station, this hip hotel with an ornate exterior is a 14-minute walk from the opulent St. Stephen's Basilica and only a couple of minutes walk to the bus stop and supermarket.
We loved the hotel! And we'd definitely recommend it! The interior was so unusual too with massive murals of Frida Kahlo everywhere.
I can imagine this being a great meeting point to start off a night out in the city. The price tag for comfortable, clean and quiet rooms and a yummy breakfast including Hungarian delicacies every morning was nothing to complain about either. We give it 10 out of 10 points.
You may already know that Buda and Pest are divided by the Danube River and it wasnt until the early 1870s that they became one and the capital got its name. There are several beautiful bridges connecting the sides, yet the Chain Bridge stands out from the crowd, probably the reason why it can be seen on every single postcard of the city. This Bridge is the most famous symbol of Budapest, so don’t leave without taking a picture with the stone lion statues that have been guarding the bridge since 1850 first. We were unable to tick this off the must-do list as Chain Bridge is currently closed due to renovation work and will be until at least 2023.
Budapest has almost 120 medicinal springs and so is leading in the number of thermal baths it has, not only amongst European cities, but also in the world. The Turkish rule lasted for more than 150 years and Ottoman Turks constructed many prominent bathing facilities within the city. You'll still see evidence of their rule even though it was over 500 years ago. Rudas Baths and Király Baths are still used today!
As there are so many to choose from, it's best to Google the baths and compare them. We went for probably the most famous baths, Szechenyi. It was busy, even though we're in a pandemic, but you have to show your covid pass to get in. One tip to skip the long line and save a little money is to book your tickets online beforehand. It's not expensive though, well worth it for a bit of pampering and to tick it off your list. You can buy snacks and drinks at cafés inside. Make sure you take your flip flops with you as walking around barefoot is not allowed.
Whilst walking along the Danube river banks, you'll more than likely come across the 60 pairs of shoes commemorative monument. The sad story of Jews that were randomly selected and taken away to mass executions makes you stop and think.
In 1944–45, the Arrow Cross Party shot innocent Jews, including women and children. The victims were lined up on the Danube banks and once they stepped out of their shoes, they were shot in the nape of their neck.
When you hear the name ‘Statue of Liberty’, you immediately think of New York, but did you know that Budapest has its very own? It might not be as famous or large as the American one, but it is a popular tourist destination.
Walking up to the top of Gellért Hill where the statue is situated, is an experience in itself, but the panorama views of the city from the top are also unbeatable. As we already mentioned, the River Danube separates the Buda and Pest sides of the city. Buda in the west is much quieter than Pest where most of the nightlife tends to be, so if you’re looking to chill with no distractions Buda is most suitable for you.
Pest’s District 7 neighbourhood and the old Jewish quarter is home to locals’ favourite and world renown Ruin Bars. Of the many bars that have popped up over recent times, Szimpla Kert was the original romkocsma, ‘ruin pub’ in Hungarian. This pub holds 600 people and often has a queue around the block.
As you wind your way in and out of these botanically adorned and perfectly spoiled walls, you can almost transport yourself back to the end of World War II when communities thrived in this enclosure.
Back to drinking though 😄🍻... this place is heaving at night and the perfect place to have some cheap cocktails with friends. We recommend Mazel Tov Restaurant and Bar for cocktails and Mediterranean dishes too pretty to eat, but make sure you have a reservation or you'll easily wait over an hour for a table.
The Christmas markets here are, as you can imagine, an art form. Six words of warning, don’t come here on a diet! There are oodles of food stalls and each one is more tempting than the last. Even the pickiest of gastronomes will find something delicious from the vast array of stands that go on for miles.
Sausages, Goulash, Halászlé (fish soup), pork knuckles, roasted goose leg, Lángos(fried bread pancake smothered with sour cream, garlic, cheese and ham), Töltött Káposzta (cabbage stuffed with pork and vegetables then served with bread), Bejgli (Christmas roll cake), Rétes (Hungarian strudel) and last but most important Kürtőskalács (caramelised, spiced brioche baked over hot coals) Are your tastebuds invigorated yet? Ours too! 😋
Heading over to Castle Hill in District 1, you’ll find the impressive masterpiece Országház. This is Hungary’s Parliament Building. Built by architect Imre Steindl in Gothic Revival, Baroque and Renaissance style and completed in 1904. Believe us when we say you won’t want to stop staring at the detail that has gone into every nook and cranny. The most popular way to see this beauty is of course from the Danube. Take an evening river cruise and enjoy a glass of bubble whilst basking in the golden lights 🥂💛
If you look twice at the pictures of The Fisherman’s Bastion and see Disney’s castle logo, you’re not alone. Construction of this magnificent structure concluded in 1902 with its original development commencing as far back as 1700’s which formed part of a castle. An instagrammers favourite posing spot, we'd say to get there at first light for uninterrupted views without a line of tourists waiting to take the very same shot! When we were there it was impossible to take photos without people in.
As always lovely people, if you have any additional information for us, we’re always grateful for extra knowledge. Especially the quirky stuff😉
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