Back in February, we took a very last-minute trip to Budapest for the weekend… little did we know it was going to be our last one for a while!
Flights & Accomodation
We only booked a single from London Luton to Budapest at 1600h to depart at 2130h, costing £52pp including admin fees (although be wary that you’d have to pay for any extras with WizzAir). As for return flights, we learnt a good lesson about British Airway Reward Flights which I shared in a previous blog.
We stayed in this beautiful Airbnb for 2 nights at the cost of £84.10. The apartment was conveniently siatuated across the road from the Ruin Bars – but you couldn’t hear a peep! The room also came equipt with a free bottle of wine and a Playstation with an assortment of games – someone knows how to have a good time!
Therefore, our last minute 2-night break in Budapest cost £111.55 (+7,500 Avois) each for flights & accommodation.
Our first day saw us set off on a route that was to take us in a circle around the city. I’ve listed out the attractions below and provided a Google Maps screenshot of the route. We started from the Dohany Street Synagogue as our Airbnb was close by. However, if you wish to end your day with a drink at the famous Ruin Bars, you could try this route backwards – as the Synagogue is only a 5-minute walk away.
Circular walking route:
- Dohany Street Synagogue
- Hungarian National Museum
- Central Market Hall
- Buda Castle/ Castle District
- St Stephen’s Basilica
- Shoes on the Danube Bank
- Hungarian Parliament Building
It’s no secret that Budapest hosts some of the most impressive displays of architecture, and whilst the Hungarian Parliament building is the first image that springs to everyone’s mind, the Castle District gives it some great competition.
My personal favourite was the Citadella. You’ll get the best overhead views of the city from up here – and we were blessed with great weather for late February.
For an injection of culture, I would recommend visiting a number of the Jewish memorials and museums in the City, including the Shoes on the Danube Bank – a chilling memorial to a number of Jews who were sadly executed in this location in World War II.
A few of the attractions were closed for events & filming whilst we were there. We viewed the Synagogue and National Museum from the outside, and despite gaining entry to St Stephen’s Basilica, it was only to a small section as there was a grand wedding taking place. I don’t know if there is notification of such events, but it’s definitely worth checking before your visit… Or building in extra days for flexibility!
The second day took us to the world famous Szechenyi Thermal Baths. These don’t quite have the same luxury appeal as other thermal baths around the world – such as Iceland’s Blue Lagoon – but once we’d got used to it, we really enjoyed our time here. As long as you enter with the expectation of a public swimming pool rather than a spa, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Standard entry with a locker costs approximately £16, and you can rent most equipment if you’ve forgotten anything (even swimming costumes). You can check the rental prices here.
Lastly, whilst you’re near the Thermal Baths I would recommend visiting Vajdahunyad Castle. Although it’s home to an Agriculture Museum – which wasn’t of much interest to me – the building is absolutely remarkable. It looks like parts of historic buildings have been copied and pasted and jumbled all in the same space. It’s confusing but glorious and definitely worth casting your eye on if you’re in the area.
Food & Shopping
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always struggle to find breakfast in many European countries? If you’re staying close to where we did (near Astoria underground station) I would recommend here for breakfast.
If you’re one for sampling local cuisine, you’ll have to head straight for the Central Market Hall. It gets really busy here and it closes at 3pm on a Saturday, so I would recommend getting here as early as possible. Alongside food vendors, there is plenty of local goods and crafts, so save your souvenir shopping for here!
As for high-street shopping within the city, I don’t recall coming across many shops. However, I did take a taxi to the West End Shopping Mall. This isn’t the kind of place I would usually visit on my travels, but I had forgotten my bikini… Anyway, I do have to recommend the huge shopping complex – there’s more than 400 shops!
Despite Google stating the circular route above is a 1hr42 minute walk, it was admittedly a very tiring day! We would’ve loved to explore the night life a little, but we settled for dinner at the fabulous Macesz Bistro, and headed back to the AirBnb to enjoy the free bottle of wine provided by the hosts!
Transport & Luggage Drops
From the airport, the 200E bus regularly runs to the city which costs approximately £2.50 each way. The journey is 40-50 minutes and tickets can easily be purchased from machines at both the airport and the bus stops in the city.
If you’re staying close to where we did in the city, or are following the circular walking route above, you can drop your bags off here. It’ll cost £2.50-£3.70 for the day. Alternatively, there seems to be plenty of luggage drops across the city.
Be careful with taxis in the city! Although they are all yellow and display metered taxi rates in their windows, you will notice a lot of them have “freelance” written on the side. This means they can charge what they want. In just two days we had two taxi drivers try to charge us double what the metered rate should be. Be prepared to negotiate and walk away if the price doesn’t seem right. Above all, make sure you agree a price before jumping in. Bolt on the other hand (Hungarian equivalent to Uber), offers rides at a much more reasonable rate and there is no need to argue with their drivers.
On many of my quick-stop city breaks, I often feel like I’ve seen enough of the city within a couple of nights. However, with Budapest I feel like there is much more to explore. I would love to go back and experience the night life, visit a few more restaurants and explore more of the Castle District – including the Fisherman’s Bastion!
Budapest also seems like a great location for an all-weather trip. There’s plenty of green space to enjoy for a city, but also a lot of indoor activities.
Oh and last thing… if you’re visiting Budapest, don’t forget your swimwear!
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