Over Easter myself and my boyfriend travelled to Hungary for a 4 day city break. We had not been there before and were bowled over by the city.
So what to do when youve got time on your hands, no kids, a centrally located hotel room and some holiday cash?
Well firstly Hungary is not an expensive country! Food and drink is cheap and many of the attractions were free (or only a few pounds). We arrived with Euros but quickly changed them to HUT as paying in Euros works out very expensive (plus a lot of places wont take them). Be ready to feel like youre spending loads though as 1000HUT is worth about £2.50!
My top things to do…
Cruise the River Danube – the river splits Buda and Pest and is breathtaking. Take a romantic stroll or a riverboat cruise. We did both – a cruise works out about £15 a person and really lets you see the city along with learning the history too. We loved it!
Top Tip – book your cruise ahead at one of the tourist information points instead of being hassled at the waterside by the many different reps who may try and overcharge you.
Be in awe of the architecture – Budapest is a visually stunning city. Out of all the amazing buildings the Parliament buildings are iconic and usually what you see on postcards etc.
Top Tip -it is a working building with armed guards to the front as well as sculptures and fountains but it looks best viewed from the water.
Get sporty on St Margarets Island – Ok, we are a bit annoying as we are both regular runners and like to do a 5k in cities that we visit…its a bucket list kinda thing. I know, I would hate us too if I didnt think we were awesome! St Marys Island is a car-free purpose built island in the middle of the Danube for sports and leisure. You can bike around it, canoe around it, play sports, visit the petting zoo or like us run round the 5k running track. It was full of locals when we were there and Budapest seems a very healthy city generally.
Top Tip – if you have room in your case pack some sports clothes – whether its a run, the hotel gym or finding somewhere to swim, its great to have the option to exercise available.
Get steamy at the Széchenyi Thermal Baths – A bit further out of the city (we had to take a short bus ride) is probably one of my favourite things I have ever done. A huge purpose built stunning building thats over 100 years old – you can swim in the thermal springs, get a massage, enjoy hydrotheraphy, sauna or just chill out on sun loungers.
Top Tip – book a cabin for a private changing room experience and pay to put your valuables in their safe boxes for extra peace of mind.
Ride the Castle Hill Funicular – so everyone wants to pretend theyre in a Wes Anderson movie dont they? This just sums up the whimsical charm of Budapest. The views as you go up and down are stunning too…
Top Tip – at the top discover the Hungarian National Art Gallery and see the changing of the guards outside the Presidents house
Explore the unique Buda –
Budapest really is a tale of two cities. The old town on the Buda side is unlike any place I’ve visited – very medieval feeling, quaint and unusual. It gets busy with tourists but we loved it.
Top Tip – if you visit St Mathius’ church book the cheaper bell tower tour rather than the full church tour – the climb will tire you out but the views are great.
Visit St Stephens Basicila Cathredral – this is one of THE landmarks of the city and the ornate interior has to be seen to be believed. Entrance is by donation but spend a bit more and climb the 363 spiral steps to the dome balcony – the views are fabulous and theres even an art gallery on a hidden level!
Top Top – Afterwards, chill out on St Stephens Square where there are lots of pavement cafes and bars…
Ride on the trams – public transport in Budapest is cheap and relatively easy to use – we travelled on a bus and metro transfer from the airport (for about £4.00 each) and then used the metro and trams when things were a little too far to get to on foot.
Top Tip – the older yellow trams on the Pest side are adorable and you feel like youre in a 1950’s movie riding them. Buy a daily travelcard and enjoy!
Buy a rose shaped ice cream delight – there are lots of great food in Budapest but my favourite of the trip? It had to be these beautiful handmade rose ice creams made from 3 flavours of ice cream from Gelarto Rosa.
Top Tip – avoid the queues of the main shop which is nearest St Stephens Square by heading further down the street where you will find a second branch!
Dress up and eat out – when on holiday it has to be done! I’ll be honest, as a fussy eater I struggled with the hearty Hungarian food – however for lunch Goulash in a bread bowl made an interesting change and theres plenty to choose from. Food and drink is very reasonably priced with a 2 course meal with alcohol for 2 in a good restaurant easily managable on a budget of £50.
Top Tip – a 12.5% service charge is always included in the final bill in Hungary so dont add anything else on.
Leave a Love Lock – this has become something of a traditional for us. After a romantic break its lovely to think they’ll be a part of you left there after you leave – last year we left one in Copenhagen at the spot where my boyfriend proposed to me. In Budapest they have metal ‘trees’ created for this purpose in Eserbet Tér (a large park in the centre of the city) so you know youre not vandalising anything or they’ll just be cut off a month later!
Top Tip – plan ahead and make one before you go using a cheap brass padlock. My boyfriend engraved it himself creating a lovely personal touch.
Budapest is a definitely ‘recommend’ from me! We flew to Budapest via Ryan Air from Stansted and stayed at the President Hotel in the centre of the city. Flights start from around £60 each way.