Budapest is by far one of our favourite European city breaks, it brings together everything you could want for a weekend trip: incredible history, beautiful views, delicious food and a brilliant nightlife.
A common misconception is that the city is overrun by stag parties. Now, it is a very popular destination for stags as it has a great nightlife but oh boy it is also so much more. Plus, as we went mid-January, there weren’t many stags around. If you like it was out off ‘stag season’.
Yet, even in ‘stag season’ there is so much more than the ruins bars and beer bike tours and can be easily avoided. Although, if we’re honest, we wouldn’t knock them either. The ruins bars are some of the best places to visit in Budapest, in fact two mentioned below are must-sees when exploring the city.
Where to stay:
When looking for accommodation in Budapest we found hotels to be much much more expensive than Airbnbs. So, obviously, we opted for the cheaper option. More money to spend on delicious food and Hungarian wine.
We stayed in an Airbnb in the heart of Budapest in Terézváros, just off Kodaly Korund. Most places on our list were in walking distance, including the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and the Opera House which were both within 10-minutes.
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How to get around:
Walk (or download the Bolt taxi app)
Budapest is the perfect city to walk around, no need to use the trams or trains, everything you will want to see is in close proximity to each other. Plus, as we always say, walking around a city is the best way to really see it and take in all the amazing architecture.
Yet, we also understand walking is not always an option, including getting from Budapest Airport to your Airbnb, or getting to your Airbnb after a few too many drinks at the ruin bars. Therefore, we recommend downloading the Bolt taxi app. It is easy-to-use and affordable.
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What to do:
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Many people are unaware Buda and Pest are two different areas which make Budapest, the western and eastern sides. Széchenyi Chain Bridge or simply ‘Chain Bridge’ runs across the Danube River to connect Buda and Pest. The bridge in itself is a sight to see as it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube, but also offers incredible views down the river and to the Hungarian Parliament Building.
Fisherman’s Bastion, part of Buda Castle, is located in Buda and one of the most popular attractions in Budapest. If we’re honest, it is easy to see why and one of our favourite places from the trip. High above the city it offers amazing panoramic views of Budapest, the Hungarian Parliament Building, Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Danube River below. The architecture is incredibly intricate, the roof tiles are amazingly colourful and the arches create perfect viewfinders to see the city across the river.
Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building, or the Parliament of Budapest, is a beautiful building in Pest. The facade is intricately detailed and on a good day, creates a magical reflection in the Danube River. If we’re honest, the best place to view the Hungarian Parliament Building is from the opposite side of the river as you can see it in its fully glory, especially when it is lit up at night.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic church located in Pest and the biggest church in Budapest. In interior of the church is breathtaking, decorated in gold and marble with colourful stain glass windows. It is peaceful and calm, the perfect place to take a moment and relax. Yet, that is not all. Our favourite part of St. Stephen’s Basilica was walking up the spiral staircase to the top for incredible views over the city. Luckily, we arrived in time for sunset, as bright yellows and burnt oranges filled the sky.
- Price: 500 HUR.
- Cash only.
Faust Wine Cellars
Faust Wine Cellars is located beneath Buda Castle, deep in the depths on the cellars with no more than five or six tables. In this small room candlelit room you can taste some of the best Hungarian wine. Depending on the package you can taste six or nine wines, either all red, all white or a mixture of the two, we opted six tasters including both red and white. The wine is served by a sommelier who explains the history of the wine and describes the best way to taste the wine.
- Price: 6,500 – 8,500 HUR.
- Cash only.
- Open from 2-8pm from Thursday till Monday.
- Enter via the Hilton Hotel.
The Shoes on the Danube Bank
The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial created in 2005 to remember and honour the Jews who were killed along the Danube River bank during World War II. The memorial is made up of metal shoes representing all the men, women and children who were shot into the Danube River. Since its creation flowers have been left and candles have been lit along the memorial by those paying their respects.
Szimpla Kert is an old factory which has been turned into one of the most popular ruin bars in Budapest. It is full of mismatched decorations, graffiti and even a garden. Hands down one of the best places for a night out in Budapest, somewhere you will definitely have a lot of fun and maybe even come across some of those stag parties. Yet, if you would rather avoid the busy Budapest nightlife, Szimpla Kert is still worth a visit in the day, especially the Szimpla Farmers’ Market on Sundays.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Széchenyi Thermal Bath is the largest thermal bath in Europe and the perfect place to relax. It has three outdoor baths, multiple indoor pools, as well as saunas. We spent most of our time in the outdoor baths, soaking in the warm water and watching the steam rise from the cold air. If we’re honest, it is the perfect Sunday activity after a busy Saturday exploring and a night out at Szimpla Kert.
- Price: 6,400 – 6,800 HUR.
- We recommend buying a cabin pass.
- Bring your own flip flops and towels.
Where to eat:
STIKA is the perfect brunch destination, serving all day breakfast as well as lunch dishes. We would highly recommend the ‘Benny’, also known as Eggs Benedict. We ordered one Avocado Benny with fresh pressed Apply Juice and one Smoked Salmon Benny with a green tea, obviously topped off with a delicious chocolate roll. However, the Smoked Salmon bagel and ‘Fit’ Benny with sweet potato also looked delicious.
Great Market Hall
Great Market Hall is the ultimate lunch destination where you can try all the traditional Hungarian food. We sampled Goulash, beef stew with vegetables and potatoes, Lángos, deep-fried flat bread with sour cream and cheese, as well as sweet Lángos with cinnamon. Of course topped off with delicious mulled wine.
Mazel Tov was highly recommended to us by multiple sources before our trip and is actually classed as one of Budapest’s ruin bars. However, we can tell you now it is nothing like Szimpla Kert. It is an Middle Eastern restaurant which serves the most delicious food, all the hummus and amazing cocktails. We ordered hummus and babaganoush with falafel to start and then the amazing Sous-vide chicken with couscous variation with sun-dried tomatoes for main. Hands down one of the best meals and Espresso Martinis we’ve ever had.