WARNING! This is gonna be a long ass blogpost. Make a cuppa, grab a snack, take a seat, you may be here for a while. That is because I just came back from a 5 day trip to Budapest with Josh and I have a lot to tell and show you.
Firstly I’d like to start by saying a MASSIVE thank you to Josh for taking me here for my 20th birthday, I’m very lucky and have had such an amazing time! We went Monday- Friday which I would say is the perfect amount of time as we weren’t rushed and got to see everything we wanted to whilst we were there, I would say you could get away with 4 days if on a tighter time schedule. So basically over the course of this post I’m going to talk you through what we got up to and some recommendations and tips if you are planning to go to Budapest anytime soon.
We arrived in the evening after a 2 and a half hour flight and decided to get a taxi from the airport to the hotel, as we were a bit confused by the bus and train services into the city. It only cost us a round 8000 forints (around £20). Let me stop here just to explain the ridiculous Hungarian Currency. After spending a week there I still don’t understand it. Basically you get loads of notes when you exchange your money the smallest being 500 forints or huf- enough to buy a bottle of water. The exchange rate is anywhere from about 350-380 forints to the pound- nice and easy conversions right? To confuse matters more, in some places you can use the euro and in others not- so make sure you get the correct currency before travelling to Budapest! Also, obviously make sure to tip taxi drivers, waiters, cleaners etc but also be aware, we noticed, there didn’t seem to be much giving of change (probably because the coins are such a pain) but just be careful not to give a 5000 forint note as a tip, expecting any change. Basically we found it reasonably inexpensive even though everything cost thousands of forints haha!
Once checked in at out hotel, NH Budapest City (Pest Side), which I would highly recommend btw for it’s perfect location, we dumped our bags and headed out for a wander over the nearest bridge across the Danube. Our first views of Budapest did not disappoint, we saw the exquisite Parliament buildings and Buda Castle illuminated for nighttime. Then we settled with eating at the Okay Italian on the way back to the hotel which was more than okay!
We deemed Tuesday our exploring day, a chance to really get to know the city, however we ended up ticking quite a lot off our list on the first day! We ticked off going up the Funicular ( a little cart which gives an amazing view of Pest) to get up the hill to Buda Castle. Then we went to the Budapest National Museum (2000 huf with photo ticket), took photos of the beautiful Mattias Church and also went to the Fisherman’s Bastion (400 huf) to get a breathtaking view of the city! I would highly recommend doing a day like this if you can, as all these sights are close together and none too expensive! This night we went for a wander and accidentally stumbled into the lively student nightlife area, which would be perfect if inter-railing or travelling. For tea we decided on a burger at Meatology.
Spa Day, and possibly my favourite day of the whole trip! Today we walked from our hotel near the Danube to the famous Széchenyi Baths – top tip DO NOT WALK! It was well over 30 degrees and the walk seemed to last well over an hour. Either get a tram or a bus. When we finally arrived at Heroes Square very sweaty and a bit mardy, we were approached by a lovely Rep from the Big Bus Tours company. There are a few companies in Budapest offering a Hop on Hop off Bus Service where you basically get a 48 hour ticket which allows you to hop on and off of any of their buses at any time, with each stop being a famous landmark or tourist attraction. We decided to take the tickets as they were a good deal. For 12,000 huf we got the 48 hour travel ticket, VIP entrance to the Thermal Baths for the whole day (rather than the normal 2 hour slots) with a private locker, plus the ticket also included access to many walking tours and a River Cruise down the River Danube at any time you wished. Bargain! This Bus really did save our legs in the last couple of days.
But anyway more about the baths- they were amazing- the water was 38 degrees and although busy it was the perfect day, a complete sun trap and very very relaxing. There were indoor pools but we focussed on the larger outside baths. You will definitely need Suncream whilst here as there is very little shade, any swimwear is fine as long as not too revealing and you only need to wear a swimming cap if you want to swim in the lane swimming pool.
When we returned home to the hotel, we had a quick shower, got ready and headed out to the nearby West End shopping mall for a bit of Hungarian retail therapy, it would be rude not too right? This would be a perfect way to kill a few hours if the weather is rainy as it is 3 floors and has a food court as well. For tea we went to Vapiano, one of our favourite restaurants to visit when in Europe, where they cook fresh pizza and pasta in front of you.
Spa Day 2.0. In the morning we visited St Stephen’s Basilica (200 huf donation), the 2nd largest Church in Hungary which was very beautiful. We then found the Hard Rock Cafe and stopped off for a bite to eat and a shop. We then got on the bus over the Danube and up the hill (to near Buda Castle) to try out the other highly recommended baths in Budapest, Gellert Baths. Well all I can say is do not go up the hill, just cross the river, the maps deceived us and we ended up doing a cross country trek through some questionable woods to walk all the way back down the hill we had just driven up. When we finally got to the baths they were really nice, although smaller. We had another chilled afternoon by the water. If you are short on time my personal favourite was the Széchenyi Baths, but Gellert are definitely still worth a look. We enjoyed our final evening meal at the Okay Italian again!
By Friday we had last day blues, although it was that hot we were almost ready to go home (we saw a sign saying 38 degrees)- just too hot for us pale brits. We decided to utilise our ticket the best we could and went on the River Cruise which was really enjoyable and a good way to see a lot in a short space of time and without walking. You could buy drinks and food on board so was a really nice trip. Then it was onto the airport and home time in the evening!
Overall we had an amazing trip and crammed a lot in. I would probably go back one day, especially to the baths, but not for a while as we ticked off most of the sights this time around! Let me know if we missed anything or what you favourite part of Budapest is!