A WEEKEND BREAK IN BUDAPEST - BEST THINGS TO DO
Updated: Mar 20
Chimney cake, thermal baths, the best restaurant in Budapest and a hospital in a rock
We travelled to Budapest from London Southend for 3-4 days. We booked an AirBnb known as “Honeymoon in the castle in our little garden house” which looked very cute and romantic. We jumped on the public airport bus to take us into the centre of Budapest and grabbed some breakfast as we were too early to check in. We had breakfast at A Table and it was delicious. This quaint little cafe offer a variety of cooked and continental breakfast options and on this day we chose Eggs Royale and porridge with fresh fruit and chia seeds. The food was presented beautifully and tasted great, a yes all round.
Buda and Pest
After breakfast we caught another bus to get to our apartment. Budapest is separated into Buda and Pest. Buda is said to be the more tranquil part of the Budapest and the more picturesque. Pest is a lot more lively but the accommodation is not always as nice as you can find on the other side of the river. Pest is where most of the bars and restaurants are located so if you want a more lively trip and to stumble home from the famous ruin bars at 4am, Pest is the side for you. If you prefer to leave the noise and buzz behind then stick to Buda. Both sides are easily accessible from one another with a short walk so you won’t miss out on the nightlife wherever you stay.
A short walk away from our apartment we stumbled across the changing of the guard outside of St Matthias Church. We then turned the corner to see more incredible architecture and views for miles from a spot overlooking the Danube river. The streets were jam packed with entertainers everywhere we turned from guards riding horses to acoustic music being played alongside an artist conjuring up an intricate painting of a landscape. It took us longer than expected to get to our desired destination as we kept getting distracted.
We made our way to the Gellert Spa. As you may be aware Budapest is famous for it’s thermal baths and the two most popular spas to visit are the Gellert Spa and the Szechenyi Spa. The Szechenyi Spa holds parties and is more aimed towards those on stag/hen dos. There are also reviews which indicate it isn’t the cleanest. We opted for the Gellert Spa for this reason. The Gellert spa is open until 8pm but you must arrive before 6pm. Go later in the day to catch the sunset. You can take towels and flip flops of your own to save the cost but they are available to hire if you forget to pack them. I suggest you book the spa in advance to ensure you get the slot you want. It does get busy. Inside there are numerous different pools of different temperatures to test out. There are indoor and outdoor pools. Outside there is a wave pool as well as a dining area where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat. The inside pools are very grand and it feels as though thermal baths have been installed in the middle of a museum. It is very grand and definitely like nothing I have experienced before. This is a perfect way to relax during your holiday and would also be a great way to spend a rainy day as there are plenty of indoor pools.
This restaurant is one of the best in the world. High-quality at extremely reasonable prices with a welcome drink and a beautiful setting, what more could you want? We were welcomed with a glass of elderflower Prosecco. You can sit in intimate conversatory-type area which is decorated beautifully with drop lighting and hanging ivy. The restaurant often has live music and a jazz band was planning whilst we enjoyed our food.
We ordered a soup dish and two main duck dishes and a bottle of red wine. It was incredible and honestly one of the best meals I have ever had. This restaurant is also very reasonably priced and the bill came to around £40. Zeller Bistro is a must for everyone visiting Budapest. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Rumpus Tiki bar
After the meal we visited a nearby cocktail bar, Rumpus Tiki Bar. This bar has a plethora of cocktails to choose from which are served in a variety of novelty glasses displayed in wooden chests. The cocktails are strong and the colours and dry ice really bring them to life. The drinks are fairly pricey but you are paying for the full experience of the themed bar.
Free walking tour
The following morning we joined the free walking tour. The tour took us around Buda and Pest and to all of the main attractions. It was between 2 ½-3 hours and I learnt a lot about the history of Budapest and got some recommendations of places to visit next.
We had a traditional Hungarian lunch of Langos at Retro Langos Bute. Langos is the Hungarian version of pizza. It is a deep fried dough topped with sour cream and cheese. You can then add more toppings such as spicy sausage, ham, jalapeños - all sorts. They are extremely sickly but extremely delicious. I challenge you to try and tackle 2 back to back! Retro Langos Bute is a food stall opposite the Jewish quarter with simple outdoor seating for you to sit and devour your Hungarian pizza.
After we had walked off our dough-y lunch we headed for a beer at the most famous of the ruin bars in Budapest, Szimpla Kert. The ruin bars are run down buildings which were saved from demolition by local entrepreneurs. The decor is scatty, colourful and quirky and a great way to enjoy a quality beer in a relaxed setting. Szimpla Kert is the place to visit in Budapest so make sure you stop by for a drink whilst you’re there.
Hospital in the Rock
Day 3 arrived and we headed to the Hospital in the Rock. This is a nuclear bunker turned museum built in a natural cave system. A hospital was built inside the cave during World War II for emergency treatment of soldiers and civilians who were injured in attacks. The tour is guided in either Hungarian or English. Audio tours are available in other languages. The museum is filled with life-like figurines of hospital staff and patients. The tour takes you deep into the cave and makes you realise how difficult it must have been to treat patients in those conditions.
We then made our way to find another Hungarian speciality, chimney cake. Chimney cake is a sugary dough rolled into a strip and wrapped around a cone object whilst baking to give a tall, spiral effect. The dough is dipped in a topping such as cinnamon or chocolate sprinkles and the spiral is then filled with ice cream. You will find chimney cake is most restaurants and cafes in Budapest but we sampled ours from Cafe Molnar’s. It was delicious.
Shoes on the Danube
We spent the afternoon doing some more sight seeing stopping firstly at the Hungarian parliamentary building. This gothic architecture is truly impressive and as it overlooks the river Danube it is a great photo spot. We then continued along the waters edge to find another of the famous attractions in Budapest, ‘Shoes on the Danube’. This memorial was created by sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay and is a reminder of the holocaust atrocities. The idea of the shoes facing the river relates to Jewish people being forced to strip naked on the banks of the Danube before they were shot and their bodies fell into the river and were swept away. Although extremely sad, the memorial is exquisite. Make sure you take a visit during your time in Budapest.
We crossed back over to the Buda side from Pest and began our walk up to the top of Gellert Hill. Once over the Szechenyi chain bridge the walk to the top of the hill will take around 25 minutes. This can be steep at times but it is very picturesque and there are lots of photo opportunities along the way where you can take a break. At the top of Gellert Hill you will find the Citadella. This fortress is a UNESCO world heritage site and said to be the best viewpoint in Budapest. At the top you will find the Liberation Monument commemorating those who sacrificed their lives for Hungarian independence. There are stalls selling souvenirs and snacks to enjoy whilst you snap photos of the incredible views over the Danube river.
Barack and Szilva
We descended back down a woodland like pathway back to our apartment to have a quick change before heading out for our final meal in Budapest. This time I chose Barack and Szilva, a trendy restaurant with outdoor seating offering traditional Hungarian food. I had a not-so Hungarian aperitif, an aperol spritz but is there really any better pre dinner drink? I chose paprika chicken with homemade noodles. It was very tasty and the staff in the restaurant provided an excellent service. A great place to get good quality Hungarian food with that homecooked feel, right on the doorstep of Budapest’s party district.
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