For my 50th blog post (!!) I thought I would finally get around to writing about my first ever independent city break, Budapest!
During my gap year, I was working and saving up for my big 3 month adventure around Southeast Asia. About halfway through my 7 months of working at a camping store, I decided to book a spontaneous European city break.
I didn’t have any expectations or ideas about where to go, so I just looked for the cheapest flights leaving the following week (in February 2016) and ended up with Budapest! I asked one of my best friends if she wanted to come with me and it was a resounding yes!
It is probably one of my cheapest city breaks to date, costing less than £200 for 3 nights/4 days, including flights, airport parking, accommodation and food! My sister also went on a solo trip there last summer and loved it (and shared some of her pics for me to use here, thank you Lottie!). Here’s my guide to having the best stay in Budapest…
WHAT TO SEE & DO
- Szechenyi Thermal Baths – these are the largest thermal baths in Europe!
- Parliament Building – the most popular tourist attraction and iconic landmark of Budapest, the Parliament building is stunning from the outside and equally as ornate and interesting on the inside! Book a tour online or at the tourist office for around £10.
- Buda Castle – first completed in 1265, the huge Baroque complex standing there today was actually built in the 18th century and now houses the Hungarian National Gallery.
- St. Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion – the uniquely tiled Church and Neo-Romanesque terraces of the bastion offer the most incredible panoramic views of the city and the famous River Danube.
- Heroes Square – this iconic statue complex features the 7 chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian leaders. It’s a huge sculpture and worth a visit!
- Vajdahunyad Palace – in winter this is home to an ice rink, and in summer it is a boating lake!
- St. Stephen’s Basilica – named after the first King of Hungary, the basilica is a beautiful building
- Margaret Island – this island in the middle of the river is filled with flowers and a musical fountain in summer. Hire a bike and cycle around the island on your way across the river!
- Jewish Quarter – now thought to be the trendier part of the city, the Jewish Quarter is popular with backpackers heading out on pub crawls and exploring the city’s galleries.
HOW TO GET AROUND
As usual, I stuck to walking around the city! We hopped on a bus to cross from Pest to Buda which cost just a few pence, and when we visited the castle and Fisherman’s Bastion we got the funicular up the hill which cost around 1,200 Hungarian Forint, which is approximately £3. The view of the River Danube and the Parliament building on the other side as you go up is incredible, so it is definitely worth doing!
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed in a cute little Airbnb about 10 minutes’ walk from the Parliament building and it only cost £14 per night – split between the two of us that made it around £20 each for 3 nights!
There are plenty of other options for great places to stay in Budapest. I always recommend finding somewhere on Airbnb as having your own kitchen facilities is great if you’re on a budget. Flow Hostel is highly recommended, as is Hostel One Basilica.
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK
- Hungarian Goulash – this beef and vegetable stew is Hungary’s most famous dish and is absolutely delicious, especially on a cold winter day!
- Chimney Cake – the official dessert of Hungary, Kürtőskalács is a warm spiralled sweet bread, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, covered in sugar and often cinnamon or chocolate. You can buy them freshly made on the street for about 800 Forint (~ £2).
- Hungarian Pudding Cake – a classic dessert typically filled with sweet cottage cheese and vanilla cream.
- Unicum – the national beverage of Hungary is a (very strong) herbal liqueur
- Plenty of hostels run pub crawls, and there are loads of pubs and bars on the Pest side of the river (and in the Jewish Quarter) which are super affordable and popular among interrailers and backpackers in summer. For fancier cocktails, head to Warm Up Cocktail Bar where they make tailor-made cocktails to your preference!