For our 4th anniversary, we decided to take a trip to Budapest. We’re always on the look out for a cheap break and was not disappointed by this one in the slightest. If you’re looking for a fun but historical city with absolutely loads to do, I would definitely recommend here. It’s a small city packed with eateries, parks, castles, boat tours, everything! This is a long old post so prepare yourself – I really couldn’t whittle it down to make it shorter because there were so many great places to see.
Here are some of my favourite picks from our 3 night stay in Budapest:
I had scoped this place out prior to arriving in Budapest and made sure that this was our first stop after arriving in the city. They offer the coolest monster milkshakes and variations of themed donuts including unicorns, oreo pandas, minions, kinder egg. We obviously rolled out of the place feeling extremely happy with ourselves. We also bought four donuts which we enjoyed on each night of our stay!
Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Pest side of the Danube River
For those who aren’t familiar with Budapest, the city is split in two by the river Danube. One side is the royal capital of Buda which features the amazing castle hill and then the commercial side of Pest (with all the shops!). To familiarise ourselves with city, we took a short walk down the Pest side of the city from our hotel along the river all the way up to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge which to me is the focal point of the city. As the weather was so lovely (we visited in September) we decided to stop off for a quick drink – something we ended up doing a lot as soon as we discovered how CHEAP alcoholic drinks are. We admired the views of castle hill from a bar called the “Raqpart Bar” and soaked in the sun.
Quick disclaimer: we didn’t go on this but walked past it many many time and who knew that there was such a thing other than the London Eye!?! This is located in a public park near the shopping district on the Pest side of the city and something I definitely would have done if we had more time.
This spot in Budapest was one of my favourites. Situated on the Buda side of the city sits Buda Castle perched on the top of a steep hill – this has now become the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. We went here quite late in the afternoon so didn’t go into the gallery which at the time was hosting a Frida Kahlo exhibition which would have been really great to see. To get here, we crossed the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and took the funicular (which I can only describe as a wooden, creeky, scary box on a chain going up the hill…) to get to the top. You can also walk up to the top of Castle Hill but I wasn’t feeling that brave. When we got to the top, we were immediately greeted with the most amazing views over Budapest which I spent a long time admiring and taking pictures of. It also turns out that we went at the perfect time as we got to experience the changing of the guards which featured choreography, instruments, dominoes like movement and horses, they were great. I’m sure if you visited all of the attractions on Castle Hill, you could easily spend the day here.
This is right next to Buda Castle – which we did not realise so spent 30 minutes climbing the steeeeepest hill to get to this. This is a 19th century fortress that was giving me massive Disneyland vibes. I half expected Cinderella to appear at any moment. This is another spot that offers panoramic views over Budapest and great instagram picture taking opportunities. There is also a lovely little Cafe inside the fortress which we visited to eat some Chimney Cake with ice cream – a famous hungarian delicacy!
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
We visited one of the famous thermal baths in Budapest. There are many dotted all over the city but we decided to go for the obvious choice. This place was very pretty but I couldn’t help feel it was an over glorified swimming pool as when we visited, they were cleaning the thermal outside pool and the inside pools smelt so bad, you couldn’t have paid me to go into that water. I wish we visited when the thermal outside pool was functioning so that could have any an authentic experience but I’m still glad we visited. Since our visit, they are now offering parties at this place which sounds and looks like they’re great fun.
For Sale Pub
This is quite a random spot in Budapest. As soon as we arrived my boyfriend said “Now I know where all my hogwarts letters have been coming…” – honestly, his jokes are just great (sarcasm!). The For Sale Pub is a teeny tiny bar which allows you to pin a note to anywhere you possibly can. We didn’t stay here for too long as it was very cramped and there was no where to sit but we wanted to see what it was all about.
Buddha Bar Hotel and Restaurant (where we stayed!)
As we had only paid £40 return for our flights to Budapest, we thought we’d try and stay somewhere a little fancy. I say fancy but this still only cost us around £300 for 3 nights. Buddha Bar are a franchise that are all over the world – they have a restaurant in London and another hotel in Paris – and are normally seen as quite an upmarket venue so I was shocked to see how cheap it was to stay. The hotel is based in an old palace with super plush oriental themed rooms. Our room was lovely although it was a little dark and all of the furniture had the sharpest corners so I left with many bruises. There was also an electronic toilet seat which I spent far too long playing with! The hotel also has a restaurant and bar which we visited on our anniversary. The restaurant was great and featured a GIANT buddha at one end. Our meal was quite expensive but we got our fair share of sushi and cocktails so I wasn’t complaining. I really felt we got a bargain for the amount we paid for our whole stay and would recommend this hotel to everyone.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Is it really a city break if you don’t try and kill yourself by climbing the tallest thing possible using really cramped stairs that seem to never end? St. Stephen’s Basilica was not exempt from this rule. Being a roman catholic church, this interior was beautiful and the views when you do eventually reach the top were also great. What was better was that in the square outside there was a food festival meaning we could reward ourselves with even more yummy treats after the climb!
Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar
I could probably do a separate post on Budapest ruin bars but I’ve narrowed it down to the most famous and original – Szimpla Kert. Ruins bars are old buildings that have been turned into shabby-chic bars that are the weirdest, coolest, higgledepigadly experience ever. We very rarely go out out in foreign countries most due to the fact we’re normally knackered from our trips out during the day and to be honest, in Budapest, we planned to visit a few ruin bars but found ourselves walking 2 miles back to our hotel at 4:30am in the morning after a night out in Budapest ruin bars – we were just having too much fun to leave! Szimpla Kert features several floors and rooms of different themes. One point we would be in what felt like a granny’s front room, then to an enchanted floral room and then onto a scientists laboratory where we’d be drinking out of test tubes. It was great and as always, the booze was cheap! If you’re looking for a fun night out, this is a great place to start.
Night boat tour (and Parliament Building)
We visited Budapest before the boat crash in May 2019 that killed 27 people. When I saw the news it broke my heart because one of favourite memories was our two boat trips we took whilst in Budapest. Along the river are many boat tour operators so there is no pressure to book in advance. We opted for a 3 hour boat trip on our first night which was magical and meant we got amazing views of the Parliament building at night. I also drank a lot a lot a lot of wine so we were very giggly once we got off the boat. We also did a boat cruise during the day but I definitely preferred the night time trip.
Through fear of this post getting RIDICULOUSLY long, I have decided to stop there but other places that I would recommend visiting include:
- New York Cafe: apparently the most beautiful cafe in the world. We peered through the windows here on our last day before deciding to go elsewhere as we weren’t feeling that fancy but I do wish we stopped for some food here.
- The Danube Promenade: here you will find the shoes on the Danube bank which consists of 60 steel shoes to commemorate the Jews that were shot by the Nazis during the second world war.
- Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Monument – this is situated very close to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. We stopped for lunch in the park close by before stopping off to see this monument.
Bamba Marha Burger Bar
I also had to give this spot it’s very own shoutout. Never, in my life, have I experienced such amazing burgers. We first visited this burger bar when we were a little tipsy after a 3 hour boat tour…. and we visited here at least once everyday. I’m sure this meant we missed out on the true budapest culinary experience but we didn’t care. Their sloppy joe burger was AMAZING
I’d like to congratulate you if you got to the end of this post – it was a long one. I’d love to know if you have been Budapest and what your favourite spots were. If you haven’t been and want to ask me any questions, please do, as I would love to profess my love for the city just that little bit more! Thanks for reading.