If you follow me on social media, you will have known I recently visited the beautiful city of Budapest with Jet2CityBreaks. Jet 2 have their own airline that mainly fly from Manchester, but also offers great destination packages. When I was invited on press trip to Budapest to try out their indulgent escape city break packages, I was more than happy to get on board. Budapest has been on my wanderlust list and I finally got to tick it off. Whilst I was there, I most definitely fell in love with the city and its stunning sights. However, there is so much to do in Budapest and if you’re only going for a weekend, there are ten main things you need to visit. We were in Budapest for 4 days, which allowed me to hand pick the best things to do/see in Budapest just for you all.
Here is my top 10 things to do in Budapest:
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
The thermal baths are truly incredible and should be near the top of your lists in terms of priority. It’s a completely surreal and unique experience. You’re greeted by beautiful yellow building, where inside are little kiosks to buy tickets. There is an option to buy tickets for the thermal baths with a private cabin (5,400 HUF/£14.40), where you have a private area to change and store your belongings. Otherwise, there is the communal changing rooms which are slightly cheaper (4,700 HUF/£12.50). I would definitely recommend the cabins though. The baths are amazing when it’s cold, especially some of them are situated outside. There are some indoors too, but I find the effect of being surround by cold air but you’re in toasty warm water very satisfying.
2. Szimpla Kert Old Ruin Pub
The ruin bars are definitely another must do. It’s a cool and quirky place to have a drink and truly soak up the Budapestian vibe. I find it extremely fascinating how they managed to transform something that was ruined by the wars into something so beautiful and cool! Drinks are relatively cheap too. We visited Szimpla Kert, which is the most famous ruin pub in Budapest and it definitely had a poppin’ atmosphere.
3. Private City Tour
I know you’re all probably thinking really?! Trust me, it’s worth it! I learnt so much about Budapest’s history and saw parts of Budapest I wouldn’t have without our tour. There is a mix of driving around and walking, so you can really get a feel of the city. We used Cityrama and our tour was faultless. The guide took us to all the places we wanted to see on top of what he felt like we should see before leaving Budapest
4. Dinner Cruise Down The Danube
There is truly no better way to see the famous sights of Budapest at night than a dinner cruise, it’s an excuse to dress up too! True authentic Hungarian music, traditional food such as goulash and stuffed cabbage plus you get up close with monuments at night. There is nothing more thrilling than having the wind rushing through your hair, passing the lit up Parliament building and feeling free. Almost like you’re on Titanic, you just need a partner to get behind you to support you, whilst you spread your wings.
5. Castle Hill, Budapest
Castle Hill is where we stayed, at the Hilton Budapest but you’ll hear more about the hotel in a later post. Castle Hill is also known as the ‘Buda’ side of Budapest, before it merged together. It is where a lot of the history lies in the city, as well as holding the most magnificent views over Pest. On our first night, we chased the sunset along the wall of Castle Hill and I can’t even put into words how amazing it felt in that moment. I even have chills running down my spine as I reminisce about it. Just wow. (Pictured: Matthias Church)
6. Hungarian Wine Tour
I’m not normally a white wine drinker, but the Hungarian white wines, or wines in general are out of this world. We went on a Hungarian wine tour and learnt more about the wine regions of Hungary. The Tokai region is one of the main regions, that produces sweeter wines. Normally, one hectare of grapes can produce around 3,000 bottles of wine. However, the premium wines that are produced in Tokai can only produce between 10-100 bottles. Sometimes only one bottle of sweet dessert wines are produced every year. Tokai has a special fungus that rots the grapes for dessert wines, making the perfectly sweet. Tokai is the only wine region where you can guarantee the fungus to grow. Sezkad is another of the regions that produces lovely red cuvée wines. I would definitely suggest going to 1 of the 3 wine bars in the world called Culti Vini (others two are in Tuscany and London) where you can try all types of wine from a dispenser. You just get a card, top it up and try away.
7. Fisherman’s Bastion View Point
When I first saw the Fisherman’s Bastion, it reminded me of a castle in the fairytales. I instantly felt like shouting “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down down your hair.” Especially with the views from the Bastion, it definitely makes you feel like you’re a part of a fairytale. A ‘pinch me’ moment.
8. Christmas Markets
Budapest is one of the cities that truly loves it festivities. Be sure to visit the Christmas Markets, have a couple of mulled wines, try the wonderfully silky hot chocolate from Szamos’s Café-Konditorei or have a large bratwurst from the stalls. They have a magnificent selection of chocolate treats and souvenirs like their traditional Hungarian dolls.
9. Parliament Building Up Close
The Parliament building looks beautiful from afar, but it is even more mesmerising up close especially with it’s Neo-Gothic theme. You can go inside for a fee of 2,000 HUF/£5.30. Be sure to have your trainers on though, as it is one of the top 3 largest parliament buildings with many, many sets of stairs.
10. Guard Changing At Buda Castle
The changing of the guards at Buda Castle is one of those ‘must see’ moments. The guards are normally found in front of the Hungarian Presidential Palace where they stand with great pride and presence. The changing of the guards takes a good few minutes and happens on the hour, every hour between 9am-5pm but it’s quite a show especially with their choreography, in sync movement, swinging of guns and drum procession.
That is my top 10 things to see/do in Budapest. Hope it helps all you globe trotters!
Until next time…