My first trip of the year: Budapest. The cleanest and actually the most quietest city I've ever been to. We had a whirlwind 72 hours; it was sunny, it rained and temperatures dropped down to - 2 degrees so we froze our bits off for the most part. But the city was a real treat, food was cheap and it felt like we were the only tourists at times. We walked pretty much everywhere except from one metro ride which was fuss-free.
One thing I will mention about Budapest is the transfers to and from the airport we found to be pretty tricky. I found it so hard to find any helpful sites online about getting into the city from the airport, I was originally looking at the metro and tram routes but to no luck. So instead we paid a little bit more and got taxis, it's only a 30-minute drive so it was much quicker than it would've been relying on public transport and obviously who doesn't love a door-to-door service?
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at Prestige Hotel Budapest which was everything we wished for and more. Here we were located in the 'Pest' side, usually known as the 'trendier' side. Everything's nice and flat (unlike Buda, hello stairs!) also you're much closer to all the nightlife and the ruin bars. When we booked our hotel and flights it all came to under £300 each so I'd say we got a lot for our money. It's a gorgeous hotel with its own signature scent, a place we could happily crash after a long day out and everything was pretty much on our doorstep. I'd definitely stay here again, actually in a heartbeat.
WHAT TO DO
Now it's time for the touristy spots and I've organised them in the best order - you are welcome. I've split them up into three parts as we went for three days. But they are also sorted into locations that are near each other and what makes the most chronological sense (well to me anyway). As we stayed in the 'Pest' side, we only went over to 'Buda' once cos the Pest side is the best side soz. But hopefully, this will still help you wherever you're staying in Budapest.
St Stephen's Basilica
A church that when looking up to it on a sunny day, looked pretty darn beautiful. To go inside you'll need to make a little donation, you can donate however much you want and then you're allowed to stroll around inside. Or you could skip that and 300-something steps later, be right at the top of it. You also need to pay to climb to the top, I can't remember exactly how much but it was roughly £2.50 each so definitely one to do. If you don't want to walk to the top or back down again, that's cool just take the lift. But yeah loved that and everyone loves a panoramic view.
HUNGARIAN Parliament building
Pretty majestic in the daytime and at night, however you'd like to see it! You can take a tour around inside, something we didn't do because according to TripAdvisor it was something like £15 for a 45-minute tour (I'd rather eat hummus thanks). The inside also according to TripAdvisor did look pretty impressive but if you want to save your money, there's no harm in strolling around along the river bank and getting a feel for it from the outside.
Shoes on the Danube
Something potentially not for everyone but something we felt important to visit was the Shoes On The Danube Memorial. It was created to honor the people who were killed by Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes and were shot at the water's edge. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.
Szechenyi Thermal Bath
Who knew being in a swimming costume in 3 degrees could be fun?! We jumped on a metro to get here as we didn't fancy the 40-minute walk from our hotel and it was super easy! The stop is called: Széchenyi fürdő, it only took around 15 minutes and we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves right outside the entrance to the baths. We already had our prepaid tickets and made sure we booked a cabin as well, something I'd highly recommend. It's basically your own personal cubicle where you can get changed in and leave all your stuff in. It's a lot safer than we thought it'd be as well. Then you're free to choose a bath of your liking and get in! They were sooo warm and the yellow buildings were pretty amazing to gaze at too. Remember to pack flip-flops.
As you've come all this way, you may as well see Hero's Square (Hősök tere). It is the most grandest square I've ever been in and it's a fab place to take pictures. The surrounding City Park area is beautiful as well and of course, the Andrássy Avenue. If you like designer shopping, I'd suggest to head down that road. If you plan your visit in the winter time, there is an ice rink nearby - if you like to skate or just like to watch people fall over! Or if you're coming in the spring/summer time, walk around City Park and enjoy the gardens, it's a lovely part of Budapest to be in.
The Chain Bridge
Last but not least, it's Buda time. These are all the locations you'll find on the West side of the river. If you are in Pest like we were, you'll need the Chain Bridge to get you over. It's not the only bridge of course but it's a good one as it's quite central to all the tourist spots. Likewise, if you are in Buda, you'll need the bridge to get over to the Pest side (you know the drill). It's a pretty walk over the bridge and a lovely place to stop and take pictures of the ~viewz~.
As you get over to the other side, right in front of your eyes is the funicular to get you to Buda Castle. We got the funicular on the way down, it was the quickest ride of my life but a fun way to see Budapest and obviously, it saves your legs. Or you can take the stairs. We didn't do much at Buda Castle except walk around and take photos, it has such a lovely viewpoint so we crammed in all the selfies. You can go inside for a tour and they usually have exhibitions and stuff going on inside, so check what's on before ya go.
Hospital In The Rock
Yes, now a tour we did actually do! The Hospital in the Rock used to be an emergency hospital back in World War II but it now acts as a museum/nuclear bunker filled with wax-work people. It's especially creepy because it's made up of connected tunnels and caves, all built underneath Castle Hill. It's not like anything I've ever seen before and we weren't allowed to take any pictures so you'll just have to use your imagination. Also worth noting: if you are between the age of 16 and 25 you can get 50% off your ticket so make sure you bring ID! We paid around £6 for our tour. It lasted for an hour and it turned out to be pretty interesting and kinda scary...
Matthias Church and The Fisherman's Bastion
As if you haven't seen it all over Instagram already - Fisherman's Bastion aka Hogwarts. If stairs are your thang, you are in for a treat. I should probably have a count for how many times I've moaned about stairs in this post but anyway. It's a beige person's dream. I just adore the architecture around here and those arches (!). Also what's handy is that Matthias' Church is right behind it, so you can do them together! Another beautiful Church - have you seen those tiles? And you'll need to buy a ticket to get inside. Instead, we wandered around in the rain and just took it all in.
IF YOU'VE GOT TIME...
Liberty Bridge, the Central Market Hall or do a river cruise!
We booked tickets via Get Your Guide and it came to £8.10 each for an hour-long river cruise and a glass of orange juice. There was a bar on board so we got a couple of hot chocolates, wrapped blankets around ourselves and saw the whole of Budapest lit up along the Danube River. It was pretty good for what we paid for and something a little different.
WHERE TO EAT
We pretty much ate our way through Budapest and I have no ragrets and I pretty much drunk my body weight in hot chocolate as well. Scroll down to find just a few places we absolutely loved and are still dreaming about now! I also added on two-little-somethings at the end, places we didn't have time to go and see but they would be at the top of my list next time.
Liberte - if you want an insta-worthy breakfast.
8 Aulich street, 1054.
Mazel Tov - not only a beautiful place to eat but such yummy food!
Akácfa u. 47, 1072.
Mr Funk - doughnuts, freakshakes, do I need to say anymore?
Arany Janos utca 19-21, 1051.
Hummusbar - big portions, little prices and AMAZING hummus.
Oktober 6 St. 19, 1051.
Zing - all they do is burgers and they were gorge.
Nádor u. 17, 1051.
The Box Donut - only a place where you can buy square doughnuts!
Terez korut 62, 1066.
New York Cafe - the most beautiful cafe I have ever seen. Must do this next time.
Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073.
Well if you're still reading, you need a sticker! Thank you for hanging around it means a lot. If you wanna see more of our Budapest trip in action and more food-related pictures head over to my Instagram (@molliermanning) and go to the 'Travel' section of my Story Highlights and there you will find our entire Budapest trip in Instagram-story-form.