One of the largest cities in Europe, and not densely populated, Budapest has much to offer in terms of culture, history and eating out. Calm, beautiful and affordable, here’s why Budapest should be on everyone’s list of city breaks.
Starting our journey from Liverpool (not Manchester) we bagged a flight from Wizz Air to Budapest for only £18, return to Manchester was slightly more expensive at £80, but for our £100 flight budget it worked out for us. To get from the airport via bus from Budapest Airport is fairly simple and cheap, taxis are normally 25-30 Euros, but unfortunately arriving late on a Saturday evening meant that we were duped in classic English fashion and ended up paying a hefty £60 taxi. The bus was definitely the preferred option on return to the airport.
Where to stay in Budapest
We booked a centrally located Airbnb on the Pest side of the river (there are two sides Buda, and Pest for those that don’t know) close to the main ruin bars, and lots of bars and restaurants in District VIII. If travelling solo, there are plenty of hostels in Budapest filled with travellers from Europe, America and Australia, along with a big international student community.
Where to eat
We’d been given recommendations by friends prior to our trip to Budapest. On our first official night out, we made a reservation at Vintage Garden, a beautiful blossom tree filled the restaurant with traditional Hungarian dishes. We opted to share the flatbread and Hungarian dips, sous vide wild boar with pumpkin ravioli, rose duck breast with gnocchi and caramel sauce, and chicken breast with camembert. Rich in flavour with an excellent combination of sweet and savoury, our bill was reasonable even with the two bottles of prosecco.
Makery boasts the unique concept of making your own dishes. Based on the Jewish quarter of Pest, you are given an area to cook, choose a dish from the menu and cook your own! The restaurant staff provide the ingredients and guide you where necessary and as a massive foodie, it was my idea of heaven. I opted for the duck with butternut squash risotto, whilst my friends chose to try the pork tagliatelle with vodka tomato sauce and a blue cheese chicken pasta. All were delicious and it was a fun experience.
Sao bar was Vietnamese we stumbled upon after our trip to the wineries. A decorated, buzzing restaurant/bar, it was busy when we arrived but we were able to find seats at a high table next to the kitchen. Our selection of dumplings and Vietnamese stir fries were exactly what we needed to end a busy day.
Our best brunch was by far, Stika. A simple Google search for “best brunch” lead us to Stika on our final morning. With strong flat whites, perfect poached eggs and avocado mousse, it was what we needed to sooth our hangovers.
Where to drink
The infamous ruin bars were a must-see for the majority of people I’d spoken to about Budapest and namely Szimpla Kert. In the alcoves of the old ruins, Budapest has become well known for this type of bar. Head to Szimpla Kert and you’ll find little shisha caves, wine bars and a rooftop waiting to be explored.
Mazel Tov is another well-known ruin bar and boasts hanging vines and live music. If you’re a fan of interiors and plants for insta, this is your spot.
High Note rooftop bar can be found in the heart of the city, we stayed here all afternoon on the roof, taking in the 20-degree rays over some gin cocktails before heading to the airport.
Faust is a cute and cosy wine cellar under the palace, where wine tasting sessions are available. Book to avoid disappointment.
Things to do
There are many different thermal baths to explore in Budapest, the most popular being the Szechenyi, the largest baths in Budapest. Located in one of the biggest parks, the building hosts around 18 pools, at varying temperatures. Enjoy the steam rooms and saunas, take a cool dip or people watch on a sun lounger.
We chose a river cruise when the weather improved and took a trip to Margaret island for several hours. There are many cruises to choose from on the riverside, and a public boat is available for those not wanting to spend a couple of hours on the boat.
One of the main things we wanted to visit whilst in Hungary was a wine cellar tour, specifically red wine. Hungary is more well-known for its white variety but we discovered an out of season Eger winery tour, for which we had our own personal guide. We visited the local city of Eger to take in the historical sites, before enjoying a three-course lunch and tasting wines from the wine cellars in the town. For 92p a glass, it’s well worth a visit.
One of my favourite aspects of travelling is to simply walk around a city and take in the sights, architecture and explore. We walked along the river, past the breathtaking parliament building and over several of the bridges to really get a feel for the city.