I’m so excited to get started with some blog posts on my recent trip. If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been to Bratislava, Vienna and Budapest last week. Stefan and I spent two days in Bratislava and then took a day trip to Vienna before heading to Budapest for four days. I’ve got to say Budapest absolutely blew me away. It’s for sure, one of my favourite cities that I’ve visited in Europe. I was slightly unsure of how to go about the style of blog posts for this trip, so I’m going to do a Travel Diary before doing some more helpful guide style posts.
As I said, we spent four days in Budapest and caught the train from Bratislava. The train cost €17 each and took just over two hours, we even had our own little Harry Potter private cabin on board which was pretty cool. In Budapest, our hotel was the Radisson Blu Beke Hotel which was a 5-minute walk from the train station and cost £190 for four nights. Although it was around a 20-minute walk to the touristy area, we found it was still in an ideal location to get about.
This year, I’m actually working with Marco Polo Guides as one of their Travel Blogger Brand Ambassadors. I’m so thrilled to be able to collaborate with them as I’ve used their guides for a couple of years now. They were so helpful in planning my American trip. The train journey from Bratislava to Budapest was the perfect opportunity to flick through my Budapest Marco Polo Guide and get to grips with where all the main sights are on the map. The whole of Budapest is split into different Districts as well as the Danube River splitting Buda from Pest. I didn’t really get to grips the different districts but the guide was super helpful.
After Checking in to our hotel, we didn’t really have a proper plan for the day so had a little wander towards the Danube via a few highlights in my guide book such as St.Stephen’s Basilica and The Budapest Eye. The first thing we saw once we got to the banks of the Danube River was The Chain Bridge been overlooked by Buda Castle. We were really lucky with the weather whilst in Budapest and it was just a glorious place to take in the scenery and enjoy the sunshine.
One of the most prominent buildings along the Danube River is the Hungarian Parliament Building. It really is just an incredible piece of architecture and worth seeing up close. Just along from the Parliament Building is the Shoes on the Danube Bank which is a memorial for the Hungarian Jews who lost their lives in World War 2. It’s a really moving tribute and for sure something you need to visit whilst in Budapest.
We decided to cross the famous Chain Bridge over to the Buda side and take the funicular up Castle Hill. This is where it starts getting complicated when I mention Hungarian money. They deal with Hungarian Forints and it is the most complicated currency. It was 1800 HUF for a return ticket so around £4.50. The funicular was a fun way to get up to the Castle but you can walk up through the gardens too. Buda Castle is pretty spectacular with incredible views over the city and it’s just a lovely area to chill and wander around. The castle is also home to the Hungarian National Gallery, The History Museum and the Széchenyi Library but we didn’t go inside. In fact, it was quite a fleeting visit up Castle Hill as we had plans to visit another day and explore further.
Once we returned back down on the funicular and made it back to the hotel to refresh we decided to visit the Jewish Quarter. This area is where you’ll find all the popular ruin bars and plenty of restaurants. I’m going to do a full post on My top places to eat and drink so stay tuned for that.
First up, we visited Gozsdu Court as it was mentioned in my Marco Polo Guide which has lots of places to eat and drink and decorated with pretty lights. We intended to go to the Spíler BistroPub but ended up in Spíler Shanghai which is opposite and a sister bar with more an Asian fusion menu. We really enjoyed it there, the food was amazing and then we headed to a few bars before going to Szimpla Kert. This is probably the most famous of all the ruin bars in Budapest and it’s just huge. There are so many different rooms and it just keeps going on and on. The drinks aren’t too badly priced either!
Day Two in Budapest was kicked off with a Costa Coffee. Let me tell you they are so much better over there. They even have Violet Lattes and Rosewater Lemonade! Following that pitstop, we headed to the Museum of Selfies and Sweets which I’d discovered on Instagram and I was ever so determined to visit! This place is very much like the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco but only around £8 and no advance tickets necessary.
The Museum of Selfies and Sweets is an Instagrammers paradise with countless opportunities to take the perfect photo or even boomerang for the ‘gram. Not many people even know this is in Budapest so I’m very glad we discovered it and had so much fun riding a unicorn, jumping in a swimming pool filled with sprinkles and sitting on a Banana Swing.
Day Two was actually Friday 15th March and it was also Hungarian Independence Day. This is basically a bank holiday so there’s was a few things closed but also a few events going on throughout the city. We actually tried to hunt down a pizza place I’d heard about but couldn’t find it and ended up stumbling upon some celebrations with local stalls and live music. For lunch, we ended up at First Craft Beer & BBQ. Stefan actually ended up trying Beef Goulash which is a traditional Hungarian dish.
We weren’t too sure about whether we should visit Budapest Zoo but it was recommended to us by a couple of people. The Zoo is located within Városliget Park and is one of the oldest zoos in the world. We actually were really thoroughly impressed, there was so much to see, it was really spread out and there was an area with a few rides and games. Each area was themed to different countries and we probably spent around two hours here but could’ve done with more time!
After the Zoo, we headed over to Heroe’s Square which was a short walk away to catch the shuttle bus to the Aquaworld Resort. I wasn’t too sure whether the shuttle was for the hotel guests but no one asked us. Trust us to find out about a Waterpark which is only 15 minutes outside of Budapest. It’s actually one of the largest indoor ones in Europe and it was a lot of fun. We paid for 3 hours entry for around £8 each which is so reasonable. A taxi back to our hotel was around £13. I’m tempted to do a separate post on Aquaworld because we have a lot of content on the GoPro and a few interesting stories. One how we got stuck inside of a ride and the other how I nearly ended up in A&E. Wild. But in all honesty, I’d definitely say it’s worth visiting if this is your kind of thing! So much fun!
The first stop of Day Three was the New York Cafe for lunch. This place has been mentioned all over including the guide as being the most beautiful cafe in the world. There was a short wait for a table but it was worth it. It’s certainly one of the most incredible places I’ve ever dined in, so opulent and beautiful. I went for the New York burger which was classed as a starter and it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life. For two meals which were classed as starters and two drinks, it came to around £45.
We then headed over to the Central Market Hall where there was so much going on. Downstairs, you had all your butchers, seafood and upstairs was so many different souvenir shops. Nothing here was expensive at all. Just outside is the Liberty Bridge which is another famous bridge connecting Buda to Pest. We didn’t end up going across but it would have taken us to the Citadel which is another great spot to get an amazing view overlooking the city.
One of the best things to do in Budapest is just to walk along the Danube River, it truly is so beautiful. Along our walk, we spotted The Little Princess Statue which I had seen in my guidebook. It’s such a super cute statue as it’s leant on the railings with such an incredible backdrop of Buda Castle. Just around the corner from the statue is the main shopping precinct which we had only just come across for the first time. There’s plenty of your typical European stores such as Pull & Bear, Zara, H&M and Bershka but the prices are pretty similar to home.
After browsing the shops, it was time for something a little different. Something I certainly did not plan and that was to go watch a Hungarian Football match. Our trip to the Groupama Arena was nothing short of a few hiccups, including not gaining entry until half time as we weren’t club members. After queuing for an hour and a half, we finally made it in for the second half. The whole experience was interesting, to say the least.
Day Four was our last full day in Budapest and it was my favourite. All week we had been looking forward to this day, it was 22 degrees and I didn’t need a coat. First on the agenda was to go back up to Buda Castle and get some more photos with the glorious sunshine. We also had a chance to explore the area a little more before walking further along to Fisherman’s Bastion.
Fisherman’s Bastion was one of the places I was desperate to visit in Budapest. It’s just so incredible and fairytale-like with pretty amazing views over the Parliament Building and the River. I actually had no idea that you had to pay to be able to go up onto the actual top of Fisherman’s Bastion which we decided not to. The whole area was pretty busy with tourists but if you wait your turn you can get some incredible images up here. Just next door is the Matthias Church which again, is seriously beautiful with fairytale-like spires. The whole area was super cute, wandering around it felt like a little village.
Just around the corner, we decided to check out the underground Labyrinths of Budapest Castle. It was around £6.50 each for entry and was really fun actually. I’m not going to lie, exploring the caves in complete pitch blackness did get a little bit scary at some points but it was fun to get lost and walk around in circles. The caves are actually famous for lots of different reasons; Count Dracula was said to be imprisoned here in the 15th century. The underground system was also used as shelters during the war.
After a very touristy stop off at Hard Rock Cafe for their famous nachos, we decided to check out the Igloo Garden and enjoy a rooftop drink. The Igloo Garden is pretty amazing, it’s a rooftop 360 bar with igloos but the weather was actually too warm to be in one! This place opened at 2 pm and we arrived on the dot and there was already a queue! The 360 bar is located on Andrássy not too far from our hotel so it was the perfect stop off before collecting our swimwear for the thermal baths.
No trip to Budapest is complete without visiting the thermal baths. There are actually so many different places dotted around the city but it’s safe to say the Széchenyi thermal baths which were built in 1913 is the most recognizable and largest of them all. It was the perfect day to be enjoying the sunshine at the baths and the atmosphere was great. The Széchenyi thermal baths have three outdoor pools and I think 18 indoor ones. I think it was around £16 for entry with a private cabin to leave our things in. I’m going to do a full post on this experience too as there’s quite a bit to talk about it. Overall, It was definitely saving one of the best things till the end of the holiday!
The Széchenyi thermal baths are located in Városliget Park right by the zoo and it’s also near Vajdahunyad Castle. To be honest, visiting here completely slipped my itinerary so we did pop by in the dark and it was still very magical and fairytale-like. If we ever go back to Budapest (which I’m sure I will), I’d love to explore this further!
That evening, we went on the hunt for another pizza place, which we also couldn’t find and ended up in a restaurant called Meatology. Stefan was completely blown away by this place, I even think it was his favourite place we ate at! The service was great and the food was amazing. I had a BBQ Pork Belly Sandwich and Stefan got a BBQ Steak Sandwich. We then went over to the Rumpus Tiki Bar which I absolutely loved. The drinks were strong and not cheap but served in some crazy glasses and we even had them come in a treasure chest. I love places like this and the themeing was on point!
We had one final drink at Szimpla Kert before calling it a night. We barely scratched the service on exploring the bars in the Jewish Quarter and the ruin bars but the ones we did go to were pretty amazing. Keep an eye out for my Food and Drink post soon with more details. Let me know if you’d like to see anything else specific about my trip to Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna. There sure will be lot’s of content coming up!
Have you ever been to Budapest? Do you want to go to Budapest?
*This a collaborative post with Marco Polo Guides.