The Budapest Diaries

As you may or may not have seen on my Instagram, back in February I visited Budapest for a long weekend stay. (Yes, I’m only just getting round to writing this up, oops!) Although I documented a lot of what I did on my stories, I thought it would be useful to put together a guide of what to see, eat, drink and do out there, if anyone is thinking of visiting. This post turned out longer than I thought it would, so grab a cuppa and settle down for some Budapest info coming at ya!

What we saw

First on my list, rather touristy, is the amazing architecture (I know, I know, but hear me out!) budapest is well known for its beautiful buildings and we defintiely weren’t disappointed! We spent quite a bit of time around the Buda Castle area as there was a lot to explore. luckily, to save you having to walk up a mahoosive hill every time, there are these shuttles (which basically look like glorified golf carts) to take you up and down to the various landmarks for quite a reasonable price.

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Fisherman’s Bastion

We visited Fisherman’s Bastion first, which looks like it should be 300+ years old but was actually built in the 1900s as a lookout point, which has a brilliant view over the parliament building which I’ll talk about later.

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Buda Castle
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Buda Castle

A short way away is the castle, which has some beautiful Roman-esque architecture and also houses the National Gallery. Plus, there’s yet more amazing views of the city. This area of the city if on the ‘Buda’ side of the river – the city used to be 2 separate towns, Buda and Pest – which is the more historic and traditional area. It has loads of cute little streets, but as we were told not many places to eat – there are some nice litle cafes we discovered, though!

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Parliament Building (from Buda side)
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Parliament Building
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Parliament Building

Although we didn’t go in the building itself, the parliament is also worth a visit if you like nice buildings and that. This is like the Hungarian version of Buckingham Palace by the looks of it, and had some official-looking watchmen guarding the flagpole for some reason or other.

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Oh, also we found this fab statue of some guys who had clearly had a heavy night (probably not its acual meaning but everything was in Hungarian and there was no-one about to ask!)

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Swimming bath at Gellert Spa

One thing I’d been really excited about doing on this trip was visiting the baths. It’s at the top of most lists of things to do in the city, however I was acutlaly a bit underwhelmed by our whole experience. This could have been down to the baths we visited however. We decided to go to the Gellert baths, as these were the most convenient to fit into our schedule, however when we arrived quite a lot of the outdoor baths were unfortunately closed for maintenance. I can’t say I was overwhelmed by my experience, and a lot of the complex could have done with a good scrub. I’d say give this one a miss and check out some of the other baths – Szechenyi has great reviews, we just couldn’t make it there within our trip!

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View from the Citadel

If you’re brave enough, it’s well worth it to make the climb to the Citadel. I say climb, because it’s actually at the top of a very large and steep hill overlooking the city. From experience, I would not recommend doing this after already walking 8km on 3hrs sleep after the Sparty the night before (yes, really, we were that keen!) The view is defintiely worth it, though, and was the perfect way to round off our trip.

 

What we ate

Now, having 2 vegetarians in our ggroup massively limited us in a country where the diet is mainly meat-based, so if you’re after reviews of meat dishes, maybe skip this part! However, we did discover that the Hungarians actually do Italian very well, and we found quite a few nice ones over the course of our stay. Vendetta and Cucina on Vaci Utca were 2 of our favourites – traditional Italian food and great prices!

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Zona interior

If you’re not into Italian food (I mean, I doubt it, but gotta include something for everyone!) I’d recommend Zona on the Buda side of the city. It’s a bit priciere, but has quite a varied menu and they do great lunch deals! I had a tofu and vegetable stew-type thing, which was really good considering I’m not usually all that fussed by tofu, and the friend I was with had some of the biggest burgers I’ve ever seen. They all said they were great too so I’d defintiely recommend. Plus, look at that aesthetic decor!

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Chimney cakes

Of course, you can’t visit Budapest without trying one of their famous chimney cakes, which seem to be sound everywhere! These are basically cone-shaped sweet bread filled with a load of cream or ice-cream and toppings – yum! I was expecting them to be more pretzel-y by the look of them, but I’d decribe them as more like brioche.

 

Where we drank

Luckily for us, we’d already planned 2 night worth of activities before we left, otherwise we might have had a tough time finding the tucked away ruin bars! They all seem to be condensed to one are of the city, which we weren’t expecting, so defintiely have a google for places before your trip!

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Faust wine cellar

On our first night, we’d booked a wine tasting at the Faust wine cellar, under the Hilton hotel near Fisherman’s bastion. The cellar is run by a husband and wife team, and was so so reasonable in price – roughly €18 for 6 glasses of wine! The location is really cool – it’s almost like a cave and has a very relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Our host explained where each wine comes from in the country, and I was really impressed with the selection since Hungary isn’t widely known for its wine. At the end, you could choose which out of the 5 wines was your favourite, and have another glass of it as your final one.

From there, we went on to Morrisons 2 bar as it was just across the river. (A word of warning here – be careful with the taxis as they will rip you off, as we discovered. You’re better off getting public transport where you can!) Morrisons 2 had several different bars within it, all with different music which is great if you want a bit of variety. The drinks were more London prices here, though they did have a good cocktail deal on which more than made up for it!

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First stop on the bar crawl – Akvarium Club

The second night we booked onto the Backpacker Bar Crawl, which we found after some googling. This cost about €12 but included your first beer free, a shot in each bar, and club entry at the last stop. There are free bar crawls too, but these don’t include the free drinks! We went to a good variety of bars, from your regular London-type bar to one of the traditional ruin bars. Ou favourite by far was one which had live music – this was so much fun and we got the whole group involved dancing, including our host! The only downside was the amount of walking we had to do between bars – you ended up sort of sobering up in the cold, and word to the wise – don’t wear heels! My feet were shot by the last bar, and I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more otherwise!

Our last night there, we’d booked tickets to one of the famous ‘Spartys’, held at Lukacs baths. Although this was one of the most expensive parts of our trip at €50, I’d say it was well worth the money! The only way I can describe it is a pool party in a hot bath – a weird mix but a good one. You have to be there to get the full experience, but I can defintiely give a few tips!

1. Don’t go expecting to look perfect all night! We went with full faces of makeup thinking ‘we’ll be fine, we’re not going to be underwater’ – wrong! As soon as a good song comes on, everyone goes mental and you’ll be drenched. Also, don’t bother bringing your drink in the pool for the same reason, unless you like drinking chlorine for some reason!

2. Don’t bother bringing flip flops like they suggest, there’s literally no point and you’ll lose them!

3. Hang onto your friends! It’s insanely steamy and if you get separated it’s a nightmare – we travelled in 2’s to the bar and back!

4. Bring more money then you would for other nights. As you’d expect, it’s more club prices and it’s best not to be caught out.

This was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in a long time and I’d definitely recommend the experience!

If you’ve made it this far, congrats – you’ve survived my overly-long Budapest travel guide! (I swear, I didn’t know I’d be able to write so much about a 4 day trip.) If you’re planning on visiting or have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments – I’m more than happy to help out!

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