Last week I visited Budapest, Hungary for the first time and wanted to share a travel guide of where we stayed, what we ate and things I recommend doing! I hope this comes in handy for your trip 🙂
BUDAPEST TRAVEL GUIDE
THINGS TO DO:
Visit a ruin bar: I’d heard lots about Budapest Ruin Bars and could’t wait to experience them, so much so that it was the first thing we did after checking into our hotel. After world war 2 many buildings in the Jewish quarter of Budapest were ruined and left to crumble, until they were given new life as bars. We visited Szimpla Kert, the original ruin bar which is full of neon lights, art, graffiti and so many rooms and nooks and crannies to explore. There are multiple bars to order drinks from and many places to sit and drink – we tried the traditional Hungarian spirit called Palinka and then hunkered down with a beer. At the weekend’s you can find a farmers market, vintage fashion stalls and a coffee bar – there’s something for everyone!
Karavan Street Food Market: Next to Szimpla Kert you’ll find Karavan Street Food market with some stalls serving up delicious looking food, everything from chimney cakes for a street treat, goulash, vegan dishes and even Langos burgers!
Szchenski Thermal Baths: Most people won’t visit Budapest without visiting their famous thermal baths. We visited the Szchenski bath on Friday morning in 0 degree weather and getting into that heated pool was utter bliss, however there are some things you should note! Take your own towels and flip flops as walking outside is dirty and freezing cold and towels are expensive (£13 for one that you can’t rent). During the week and early in the day or around 5ish seems to be most quiet, otherwise you’ll find yourself in a human soup (it was so busy when we went at 11am that I couldn’t even find a free locker to store my clothes in). Lots of the indoor pools were either closed for refurbishment or too full to get in, but sitting in a hot pool outside in the winter’s air, surrounded by grand buildings, is a lovely experience.
Houdini Museum: We didn’t plan to visit here but I’m so glad we stumbled upon it. This won’t be to everyone’s taste but as a magic fan I was excited to hear more about Houdini’s life (he was born + grew up in Budapest) and to also see some of his genuine handcuffs and items. The museum consists of a 20 min guided tour and a 20 minute magic show which was fantastic! The act we saw was fab with a variety of card + rope tricks.
Christmas Markets: There are a couple of nice christmas markets which I recommend not only for the street food (hello chimney cakes, Hungarian sausages + stews in bread rolls) but also for lovely crafted Christmas gifts.
Walk around Castle District: We visited the Buda side of Budapest only once and that was to explore the castle district where you can find so much incredible architecture! We started at the bottom of the Gerard Sagredo Monument and walked along to Buda Castle (the views from the top are beautiful)! If you follow the route north you’ll get to Castle Hill where you’ll find the stunning Matthias Fountain, Hungarian National Gallery, Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
Try Langos: A highlight of the trip for me was discovering Langos, a traditional Hungarian food which you can find all around Budapest. Its a fried flatbread and can be topped with anything although I most commonly saw it topped with sour cream. We enjoyed sharing a Langos with sour cream, ham and cheese and it was a delight – crunchy, crispy bread, almost like a savoury doughnut texture, highly recommend!
Have cake at Gerbeaud: THE place to go for decadent hot chocolate + fancy cakes. Situated on one of the main squares in Pest, this is a grand building which is beautifully decorated at Christmas with a tree and fairy lights although this does make it quite a popular destination so be prepared to either book in advance or queue! I had the Esterhazy Torte – a gluten free sponge made with finely ground walnuts + layered with brandy flavoured vanilla cream! G had the Salty Peanuts Apricot cake which was DIVINE! Made of peanut butter + hazelnut praline with apricot + chocolate sponge.
All of these restaurants came highly recommended by you guys or by our foodie friend influencers. I’d really recommend booking a week in advance as the queues in Budapest were really large when we went!
Mazel Tov: One of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve visited – a warehouse covered in hanging plants, gorgeous tiles and fairy lights. The food was also incredible – it serves up Middle Eastern + Mediterranean Cuisine and everything we had was delicious. Particularly recommend the Za’tar sticks with Cilantro Mayo and the chicken shwarma + lamb kebab sandwiches in pitta were fantastic.
Divin Porcello: Situated near to the river, this restaurant serves a mix of Italian, european and Spanish food. I had the gambas pil pil (prawns) and the goulash soup and G had the schnitzel – delicious.
Konyv Bar: We had lots of recommendations to visit Konyv bar, a restaurant whose concept is tasting menus based on books! The book when we visited was The Cursed Child and although we weren’t hungry enough for the full 5 course tasting menu, you can pick and choose between a la carte and the concept dishes. The food here was delicious – the duck main course was incredible and the goulash came with extra paprika chilli on the side so you could adjust the dish to your ideal heat.
Barack + Silvia: One of my favourite meals of the trip – Barack is a very small unassuming restaurant but serving up delightful traditional Hungarian dishes. I had the venison stew with dumplings and G had the paprika chicken – both lovely, hearty meals! A live musician sits playing the dulcimer whilst you eat which is the loveliest experience too!
Corinthea Hotel: I couldn’t recommend this hotel more. Not only is it in a fab location (a 10 min walk from the ruin bar or 25 minute walk to the Danube river) but the staff were helpful, the rooms nice and also beautiful decor! Notable mention has to be the breakfast buffet which was impressive (they had real honeycomb you could scrape honey from) as well as a spa complete with pool, sauna, steam room + jacuzzis. We paid around £700 for 3 nights (working out to be £350 each) and for a luxury hotel with breakfast + spa access I think that was a good deal!
TRAVEL: We travelled around by foot or train and they also have Bolt in the city which we used to get to the airport and back. The trains were easy to use but we did get fined on our first day as although we paid for a ticket, we were not told to validate it from the ticket clerk (we did ask but were met with a gruff!). I think they catch a lot of tourists out this way so be warned and make sure to validate before you travel.
All in all I really enjoyed our short trip to Budapest and would love to go back in the summer to try more Hungarian cuisine, visit more of the ruin bars and to experience the thermal baths at a less busy time. If you have any recommendations please do leave them in the comments below for anyone else about to visit!
Lots of love,