11 min read
Last week, BRB's Founder Greg gave you his top tips on how to spend 48 hours in Prague. This week, I'm taking you to Budapest.
As one of the travel experts at BRB, I get to travel across Europe numerous times a year to meet our partner hotels and experience the places we send you to, because only by experiencing these places can we hand-pick the best trips for you.
Earlier this year, I explored Budapest on a 3 day break, met some amazing locals and today I am here to give you the low down on this beautiful city, and I have to say, there is a lot to see!
When you’re on a dream weekend break with BRB, 48 hours in Budapest goes by quicker than the speed of light, so how can you make the most of such a short amount of time in the Hungarian capital?
It is a city absolutely swarming in history. Did you know it was actually two different cities, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River once upon a time? They united in 1873 by numerous bridges, like the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge, becoming the Budapest we know today. As a result, you get to enjoy the two distinctive personalities of each city in one go; it’s a two for one deal.
If you follow my guide then you’ll be able to see some classic Budapest tourist hotspots, eat some native Hungarian dishes and explore the cultural landmarks and authentic side of the city.
After a two hour flight from London Heathrow, I arrive in Budapest mid-afternoon on Friday and take a taxi to get to my hotel as quickly as I can. Budapest seems to be a popular 'bucket list' destination for BRB travellers so I'm looking forward to staying at one of our main hotels there and a favourite of mine, the four-star Continental Hotel, which opened in 2010 at the former site of Hungaria Bath, a protected Art Nouveau building. I personally love sending customers to this hotel because not only is this an architectural masterpiece with each room boasting Art Deco style, but it is also centrally located and has a swimming pool and a spa. But my favourite part of this hotel has to be the grand entrance hall which looks out of this world. And with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5, I know it's going to be a great stay!
Your trip begins in the quieter, hillier part of the city on the Buda side of the Danube River for a visit to the Fisherman’s Bastion. It is a panoramic viewing terrace that looks like a medieval fortress, which probably explains why it’s one of Budapest’s most popular tourist attractions.
Built in Neo-Romanesque style and located within the Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion has seven towers that symbolise the seven chieftains of the Hungarians who founded Hungary in 895.
140 meters long and parallel to the Danube River, this monument offers breathtaking views of the city, particularly if you go earlier in the morning as the sun rises. Plus, the Bastion is, in itself, a sight to behold, reminiscent of castles from a fairy tale, so explore the lower and upper terraces of the Bastion and take in varying views of the whole city.
When you’ve finished exploring and enjoying the views, grab some traditional Hungarian cuisine at the Hunyadi Étterem just two minutes from the Fisherman’s Bastion (Address: Budapest, Hunyadi János út 17, 1011 Hungary).
So you’ve seen the Fisherman’s Bastion, and the next thing on the agenda is just a 12-minute walk away: the Buda Castle.
Much like the Bastion, the Castle sits on top of Castle Hill, watching over the city, and it is connected to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge that I mentioned earlier.
It is also known as the Royal Palace, and was once the residence of Hungarian Kings. It’s a spellbinding place with so much to see; explore the regal gardens and the magnificent architecture.
Within the Castle there are also plenty of things to do, like the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery – it’s safe to say you get your culture fix here.
If you're into photography and want to get an amazing shot of the castle at night, take a photo from the other side of the river looking up, with the bridge in the foreground. Trust me, you won't be disappointed with the result!
Once you’ve explored the Castle grounds, why not take a gander underneath the Castle. Sounds strange right? Well underneath the Castle tucked away are the historic Faust Wine Cellars where you can actually sample wines or some traditional Hungarian fruit palinka.
Make sure you take a ride on the Funicular located in the Buda Castle District. It is an old-fashioned, quirky cable car that takes you from the ground level of the Buda city right up the Buda Castle Hill.
To conclude this historic themed day, I hope you brought your walking boots because it’s time to hike up Gellét Hill to the Liberty Statue, or the Freedom Statue. It represents those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and prosperity of Hungary.
It is a 14m tall, bronze statue of a figure holding a palm leaf that stands on a 26m pedestal and has stood since 1947. It is a tribute to Hungarian history that sits proudly atop the hill.
For dinner, head to the Kiosk Pest restaurant (https://www.kiosk-budapest.com/) and cocktail bar located in District 5. It is a far cry from the historical day you’ve just had, but it is trendy, affordable and offers a mean mákosguba, a traditional Hungarian pudding.
Now, it wouldn’t be a trip to Budapest without a night out to some of the best Ruin Bars in the city.
The bars are located in the Pest side of the city in the old Jewish quarter in the ruins of abandoned buildings, hence the name, and are an absolute must for any tourist visiting the city.
The heart and most iconic of all the Ruin Bars is Szimpla Kert (https://szimpla.hu/), a huge complex filled with loads of different bars, an open courtyard, nooks and crannies, graffiti, art and even an old car.
Grab some drinks and embrace the vibrant, chaotic atmosphere that only the Ruin Bars can offer.
It is safe to say that you have firmly explored Buda, now it’s time to sink your teeth into Pest. Although, before we do that, you’re going to Margaret Island first, so get your lifejacket because it is boat time.
Whilst cruising on the river taxi to the Island, this is a great chance to view the city from river level, particularly the magnificent, Gothic Parliament building that resembles the Buda Castle you saw yesterday.
Margaret Island is located in the centre of the Danube River and is a peaceful paradise in the middle of the city. Don't be fooled though, Margaret Island is a 2.5 km (1.6 mi) long island, 500 metres (550 yards) wide so there's plenty of walking to be done! It seems incongruous in this setting, as it boasts promenades, parks with musical fountains, a zoo, all surrounded by luscious greenery.
Whilst on the island, do what the locals do and just relax. It is seen as a getaway due to its tranquillity, so enjoy a trip to the spa or ride around on a pedal bike. It’s hard to remember that you’re even in the city whilst relaxing here.
As much as you’d like to, you can’t stay on Margaret Island all day. It’s time to hop from one place of relaxation to another: the Széchenyi Thermal Baths.
Sadly you can’t take a boat there, but utilise Budapest’s metro system for a quick trip. Whilst you’re in the metro station, I recommend buying a chimney cake from one of the station shops. It is a Hungarian street food sweet treat, made of sweet bread, like a doughnut, but cylindrical in shape, and can be filled with chocolate sauce, fruit or ice cream – yummy is an understatement.
These baths are probably the most recognisable tourist hotspot, with the bright yellow buildings, arched windows and concrete flowerpots lining the baths.
There are so many reasons to see the baths. There is a mixture of thermal pools, saunas, beauty treatments, places to eat, but also the baths are known as a medicinal bath centre. This is because the water is rich in calcium, magnesium, sulphates, bicarbonate and fluoride, said to help people with joint illnesses.
You cannot leave Budapest without trying their famous dish: Goulash. You can buy this from pretty much every restaurant you go to in the city, but I recommend Börze Budapest (http://borzeetterem.hu/en/) located in District 5 for some of the best Goulash in town.
After you’ve filled your stomach, I’m bringing back the history to the trip because we can’t get enough of that in Budapest.
Hop back onto the metro and head to Heroes’ Square, the largest, most iconic monument in Budapest. It features the seven chieftains of the Maygars as well as other important Hungarian leaders, and is emblematic of Hungarian history. You shouldn’t miss it.
For your finally late night adventure in the city, we’re changing up the tone compared to the night before. You may have an early flight tomorrow, so lets try and avoid activities that leave us feeling delicate.
It’s time to embrace Budapest’s highbrow culture and go to the neo-Renaissance State Opera House, located in the centre of the city. It’s a ravishing sight to behold, with impressive statues and opulent interiors. It’s the perfect way to spend your final night, where you can dress up and enjoy an amazing performance, adding a new life experience to your list.
Make sure to book your tickets in advance, and don’t forget to pack your best suit or frock, as this is definitely a night to remember.
If you have a little more than 48 hours in Budapest or if some of the above recommendations weren't to your personal taste, here are a few more ideas I have assembled for you as I have been to Budapest many times.
Eat In An Amazing Setting
If you love combining food and beautiful places, I'd highly recommend you check out the New York Café. Whilst the name would suggest an American style dinner, it couldn't be further from the truth. The New York café is situated in the Boscolo Hotel. It is a majestic building, located in the heart of the city, and was built in 1895 by an insurance company whose name the café inherited. A great pace to have a lovely meal and to take awesome Instagram pics!
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.
Best of all, you always pay the same price for your trips, no matter when you go away and we help you spread the cost of your travel, thanks to our monthly subscription.
I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Budapest and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Ellis (Travel Expert at BeRightBack)
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