In early March I went on a long weekend with my boyfriend to Budapest. We booked it in January and it came around fast. It was our first weekend away, outside of Ireland, together so I was pretty excited. The only Eastern European city I had been to before was Prague in Czech Republic so Budapest had a lot to live up to. I was surprised by how many people had been there when I mentioned it and plenty of people had said what a lovely city it was. This Hungarian metropolis is made up of 2 cities -Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube river. The two sides of the river are completely different. Buda has plenty of hills and beautiful buildings and is quite laid back and quiet, while Pest is flatter but booming with business and culture. Both sides are definitely worth a visit. We stayed on the Pest side, as I think most tourists do. We stayed in the Ambra Hotel which was probably about 15 minutes walk from the Danube, in the Jewish Quarter (District 7).
The hotel was relatively small but the room was spacious with a comfortable bed and large windows for natural life. There was no bar, which is very unusual coming from Ireland but the breakfast was very nice and included champagne so I indulged in a mimosa with my breakfast (I said Irish, didn’t I?!). I would definitely recommend the Ambra because it’s clean and in a good location.
The currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint (HUF) and the value for money is unbelievable. You can eat and drink for very little and we were not counting the pennies at all. We spent €530 between us over the 3 days and when I tell you, we were thinking of ways to spend it by the last day, I’m not lying. €11 cocktails that probably would have cost €20 easily, in Dublin. The only thing I would say was not good value for money was taxi fares. Other than the taxis to and from the airport, we only got 1 and it was not cheap, so I would avoid them if at all possible.
On our first day, we arrived around 11am, checked in, dropped our bags and went straight out exploring. We wandered as far as the Danube to try and get our bearings, walked across the chain bridge and back and had some lunch (an amazing pizza) on the Pest side before heading back to do a tour of the Opera House. It was close to our hotel and quite cheap to visit. It cost roughly €13 including a photo ticket so I could take my own pictures. It is definitely worth a trip and the guided tour is well timed and very informative.
After the tour, we went back to the hotel to rest for a little while before going for drinks in an Irish pub called Publin and having some food in a place called Hot Dog, Cold Beer, that came recommended on Pinterest. I’ll share more about the food and drink in the next post.
Day 2 started with a bit of a lie in, but we had breakfast and were out by 11am. We walked out to the Danube again (there’s a theme here!) and got Tram 2 along the river. I had read it was a great way to see the city and for a couple of Euro, I wasn’t disapointed. We went both ways and it brought us right down to the back of the Parliament building and I wasn’t expecting much, but it blew me away. It was absolutely beautiful.
We went to New York Cafe next, which comes highly recommended but only part of it was open to the public and the hot chocolate was amazing but the place wasn’t for me.
Later that afternoon we crossed over to the Buda side & took the second oldest funicular up to the top of Buda Hill and wandered towards Fisherman’s Bastian & Matthias Church which are both beautiful and absolutely worth a visit. You get great views of the Pest side, in particular the Parliament Building and I would highly recommend getting there for the sunset.
Finally, on day 3 we went to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths and in my opinion they are a must for Budapest. It’s over 100 years old and has 18 pools including 3 outdoor pools. The weather was 13 degrees celsius but felt like more. I wasn’t crazy about the indoor baths but the outdoor ones were amazing. We even managed to sit out in our swimwear & have a couple of drinks afterwards.
We went to the Central Market Hall and I don’t think I even have any photographs because I really wasn’t impressed with it. I expected it to have an old market vibe and it really didn’t at all. Some people love it, to me it was a place selling spices and tacky souvenirs.
We left on a flight around midday on the 4th day. We got almost everything we wanted into 3 days but I think a 4th day would have been great. If you are on the fence about a trip to Budapest, climb right down off that fence and book some flights.
Look out for my next post on everything we ate & drank in Hungary’s capital city!
Check out more photos from the trip here