Things to do in Budapest

Before visiting I knew little of Budapest’s twin city appeal. Dramatically divided by the Danube, Hungary’s beautiful capital offers a wealth of exciting sights and activities for visitors. Linked by the epic chain bridge Buda and Pest are very different areas to explore. Buda is a historic hub characterised by its amazing hills, and here you will find the most important tourist attractions. The retro Furnicular carts transport you up the hill to the Castle District where you can see the Royal Palace, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Pest is the younger and trendier side of the city where people go to work, shop and play. This area is action packed with creative opportunities and has much more of a buzz about it. We spent most of our time here eating, drinking, shopping and marvelling at the impressive buildings surrounding us. I would urge any Budapest guest to visit both sides of the city to experience a true flavour of the Hungarian way of life.
To Do
Szechenyi Baths: thermal baths are a unique aspect of Budapest and this venue is one of the most renowned. In the open air this picturesque pool soothes guests all year round. It is the largest of its kind in Europe and feels quite extraordinary to be in such a hot pool of blue water outside, especially when it is snowing around you!
Gellert Baths: The Gellert Baths are a traditional Hungarian Bath complex locted in the Gellert Hotel in Buda, along the Danube. It is open to the public, but hotel guests enjoy free admission. These baths are stunning and will leave you feeling refreshed and cleansed.
– Boat trip Danube: Even on a gloomy winters day The Legende one hour Boat Trip was worth doing. Offering an unrivalled view of the city on both sides, you will understand the history and culture of Budapest and see all the great architecture. Book here.
– Climb up to the top of the St Stephen’s Basilica (known as Budapest Cathedral), the largest Church in the city. We visited at sunset to see the whole city illuminated and glowing.
To See
Museum of Fine Arts: This huge regal building is hard to miss. We saw a lovely Cezanne exhibition when we visited in January… and it is always worth going along to see the permanent collection of Spanish masters and Venetian paintings.
House of Terror Museum: Sadly this much talked about museum was closed for refurbishment when I was in Budapest but I’ve heard the exhibition on the Holocaust is memorably affecting and a must see.
Opera: Enjoy a performance at the world famous Budapest State Opera House… though be warned you are unlikely to understand a word, Hungarian subtitles are not easy to translate.
To Eat
Ringcafe Burgers: Located on the main Andrassy Street Ringcafe is known to have the best burgers in town. The owner was recently in London sussing out the best on offer, returning to Budapest with a load of fresh new ideas. The menu has an extensive list of burger varieties, and they are delicious, with soft juicy meat and brilliant accompaniments.
Gundel: Famous for its fine brunches, this restaurant presents Hungarian food with a French twist. The Gundel pancakes are particularly popular amongst diners!
Onyx: This opulent fine restaurant is one of two Michelin starred establishments in Hungary. Chef Szabina Szullo artfully reinterprets Hungarian classics with precision and care. The food and wine are exquisite.
New York Cafe: Located in the Boscolo Hotel, this cafe has always been a favourite for locals and tourists in Budapest. The rich history and beautiful interior is more of a reason to visit than the food.
To Sleep
Boscolo: This epic hotel is indulgent and impressive both inside and out. The baroque rooms and suites are luxurious and the hotel also offers wonderful spa and fitness facilities.
Four Seasons: A deluxe five star palace, the Gresham Four Seasons is fit for a king/queen. Architecturally amazing and immaculately designed, the Danube facing suites are arguably the most desirable rooms in the city.
With fantastic food, sights and culture, I find it bizarre that Budapest is not a more popular destination for European weekends away. If you are looking for a cheap and memorable trip abroad, book flights to Hungary immediately.
Many thanks to the Budapest Tourist Board for all their help with this trip. More information here.

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