48 HOURS IN: BUDAPEST
Our first post! Welcome to the blog.
Get your bobble hats and backpacks ready. Here is our round up of making the most of 48 hours in Budapest.
We arrive at Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport around lunchtime. Our advice would be to head to the bus stop outside the airport, purchase a 24-hour travel pass (circa £3.50) and jump on the 200E bus to the metro stop 'Kobanya Kispest P+R'.
Using public transport is by FAR the easiest way to get around city, so don't be afraid to start right from the airport, you'll get the hang of it straight away! It's not often you get attached to a transport system but we developed a soft spot for Metro 1 - the yellow line - it feels very retro.
We stayed in the 4* Mamaison Hotel Andrassy which is a two minute walk from the metro stop 'Bajza utca'. We can highly recommend this hotel - smart, good value, well-located, friendly staff and spacious rooms - booked through the ever reliable Voyage Prive (more on that in later blogs...). Alternatively Airbnb has some brilliant central listings.
If you're travelling from mid-November until Christmas, you're in luck, and can experience traditional Hungarian delights at the Christmas market in Vorosmarty Square. From hearty goulash soup to hot wine (mulled wine of every variety!), there will be something to tempt your tastebuds.
It gets dark really early in winter so wrap up warm and venture out to explore the city at night. Head towards the river to walk across the Chain Bridge, which looks stunning lit up. You can see all the main sights from here and prepare your walking tour for the next day.
From here, head straight to the imposing but impressive building, the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, for an early evening cocktail in their beautiful Art Deco bar. It has amazing views of the river and is a luxurious way to start your weekend break.
Time now to find dinner. Now, do NOT expect the food offering in Budapest to be anything like what you might be used to in London. Words frequently missing from Hungarian menus are salad, vegetables, organic, low-fat, gluten-free etc etc... But never fear, if you're only indulging for 48 hours, you'll be rewarded with delicious fare if you go to right places.
A definite hit with us was Gozdsu Udvar, a trendy pedestrianised back street with a good urban vibe and a plethora of restaurants to choose from. We went to Spiler BistroPub for goulash and pumpkin soup, but we were also recommended Cafe Vian just opposite.
Keep the wine (hot or cold!) flowing and get yourself down to simply the best bar we found in Budapest - Szimpla Kert. It is the pioneer of ruinpubs in the city and is a hotspot for both tourists and locals alike. Nearly everyone we spoke to ahead of our travels recommended it - and now we know why. Easygoing, with lots to explore, from a garden, dedicated wine bar and DJ in the ceiling...
Start early with a dose of morning culture! We freshened up from our mild wine hangover with a stroll to the Citadella which sits atop Gellert Hill. It is a steep walk but the panoramic views of the city are worth it.
From there head down the other side of the hill and towards Budapest History Museum and Buda Castle. Continue walking parallel to the river and you'll reach the Fisherman's Bastion, which is a fairy tale photographic stop.
Now. It is time for lunch. And do not think of going ANYWHERE other than Pest-Buda Bistro for a glass of red wine accompanied by a goose burger or pumpkin soup (we told you there were limited offerings for the vegetarians!). The cosy interior and wonderfully welcoming staff helped us regain the feeling in our freezing fingers and we were tempted to linger here for the entire afternoon!
With your sight-seeing morning ticked off, take yourself back over the river to the Buda side for a trip to one of the many baths in 'Spa City'. We went to the largest medicinal bath in Europe - Scezchenyi Thermal Baths - located in the City Park, which, incidentally, is well-worth an explore prior to your relaxing outdoor dip.
Take a swift detour back to your hotel to dry-off and head straight back out to find Mazel Tov, a spectacular ruinpub in the Jewish Quarter. This was our favourite drink stop and be sure to order some nibbles of pitta and humous with your prosecco, even if you don't stay for dinner. Although we were quite tempted to - especially with their offering of live music on a Sunday night!
If, like us, you like to explore and enjoy multiple pre-dinner drinks, then stop for one at the New York Cafe. A fabulously ornate dining room in the Boscolo Budapest Hotel and the closest thing to the Ritz Hungary has to offer.
Your next stop for the evening should be a traditional Hungarian dinner. Whilst it may not look much on the surface, the atmosphere and service at the Hungarikum Bistro, a family run joint serving hearty dishes, will make you feel as though you've dined like a local.
Your final stop should be none other than the First Strudel House of Pest. If you arrive near closing time, you may even be treated to sample a selection for free. We were lucky enough to be laden with everything from traditional apple to raspberry cheesecake and poppy strudels!
For your final few hours in this beautiful city, make sure you take a stroll around the remarkable Great Market Hall. You may not fancy buying fresh produce for your journey home or a (tacky) souvenir, but the architecture itself is definitely worthy of a trip and from there you can take your last snaps of the Danube which is, handily, right outside.
We headed back to the Christmas Market in Vorosmarty Square for our last glass of mulled wine, or, in Teddy's case, two. Here, you must also try the Transylvannia cake. This is a national delicacy of spiral sponge covered in the topping of your choice (ours cinnamon), which is available on almost every Budapest street corner. Just make sure they serve it to you fresh and warm - do NOT get fobbed off with one which has sat there getting cold.
Enjoy your final trip on the Metro and taking in the last bits of this memorable city as you head towards the airport.
Highly recommended as a short city break - excellent value, easy to navigate, stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and a chance to hit the town or relax in the spa.
We'll be back soon Buda!
With love, G&T, The Travel Twins x
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