I just spent a weekend in Budapest and it was absolutely amazing. I had never been to Hungary before and didn’t know what to expect, lots of people have told me how much they loved it and how pretty it is, yet I wasn’t sure if I gonna love it too. But I did! I had such a neat time, definitely one of the best weekend trips so far. Here a my personal highlights of the city:
Where I stayed: Gellert Hotel
I stayed at the Gellert hotel, which used to be the grand hotel of Budapest many years ago. Today it can’t keep up with the new, modern four or five stars hotels in the city but I loved its old times charm and its history. Due to the lack of renovation and upgrades it’s not expensive, I only paid 65€ per night for my single room including breakfast. My room was spacious enough and the bed was comfy, the staff was super friendly and helpful and the breakfast was plenty. Furthermore a free visit to the adjacent Gellert Bath is included and further visits are 50% off. You can’t find a better deal in Budapest in my opinion.
I spent 2 days at the Gellert bath: relaxing in the thermal pools, swimming and splishing & splashing in the outdoor wave pool. The Gellert bath ist known to be the most beautiful of Budapest’s thermal baths with its Art Nouveau furnishings. Admission is about 20€, but free if you stay at the hotel, as mentioned above. There a 8 thermal pools with water temperature between 36 and 40 degrees, an indoor swimming pool (you need a swim cap or at least a shower cap for it) and a large outdoor area with a café/restaurant, lawns, plenty of sunloungers, a sauna and a wave pool. The latter was just so much fun!
The Budapest metro
I learned that the metro line 1 of the Budapest metro was the second metro system in the wold after London. I loved the old stations and the cute old trains. Right outside my hotel was a stop if the metro line 4 which is brand new, with light and clean, spacious stations and modern trains. The metro got me everywhere I wanted to go: quick, easy to navigate and also cheap.
The coffee houses
Beside the thermal baths Budapest is famous for its old and opulent decorated coffee houses. First of the New York Café, one of the most beautiful cafés in the world. It’s pretty expensive with prices for coffee starting at 6€ and a piece of cake for about 8€ but with a surrounding like this and a live piano player you’ll easily forget about the prices.
The other café I visited was the Book Café, located on the second floor of huge book store. It was just as beautiful as the New York Café, but less touristy, less crowded and cheaper. If I were to go back to Budapest, I’d definitely stop by there again.
The Danube and the bridges
I loved walking along the Danube, especially in the evenings when the temperature started to become bearable. There are several bridges that connect Buda with Pest, the most popular is the Chain Bridge right at the Castle Hill and the Castle Hill Funicular. My favourite bridge was Liberty Bridge right in front of my hotel.
Shoes on the Danube Bank
This memorial was so heartbreaking. It’s located in front of the Parliament building and honours Jews that were killed during World War II, that had to line up at the river and take off their shoes before they were shot and fell into the Danube. The memorial consists of 60 pairs of shoes made of iron. So simple and yet so powerful.
The buildings and the views
Budapest is so beautiful and full of amazing buildings. The castle, the St. Stephan’s Basilica, the Parliament Building, the Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, just to name a few. I loved the view from the Castle Hill Funicular and the Fisherman’s Bastion around sunset.
The hip coffee shops
Besides its famous coffee houses, Budapest has quite a few hip coffee shops, mostly located around the Astoria metro stop. I had one of the best cold brew of my life at Budapest Baristas, another great cold brew from My Little Melbourne Brew Bar and for my sweet tooth: a donut on a stick from The Donut Library. Unfortunately I only discovered those places on my last day there so I could only try those 3. I also walked by Fekete and Kontakt Coffee which both seemed lovely too. Especially Kontakt Coffee had a long line of people waiting for coffee, and that’s always a goo sign.
Mazel Tov was my favourite restaurant in Budapest, I went there twice. It on Akacfa street , not too far from Andrassy ut, New York Cafe or the famous ruin pubs. The food (Humus, Shawarma and similar things) was so tasty and they also had a great drink selection. Combined with an interior that reminded me of Downtown LA and super attentive waiters I was in heaven. I loved it and cannot wait to come back.