First up, I’m going to apologise for how picture heavy this post is. So last week, me and the boyfriend heading to Budapest for a few days and even though we weren’t there for long I think we truly captured not only the beauty of the city but also the culture and the relaxed atmosphere of the place. Being truly honest this is one of my favourite cities I’ve visited in Europe mainly for the mix of history, great architecture, culture all around you and that laid back feel that was everywhere.
We got a deal from Living Social for 3 nights in an apartment and the flights for around £300 for the both of us which is quite cheap, the flights were fine at only two hours and the apartment was lovely, big and we had an awesome corner balcony that I loved. Our first flight was delayed by an hour and a half so we ended up leaving around 10pm so by the time we landed in Budapest it was nearly 2 in the morning! We checked in pretty sleepily and then woke kind of early for a day spent walking round the city.
After finding our way down to the river [around a 10 minute walk], we got breakfast and ate that by the river. We decided to head to the castle first so we crossed the river from the Pest side we were on to the older, more historical Buda side where the castle stood grandly on the hillside. We got the funicular railway up the side of the hill next to the castle and in under 2 minutes we were up the hill with a beautiful and quite breathtaking view of the city.
Taking pictures and taking in the sights, we spent a good hour and a half wandering round the grounds of the castle skipping out on the museums this time but maybe another time. We headed down the hill ourselves instead of taking the railway, it was a lovely day and a shame to miss out on some walking. After the castle, we headed down river from Liberty Bridge to Margaret Bridge thinking this would be a 20 minute walk we totally misjudged the distance when nearly an hour later we actually reached the bridge.
Catching the tram across the bridge was a nice rest after all that walking and for 300 HUF [80p] for a single journey it is a treat that will not break the bank. As it was getting to early afternoon, we decided to start slowly heading back to our district as it was going to take at least an hour. We checked out the antique quarter which is full of some nice stuff before finding the Parliament building. The huge and quite sculpturally stunning building is quite imposing, located right next to the river it is not the most structurally safe building but then neither is the Palace of Westminister. After another 40 minutes walk through the commerical shopping centre of Budapest we arrived back at the apartment before heading out later to discover the nightlife of the city.
First up, we headed for food and one of the places I’d heard a lot about and really wanted to try out was Spinoza Cafe and with it only being a 2 minute walk away it would have been rude not to check it out. I’m so glad that we did too as the food and service there was absolutely brilliant. Seated straight away at a lovely little window table we were served quickly first with drinks and then with our food. I had the goats cheese wrapped in zucchini fried and served on Mediterranean rice and it was absolutely delicious and for pudding I obviously had to have one of my favourites Apple Strudel which again was delicious.
After food we headed out to a couple of bars, first up Lampas a great little ruin bar with a lovely atmosphere and great drinks. Like all bars in Budapest everything was well priced, the staff were lovely and accomodating and there was that great atmosphere everywhere, chilled out and at ease. Next up was Vintage Garden, another lovely cafe/bar with rustic style decor which was a complete juxtaposition from Szimpla Kert where we ended up next. The ruin bar is one of the highlights of the nightlife in Budapest and even on a Wednesday night the place was heaving from start til finish. The place is a total Instagrammer’s dream with graffiti stained walls, random signs, lights, old computers and everthing else on the walls. It is a huge place with so many rooms and things to see you could spend most of your night just exploring before finding a seat and having a couple of drinks or a dance. Don’t miss out on the carrots which are sold through the night for 200 HUF [50p] which is an old Jewish tradition and one I totally partook in after a few drinks. After a great night, we got back around 2am before another day full of toursity exploring.
The one thing I wanted to do while I was in Budapest was the boat tour cruise and on our second day that is exactly what we did. Boat cruises are my favourite way to see any city where you can sit back, relax, listen to the commentary on the history and see the buildings from a different perspective to when you are walking around. The cheapest of the cruises was 3800 HUF [around £8], it lasted for an hour and 10 minutes with a stop at Margaret Island and a complimentary glass of beer, wine or a soft drink. The commentary was great and added the history into a story told by the two sides of the city, if you’ve ever been on the Paris boat tour with the different characters it is very much like that.
After a lazy morning on the boat cruise is was well into early afternoon when we were back on dry land and we decided to head across to the Central Market for a bit of an explore and to see the impressive building. After a 20 minute walk, we were there taking in the huge market which was buzzing with people shopping and socialising, it is a true show of just how good markets in this country could be if we just put some more investment into them. After browsing the stalls from food to fabrics and trinkets, we decided to get some food from the upper floor restaurant. It may not have been the most veggie friendly menu but I filled up on gnocchi, wedges and to balance the carbs, salad. All that including a drink came to around £3 which is a total bargain if you ask me.
After the market, we headed across to Zappa Cafe which was a lovely little local cafe again with a great atmosphere and reasonable prices. By this point though I was starting to feel very tired so we didn’t stay for as long as we probably would have and took the 20 minute walk back to the apartment for a little afternoon nap before another night out in Budapest. First up we headed to the bar which was right under our hotel, we didn’t even know it was there but when we saw it we decided we should really go in. It was a typical little beer bar, perfect for my boyfriend, with some great beers from all over on offer. For those of you that have been to Copenhagen and seen the beer bars there it is a lot like that.
By this point it was starting to get late so we went looking for some food, after walking round for a while we found somewhere with some vegetarian options and looked nice. Although, it wasn’t that great really as service was pretty terrible and slow and definitely not with a smile. The mushroom risotto I had was nice but a bit too salty for my taste and after finally getting the bill we left to find some more bars to check out instead. We first headed to Yellow Zebra Bar, just down the street from Szimpla Kert, for nice drink in the chilled out atmosphere of the ruin bar before heading back across to Szimpla Kert for the place where we would officially finish our holiday. We had to be up early in the morning so planned to get back early but at gone half 2 we were still in the bar. The great music and party atmosphere clearly took hold meaning we lost track of time but for having a good time which is always the best reason. After the not so great food earlier, we went to get takeaway and I got an amazing falafel wrap which was so nice and makes me slightly annoyed that takeaways in England don’t serve falafels wraps for those late night food cravings.
Managing to get up early, we packed, checked out and headed for some breakfast before heading to the airport. We went to Blue Bird Cafe near our apartment for a lovely breakfast again at a reasonable price. The local establishment served fresh food and had an array of breakfast options on the menu, I went for the croissant and the Mediterranean breakfast. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have ordered the croissant but I can’t resist French pastries on holiday. The breakfast included pitta, roasted peppers, a dressed salad, a boiled egg, olives and feta, a lovely and fresh meal completely different from the stodgy English breakfast in this country. That really nice meal ended the holiday perfectly before heading off to the hotel to catch our afternoon flight back to England.
It may only have been short but it was a great holiday in Budapest with plenty of culture and history as well as the laid back feel of the place and beautiful architecture, it was the perfect city break getaway and I know I definitely want to go back again to explore more of this great European city.