I am lucky enough to have parents that love travelling and exploring new cities just as much as I do. Yesterday I got home from the most incredible 3 days in the capital of Hungary – Budapest. I had no idea what to expect before going, but it exceeded my expectations. Before going, my mum and I spent a good few hours planning an itinerary to ensure we saw everything worth seeing in the short time we were there, and I must say, we nailed it!!! So today I thought I would share our itinerary with you to give you an idea or what to see and maybe inspire you to go explore the city on your next break.
At the end of this post there will also be a link to a YouTube video I made of our trip! Its a montage style vlog of all our adventure there and gives you more of an idea of what everything is like. Enjoy!
We arrived at about 1.30pm to our hotel, which gave us a good part of the day still left to explore. We stayed at the Opera Garden Hotel, and we literally couldn’t fault it. We had an apartment for the three of us (me and my mum and dad). I highly recommend checking it out on trip advisor as it was in a perfect location and the apartment was incredible.
HUNGARIAN STATE OPERA HOUSE
The State Opera House really is a treat for the eyes, inside an out. Apart from being refurbished here and there, the building is pretty much its original architecture inside and out. It is full of fascinating history and they have guided tours at 3pm and 4pm everyday, with the option of a mini performance by one of the company (HIGHLY RECOMMEND PAYING THE EXTRA £2!!!)
After the Opera House, we headed for some early dinner as we had been up since 4am travelling. I read about this place in a “Top 10 in Budapest” guidebook, and it was rated 2nd best restaurant in the area, so we gave it a try. And oh my goodness I cannot even express how delicious it was. It’s an authentic Mexican and as my favourite type of food is Mexican, I was over the moon. I can honestly say it was the best Mexican I have EVER had, and my parents both agreed (and they’ve actually been to Mexico and said this was better!!) Only £65 in total for 2 courses and 2 drinks for the three of us. Definitely worth a visit.
ST STEPHEN’S BASILICA
We had lots planned for our first full day of exploring. After breakfast, we headed straight to St Stephen’s Basilica. Even though I’m not religious, I am a sucker for a beautiful church/cathedral or a building of this type. It was beautiful! You can also pay £3 to climb to the top of it. Its 302 steps and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard, but it was definitely worth it. The views were to die for.
THE GREAT SYNAGOGUE AND HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL
After grabbing a drink from Starbucks to cool down in the 34 degree heat, we headed over to the Jewish Quarter. We went straight to the beautiful Great Synagogue – warning, women have to cover knees and shoulders as a sign of respect. But don’t worry, you can buy a shawl for about £2 in the shop to cover up. It was absolutely beautiful, and there are English speaking tour guides (most of them are Jewish so they know the history extremely well) which was hugely helpful. The holocaust memorial is in the courtyard behind the synagogue, and its message behind it is truly moving.
LUNCH @ TRATTORIA GOZSDU
To refuel, we headed to this small Italian place, Trattoria Gozsdu, less than a 5 minute walk from the synagogue. It is easy to say that it was one of the best pizzas I have ever had. Highly recommend!!
As a massive history nerd, I find Jewish history so fascinating. The Jewish people have been through so much and their culture is so drastically different from my own, it’s so interesting to find out about it in more detail. I must admit, the museum is quite dry if you’re not interested in History like I am, but they have some really interesting artefacts all donated over the years which I found fascinating.
DINNER @ TROFEA GRILL
I absolutely loved this place and its concept. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant. For only around £15 per person, you can eat and drink as much food, beer and wine as you can. They have a huge variety of options for all tastes, and it’s great for vegetarians too! It had such a lively atmosphere, and they give you free pizza slices when you get to your table, what more could you want?
DRINKS @ SZIMPLA KERT
So many people had told us to go to the ruin bars. They are basically old ruined buildings that have been revamped, decorated and turned into quirky bars. We went to the most famous one, Szimpla Kert. It was AMAZING! I absolutely loved it. The atmosphere was buzzing, the cocktails were delicious and inexpensive and the whole vibe was so authentic. You have to go!!!
The Chain Bridge is an absolutely must. It gives you a view of the lengths of the city from all angles, and isn’t too long of a walk.
The funicular is essential a monorail that takes you up very steep hills. This one takes you up to Buda Castle, the views were incredible and it gives you a great, unique perspective on the city.
BUDA CASTLE / HUNGARIAN NATIONAL GALLERY
Once you get off the funicular, you are at the top of the Buda Castle walls. The views are unsurprisingly incredible, and there are lots of cafe’s and places to chill out in the heat. The National Gallery was surprisingly wonderful. Art galleries can sometimes be a bit boring and repetitive, but the 17th/18th/19th century Hungarian Art was truly outstanding – and a huge bonus is that its all air conditioned so you can cool down whilst taking in some incredible art work from throughout the ages.
After this, we jumped in a taxi over to Heroes’ Square. Such a historically significant area, and the monument is beautiful. It is right next to the beautiful Varosliget Park, which is definitely worth a walk through, and they have some lovely cafes to grab some lunch.
SZECHENYI THERMAL BATH AND SPA
Thermal Baths are one of the things Budapest is famously known for. They are naturally heated pools that have been in use for centuries. We had a sneaky look but honestly, the thought of sitting in a 27 degree pool in the 35 degree heat sounded like hell. But this would be amazing in the winter or just when it’s slightly cooler, but it really didn’t appeal to us at the time.
As a late afternoon pick-me-up, we found a place to try the traditional Hungarian Chimney Cake (or Kurtoskalacs Cake). And it was truly delicious. My mum and I are suckers for a good dessert/treat and we are so glad we could tick this off our list. I’d describe it as a mix between a donut and a pretzel. You must find a place to try this!
SHISHA @ SZIMPLA KERT RUIN BAR
Amongst all the cool bars they have in the Ruin Bar, they also have a Shisha Bar. I absolutely loved this place. The attention to detail in the decoration and the vibe it gave off was amazing. There was also an old piano in the room where anyone could take their try at playing. We had some grapefruit shisha and a cocktail and we were in heaven. An experience not to miss!
KARAVAN FOOD AND BEER GARDEN
After our many drinks, we headed next door to the food garden. I love this place! All the food vans are completely unique and have their own spin on classic foods. There was even a vegan burger place, so my mum and I were in heaven. By far the best meat-free burger I’ve ever had! There is such an nice atmosphere in this place, so definitely put it on your list of places to eat. PS – this is also were we got our chimney cake from earlier!
SHOES ON THE DANUBE
As we had to leave for the airport at 12.15pm, we only had time to see one more sight, so we had to pick wisely! We decided to walk down to the river to see the Shoes on the Danube. This is a memorial for thousands of Jewish people who were lined up and shot at this spot by the Fascist in World War Two. It felt surreal to see the shoes right in front of you and gave you a lot of perspective on the realness of the events that happened throughout the war, and the horrors the jews and other minorities went through. Definitely worth the short walk to see them, and it is right next to the beautiful Hungarian Parliament building.
And that’s it! We then headed off to the airport to fly back home. I can honestly say that Budapest is my favourite city in Europe after this trip. The Hungarian people have been through so much throughout their history but there is still such a humble, uplifting vibe to the place. Definitely put it on your travel bucket list, and hopefully my itinerary comes in handed to give you some ideas and inspiration. Don’t forget to check out my vlog from the trip! Linked below…
Have you been to Budapest? What city should I put on my travel bucket list?