This year, Dan and I decided we wanted to see a little bit more of the world and do a few more city breaks. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that we kicked things off with 72 hours in Budapest, and we had a blast! Budapest is a place that was on my list of places to visit for a while, and with Dan turning 30 in February, it was the perfect time to go. Hungary is a county that is great to visit any time of year, so venturing there in Winter didn’t put us off. We were originally expecting snow, with it forecast every day we were there, but it never came! Wow, was it cold though! Temperatures were only around 0-2 degrees each day, but the sun was out most of the time so it made for perfect exploring weather.
Technically this is partly night one followed by our first day, but for ease I figured I’d throw it all in to one. We landed in Budapest at around 7pm local time (they’re an hour ahead over there so by this point we were starving!). We’d organised a pre-booked taxi to our hotel and were picked up swiftly from the airport. Our taxi driver was really lovely and chatted to us about places we should visit, so the 30 minute drive flew by.
We stayed at The Magazine Hotel after finding a great deal on Expedia and to be honest I think we completely lucked out! The location was incredible, right next to St Stephen’s Basilica and within walking distance of all the best attractions. The hotel is based in an apartment block and has around twelve rooms over one floor. It was a super stylish hotel, minimalist, and inspired by fashion magazines which I loved! Our room was fairly small, but enough for us as we didn’t plan spending much time there. It had everything we needed, plus a really cool reception area stocked with magazines. The reception staff were always really helpful and answered all our questions, too. They helped us book tickets for the thermal baths, and arranged our taxi back to the airport with zero fuss. I’d definitely stay here again, but would spend a little more money and book one of the bigger rooms with a view of the Basilica!
Once we’d dropped our bags, we headed out for a bite to eat. I’d done a bit of research prior to travelling and planned out my own Google map of places to see, eat and drink. First on our list was Jack’s Burger, less than a mere minute from our hotel. When we found the place, we realised the name had actually changed to Smith Burger which caused us a bit of confusion! The food though was great and just what we needed at the end of a busy day. We were pretty shattered after this, so we headed back to the room for a good nights sleep ready for a day of exploring!
Our first full day started with a short 10 minute walk to a restaurant called Borze for a spot of breakfast! This was a must-visit for me after seeing so many good things about it online.We enjoyed it so much that in 72 hours in Budapest we actually visited twice! I had hands down the best eggs Benedict I’ve ever tasted. Dan went for bacon and fried eggs and loved it too. I don’t know what they do to their bacon in Budapest, but its SO good and so darn crispy! The decor is Borze was so lovely – tiled floors, plants everywhere and some cool artwork too. I’d highly recommend!
After breakfast we walked over to the river as we wanted to see the Shoes On The Danube memorial. This famous memorial was incredibly moving, and so interesting to see. The river itself is also a great spot, with views right down the Danube of Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. The weather was brilliant this day with clear blue skies, so it was great for some sight seeing! We saw the Parliament Buildings which were incredible, and quite frankly put ours to shame. After a good couple of hours exploring, we headed over to another place on my list – Mr Funk! Mr Funk is an Instagrammer’s dream – donuts and freakshakes galore! We shared a delicious bacon bagel (again – the bacon was SO good!), a kinder surprise donut and a unicorn freakshake. I dread to think how many calories we consumed by oh my goodness it was worth it!
Once our bellies were full again, we decided to find Fashion Street! Obviously this was one of my picks! Fashion Street is home to places such as Zara Home, Cos, Oysho, Boss and many more big brand names. The street is in the centre of the main shopping area and is surrounded by many other big brands. I dragged Dan round the likes of Zara, Bershka, Reserved and a few others, and even met some gorgeous dogs in the beautiful Nanushka boutique. All in all a great afternoon!
That afternoon, we then decided to explore the Jewish Quarter and found some great little spots. I’d recommend visiting this part of the city if you can! It actually reminded me a little of the Northern Quarter in Manchester as it was full of vintage and antique shops, independent stores and quirky cafes. Our main reason for visiting here though was to go to a ruin bar! Budapest is pretty well known for the ruin bars, but the most popular is Szimpla Kert, which of course was on the list! It was such a cool bar with something different everywhere you looked, and unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. If we’d had more time I would have definitely gone back here again but at night as I can imagine the atmosphere being amazing!
Needless to say we were pretty tired after such a busy day of exploring, so we crashed back at the hotel for a little while before dinner. Once freshened up, we got a little dressed up and headed back down to Fashion Street for a special birthday meal at Nobu. We’re big fans of Japanese food, and being a special birthday, I decided to treat Dan to something a little more fancy than we’d usually go for. The sushi here was incredible, and I’m now desperate to visit Nobu London! We walked back along the river after dinner as we wanted to see it all lit up at night, and it was so stunning. Twinkling lights, incredible buildings and the best end to a lovely day. We finished off with a trip to Gelarto Rosa, a hugely popular ice cream shop just a stones throw away from the hotel. The ice creams here are a work of art, carefully made to look like roses, and they taste just as good as they look!
The next morning we decided to visit the Ritz Carlton’s restaurant, The Kupola Lounge for a spot of breakfast. Oh my word, what an incredible place! The decor here was right up my street, topped off with the most beautiful stained glass ceiling. Well worth a visit! I had a delicious pan of shakshuka, and Dan went for the waffles which looked so good. It was nice to pretend we could afford to stay in such a place for a little while!
After we’d fuelled up for the morning, we then headed across the river to Buda (Budapest is split in to two halves. Buda on one side, Pest on the other!). We walked a pretty intense uphill walk to visit Fisherman’s Bastion, but it was SO worth it. This was such a beautiful building right at the top of Buda, with the best views out across the city. Sadly it was a bit of a grey day, but we still managed to get some amazing pictures at the top. We did want to see the castle too, but had booked tickets for the thermal baths so didn’t really have enough time, so headed for a spot of lunch instead.
I’d found a really cool looking asian noodle bar called Sao that I knew would be our kind of place, and we were not disappointed! Sao was probably one of our favourite places to eat from the whole trip, and so beautiful too. Inside was decorated to perfection, with walls painted in beautiful cherry blossom, and ceilings covered in colourful bird cages. The food here was absolutely delicious. I had pork summer rolls with peanut dip, and Dan had vegetable fried dumplings and both were amazing! We then both had the fried chicken pho noodles and oh my word – SO GOOD! I’d highly recommend this spot if you’re looking for tasty yet affordable food.
Once our food had been demolished, we then started the long 45 minute walk to the Szechenyi Baths. If you’ve ever seen photos of Budapest, you’ve probably seen a photo of these! There’s a few thermal baths to visit in Budapest but this is the biggest and most popular. The baths are within a gorgeously ornate yellow building set in a park, and right in the middle is the outdoor baths. I’ve never been anywhere quite like this before and it was probably the highlight of the trip. I’m so glad we got to experience this in Winter, as getting in to the amazingly warm water was such a treat after being in the cold! The experience was so worth the long walk and the blisters I came home with, for sure. We booked a day ticket with cabins which I’d recommend – you get you’re own private changing room where you can store your belongings, rather than just a small locker.
After a relaxing hour or so in the warm water, let me tell you, I was NOT looking forward to walking back to the hotel for another 50 minutes! Putting on my shoes again was an experience as my feet were in agony, but I did it and managed to get back to the hotel without asking Dan to carry me (just).
That evening we managed to book a table at Hilda, a gorgeous restaurant that had been highly recommended online. Hilda was basically interior goals to me. Blue, teal and yellow tiled surfaces, mosaic wall murals, huge lighting fixtures and the most dreamy pink bathrooms. I decided to try a traditional Hungarian dish, Chicken Paprikash, as Hilda is known for its rotisserie chicken. Chicken Paprikash is a chicken in a creamy paprika sauce, served with dumplings similar to gnocchi. It was so delicious! I could have eaten the whole plate over and over again, and would love to try and replicate this myself. Dan went for a steak dish that looked incredible and was so affordable. One thing I would definitely say about Budapest is that the food and drink is great value and of really high quality. Everything we ate was really delicious and we couldn’t fault a single meal.
This was our final morning, and with a taxi booked to go back to the airport at 1pm, we decided to cram some more exploring in to the morning. We packed up our cases and then headed back to Borze for breakfast again as we loved it so much the first time, then spent a couple of hours wandering around, taking in the sights for one last time. We found so many more little coffee shops and restaurants that we will definitely come back and try out if we visit again in the future.
We discovered a lovely little cafe selling the most beautiful macarons so obviously had to go in and check it out. Chez Dodo was so pretty inside, with pastel decor and perfect pastel macarons to match. We picked out a few to try and they were honestly incredible – the best I’ve tried! One was flavoured with gin, tonic and grapefruit and that was of course my favourite. I wish we found this place earlier on in the trip as I could have eaten so many more!
We stopped by Mr Funk again on the way back to the hotel as we just had to grab one of those delicious bacon bagels again for our lunch, then it was time to check out and wait for our taxi back to the airport.
I honestly didn’t think we’d be able to cram so much stuff in to just 72 hours in Budapest! We completely fell in love with this amazing city and had one of the best trips we’ve ever had. It definitely left my feet a bit battered and bruised, but it was so worth it. I think we walked something like 60,000 steps in the time we were there, but at least we burned off the calories we consumed!
If you’re considering a city break, I couldn’t recommend Budapest enough. There’s so much to do and see, and it completely surprised me. It’s such a chilled out place and we will 100% be back again. I wish we had another night there as I would have loved to have visited Buda castle and gone on a river cruise. Maybe next time!
Have you visited Budapest? I’d love to hear what your favourite parts and places were!