Considering it is a less-obvious choice for a European city break destination, there is somuch to see and do in Budapest. Below is a list I compiled from my recent visit to the city – if you have any other suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Eat at Mazel Tov

I could rave about this restaurant all day, it was truly amazing! If you are a sucker for pitta, humus and falafel like me, then you must go here. We ate here on our first night in Budapest and were tempted to eat here again on the second night because it was that good. It’s an Israeli restaurant set in a beautifully decorated ruin bar, with gentle live music, huge dinner portions, cocktails for days and prices that you have to read twice because they are so cheap. I would honestly go as far to say that it is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at, hence making an appearance at the top of this list.

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Fisherman’s Bastion & Buda Castle

Over on the Buda side of the Danube, up in Buda Hills, stands tall the Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. I’d heard about the mammoth number of steps to get up to the castle, and there is an option to catch the funicular to the top, however it was a gorgeously sunny and warm day, so we decided to embrace it and stroll up the steps to the top at a more leisurely pace. It turns out that actually the steps aren’t so bad, plus you can stop as you go, to make the most of the view!

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Heroes Square

Heroes square is one of the most visited sites in Hungary, so it is only right that it makes this list – plus it is free! It is also on the bus route of the bus tours, so it is easy to get too. Most of the bus routes stop off here for about 15 minutes before continuing their journey, so you can hop off for a walk around and to take in the sight and some photos.

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Gellert Thermal Baths

The Gellert thermal baths are on the Buda side of the Danube, just over the bridge from the Great Market hall. These baths are huge, and a perfect way to relax in the afternoon after a lot of walking! The entrance converts to roughly £10-£15 which includes the use of a locker, but be prepared, to use the indoor thermal baths (pictured) you need a swimming cap. Outside there is plenty too though, including a regular swimming pool (with a wave machine), thermal bath, an ice bath and a sauna. The plus is that once you have paid entrance, you can stay as long as you wish.

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Drink at the Ruin bars

The ruin bars are set in old Soviet buildings, combining both Hungarian history with modern day Budapest. What I love about the ruin bars is that they really don’t look much from the outside, since the original buildings are over 100 years old and have barely been restored, but each one is so cleverly decorated inside, that you walk in and immediately think ‘wow’! One of my favourite ruin bars that we visited was Szimpla Kert. During the day, it was peaceful and sunny, we could sit quietly and enjoy a beer (for 70p of course) and chat amongst ourselves. When we came back in the evening, it was madness! The place was packed full of local party go-ers and people from all around the world

 

The Danube River

The Danube runs through the middle of the city, separating Buda and Pest onto each side of the river. The river can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, by views from the Fisherman’s Bastion, by walking or by cruises both during the day and at night. I would recommend walking along the river on the Pest side, particularly if you want to walk from the chain bridge towards Margaret Island, you can spot the Shoes on the River memorial.

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Great Market Hall

The great market hall is a huge indoor market filled with cheese, meat, cake, fruit and souvenir stalls.  It is a great place to wander, try some food and maybe buy some souvenirs. You don’t need to spend too long here, so I would recommend paying it a visit on your way to the Gellert Thermal Baths.

 

Open top bus tour

This is a personal recommendation as a way to easily see the different sights that Budapest has to offer if you are limited on time. For a 2 day visit it is perfect as the majority of bus tour operators in Budapest offer a 2 day ticket (some even include a free cruise down the Danube). Budapest is a much bigger city than I was expecting it to be (compared to Dublin, where I easily walked everywhere without it taking too long), and therefore the hop on, hop off bus tour was a win-win as we could people watch while travelling through the city at a pace that could get us to each destination more quickly. It is also particularly useful in getting from Pest to Buda and vice-versa). The price of our hop on hop off ticket for 2 days and evenings, plus a free evening boat tour on the Danube was 7000 HUF (around £17).

 

St Stephens Basilica

St. Stephens Basilica is right in the centre and easily accessible by foot, since it is in the main part of the city and surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes. The architecture is beautiful, and you can enter the building for a small donation.

 

House of Terror Museum

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to make it to the House of Terror Museum, so when I go back for my second visit this will be at the top of my to do list. I have heard lots of reviews about this museum, all of which give the impression that it is overwhelmingly sad, but provides a detailed insight to the darker side of Hungarian history. A note to anyone looking to visit, I have read that it is not very well explained, but you should begin at the top level and work your way down, as that is the way the exhibition is presented.

If you are planning to visit Budapest, I would definitely recommend staying for at least 3-4 full days to really experience everything this beautiful city has to offer, without feeling like you have rushed through it all. (Or you can go back for another visit, which I plan to do at some point)! x

Published by Laura Butler