Last summer I spent 15 days interrailing around Europe and found a few cities I wanted to go back to another time. 10 days ago I did just that and went back to one of my favourite cities: Budapest. It’s definitely becoming a popular destination among students, who are probably drawn to the crazily low prices and the famous ruin bars.
I bought the trip for my boyfriend for his birthday back in October and so this was quite a belated celebration, but with him working and me at uni this made the most sense. The only thing that wasn’t great was our plane being packed with stag dos thanks to the bank holiday weekend.
We stayed in the most amazing airbnb located right behind the Opera house with a view of St Stephens Basilica just down the end of the street! Our host also sent us a huge list of all the best bars and restaurants, giving us some great local favourites.
Last summer we covered most of the touristy spots – the castle, fisherman’s bastion, the great market hall etc – so this time we wanted to find some “hidden gems” I guess, and also visit the baths which we didn’t do last time.
It was raining in the morning so we got off to a slow start and just went for breakfast at a nearby restaurant. Eventually the rain stopped and we made our way over to Heroes Square. We then went to the zoo but arrived late so decided we’d go back on Sunday when we were planning to go to the baths which were nearby. For dinner we went to Vintage Garden which is lovely. Beautiful restaurant with really nice food. Then we went round the corner to Szimpla Kert which I fell in love with last summer. We also went to Fogasház, another ruin bar, only this one has a club inside. I’d say Szimpla Kert is more relaxed and somewhere to go for a drink with friends, whereas Fogasház is more for a night out.
The night before, we booked tickets for a boat tour which left at 2pm so we woke up a bit later and went somewhere that our host recommended for breakfast. Szimply is a really cute little café that offers sweet and savoury breakfasts. Their avocado on toast looked amazing. I went for something sweet and had the hotcake which the waiter said takes longer but is “more special.” Honestly one of the best things I’ve ever had.
Then it was on to the boat tour which took us down the Danube, around Margaret Island and back up towards the starting point. For just over €20 altogether, we got a 90 minute tour, a glass of wine or a beer, and another drink of our choice. It was great value for money and the sheltered boat was perfect for the on-off rain. Afterwards we walked back towards our apartment and stopped off at St Stephen’s Basilica.
We wanted to try some goulash while in Hungary and our host said the best place to get it was the New York Café in hotel Boscolo. The New York Café is known as the most beautiful café in the world and it definitely lived up to that. Also the goulash was to die for. I’d personally recommend avoiding the rest of the mains on the menu – either opt for the goulash, or some of the cakes. I think they were pushing themselves to become a restaurant when really they’re better off focusing on their café status. I ordered a fillet steak and chips and the chips were all burnt. The goulash was also quite filling so I didn’t even need a main!
Finally we saw some sunshine so we headed up to Széchenyi baths. These baths are unisex and the most commonly visited by tourists. If I’m totally honest, I was expecting them to be a bit better than they actually were. Inside, the warmest thermal pools were packed with people huddled like penguins, while the colder ones had a slight green tinge to them. Not exactly inviting. We spent our time in the outside pool which was nice, and I’m happy we visited, but really it was just a heated outdoor swimming pool.
This is just my personal opinion – I know plenty of people who have visited the baths several times and love them every time. I think because we missed out last summer and have wanted to go ever since, I had built up an expectation in my head which was sadly a bit too high. I would definitely still recommend going for the experience though! As agreed on day 1, we then went to the zoo and spent the rest of the afternoon there.
As we were flying back later that evening, we headed back to the apartment to pack our things and then went to Gozdu Udvar for dinner. We ate in Spiler, a restaurant that spans both sides of the path and offers asian and Western food. Our host flies a lot and said we were welcome to use her driver instead of risking getting over-charged by a taxi driver, which was so helpful. He met us at Gozdu Udvar and took us to the airport for a fixed rate of €25.
Perfect city break
Having been to so many European cities last summer, I can honestly say that Budapest is one of the best for a long weekend. Especially for students! Everything is so cheap and there are so many different tourist attractions and ruin bars, it’s difficult to run out of things to do. The flight only takes about 2 hours as well so it really is the perfect weekend getaway destination.