I went to Budapest for the first time in 2015 and I knew close to nothing about the beautiful city as I booked my ticket. It’s safe to say that it didn’t take long before I fell in love with the city – the mesmerizing architecture, the amazing food and the atmosphere really had me hooked! I decided to head back, and as soon as I had persuaded my friend Sarah into joining me, we booked our tickets and went back in 2016.
We went on the 6th of June, which is the national day of Sweden. Little did we know that during the holiday none of the early busses or trams were running and our trip ended up having a little bit of a slow start. Nevertheless, the plane ride went smooth and upon arriving at the Budapest airport we booked an airport shuttle (a great decision) for $40 (back and forth) and enjoyed the comfort of not having to find our way by bus or train.
We had booked an amazing apartment through Airbnb on Izabella Utca, a street located within the city center. The apartment was not only comfortable and charming, we got it for the great price of $315/week including cleaning fees. You can see Sarah admiring our balcony up there. I did not miss my own apartment one bit!
Feeling tired after the flight we decided to recharge our batteries at furball heaven Cat Café Budapest. The café is located in the heart of the city in a building with two floors where lazy cats snuggle in every corner and if you are lucky – in your lap. The staff is really friendly and will greet you as you arrive and inform you about the rules on how to approach the cats. It’s a great place to unwind and have a cooling beverage.
The rest of the day we walked around the neighborhood exploring Andrássy út, which is a boulevard in Budapest where you’ll find The House of Terror (which we would later visit but not document out of respect), the Opera House, restaurants, shops, bars and more.
We had dinner at Pesti Disznó, a cosy restaurant that serve seasonal dishes with high quality ingredients, but by the time we had finished our meals we were so tired that we decided to head back to the apartment for a good night’s sleep.
As we returned to Zoska a couple of days later (and earlier than the last time), we came to understand why we had seen so many mixed reviews of the café. The place was crowded with costumers, and the staff had a hard time keeping track of the orders. Nevertheless, we left Zoska feeling full and happy as we headed to The Central Market Hall.
The Central Market Hall is popular among turists and locals, and it’s easy to see why. On the first floor you’ll find vegetables, fruit, meat, pastries, liquor and more, all for a great price, on the second floor however you will find a slightly overcrowded, turisty area packed with souvenirs.
Me and Sarah bought cherries, strawberries, pastries and juice to bring on our picnic on Gellért Hill.
After crossing the bridge over to the Buda side of the river, we spontaniously stopped by The Cave Church located beneath Gellért Hill (next to the famous Gellért Bath). It’s one of the most interesting churches I have ever seen and the staff were kind and helpful. Sadly my headset broke during the tour but I still really enjoyed it.
Located at the top of Gellért Hill is The Statue of Liberty and the hill offers an amazing view of both Pest and Buda (pictured). During our trip we never got the chance to explore Buda, but seeing this view made me realise how much there is left to explore.
We felt like total bosses for conquering the hill.
Later that evening we decided to visit Mazel Tov, a restaurant located in the jewish quarter that became my favorite. If you ever go to Budapest and want to give it a try I would recommend that you make a reservation as the restaurant is really popular, (it’s worth it).
After dinner we went on to explore the jewish quarter and the ruin pubs (but more about them later) before heading back to the apartment to get some sleep.
The next morning we discovered Cirkusz, a restaurant that would turn out the be our favorite breakfast spot during the trip, as we returned many times. The staff really made our stay special, the food tasted wonderful and having mimosas in the morning is hard to beat.
Across the street from The Central Market Hall we found Amber’s French Bakery. We decided to get ourselves some sugary treats and my pastry with pistachio and raspberry was delicious!
We walked past The Heroes’ Square and The City Park to Vajdahunyad Castle, which was built in 1896 as part of the Millennial Exhibition. The castle contain parts of buildings from different time periods, which makes it interesting eye candy if you are into architecture (like me). By the castle we also found the beautiful statue “Anonymous” before heading to Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath is one of the largest medicinal baths in Europe and was built in 1913. Spending time at the bath recovering after long, intense walks really does wonders and I highly recommend it. A full day at the bath with a locker cost about 4.700ft, which is about $16.
Gelarto Rosa, located next to St. Stephen’s Basilica, is were we got these amazing ice cream roses with fun flavors. Sarah purchased olive oil flavored ice cream and to my surprise it tasted amazing. Two scoops cost 500ft, which is about $2. Be prepared to stand in line for this tasty treat, as the shop is really popular.
Before going on our trip our weather apps had forcasted that it was going to rain the entire week, but we were happy that we only got a couple of hours of heavy rain in the heat as we walked up and down Andrássy út.
We had tapas (and amazing lemonade) at mediterranean restaurant Két Szerecsen.
Budapest is famous for their ruin bars (or ruin pubs) which are located in old buildings, decorated in colorful, playful and creative ways. Exploring the many rooms of the ruin bars is an activity in itself, but it’s also a great place for meeting new people and having a great time.
Our favorite bar was Fogasház (“House of Teeth”), named after the old sign advertising dental repair that was found during the first renovation of the building. The many rooms and Dj’s had us dancing all night long and we got to meet people from many parts of the world. Even during the rain the place was crowded, despite most of Fogasház being outdoors.
Close to the Central Station we found a quirky shop called The Box Donut, which sell fun donuts in many different flavors, all shaped like squares. They also sell bottles of flavored water containing fresh fruit that was really good.
Unfortunately my camera gave up as we arrived at Margit Sziget, an island between Pest and Buda. Spending an entire day there was amazing. We explored the ruins, rented a tiny car and drove around, watched the musical fountain and went to the zoo after taking a long walk around the island.
On our way back we took a break to watch soccer at Erzsébet Square, located in the center of the city. The square is a very vibrant part of the city and a great place to meet people.
On our last night in Budapest we decided to treat ourselves at Dunacorso, a restaurant romantically located by the river Danube on the Pest side. Despite it being quite expensive, the restaurant was crowded with tourists because of it’s fantastic location. And much like the other tourists, we couldn’t help being mesmerized by the view of the river while eating comfort food in candle light.
We stayed for a week in Budapest and everyday was a busy day full of adventure and exploration. It wasn’t my first trip to the city and I’m certain that it won’t be my last.
I hope you enjoyed this travel post!
If you have any questions about my trip or Budapest in general, leave a comment below. 🙂