I recently visited Budapest and felt inspired to write a dedicated blog post about my experience. I wanted to give my best recommendations on where to go, what to eat and what to see! Budapest is very cheap compared to London, so your money will stretch much longer than you might think.
Where to Stay in Budapest
The spa in Corinthia was fantastic!
I spent a few days in the lovely (but cold, oh so cold) city with my new boyfriend, who wanted to have a city break with me. We stayed in the lovely Corinthia hotel which was a first for me, as I always opt for cheap hotels and am not someone who’s priority is to stay in a luxury hotel. But oh boy was it nice – we even stayed in a suite which is a complete first for me.
Prices on these luxury hotels aren’t as bad as you may think however, as the country is still rather cheap compared to the rest of Europe. Standard rooms in 5 star hotels start from roughly £120 per night and go all the way up to £300.
In Corinthia, this price includes access to their lovely spa which you can see in the last photo. You may also find discounts for these hotels on websites such as Booking.com, so keep an eye out for deals.
See Current Hotel Deals in Budapest On Booking.com Here
Other Great Hotels in Budapest
Other than the Corinthia, Budapest offers a wide array of affordable luxury hotels. A few that stuck to my mind when wondering about the streets on Pest are the Four Seasons and the Boscolo Hotel, which is home to the famous New York Cafe.
The Four Seasons is especially beautiful on the outside as the building previously operated as a stock exchange – you can imagine the grandioseness! It is lit up beautifully in the evening and catches the eye of many who wander along the Danube river.
While the Boscolo is equally grandiose and similar in price to Corinthia (£100-£300 per night), the Four Seasons is slightly higher in price (£300-£560 per night), presumably due to its amazing location immediately next to the river and the Hungarian Parliament Building.
It is worth mentioning that if you spend the night at the Boscolo, you receive priority access to the New York cafe (i.e. you skip the queue), which is a huge benefit. Ian and I ended up queueing for about 30 minutes for brunch while the queue was rather short, so one can only imagine how long the wait time is at peak times!
1. The Four Seasons
Four Seasons Gresham Palace is located immediately behind the Chain bridge and Danube river. © Booking.com
2. Boscolo Hotel
This is also where the famous New York Cafe is located!
Where To Eat in Budapest
Budapest offers a great variety of amazing food – you can find delicacies from around the world as well as local Hungarian cuisine, which consist of a surprising amount of goose liver and various different animal meats such as boar, venison and duck.
If you are going for simple local dishes, the first choice to turn to should be goulash, which is arguably Hungary’s most famous dish. It is a rather simple soup or a stew with beef and potatoes. The best goulash that we had on our trip was in the restaurant Seasons, located at a walking distance from our hotel Corinthia.
Although we ate at quite a few restaurants (including the Hundred Year Old restaurant which has a 5 star rating and the world famous New York Cafe), the best food that I had was in the Seasons and a seafood restaurant called the Bigfish Bistro, which offers interesting species of fish such as the Parrot Fish, in addition to more every day meals.
Restaurants in Budapest seem to embrace gypsy culture – we were told that most of the restaurant have live music performers, especially at night.
Expect to hear a lot of violin and piano (and if you are lucky, the theme song of Titanic every. single. day like we did).
A visit to the New York Cafe is also a necessity – although the food wasn’t great, the surroundings and atmosphere completely make up for it. We went for a brunch wit a burger, goose liver with raspberries and a chicken salad.
I am a big fan of liver, but somehow I was very unimpressed by the liver I ate in Budapest, especially here in the New York Cafe. P.S. If you want to be smart, avoid queuing in the restaurant and book a reservation before visiting! Queuing may take up to one hour.
Things To Do in Budapest
Szechenyi spa, © Szechenyispabaths.com
Budapest is most known for its thermal spas which are a must visit even if you’re on a quick holiday. The therms are public baths, so expect them to be crowded. If you want to avoid crowds it’s best to go early in the morning – which is also a prime opportunity for pictures.
Unfortunately our visit to the therms ended up being only 15 minutes long, as we had to rush to the airport. We chose to visit the Szechenyi spa, which is a spa out in the open, a 30 min walk from central Budapest.
Another thermal bath that we were recommended was the Gellért Thermal Bath, which is in an indoor area and right in the city centre.
Gellert Spa, © Sparty Booking
We chose to visit Széchenyi as the Gellért spa had an uncanny resemblance to our hotel spa and we figured a different looking location would look more interesting in pictures. With that being said, we didn’t end up taking any pictures as our visit to the spa was so rushed!
Other than the baths, Budapest has a lot of history to offer. It is a good idea to go wonder about the streets of both Buda and Pest, especially in the area of the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Houses of Parliament.
If you want to learn about the history of the city or Hungary as a country in general, I would recommend taking one of the river cruises that they have along the Danube river.
The cruises operate both at day time and at night time, and some of them offer a dining opportunity as well. We booked a night time cruise which was about £15 and included a free glass of soft drinks or alcohol.
I’ve been warned that if you book a dinner on the cruise you may need to sit in a big table full of strangers as some of the cruise ships only have big tables for 8 people. So, if you’re looking to book a romantic restaurant experience with a lover, check with the cruise operator first!
This itinerary should keep you busy in Budapest for the weekend! Let me know if there is anything fundamental that I missed in my guide in the comments!