In November, we spent 3 days in the beautiful city of Budapest, Hungary. Staying in the Gold Hotel on the Buda side, we visited all the major sights, ate in some of the finest restaurants and truly made the most out of the 72 hours we were there.
Filled with striking architecture, grand bridges and surprisingly plenty of green space, we found Budapest to be a jewel of a city. The fact that it was winter also made it extra special. The parks are filled with golden leaves and bare trees, the sunny skies give way to spectacular frosty views and the city is preparing itself for the festive season. Unfortunately we visited the weekend before the Christmas markets began but the Christmas spirit was well underway as the wooden challets were being set up, the decorations hung and the shop windows adorned with lights and gifts.
For those who have never been to Budapest, the city is split into two parts, Buda and Pest, with the Danube River separating the two. Buda is the hilly side and most picturesque however Pest is where you’ll find most of the major sights, shops and restaurants. The best way to see all that the city has to offer is by foot. Apart from the one bus tour we took, we walked everywhere, by day and by night. There are a number of bridges that connect Buda to Pest including one of the city’s most famous landmarks, Chain Bridge and by walking you’ll get to see plenty of stunning views.
Our top 4 things to do in Budapest:
1. Walk to the top of Gellert Hill
Rising majestically 140 metres above the Danube River, lies Gellert Hill. Situated in Buda, the Hill has three important sights: The Gellért Statue, The Liberation Monument & The Citadel. The Gellért Monument is one of the city’s most famous landmarks that is probably most impressive at night when it is floodlit. The Liberation Monument is the statue of a woman bearing a palm leaf and was erected in 1947 to commemorate the Nazis. The Citadel was established after the 1848-49 Hungarian revolution and war of independence. It now has a hotel, a restaurant and an open air museum. We walked to the very top of the hill to see these sights and also found some of the best panoramic views of Budapest.
2. Dine at the New York Cafe
Known as ‘the most beautiful cafe in the world’ the New York Cafe was at the top of our list when it came to eating out. We ended up visiting the cafe twice during our trip – once for dinner and again for drinks! Situated in the Boscolo Budapest Hotel, the Cafe is built in an eclectic style based on Italian renaissance and baroque. Its lavishly furnished interiors are made up of marble, bronze, silk and velvet whilst the ceiling is decorated with magnificent panel paintings of Gusztáv Mannheimer and Ferenc Eisenhut and Venetian chandeliers. The food was excellent, the desserts were immense and the surroundings were absolutely stunning.
3. Relax in the Thermal Baths
Budapest is often referred to as the ‘city of spas’ so whilst we were there we took a trip to the Szechenyi Baths. Set in what looks like a Baroque palace, this is one of the largest medicinal bath and outdoor spa complexes in Europe. Inside you’ll find swimming pools, thermal sitting pools, saunas, steam rooms and masseurs. The water temperatures range from 20°C – 38 °C (68-100 degrees Fahrenheit). Sitting in the hot thermal waters with a glass of wine as the night drew in was a fantastic experience although getting out from the warm waters and hitting the cold winter air was certainly a fright!