I first stumbled to Budapest for a weekend by accident. I was looking for somewhere to take Jake for a surprise weekend that wasn’t too far, but somewhere neither of us had been before. When I say surprise, I was doing this properly. I’d stolen his passport and told him we were ‘driving’ somewhere for the night, but instead I was intending on driving us to the airport (it was much more romantic and less kidnappy that it sounds I promise!). After much googling, Budapest looked like the perfect place. It was only once we’d been I realised exactly why it was becoming an increasingly popular spot and the following year I returned with friends for a very different experience.
Where to Stay
The first time I went, on a couples weekend away, I booked us in at the Prestige Hotel. Close to the Chain Bridge and St. Stephen’s Basilica, the hotel is the in the perfect location to do plenty of sightseeing. The hotel itself is gorgeous, opulently decorated with a Michelin Star Restaurant, making it the perfect location for a romantic weekend, or a girly get away.
The second time round, we were looking for something much different. As a group of nine of us descended on the city, we wanted to be close to the famous ruin bars and in the thick of the night time action. The Hive Hostel was the perfect choice. Invading the majority of a dorm room, the hostel was cheap, clean and cheerful. Oh, and occasionally features naked men leaving the lift….
It’s best feature however, is the bar within it. Yep, that’s right, debauchery is literally a flight of stairs away, and I’ mot afraid to admit we would both start and end the night there..
What to do
There is SO much to do in Budapest that a weekend isn’t really enough, and you’ll be wanting to come back and explore again!
The best way to see the city (in my opinion), is to walk along the Danube and stop off at the sights along the way (there are also some lovely boat bars looking out on the Danube, where it’s nice to stop and have a drink!)
En route there is the gorgeous St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Parliament buildings.
Then I would recommend crossing the Chain Bridge and walking up to Buda Castle. Parts of this genuinely looked like something out of a Disney movie, and it was without a doubt one of the most beautiful ways to look out across the river.
We did (of course) also find a bar up here, which served yummy Goulash, and more importantly even better sparkling wine. You must try the Hungarian wine- while it doesn’t get much press in the UK it’s great stuff, and means you can pass off having more than a few drinks as ‘getting to grips with the culture’.
If your more into pretending to see the city & having some fun doing it, then a Beer bike from Pedal bar is the way to go. They genuinely advertise the barmaids you can get on the website (admittedly not sure how I feel about that part)…. regardless, I lured the boys in with these, so you can only imagine their disappointment when our host turned out to be a middle aged man. With beer on tap and options for other drinks, it was great fun as we blasted tunes off our Spotify and peddled around (which admittedly wasn’t that far)- it was surprisingly hard work. By the time we got off, we struggled to walk. This however, was less cycling related and more beer….
When it comes to nightlife, there’s only one thing for it- the ruin bars! Seemingly abandoned buildings have been converted into some of the coolest bars and clubs I’ve ever been. In one we found a drum and bass room hidden down some stairs, in another we literally ended up walking around abandoned rooms. Each one has a slightly different vibe so it’s worth exploring a few. If you’re lucky, you might stumbled across a karaoke bar en route too….
Other popular things to include visiting the baths, and if you’re there in August, heading to Sziget Festival.
What to eat
I have to admit, while we had some fab food, I’m yet to find my favourite food in Budapest! The diet is fairly meat heavy. You can however pick up a tasty goulash or meat style platter around the city…
As a fab destination in both Winter and Summer, with cheap flights, accommodation, (drinks), and plenty to see, Budapest is the perfect destination for a long weekend- I guarantee you’ll leave wanting to go again!