While my husband and I were visiting family in Zagreb, Croatia we decided to take a short trip to Budapest, Hungary. A train ride seemed like the best and cheapest option so we bought tickets at the train station and headed on our way (you can buy the tickets online on Rail Europe here as well). Before we headed out on our trip to Budapest we booked our stay through the website Jetsetter.
THE HOTEL |
The Continental Hotel in Budapest included an amazing breakfast with our stay. Seriously it was a huge spread of all kinds of fruits and vegetables and croissants, cheeses. I’ve never seen a bigger selection at any place else. If you are on a budget I always suggest to book a hotel with the breakfast included as it will reduce your spending by a large amount, especially if you are traveling as a couple.
The location of the hotel is very convenient as you are close and within walking distance to all of the main attractions. It is not in the fanciest place of all but the neighborhood is safe and walkable and more out of the touristy area. With your stay you are also granted access to the indoor and outdoor pool (opens on April 1st each year). Beware though the indoor pool is quite small and if you go during the prime time around 7pm it will be packed with people.
THE CHRISTMAS MARKET |
We accidentally stumbled on the Christmas market in Budapest as we were trying to make our way back to the hotel. If I can recommend something when traveling is to just explore the area by foot. You will find the most unexpected and probably your favorite spots just by walking around and seeing where the road leads you. I’ve always loved the European Christmas markets since the time my family lived in Germany. Seeing one again in Budapest made me super giddy as we conquered the area with a glass of mulled wine in one hand and a chimney cake in the other.
If there is one dessert you have to try in Budapest I would recommend the chimney cake. This dessert is a yeast dough that is wrapped around a wooden baking spit, dipped in granulated sugar and roasted over hot charcoal. The end result is a sweet, hollow crispy pastry that can be topped with coconut, nuts, or even nutella (yum!). By far it was my most favorite local treat from the trip. I probably ate several and even took some back for our train trip back. The Christmas market was filled with different vendors who created Chimney cakes on the spot. It’s a really cool sight to see!
One of the things I really appreciated in Budapest was the variety of architecture within the city. There was a range of Gothic, Rennaisance, Ottoman, Baroque, and even Art Nouveau architecture.If you are an architecture buff, Budapest would be the perfect and awe-inspiring location for a trip. The Buda Castle is a wonderful stop that should not be missed on your architecture tour. Take the funicular (similar to a sky lift that goes up a hill) up to the castle and you will be greeted with amazing views of the Chain Bridge over the Danube river and the Pest side of the city.
This also brings me to Budapest 2 main suspension bridges, the Chain Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge. Both are within close distance of each other, but their design style is completely different. The Chain Bridge is a classic style bridge, while the Elizabeth bridge is more in a modern style.
The citadella (fortress) also has amazing views and I recommend visiting it for history buffs as it had a quite a importance with the military and keeping Budapest safe. Also from the top of the citadella you will have amazing views of the Hungarian parliament which has it’s building on the river. I recommend visiting these spots during the evening hours as the lighting of the buildings and the reflection of the lights in the Danube river is impeccable.
For Art history buffs like me a visit to the St. Stephen’s Basilica is a must see in person. Not only is it beautifully designed on the outside, it is also astonishingly embellished on the inside. We didn’t take advantage of climbing the tower to see the city from top of the basilica, but i hear it’s worth the few extra euros to walk up there.
THE THERMAL BATHS |
Budapest is chock full of hot springs baths that are raved about for their relaxation and medicinal abilities. There is a variety of different baths indoors, outdoors, as well as saunas and such. The great element that I really enjoyed are the elaborate and gorgeous buildings in which these bath houses are in. One in particular is probably the largest thermal bath house in all of Europe, the Szechenyi thermal bath. With it’s Renaissance inspired architecture and variety of thermal bath temperatures, saunas, indoor/outdoor pools, and spa services, it is truly one of the best.
When arriving during the winter to one of the baths it is particularly interesting to see the steam rise into the cold air. If you are brave enough to bare the cold in a bikini and hop into the hot pool, you will realize that it takes a bit for your eyes to adjust to all the steam. I ran from the door that lead me to the outdoor pool and was surprised by the amount of steam I encountered from the hot bath that I hoped I wouldn’t jump on anyone accidentally as I hurried to jump into the outdoor pool. The inside of the thermal bath had several different temperature controlled hot springs, as well as a veryyyyy hot sauna (I couldn’t last a minute before i had to get out!).
BUDAPEST FOOD |
Since we had a short stay in Budapest and our breakfast was already provided by the hotel (the food was fantastic!) we didn’t eat out much as I think about it. We mostly had snacks, and sweets at several places and that pretty much held us all day until dinner time. For one of our dinners we stopped by Trattoria Toscana, which was close to the hotel we stayed at. I really enjoyed the Italian food there, and the ambiance was really romantic as well.
For the best dessert in Budapest I would suggest the Cafe Gerbeaud . They had an old world feel with their decorations, and the desserts were just so on point. Absolutely gorgeous details on the pastries and cakes. I wish we had more time, as I would have probably eaten there every meal if i could have.
Most of the other times we would just buy pastries at whatever bakery was closest when hunger struck, or bite on some food from the Christmas Market.