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European City Break: Budapest

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Hey everyone,

So most of you will probably know this by now, but I’ve not long returned from my second European city break of 2015 where I headed to the beautiful Hungarian capital of Budapest for a quick weekend getaway with my sister. Budapest is such a beautiful city and, with so much to see and do, we had the most amazing time! We took off from London Gatwick airport on the morning of Saturday 26th September and after a short 2hr flight with the fantastic Easyjet Holidays we landed safely at our destination. And as if by magic you can now BOOK the exact same trip I planned in one easy step – scroll down and read the last paragraph for details! In the meantime though, here’s what we got up to in Budapest…

The Hotel

We were delighted to be staying on a room only basis at the luxurious 4* Hotel President located a short walk away from the stunning St Stephen’s Basilica and close to the major attractions on the Pest side of the city. Situated on the same historical streets as the US Embassy and the National Bank, the boutique hotel enjoyed prime position for the parliamentary parts of the city.

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Our rooms were spacious, modern and clean and we made use of the excellent spa facilities on offer at the Wellness Centre on the ground floor. The hotel also boasted a fantastic 360 degree panoramic roof terrace offering spectacular views across the city but unfortunately we weren’t able to enjoy this as it was for restaurant reservations only.

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All the staff at the hotel were so friendly and helpful and made our stay even better, a big thank you to the reception team and the staff member who helped us with our luggage upon both arrival and departure! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a comfortable and luxurious stay in the heart of the city, it was truly wonderful.

The Restaurants

We stayed on a room only basis and found this to work brilliantly for us as there were many cafes, diners and restaurants nearby where we were able to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As Budapest is generally very cheap compared to other European cities we got great value for money and enjoyed some amazing meals out!

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We mainly ate in the square by St Stephens Basilica as everything seemed to centre around that point, although there were many different roads leading off the square all of which housing more restaurants, cafes and shops. Our highlights had to be Platz, a French café-restaurant serving amazing cocktails, TG Italiano, a brilliantly authentic Italian restaurant and Gelarto Rosa, a gorgeous little ice cream parlour where all the ice creams were made into beautiful rose shapes- enjoying one of these in the September sun whilst gazing at the beautiful basilica made for a perfect piece of heaven! Another of our highlights was Café Smuz located adjacent to the grand Parliament Building- there was a funky mirror outside giving us the perfect chance to take that all important Buda-selfie!

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Prices were great in Budapest, we paid on average £7pp for a large main course and found lunches to be around the £4 mark. Drinks prices were about what you’d expect to pay in the UK (£7 for a cocktail, £5 for a mixer) whilst soft drinks, snacks and breakfast items were relatively cheap.

Getting around

We used the fantastic Giraffe Hop on Hop off Bus Tours which were by far the most straight forward and most convenient way of exploring the city. With 5 lines, 43 stops and 22 languages to choose from, the Giraffe Tours were accessible for anyone to use with comfort and gave us the best opportunity to see the whole of Budapest. The lines included 2 bus tours, walking tours and a fantastic boat trip all as part of the price! Charges for 24hr and 48hr tickets are fairly similar so it’s worth paying the higher price to get the full extra day, but we knew we were going to spend our last day at the thermal spas so didn’t pay for an extra day.

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However, it turned out that there was a major marathon through the city on the day we used the bus so the company automatically upgraded everyone to 48hr tickets at no additional cost- winner! This in turn enabled us to catch the bus to the spas, via the incredible Heroes Square, thus saving us the cost of an organised package trip and allowing us more time to explore a side to the city we were yet to see. I’ve been on many tourist buses in my time, exploring places such as Paris, Barcelona and London, but I have to say that the Giraffe buses in Budapest were by far the best I have ever been on. Thanks to the lovely staff and drivers for making the experience so enjoyable!

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Tourist Attractions

Budapest isn’t the largest city so pretty much all the sights can be seen in a couple of days, but you’ll need to use a mode of transport rather than walking as the city is split into two sides by the river Danube: Buda and Pest. The Buda side is west of the river, whilst the Pest side is on the east bank. I’ve done a handy round up below of where to find all the biggest attractions so you can plan your days accordingly! Without doubt the most popular and well known attractions are The Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge and of course the River Danube.

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Spanning 2860km and flowing through ten countries, the Danube is Europe’s second largest river and, as I’ve mentioned, it totally splits Budapest in two. Home to no less than 8 grand bridges, the Danube itself is an impressive sight, particularly at night when the whole riverfront is lit up and sparkling! Arguably the best way to see the city in all its glory is by taking a river cruise down the Danube, either at night or during the day, to gaze in awe at all of the beautiful sights.

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We took an afternoon cruise and had the most incredible views of perhaps the most impressive building I’ve ever seen; the stunning Hungarian Parliament Building which was truly beautiful from any angle, both in daylight and after dark. We also got up close and personal with the pretty Chain Bridge and marvelled at Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion and many statues and landmarks high up in the hills that could be seen from the river. Amazingly, our boat trip was included in our Giraffe Bus ticket price, but there are many day time and evening cruises on offer running daily, most with the option of a lunch or evening meal and live music on board.

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Buda highlights

Margaret Island – a recreational delight with beautiful green parks and dancing fountains accessible by boat!

Buda Castle – home to the Kings of Budapest and listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, this fairytale castle is in a prime position overlooking the river Danube

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Fishermans Bastion – part of the adjacent Matthias Church, the Bastion is a stunning neo-gothic and neo-Romanesque style terrace near to Buda Castle.

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Citadella Fortress – located at the highest point of the road system, this fantastic photo stop was on the red Giraffe bus route and allowed us to enjoy amazing 360degree views across the whole of the city. Well worth a visit!

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Pest highlights

Hungarian Parliament Building – seriously the most impressive building I’ve ever seen! Don’t believe me? Check out this photo..

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St Stephen’s Basilica – gorgeous Roman Catholic Church which is breath-taking both inside and out. Climb the 302 steps to the top of the tower for incredible panoramic views across the city!

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Shoes on the Danube Memorial – a poignant tribute to some of the Jewish community who were ordered to line up, take their shoes off and be shot by the Arrow Cross Party during the Second World War just because of their religion. Incredibly sad and a shocking reminder of how many Jews sadly lost their lives during the War.

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Heroes Square – a vibrant area in the heart of the city and home to statues of seven Hungarian Tribe leaders as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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Szechenyi Thermal Baths – One of Europe’s largest thermal Spas home to over 10 different indoor and outdoor pools, with temperatures in some reaching an incredible 40 degree heat, along with saunas and steam rooms for the ultimate spa experience.

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On Tuesday 29th September we headed back to London via Budapest airport, and their excellent duty free section! Overall we had a brilliant trip full of fun and adventure and I would highly recommend Budapest as an exciting city break or weekend away with friends, family or partners. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post about everything that Budapest has to offer, please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know more on certain areas of the city!

As mentioned above, you can now book the EXACT trip I did in one easy step – just click on the link below for more details and to request a quote!

Get a quote for this trip

Love Jess x

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  1. […] month it was time for my second city break of the year so my sister and I flew to Budapest for a long weekend of sightseeing. We both fell in love with the city; it was beautiful and we had […]

  2. […] month it was time for my second city break of the year so my sister and I flew to Budapest for a long weekend of sightseeing. We both fell in love with the city; it was beautiful and we had […]

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