As we lost a day to travelling, we only got to spend little over 48 hours in Budapest, the first stop on our interrail trip. I was super excited to explore the city so I was gutted when our flight was delayed and we missed out on time there. Budapest is absolutely gorgeous and I’m glad I got to fit in all that I wanted to do but I’d love to go again and explore some of the hidden spots and see more of the stunning architecture.
Zoska Reggelizö Kávézó
Our Airbnb hosts recommended we go for breakfast at Zoska Reggelizö Kávézó. It was about halfway between our flat and the Danube River so made a perfect starting point for our day. I had american pancakes with whipped cream and a strawberry milkshake because my sweet tooth is out of control. Honestly the pancakes were a bit dry and there wasn’t enough whipped cream to balance it out, however, the milkshake was amazing. It was similar to a smoothie as it was made with fresh strawberries and therefore was probably the healthiest milkshake I’ve ever had, not to mention, really refreshing. The interior of the cafe was super cute and there were post-it notes all over the walls with little messages written on them.
After breakfast Ursula, Sarah and I climbed about halfway up Gellért Hill to see the monument dedicated to Gerard of Csanád (Szent Gellért-szobor) and the waterfall. We thought about climbing higher to see the Citadella and Liberty Statue but as climbing Gellért Hill was a detour on our way to the baths, we decided against it. From the hill you get amazing views across the city and the Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd) not to mnetion a leg workout. If you don’t fancy the uphill walk you can get amazing views of the Liberty Statue and Citadella from the Pest side of the Danube and I highly recommend going at night.
The Rudas Baths
Budapest is known for its baths so it was top of our list when deciding how to spend our time there. There were many to choose from but we went for the Rudas baths on the Buda side of the river, purely because of the rooftop bath. We went for the Wellness package as it gave us access to it as well as other pools of varying temperatures. The value for money was great as we had locker/changing room access included all for 3500HUF (around a tenner).
There was a sort of cleansing process we tried at the baths which I kind of instantly regretted. It involved soaking in a bath that is 42C for 50 seconds followed by a literal ice bath for 10 seconds before going back into the hot water. My body could barely stand the hot bath for 10 seconds and I found it really difficult to immerse myself fully as the hot water burned. The rooftop bath was a dream. There was a ledge that you could sit on and admire the view across the city and I would have stayed their for hours, even if I became extremely wrinkly.
Shoes on the Danube Memorial
After a snack lunch back at our Airbnb, the six of us got some ice cream and had a wander along the Danube River. We had drinks in the sun and people watched as our holiday stretched out before us. Sarah, Ursula and I split off again for a wander and continued up the bank of the Danube to see the Shoes on the Danube Memorial to remember the Jews who were shot in Budapest during WWII. It was really heartbreaking to see and bizarre to me that people were taking smiley, posey photos next to it.
We were walking around town near the Budapest Eye and came across this restaurant. Hummus Bar is a small chain across Budapest and as someone who doesn’t like hummus, it wouldn’t have been my top choice for dinner but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I had warm pitas, salad, really delicious kebab meat, pickled cabbage and chips. For such a cheap price, the portions were enormous so we all had wee bags of our leftovers to take back with us. I’m told from the experts in my flat that the hummus was delicious and they wanted more.
À la Maison Grand
For our next breakfast we went a little fancier and ate at À la Maison Grand. The interior was stunning and with a facade made almost entirely of glass, the whole cafe was light and bright. It was set off with gold accents and marble tables and we were seated on some very comfy grey, velvet chairs. The menu was huge with loads of options from Hungarian omelettes and poached eggs to sweet treats such as pancakes. I went for waffles this time around with fresh strawberries and strawberry coolie and paired it with a “cold chocolate” because it was too warm outside for a hot one. Compared to the breaksfast milkshake I had the day before my drink was a little disappointing but the waffles were a delicious.
After breakfast we walked across the iconic chain bridge that connects Buda and Pest and headed up to Buda Castle. We never went inside the castle itself but instead wandered along the walls and around the grounds to some of the many viewing points. The place was huge and covered in ivy which is one of my favourite things on building and one day I’d love to own a flat that has ivy growing up the outside of the building. Like the baths, it’s a great place to get a gorgeous view of the city and if you’re not prepared for the uphill climb, there’s also a funicular tram.
I’d seen many pictures of Fisherman’s Bastion prior to our visit so I was really excited to go but in the end I was perhaps a little disappointed. It’s maybe because there were so many tourists about or because it was smaller than I had imagined it being but I don;t think it quite lived up to my expectations. The structure itself was still stunning and really love the Gothic style but in the end we didn’t spend much time there as we didn’t want to pay to go up some of the small towers for the same view.
We grabbed lunch from a Spar and walked along the river bank to Margaret Island. For me, it was a hidden gem in Budapest despite it obviously being a popular spot with the locals. There was so much to do there from a mini zoo to a water fountain show. I loved the Japanese Garden and there was even a couple getting their wedding photos taken there. I’ll be doing a separate blog post dedicated to Margaret Island because it was just such a lovely place.
Despite the short walk back into town I opted to take the tram instead for the thrill of it. I’d been admiring the old-fashioned style of most of the public transport since we arrived and I wanted to ride it for myself. I also rode the underground later in the day as it is the oldest electrified underground system and second oldest overall in the world.
I got my second ice cream of the trip at Gelarto Rosa. They have such a wide variety of flavours including many vegan ones and it’s all presented in a shape of a flower. I took my ice cream and sat on a bench opposite St Stephen’s Basilica, mainly to rest my feet and also because I thought there was less chance of me dropping my ice cream if I wasn’t wandering around with it and my camera in hand. I went for the lemon & basil, vegan chocolate and vegan caramel but the basil was my favourite.
A Wander Through Town
I love to do a bit of shopping when I’m away because it’s always different to the UK. I’m also really bad for buying touristy tack as I collect postcards and little monuments for my desk. I picked up a miniature Fisherman’s Bastion and some postcards in a pop-art style to add to my collections. I was in Budapest when I discovered the sensational jewellery and accessory shop that is Bijou Brigitte. I ended up spending quite a bit of money here over the holiday and you can check out my next blog post which is a wee haul of all the things I bought.
Karavan Street Food
By the end of the day I was getting exceptionally hungry again. I had been recommended Karavan street food by the blogging couple Jen and Henry (@hoopla_adventures on Instagram) which is a lovely little market with a wide variety of stalls including ghoulash, pizzas, Mexican, Thai and Langos Burgers, a Hungarian classic. I had a pizza craving that night so had a prosciutto pizza whilst the others had a mix of ghoulash, vegan food and Langos burgers which was apparently so good that Joe cried.
Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar
Another fantastic recommendation from Jen and Hen was the Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar. From the outside it looks about the size of a large house but the inside was enormous. There was a courtyard and different bars dotted over the two floors including a scientific themed one complete with beakers and test tubes. The place was really busy and for good reason, it created the most amazing atmosphere and everyone was clearly enjoying themselves.
I absolutely adored Budapest and everything it had to offer. I’ll definitely be going back at some point in the future and potentially spending all my times soaking in the baths. I only feel like I got a snippet of the city and I’d love to explore further out and take more photos of the architecture because every building was wonderfully different. I’ll also make the effort to climb all the way up Gellért Hill and perhaps even a look into the castle.