It had been a long time since I wanted to go to the Hungarian capital which is famous for its thermal baths and the atmosphere that prevails, and I finally had the chance to get there last December. One thing is for sure, I absolutely want to go back soon!
It is an amazing destination, a must go to, if you are looking to discover the wonders of Europe. Budapest is the ideal destination for a weekend, I advise you to stay 3 days to enjoy and walk around the streets! There are similarities with Vienna but also of Prague in this city. Budapest is nice in the summer but I admit that for several reasons I chose to to go there in the winter because I was expecting some Xmas spirit, with hot wines, Xmas markets, cafes where you want to take refuge and this contrast between hot & cold in the thermal baths that is truly magical.
You should know that Budapest is called after Buda one one side and Pest on the other side of the Danube. I was very surprised by the beauty of this city and by the modernity and cosmopolitan energy that blend beautifully with the exceptional cultural and architectural heritage.
Churches, cathedrals, houses with multicolored roofs, trendy shops, restaurants, underground bars etc … Here are some must do in this « Pearl of the Danube »:
• Take a bath indoors or outdoors at the Széchenyi and Gellért baths which are, in my opinion, the most beautiful and incredible baths in Budapest!
• Go on a cruise on the Danube with Dunarama (more details at the end of this article)
• Walk along the shores
• Admire the view of Pest from the Buda Hills
• Visit the Great Synagogue
• Spend an evening at the Budapest Opera
• Visit the Heroes’ Square (Hosok tere)
• Visit the Parliament
• Explore the Buda Castle
• Stroll through the fishermen’s quarter and visit the Basilica of St. Stephen in Pest
• Walk along Andrassy Avenue
• Discover the famous « Ruin Pubs »
• Go to the Central Market, the oldest covered market in Budapest
• Taste langos (a sort of cake shaped bread)
Where to sleep :
Renowned as the most beautiful hotel in the city and one of the most beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in the world, the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest is simply an architectural wonder and a must-see when you visit the city. Obviously, the price for one night is quite higher than in other local hotels but still cheaper than in western Europe and when you reach such levels of perfection, one can let go a little!
And nothing stops you from entering this gorgeous building to admire the incredible lobby and its huge glass and its mosaics and to take some pictures. Or you can book a treatment at the spa or some afternoon tea in the lobby lounge (try the hot chocolate it’s a delight)!
Built in 1906 and completely renovated in 2004, the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest benefits from an ideal location facing the Chain Bridge. Rooms and suites are spacious and some also have a balcony with panoramic views of the Danube riverbanks and the castle hill. Breathtaking!
Another highlight is the spa on the top floor with its beautiful pool and jacuzzi. The space is huge and you can relax in the sauna or steam room after a day of sightseeing.
Kollazs Bar serves European dishes, as well as an American breakfast and a buffet each morning.
To sum everything up, this ideally located hotel gathers all you should expect about lifestyle and excellence.
Széchenyi István tér 5-6, 1051 Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36 (1) 268-6000
Where to eat :
Budapest is full of good restaurants and traditional markets where you can taste typical dishes but I have discovered 2 places that will not leave you indifferent and where one must absolutely go:
Cafe Pierrot: good value, delicious food and great service! It has a beautiful decoration and an interior courtyard for summer days.
H-1014 Budapest, Fortuna u. 14.
Tel: +36 (1) 375 6971
Onyx restaurant: the word gastronomy was invented for this place! A selection of appetizers and dishes of remarkable delicacy. The place is equally classy and contemporary.
1051 Budapest Vörösmarty TÉR 7-8.
Tel: +36 30 508-0622
Last but not least if you want to make you stay memorable, book your trip on the Danube, and do not be fooled. Indeed you will see a wide range of boats that offer more or less the same at different prices and where tourists rush in droves.
The company « Dunarama » – « Dunataxi » offers a wide range of private (or non-private) tours and cruises at affordable prices aboard speedboats and luxurious wooden boats. The 2 people I met working for Dunarama were really adorable and professional. Get your cameras out!
So what are you waiting for to book your tickets ?