Budapest city breaks

Outstanding architecture, illustrious history, and unbeatable culture: there’s so much to discover on Budapest holidays. Sliced in two by Europe’s second-longest river, Budapest is home to an impressive collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, museums, and art galleries. Prepare to immerse yourself in learning and celebration across Hungary’s thriving capital.

Often referred to as the ‘Paris of the East’, this youthful city boasts a unique atmosphere that captivates visitors worldwide. Watch the world go by from former café hangouts of artists, poets and philosophers, and explore unique boutiques and design stores. After a scenic riverside bike ride, enjoy a muscle-soothing soak in one of the city’s famous thermal baths. Or dig deeper to discover a network of stalactite-covered caves for an unmissable adventure underground.

 

Things to do

Visiting the palace, parliament, and churches should be top of any list of things to do in Budapest. Whether you choose to travel by boat or bike, make sure to explore the lush banks of the mighty Danube River. To help you make the most of your holiday, we’ve picked out our top recommendations for your Budapest bucket list so you can choose what you’d like to do.

Keen wanderers will love exploring this vibrant city. Hire a bike and cycle along the river between the best of the sights, or take a walking tour of the iconic Castle Hill. This is where you’ll find the Royal Palace with its museum, gallery, and library and some excellent opportunities for getting great pictures to treasure long after your holiday is over. Walk over the famous Chain Bridge to Széchenyi Square on the Pest side, stopping to take in the view back to Castle Hill.

 

Impressive landmarks

Just as impressive as the Royal Palace is the Hungarian Parliament Building, the largest building in Hungary and Budapest’s tallest. Embark on a tour and wander through the grand interior before heading to Heroes’ Square or St. Stephen’s Basilica. While you’re exploring the city, don’t miss out on a tour of Halászbástya. Situated in the Buda Castle District, this iconic landmark boasts striking architecture and panoramic views of the Danube.

And if your legs start to feel a little weary, head to one of Budapest’s thermal baths for a spot of relaxation. Or sit back and enjoy a dinner cruise down the river as the evening draws in.

 

Food and drink

Budapest city breaks mean outstanding food and drink that is sure to satisfy even the most hard‐to‐please foodies. Defined by rich flavour and exquisite taste, traditional Hungarian cuisine has been shaped by thousands of years of Magyar history. Today, it remains an essential aspect of the country’s cultural heritage.

When you visit Budapest, be sure to sample one of the city’s most famous dishes, goulash. A traditional stew consisting of meats, vegetables and heaps and paprika, goulash is rich, enticing and utterly delicious. During the 1800s, goulash became a national symbol across the country. Other popular dishes include chicken lángos (deep-fried flatbread) and somlói galuska (a delectable sponge cake dessert).

For the best goulash in the city, head to Budapest Bisztró. Situated a stone’s throw from the famous Parliament building, this restaurant boasts a modern interior and impeccable service. If you’re looking to eat out on a budget, try Borkonyha Winekitchen, one of three Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest. Offering an affordable menu packed full of authentic Hungarian dishes, it boasts skillfully executed food and over 200 wines to choose from.

 

Thermal baths

Commonly referred to as the ‘City of Spas’, Budapest has hosted a rich thermal bath culture for over 2,000 years. Fed by natural hot springs, the city’s thermal spas continue to attract visitors from far and wide today.

Historically, Budapest’s natural thermal springs have been utilised since Roman rule when a major bathing complex became an important landmark. By the turn of the 21st century, the city had established itself as the home of therapeutic medicinal waters. ‘Taking the waters’ became a significant pastime. People across the city used the healing properties and other health benefits that the natural springs supposedly provided.

When holidaying in Budapest, be sure to take a dip in a thermal bath and feel your troubles slowly slip away. For a truly memorable experience, pay a visit to Király Bath, the city’s oldest thermal spa. Constructed during Ottoman rule, it features an octagonal pool set beneath a light punctured dome – the perfect place for a relaxing swim. Or spend a day down at Szechenyi Bath, one of the more popular thermal bath locations. With 18 pools to choose from, you can also enjoy various massage treatments, make use of the saunas, or try out the gym.

 

Interesting nightlife

Unique, bohemian, lively: these are just some of the words to describe Budapest’s nightlife. When the sun begins to set, the Hungarian capital comes alive with the bustle of restaurants, ruin clubs, and wine bars scattered across the landscape.

Ruin bars are all the rage in this compelling city. Built into the remains of pre‐war shops, car parks and buildings, they were born from the decay of Budapest’s old District VII neighbourhood. These unique spots boast an impossibly relaxed atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy cheap alcohol and thudding music from dusk ‘til dawn within the sprawling interiors of these quirky venues.

First opened in 2002, Szimpla Kert is one of the most famous ruin bars in the city. Here, partygoers can throw on their dancing shoes and soak up the electric atmosphere while enjoying a tasty local beer. Located in the Jewish Quarter, Mazel Tov Budapest is another famous haunt, considered one of the more upscale ruin bars of the city. Head here to sample delicious cocktails and mezze platters while relaxing on modern furnishings.

It’s no secret that Budapest is a celebrated destination for wine‐lovers. Those looking to enjoy a glass of vino should wander into one of the city’s wine bars to sample a range of traditional and natural beverages. From Cultivini to Cintanyeros, Budapest is home to a wealth of atmospheric bars to take your fancy. Cheap, cheerful and quirky, this city offers an unbeatable night out to round off a day packed full of sightseeing and exploring.

 

Map of Budapest

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Budapest experiences a varied climate with warm summers and very cold and snowy winters.

2.5 hours

Fly to: Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, around 16km southeast of central Budapest.

Alternative transport: Once you’ve crossed the English Channel by Eurostar, mainland Europe is well connected by rail.

Budapest is best for...

Couples: Bring out your romantic side with a trip for two to one of the city’s luxury thermal baths.

Culture lovers: Explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites, impressive museums and extensive art collections.

Cyclists: Set out on a bike ride, to explore the scenic cycle trails along the banks of the Danube.

Fast facts for Budapest

Language: The language spoken in Budapest is Hungarian.

Currency: The currency used in Budapest is the Hungarian forint (Ft).

Local time: Budapest is 1 hour ahead of GMT/UK time.

Fly to: Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, around 16km southeast of central Budapest.

Alternative transport: Once you’ve crossed the English Channel by Eurostar, mainland Europe is well connected by rail.

Flight time from the UK: 2.5 hours.

Tourist Information: Further Budapest tourist information can be found at https://www.budapestinfo.hu/

 

Getting around Budapest

Metro: The Budapest metro network links the city across four lines, stopping by major train stations and connecting with the airport bus. Line M4’s trains are so high-tech they run without drivers!

Public transport boats: Navigate the Danube aboard a local passenger ferry, an effective way of keeping both banks connected.

Bus: With around 200 lines to choose from, there’s bound to be a bus service to take you where you want to go. 

Tram: Take in the scenic view as your tram trundles alongside the flowing Danube. 

Events in Budapest

Spring in your step: For 30 years the Budapest Spring Festival has topped Hungary’s list of cultural celebrations. Visit the city in April to enjoy classical music concerts, jazz nights, theatre performances and open-air concerts.

Art extravaganza: The CAFe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival, held in October, turns Budapest into a creative showcase. Expect a varied programme of performance art, design, literature and photography events.

Celebrate Sziget: Each August nearly 400,000 fans from over 70 countries descend on Sziget Island in the heart of Budapest. This line-up features a variety of live music, circus acts, theatre performances and exhibitions.

Budapest weather

Temperature: -2 - 26 (°C)

Visit Budapest’s historic attractions in the spring or autumn, when you can enjoy clear skies and mild weather in the mid-teens (°C). Summers are warm and bright, with average highs of 26 at the peak of the season, while winter temperatures can drop to as low as -2. Use the cold weather as your excuse to visit Budapest’s magnificent thermal baths. 

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