Have you considered going to Budapest for your next European city break? With regular, reasonably-priced flights connecting all the major European cities, it is a great choice for the seasoned traveller looking for something unique.
Covering just over 200 square miles, Budapest is the largest city in Hungary and boasts a very agreeable climate, with mild early springs and warm autumns bookending the long summer months, making it perfect for travelling and sightseeing.
Getting around Budapest
Of course, one of the most iconic ways of seeing any city is to navigate its waterways, so a holiday in Budapest should include one of the many river cruises that traverse the Danube. Some operators schedule evening drinks and dinner cruises, which is a civilised and charming way to socialise and discover the city. If you decide to explore the city streets, then you will be delighted to learn that Budapest can claim one of the most extensive and reliably excellent public transport systems in Europe. Four metro lines (one of which, the Millennium Underground Railway, was built in 1896 and is the second oldest in the world), railway lines, city trams, trolley buses and autobuses will transport you wherever you choose. You could even hire a bike from one of the automated BuBi stations situated around the city, and enjoy a sense of freewheeling freedom while taking in the sights!
Sights to see in Budapest
Architecture in Budapest is refreshingly diverse, spanning time periods from ancient Rome to contemporary buildings like the Művészetek Palotája (Palace of the Arts) that houses the Bartók National Concert Hall, the Ludwig Museum (contemporary art) and the Festival Theatre. Other significant buildings worth seeking out are the Hungarian State Opera House (home to the Hungarian National Ballet as well as the opera), St Stephen’s Basilica and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, both of which are fine examples of neo-Classical and neo-Renaissance architecture.
Hitting the shops
If retail therapy is your ideal leisure pursuit, then you’ll be delighted to discover that Budapest boasts the two largest shopping centres in central and eastern Europe; the Arena Plaza and West End City Centre. Head to Leopoldtown, District V for prestigious designer names and luxe brands like Oscar de la Renta, Saint Laurent and Armani. Want to see the places the locals frequent? Then head to Gozsdu Udvar (Dob utca 16, Budapest), an old Bauhaus apartment block that has been redeveloped into a hive of market stalls, restaurants and cafes. It’s a vibrant and unique space that will leave you feeling like you have seen the hidden Budapest.
Spa breaks in Budapest
After so much sightseeing and shopping, the weary traveller will surely be in need of something to help restore and revive them, so a trip to one of original Turkish bathhouses in the city may be the perfect way to wind down. The Rudas Baths and Király Baths date back to the 16th century and have been recently refurbished and reopened to the public. With around 80 geothermal springs, Budapest has a reputation as a spa city and tourists, as well as residents, frequent the baths to enjoy a swim and spa treatments.
Wine and dine
Budapest restaurants are a charming mix of the traditional, the regional and the very contemporary. Michelin-starred restaurants like Costes (1092, Budapest, Ráday utca 4) and Onyx (1051 Budapest, Vörösmarty tér 7-8) are in very high demand. No visit to Budapest would be complete without a trip to Café Gerbeaud (Vörösmarty tér 7) the most iconic and historic coffeehouse in Europe. Sparkling chandeliers and highly polished wood panelling make this a confection for the eyes, as well as the palate. Do also take the opportunity to sample authentic Tokaji wine, a sweet, rich drink produced in Tokay, but often poorly imitated by other wine producers.
Traditional ruin pubs and hotels in Budapest
If you enjoy the bohemian vibe of the Gozsdu Udvar, then you might enjoy spending a Budapest evening in one of the unique ‘ruin’ pubs that are situated in abandoned buildings in the city. A popular destination for locals and tourists, each pub boasts artistic events, such as exhibitions and concerts. Udvar Room (Pest VII, Klauzál) is one of the oldest and most traditional ruin pubs; relaxed and quietly cool, it is frequented mainly by Budapest tourists in the know and friendly locals. Many ruin pubs provide accommodation, but in Budapest you are spoilt for choice when booking a place to stay. There are many delightful hotels that boast the very pinnacle of luxury, whilst others sport a very modern boutique hotel vibe. Package holidays to Budapest can take care of these details for you, leaving you relaxed and free to enjoy the enduring appeal of this iconic city.
Budapest has so much to recommend it: it is a beautiful city that blends the enduring appeal of the old with the vibrant energy of the new; a city where you can enjoy peaceful evenings and culture filled days, or energy-filled evenings of music and dance. With so much to see and do, Budapest should be your next European city break.