Three cities in one, Budapest has a majestic setting astride the River Danube. Óbuda, Buda and Pest became one city in 1843. They are all linked by bridges but retain their own identity. Experience the waters of the ancient thermal baths, see some beautiful iconic buildings, take a night cruise down the Danube and immerse yourself in this wonderful city.
I have just returned from an amazing weekend in Budapest and wanted to share some of my pictures and experiences to show what a cool city it is! Firstly I’m going to start by telling you about the hotel I stayed at which was fantastic: The New York Palace, what a place! Absolutely beautiful, wonderful customer service and the added benefit of the most beautiful cafe in the world (where people queue down the street to get in).
New York Palace Hotel
If you like over-the-top architecture then the New York Palace is for you! The New York Café is its centrepiece. Rooms are organised over four floors built around a courtyard lobby, think marble floors and a glass pyramid roof. It’s all beautiful, the attention to detail is tremendous. A real wow factor.
Service is generally excellent. The customer relations manager spoke to me on a couple of occasions to ask what I had been doing in the city and if I was having a good time.
The hotel exudes old world glamour. My room was great with a huge bed and a huge bathtub 🙂 Luxury Acqua di Parma toiletries, fluffy robes. mini bar, safe etc. It was also very quiet which is a major plus in my book.
There’s a small spa and wellness center and nightly rates are extremely reasonable for this standard of hotel. The New York Palace is in a convenient spot within reasonable walking distance of major attractions and also has many transport options on the doorstep.
New York Cafe
At the turn of the 20th century the New York Café was the most beautiful and the most beloved coffee house in Budapest. After World War II, the once famous café fell into disrepair, the café reopened in 1954, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the New York Café was restored to its original splendour.
Today the café, along with a restaurant and the Nyugat bar are part of the hotel. There is live gypsy music in the New York Café, the musicians play every day between 11 am and 5 pm (for 15 minutes each hour). They can play thousands of pieces by heart, classical as well as modern music.
The café receives a huge 2,000 visitors each day and queues down the street are common. Tourists come to take selfies and experience this iconic cafe. Tip: try the 24 Carat Gold Latte Macchiato (delicious!).
I flew into Budapest late on Friday night. I had arranged a shared airport shuttle through Get Your Guide, which worked out really well and before I knew it I was dropped off outside my hotel. Check in was smooth and professional and I had asked in advance for a late check out on Sunday which I was granted 🙂 After dropping my bags in my lovely big room I headed down the the Nyugat Bar for a cocktail or two, Great selection of drinks available and a lovely atmosphere with a piano player in the corner playing soothing background music (he also takes requests!).
Saturday: I was up early to see all the main sites Budapest has to offer, a very sunny day with blue skies albeit still quite cold at the end of February.
Having previously researched what I wanted to see, first up was the Hungarian Parliament Building, then the Chain Bridge, Fisherman’s Bastion and St Stephens Basilica. In the afternoon I headed back to the hotel for a warm bath and an afternoon pick me up at the New York Cafe before heading off on a night cruise down the Danube.
Can you believe I walked around 12 miles on my first day in Budapest – so worth it though!
Hungarian Parliament Building
The Budapest Parliament located in the Pest along the Danube, is one of the most iconic monuments in the Hungarian capital. You can only go inside as part of a guided tour which you should book in advance and costs around 10 euros. The architecture is stunning and the building is huge, tourists flock here to have their picture taken.
On the left of the parliament (facing the Danube) down on the riverbank you can see the memorial ‘shoes on the banks of the Danube’ dedicated to the victims of the Shoah in Budapest, the metal shoes represent the thousands of jews who were shot before removing their footwear.
Halászbástya (Hungarian pronunciation) or Fisherman’s Bastion Built in the 19th century to serve as a lookout tower for the best panoramic views of Budapest. There used to be real castle walls where you now go to take wonderful photos. It’s a beautiful spot and free to enter and wander around. It does get extremely busy so try to plan in advance or you may need to wait a while to get photos!
With its seemingly-medieval turrets, fairy tale staircases and balconies, Fisherman’s Bastion is becoming the most famous square in Budapest – even above glorious public spaces such as Heroes Square. When looking at the monumental architecture of Fisherman’s Bastion, you might assume the structure dates back to medieval times. Surprisingly though, it is relatively new and was built between 1895 and 1902 to commemorate the 1,000th birthday of the Hungarian state.
St Stephens Basilica
The largest church in Budapest, which can hold up to 8,500 people and is one of Hungary’s most iconic structures.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
An impressive chain bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest. It was opened in 1849, considered one of the city’s major landmarks and lovely to see all lit up at night.
Danube Night Cruise
An evening sightseeing tour of Budapest on a Danube River cruise, taking in the landmarks and monuments. Audio guide and a drink included: Booked in advance for around £17 through Get Your Guide.
Heroes’ Square is the largest and most symbolic square in Budapest. It is dominated by the Millenary Monument a 36m-high pillar topped by a golden Archangel Gabriel, holding the Hungarian crown and a cross. Located very near the Széchenyi baths.
Tram Number 2
Hopping on tram 2 is one of the most beautiful and cheapest ways of sightseeing in Budapest as it goes along the Danube riverbank showcasing many iconic buildings. It also just looks so cute!
Sunday: Spent the day at the Széchenyi medicinal bath – the largest of its kind in Europe. It’s water is supplied by two thermal springs, their temperatures are 74oC and 77oC. The thermal water components include sulphate calcium magnesium and bicarbonate.
There are 15 indoor thermal pools and three outdoor pools (one of which is for actual swimming). There are 10 saunas / steam rooms, several massage areas and more. Bathing suits must be worn and if you want to swim you must wear a cap (bring these things with you along with flip flops, a towel and a robe. If you have to purchase them its expensive).
I went during the day and arrived early which was great as it wasn’t too busy. They also do club nights in the evening. I booked through Get Your Guide and paid around £17 for full day admission and a private cabin where you can safely leave all your belongings (works on a wristband that locks/opens your private changing room).
I found the outdoor pools lovely and relaxing, I had a look inside but it didn’t look so nice in there so I just stayed outside 🙂
Other things to do in Budapest:
- Liberty Statue – first erected in 1947 in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary from Nazi forces during World War II. Its location upon Gellért Hill makes it a prominent feature of Budapest’s cityscape.
- Other thermal Baths –Gellért Baths / Rudas Baths / Lukács Baths / Király Baths and others – research which ones you fancy visiting when planning your trip.
- Great Market Hall – The most beautiful and largest of all Budapest markets. If you love fresh foods, people watching, shopping, photo opportunities or just sightseeing you will love it here.
- Flippermúzeum – Budapest’s pinball museum, featuring a collection of 115 pinball machines and 30 other old-school arcade games.
- Margaret Island – Budapest’s most impressive green space, Margaret Island is a 2.5km-long island of quiet parkland on the Danube, linked to Buda and Pest by bridges at either end.
- Jewish Quarter – Budapest’s buzzy Jewish Quarter is the city’s cool area, packed with all the edgiest bars, cafés and restaurants.
- House of Terror – A museum commemorating the victims of the fascist and communist regimes.
- The Funicular – A short cable car that links the Adam Clark Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge at river level to Buda Castle above.
- Buda Castle – a historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest.
Some more pics
Thanks for visiting my blog – if you have any questions or comments please leave them below.