Having just returned from a short break in Budapest, my advice to anyone who hasn't yet been is go! With oodles of things to do, bags of culture and reams of restaurants and bars, Hungary's capital and largest city is a great shout for an affordable long weekend.
We spent our first day exploring the city on foot and taking in as many of the sights as we could. After a jaunt across the famous Chain Bridge from our hotel in Pest, we took the funicular to the top of Castle Hill to see the Royal Palace and the Matthias Church. The district is also home to the House of Hungarian Wines, where you can sample drinks from Hungary's 22 wine regions.
Following a hearty lunch of stew-filled pancakes, we made our way back across the river for a culture-packed afternoon. First on the list was a visit to the ominously named House of Terror, one of Budapest's 223 museums. Housed in the former ÁVH secret police headquarters, the museum documents the atrocities committed during the fascist and communist regimes. Note, the reconstructed prison cells are not for the claustrophobic.
Next up, we headed to the city's trendy Jewish quarter to see the Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum, and tried to find some of the much-talked-about "ruin bars" – a Budapest trend of drinking establishments set up in abandoned buildings -- for a post-sightseeing beer.
For dinner that night, we treated ourselves to a feast of goulash soup and roasted duck breast, washed down with Hungarian wine, at a fancy restaurant close to the Hungarian State Opera House. If opera is your thing, then definitely pop in to enquire about tickets. We didn't get the chance, but heard the shows are affordable, and the building is simply beautiful.
As a remedy to our hectic first day, we opted to spend the second relaxing at one of the city's renowned baths. It was a toss-up between the equally stunning Széchenyi Medicinal Baths in City Park or the Gellért Thermal Baths, though in the end we plumped for the former (it is the largest in Europe, after all). The cost for entry equates to roughly £13, and is worth every penny. Outside, there’s a choice of three warm pools, and inside, there are more pools, steam rooms and saunas, all set at varying temperatures. We happily whiled away a day flitting from one pool to the next, and left feeling completely rejuvenated.
Food-wise that evening, we decided on something a little less upscale than the previous night, choosing a rustic-looking music bar. We gorged on delicious "gypsy-style" pork for main and traditional sponge cake for pudding.
Our final day was spent seeing the neo-Gothic Parliament building and St Stephen's Basilica, the city's main church. For a small fee, we headed to the very top of the Basilica, which offers spectacular panoramas of the city.
Of course, there are plenty of other things to do and see, it's just a matter of preference and budget. Other Deal Experts recommend a Danube river cruise, a day trip to Margaret Island and a nose around the Central Market Hall.
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