In January we headed to Budapest for a busy three days of freezing our butts off on open deck tour buses, then warming them up in thermal baths. One thing to mention is that the most used currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint, not the euro! I’ve become so used to heading to Europe with leftover pocket euros, not even thinking twice about it anymore, but got caught out this time. Euros are accepted, but mainly in official taxis, big hotels and commercial restaurants. Most places will take euros, but you can expect to pay a lot more!
I will definitely take away the memory of the cold from this trip! But despite this, January is a great time of year to visit. There are no queues for one, and the view from the sky of the snow covered landscape as you fly in to Hungary is beautiful.
We arrived in to Budapest early afternoon on Thursday and immediately headed out for a wander. We stayed at the Ambra hotel which was a great location and within easy walking distance of the main square and some great bars and restaurants. Our first find was St Stephen’s Basilica. It seemed that wherever we went, we always somehow ended up here! We then came stumbled across Market BDPST for a burger (which i had seen on instagram and it looked amazing).
Usually we like to plan our travel from place to place ourselves. But, frankly, it was bloody freezing, which made us really really useless and lazy when it came to this, so we were easily persuaded to buy a ticket for one of the hop on hop off buses. This was great, but also got a bit confusing when you wanted to just go to one place specifically, we felt like we were just going around in circles most of the time! But it was really handy for getting to the other side of the Danube river without having to walk over the bridge in the cold!
Next up, we wound up at Parliament and the Shoes on the Danube Bank.
We then walked over the chain bride and took the Funicular up to Buda Castle for sunset. This gave us amazing panoramic views of the city and parliament, which is lit up at night.
After a very long day we dropped in to the High Note Sky Bar at the Aria hotel for cocktails. The forest themed bar is really cosy and there’s a great roof terrace which also gives you incredible views, and I can imagine is a great spot in the summer. Each of the cocktails were hash-tagged to help you choose and all had a wild, forest theme to them. I went for the ‘Persephoné’ which was gin, campari, violet and wild raspberry #Goddess. Amazing!
On our second day we sought out the Opera House and then hopped on the bus to Vadjdahunyad Castle, Varosligeti ice rink and Heroes Square.
Getting back on the bus to warm up we then headed to the other side of the bridge to Castle Hill, where we had got the Funicular the day before. The plan was to head up to Fisherman’s Bastion. The one really annoying thing about Budapest is the number of tour operators that continuously hound you! As soon as one leaves you alone, another one jumps on you. One English operator told us that we would be mad to walk up the hill to the Bastion and that he ‘plays rugby twice a week and even he can’t manage it’ and so we should pay ‘only’ 10 euros for this electric car to the top. By this point we’d had enough and just decided to walk. And honestly, just walk. It’s really not that bad, and took about 10 minutes. I think we actually beat the electric car there.
Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the places I was most looking forward to going to and it didn’t disappoint. The view from here is spectacular!
Next stop was the Central Market Hall to buy up some paprika and eat some nutella crepes!
We then made the mad dash to the Szechenyi Baths to try and make it before dark but were just too late. It was still great though, and still really busy. There are three outdoor baths, each different temperatures, and a number of healing in door baths, showers and spa treatments. Although, the atmosphere outside was much better, and a lot of fun, so we spent nearly all of our time there.
Our final day was spent wandering around the shops (not great btw. It’s like everything they stock is 4 years old), getting coffee and we took a trip on the Budapest Eye (basically the Winter Wonderland version of the London Eye. It goes around about 10 times, and really quickly, you’re on it for about 5 minutes, so you have to be quick to get the shots you want). All that being said, still great for some different sky high views of the city!