A Budapest holiday would truly be incomplete without at least a day dedicated to the glorious sights of the city. From the Gothic neo-classical architecture of the Hungarian Parliament Building that resides alongside the River Danube to the funicular railway that runs all the way from the Chain Bridge to the majestic hilltop Buda Castle, it goes without saying that these majestic landmarks will capture the imaginations and hearts of every kind of traveller.
Being hungry in Hungary is never an option thanks to Budapest being riddled with restaurants that highlight the delicious native cuisine. Explore the Great Market Hall for the best local produce and to sample unfamiliar Hungarian delicacies or if you fancy a change, the city has plenty of eateries serving international cuisine including Italian, Mediterranean, Asian and much more.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects in contemporary Budapest is the ruin bars. Built in old dilapidated or abandoned buildings, these eclectic watering holes are found mostly in the old Jewish quarter, and each one is more mismatched and unique than the last. Think furniture on the ceiling, holes in the walls, retro televisions, road signs and more.
Blessed with an abundance of hot springs, Budapest is home to a generous array of outdoor bathhouses that date back to Roman times. Whether you’re looking for authentic Turkish baths or something slightly more contemporary, relaxation of the highest order is guaranteed and visitors can expect pools of varying temperatures, fountains and whirlpools.
Expect nothing less than Christmas markets galore during the winter months of a Budapest holiday, when the city is engulfed by twinkling lights, majestic stalls and plenty of mulled wine. There are two main Christmas markets in Budapest, the oldest being the market on Vorosmarty Square that opened in 1998 and specialises in food stalls, handicraft shops and free live concerts and performances. The Budapest Basilica Christmas Fair is located in the square outside of St. Stephen’s Basilica and is where you’ll find special Hungarian delicacies including chimney cake, and a fascinating Christmas laser projection on the magnificent church.
Viewed as an emblem of the city, the Hungarian Parliament Building truly has to be seen to be believed. This over 100-year-old Neo-Gothic architectural monument sits on the banks of the River Danube on the Pest side of the river. Although best admired up close and personal, the building’s distinct burgundy domes and pearly spires can be observed from any vantage point in the city, especially from the fairytale-esque Fisherman’s Bastion.
Széchenyi Baths in City Park is Budapest’s most popular and Europe’s largest medicinal bath, with its water supplied from two thermal springs. Built in 1913, the baths are open from early in the morning until late at night, and there’s truly nothing like soaking in the warm waters while the sun sets. The spa has an additional indoor building with steam rooms, saunas, plunge pools and private treatment rooms for massages, ensuring a wonderful wellness experience from start to finish.
Szimpla Kert is Budapest’s original ruin bar; a converted old factory with a vibrant atmosphere that truly can’t be compared. Offering an utterly unique experience, the complex is decorated with bright lights and random knick-knacks including a disused Trabant car while there are a number of bars inside serving cocktails, mocktails and everything in between. Live music nights are the most popular occasion, but whether you’re in the mood for a night on the town or just a quick pit-stop for a drink, Szimpla Kert is undoubtedly the place to be.
Hearty, hot and wholly Hungarian, goulash is the country’s national dish and most certainly has to be sampled during your Budapest holiday. With paprika as the staple spice like in most Hungarian foods, goulash is a tasty stew made up of meat (usually beef), stock, noodles, potatoes and other seasonal vegetables. The dish is affordable, filling and found in most local restaurants.
Budapest has a typical central European climate whereby the weather is pleasant from April through to September before the temperature drops into colder regions from October to March. Budapest city breaks are often popular in November and December thanks to its Christmas markets while May and June sees an influx of tourists to enjoy the sunshine and the outdoor activities.
You will not need a visa to enter Hungary if you are a citizen of the European Union or European Economic Area. If you plan to stay for over 90 days, you must register with the regional Immigration Office. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/hungary/entry-requirements.
In Budapest, the currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF), but Euros are also accepted.
The main language spoken is Hungarian.