A couple of months ago, I took a trip with my best friends from University to Budapest. We have wanted to go for so long and thanks to the National Rail, the flights turned out cheaper than a train ticket to London! For reunion trips like this, where you haven’t met up with your pals in forever, it’s definitely more special to make a weekend out of it, so what could be better than discovering a new city together!
We checked into our Airbnb, which was in a fantastic location and a short walk from the main restaurants and bars on our list! We set out for dinner at Mazel Tov, where we had some of the most incredible Middle-Eastern food I have ever tasted. I ordered a hummus bowl and it was just that - creamy hummus topped with smoked aubergine and vegetables, washed down with a ginger and earl grey cocktail. Our meal was superb (especially since our bill totalled to £11 each) but the building itself was even better. From the outside, the exterior of the building looked like it was crumbling away, so walking inside was a welcomed surprise. The interior consisted of one long hall, with a double height ceiling and plants trailing down the exposed brick walls - as you can imagine, I was in interior heaven.
The next day, we went to investigate the Great Market Hall for breakfast. The hall is opposite the Liberty Bridge and features three floors of market stalls, selling everything from fresh fruit and veg to alpaca coats and slippers. We somehow managed to spend over two hours in here, walking past every stall and taking in the incredible architecture. Budapest is well known for its low prices, so it was a treat being able to eat like Queens, whilst staying within a £10 budget! The market hall opens at 6am and by 11am it was almost empty, so we spent our last half hour in there watching the stalls pack up and begin to prepare for the next day.
After filling up on multiple cakes and 60p coffee, we took in the sights over Liberty Bridge and the famous shopping street, Váci utca, before making our way to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Visiting these baths has been on my ‘must see’ list for years, so I couldn’t wait to submerge myself in the 30 degree outdoor pools, but not so much the cold sulphur baths inside. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the baths inside, due to the many half naked visitors, but I managed to get in a sneaky shot, as well as taking my camera outside to get the hero images of the trip.
Again, we somehow managed to spend almost all afternoon in the outdoor baths and only realised how long it had been when we noticed our hands had turned half amphibian. We returned back to our Airbnb and got ready to go back out again for dinner. This time, we headed over to the Buda side of the river, where I had been recommended we eat at a traditional restaurant called Pest-Buda Bistro. Here we feasted like Queens again, a little more expensive than breakfast, but so worth it. I chose duck, served over purple cabbage and fondant potatoes, whilst my friends has stuffed cabbage (we were obsessed with it) and goulash soup. After dinner, we walked off our meal exploring Castle Hill, where we had scenic views over the city. The standout feature by night in Budapest to me, was Chain Bridge. This bridge is illuminated the whole way along from Buda to Pest and is a magnificent piece of architecture.
Afterwards, we hit one of Budapest’s most famous Ruin Bars, Szimpla Kert. By day, this bar hosts farmers markets and open-air cinemas, and by night, it becomes a popular destination for a unique nightlife experience. The building is an old converted factory and many features of this have been maintained throughout the bar. From bicycles hanging off over-graffitied walls, to drinking £3 gin & tonics whilst sitting in a bath tub, it was one of the best and crazy nights out I have had in a long time. The next morning, after a much needed cooked Hungarian breakfast, we went to the Christmas markets, located down the street from the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Even though we had had a full breakfast just a few hours earlier, we managed to eat more duck and purple cabbage, as well as thick hot chocolate and churros, before heading back to the airport to catch a late flight home back to Luton Airport.