Travel Writer Mia Lapwood shares her top recommendations for a long weekend in Budapest
I spent 2 ½ days in Budapest over Easter bank holiday, exploring both sides of the city. The two sides, Buda and Pest, are separated by the Danube River but have been linked by the Chain Bridge since 1849. My favourite part of Budapest was the architecture and the atmosphere of the cafes and bars we went to.
Our first trip was to Szent Istaván Bazilika, named after Hungary’s first king, which was beautiful despite the gloomy weather. If you walk down the street called Zrínyi Utca, the view of the basilica is quite spectacular, with the buildings on the street perfectly framing the basilica. We headed to the Postal Savings Bank, which was unfortunately closed for repairs, however the building itself was beautiful to see. From the Postal Savings Bank we went to the Parliament building which was about a 10-minute walk away. The Parliament building was spectacular and was even better when we saw it at night from across the river the next day – you should definitely make an effort to see it during the day and at night. If you walk towards the Chain Bridge, you will see the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’, a memorial to honour the Jews that were massacred during the Second World War. It was very emotional to see the shoes lined along the bank, and it was especially touching to see that some people had planted flowers in the shoes to pay their respects. We spent the rest of the day walking around and popping into different cafes and bars. One of my favourite cafes was Café Csiga. It was really arty, and the £1 rose was an added bonus! Along the street ‘Kazinczy Utca’, there are many cool bars including Szimpla Kertz, and more relaxed pubs like Krimó pub which had a lovely, homely atmosphere.
Buda & Pest
The following day we went for breakfast at a lovely café called Vinyl & Wood. It was super popular with a constant line of people waiting for a table, so I would recommend going early to guarantee a spot as they don’t take reservations. We then visited Szimpla Kert, the first ruin bar and one of the most popular bars in Budapest. We went on a Sunday when they have their farmer’s market in the morning, before later turning into a bustling bar. Szimpla Kert was incredible: inside was so vibrant with disco balls everywhere, graffiti on all the walls, numerous bars, and flea markets. It has something for everyone!
We eventually made our way to the Erzsébet Bridge where we crossed from Pest into Buda. We first went to Buda Castle and climbed to the top where there was a long walkway with stunning views of Pest from across the river. From here we walked to my favourite place in Budapest, Fisherman’s Bastion. Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. The Bastion also offers breath-taking views of Pest and the Parliament building. Both Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion were free to look around. For the rest of the afternoon, we walked around Buda which was noticeably quieter than Pest. Dinner was at Riso Ristorante & Terrace, a gorgeous, isolated restaurant which required taking a lift down the side of castle hill. The food was delicious, and it was in a fabulous location. To make the most of our last night in Budapest, we walked along the river where we saw the Parliament building lit up across the river which was one of the best moments of our trip. We stopped for one last drink at a bar called ‘Bakelit Café’ which was decorated with old vinyls all over the walls. The walk along the river and last drink at the bar was a perfect way to end our trip.
Budapest is one of the best cities I’ve been to and is on my list to visit again. It’s a city that you can explore on a budget, with most sites being completely free, and food and drink being very cheap. It is a safe and wonderful city with a great atmosphere and stunning architecture.
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